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The Ancient Family of Smith from Lancashire

Yorkshire's connection with Lancashire and the Smyth connection with Smyth between the two counties seems to be epitomised by the picturesque River Ribble which flows between the two. It rises in the Pennine Hills which provide a backbone to the beautiful but often brooding Yorkshire Dales and it flows westwards for about seventy five miles ending with its contribution to a vast estuary of the Irish Sea.

In its historical context, the River Ribble led both to and from Ireland and it was also a main entry point for Viking raiders, traders and settlers. Its course takes it just to the south of Cuerdley, found on the above map (1610 by John Speed - adapted) down river, south west of Warrington. It was at Cuerdley that the "ancient" Smith/Smyth family of Lancashire was originally settled. This was the seat of Henry Smith, grandfather of Smyth of IrelandBishop of Lincoln - William Smith/Smyth.

According to Ralph Churton - Bishop William Smyth's biographer - William was "the fourth son of Robert Smyth of Peel House, in the parish of Prescot, Lancashire. His grandfather was Henry Smyth, a country squire, seated at Cuerdley."

"Peel House, which was demolished in 1903, was the home of Robert Smyth, and was built on the site of an original dwelling which had been here since around 1400. The house stood approximately where Locket Road is situated, off Peel House Lane. In 1460 William Smyth (who died 2nd June 1513) son of Robert was born at the hall and in later years went on to become the Bishop of Lincoln. William was a charitable person, built a chapel at Cuerdley and in 1507  raised the school at Farnworth to grammar school status by his endowment of 10 per year." Source

Using the 30 year "rule of thumb", one may estimate that Robert Smyth flourished in the 1450s and that his father, Henry Smyth was comfortably seated at Cuerdley during the early decades of the fifteenth Century. There was also a Richard Smythe born in about 1460 - the same approximate year as William Smyth/e, Bishop of Lincoln. Was he born here?

Richard Smythe died on 27 Mar 1527 in London. His son, John Smith (Smythe) of Corsham, Wilts. was High Sheriff of Essex and was also an assistant to King Henry VIII. He married Jane (of) Brouncker. This is the line of Thomas "Customer" Smythe of Wiltshire, the great Elizabethan entrepreneur and of his son, Thomas Smith/e - Smyth/e who was instrumental in the English colonisation of the New World.

Also extensively involved with the New World was Captain John Smith of Lincolnshire - associated with Pocahontas ... Captain John Smith of Lincolnshire who was baptised at Willoughby, Lincolnshire and d. June 1631, in London. A short biography of his early life states: "The rector of the Willoughby Rectory, Alford, finds in the register an entry of the baptism of John, son of George Smith, under date of Jan. 9, 1579. His biographers, following his account, represent him as of ancient lineage: "His father actually descended from the ancient Smiths of Crudley in Lancashire, his mother from the Rickands at Great Heck in Yorkshire ... " (Crudley is assumed to be an alternative spelling of Cuerdley.)

Ralph Churton draws attention to an association between one Hugh Smyth (see below) and Lord Strange, son of the first Earl of Derby. As a youth, Bishop William was educated at a school at Knowsley which was founded by Margaret Beaufort (1443 -1509) for 'certayn young gentilmen at her findying'." The school was run by Maurice Westbury whom Margaret, then Countess of Richmond, (mother of Henry VII) had brought from Oxford for that purpose. The young William held a Bachelor of Law degree by 1485 and within a month of Henry VII's accession, he was appointed to the lucrative office of Clerk of the Hanaper in Chancery.

Margaret founded another school in 1497. This was the original of what is now Queen Elizabeth School - in Dorset. Later (1505) she refounded God's House, Cambridge as Christ's College and was also the foundress of St. John's College, Cambridge - although the latter was achieved after her death and not without difficulty since her bequest was in the form of an unsealed codicil. It is chiefly to the credit of Bishop John Fisher of Rochester - who was also her confessor - that Christ's College came into existence. Bishop William Smythe of Lincoln was instrumental in overseeing other aspects of her Will, relating to her properties - particularly in the West Country.

Margaret Beaufort's first marriage had been to John de la Pole (son of William de la Pole) - her second to Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond who died at Carmarthen Castle in 1456. Her third husband was Sir Henry Stafford (d. 1481) and she was married a fourth time - to Thomas Stanley, the first Earl of Derby who had previously been married to Eleanor Neville who had died c. 1472. Thomas, the 1st. Earl of Derby, gained the title for service to Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth.

As may be evidenced by William Smyth's entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, high office and preferential treatment came his way very quickly and he achieved higher offices in swift succession. It may be taken as certain, too, that he amassed a considerable fortune. He did not, however covet his wealth since (Fuller says of him) 'this man wheresoever he went may be followed by the perfume of charity he left behind him.' Bishop William (with Richard Sutton) was also a founder of Brasenose College, Oxford. However, in common with many "dynasty builders" he displayed a degree of nepotism and his relatives are reputed to have gained considerable benefit from his wealth and position.

Amongst these was Matthew Smyth, also born in Lancashire and traditionally accorded kinship to the Bishop - though, as yet, this is not proven - and who became the "transitional" Principal of Brasenose Hall (17th and last Principal, 1510) and Brasenose College (1st Principal, 1510). Bishop William Smyth had already given him the prebend of Centum Solidorum at Lincoln in 1508 and was, in 1512, to give him the prebend of Banbury. St. Mary's- Prescot

Matthew Smyth became Rector of Godstow Nunnery in 1533 and died - according to the Brasenose College Register, 1909 First Principal and Original Fellows - in 1547/8. He was buried in St. Mary's Church. He was a benefactor of Falmouth Grammar School in Cornwall - where other Smith/Smyth family were settled.

The village of Prescot may be seen a few miles north of both Cuerdley and Farnworth, nestling on the very edge of the Knowsley estate. Prescot was the centre of a large Parish that lay within the West Derby Hundred and the village of Knowsley itself developed as a direct result of the Lathom/Stanley family - the Earls of Derby - with their vast estates and main residence at Knowsley Hall. The manors of Knowsley, Roby, Huyton and Tarbock were all held by the Lathom family before the year 1200. In 1333 the then Lord of the Manor, William D'Acre, was granted the right to hold a weekly market. Then the manor was sold in 1391 to John of Gaunt and on his death it passed to his son, who subsequently became King Henry IV. In 1447 King Henry VI included both the Manor and the Rectory of Prescot as enowment gifts to establish King's College, Cambridge.

The commercial success and the attraction of the area was clay and coal. Clay (both red and white) and the attendant potteries contributed to Prescot's wealth from as early as the fourteenth century. Coal was also found close to the surface and was mined there from early in the sixteenth century. Liverpool was the main destination. The local industry prospered for some two hundred years until canals made the transport of coal from other areas more viable. The main mine was at Prescot Hall.

Prescot Hall became a seat of the Layton family. The Leytons built a new Hall there in 1562 and this was described a few years later as having 'a dining hall, kitchen and several bedrooms together with two barn stables'. The Hall was demolished in the 1930s. The Leyton family - in its Yorkshire branch - was connected by marriage to the Smyth family of Durham and Rosedale Abbey. The progenitor of this Smyth line was William Smithdike whose son, Thomas Smyth (b. 1520) married Jane Layton of West Layton in Yorkshire.

A further public Smyth clue may be found within the marriage saga of Henry VIII. His third wife, Jane Seymour, (the Seymour family are ancestors to the maternal line of this site) had as her Surveyor, one John Smythe. He wrote a letter to Cromwell in June of 1536 whilst about the Queen's business. "We have been in the west parts and surveyed all the Queen's lands in Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, Wiltshire.  We have found all the Queen’s farmers and tenants as glad of her Grace as heart can think, and have been well entertained.  On our return to the Court, which will be within 10 or 12 days, I trust you will see we have done her good service, and that the king will be pleased ... Bromeham, Wiltshire, at Mr. Bayneton’s house, 29 June.” Bayneton was the Queen's Vice-Chamberlaine and the Seymour estate was no more than thirty miles distant from Bromeham.

As it happens, Bayneton had also served in the households of Henry's two previous wives and there is a suggestion that he may have been the person who helped to bring Jane Seymour to the Court. It may be surmised, therefore, that the Seymours, Baynetons and Smythes were not only neighbours but also well established in the politics of Court - and already favoured by Henry. It is also clear that John Smythe was a Smythe with connection to the Cromwells ... significant for this and later generation Smyth/e family. Whoever Smithdike was, he would certainly have known this John Smythe, given that Smithdike, too, was an "assitant to Henry VIII". Similarly, Smithdike would have known John Smythe, High Sheriff of Essex, if the two Johns were not one and the same person ...

From a history of the Seymours

"Sir Henrie Seymour, Knyght, married Barbara, daughter of Thomas Morgan.  [Children] Thomas, Lorde Seymour, of Sudeley, Highe Admirall of Englande, who maryd Katherine [Parr], Queene of Englande, and wydowe to Kynge Henrie the Eight.  One other John and Anthony who dyed in their infancy.  Jane Queene of Englande, Wyfe to Kynge Henrie the Eight, and mother to Kynge Edwarde the Sixt.  Elizabeth, firste marryd to Sir Henrye Ughtred, after to Gregory, Lorde Cromwell, and last to John, Lorde Seint John of Basings, after Marquesse of Winchester.  Margerie, who dyed in her infancy, and Dorothe, maryed to Sir Clement Smythe, knyght."

The Seymours held Wolf Hall in Wiltshire - a favourite hunting venue (!) of Henry VIII. Edward Seymour (brother of Jane Seymour, third wife (died) of Henry VIII) became the "Protector Somerset" who - from 1547 - virtually 'ruled' England during the first years of Edward VI's reign. He was eventually beheaded in January, 1552.

In his entries for 1576, Camden writes: "In the Netherlands all things were now most confused, whilest the Spaniards without authoritie thrust certaine Counsailors of the Estates into prison, and committed all outrages against the Country, rifeling their goods and doing them all kindes of injuries, in such sort that the Estates were driven of necessitie to take armes. And forthwith they sent abroad their Messengers to all parts, and by Obigny signified the injuries to Queene Elizabeth, and the causes of their taking armes. The Queene by Doctor Wilson earnestly exhorteth both the Estates and the Spaniards to lay downe armes, and carefully searcheth out the causes why the Estates Counsailors were committed. In the meane time Andwerp, the most excellent of all Cities, which scarce yeelded to any the most flourishing Mart townes of all Europe, was miserably sacked by the Spaniards, the house of the English Marchants spoyled and rifeled, and they (though guiltlesse of all blame) constrained to pay the Souldiers a great summe of Gold for their ransome. Obigny, laying hold on this importunitie, importunately craved to borrow a great summe of money of Queene Elizabeth in the Estates name, to restraine such insolence of the Spaniards. The Queene, who had received certaine intelligence that they had formerly craved mony of the French King, denyed him, but promised to make most diligent intercession to the Spaniard for a peace. And in that behalfe she sent into Spaine Sir John Smith, cousin German to King Edward the sixth, a man of Spanish gesture, and well knowne to the Spaniard; who being most graciously entertained by the King, retorted with such wisedome the disgracefull injuries of Gaspar Quiroga Archbyshop of Toledo against the Queene in hatred of her religion, and of the Inquisitors of Civil [Seville], who allowed not the attribute of Defender of the Faith in the Queenes title, that he received thankes from the King, who was somewhat displeased with the Archbyshop, and prayed the Embassadour to conceale the matter from the Queene, and straightly commanded the said attribute to be admitted. For he knew the Queenes advice to be expedient for his affaires, though he followed it not, the fate of the Netherlands (if I may so speake) thrusting him forward to run another course"

Sir John Smith was the son of Jane Seymour's sister, Dorothy Seymour, who married Sir Clement Smythe. Cousin-german means a first cousin; closely related - of the first degree: full (as in brother, cousin). (See also germane - nearly related; relevant, appropriate.). Clement Smythe was of the Cressing Temple branch of the Smythe family - that of the Carrington/Smyth line.

A Clement Smythe was born in June 1551. He had no children and died in December 1590. His father was Thomas Smythe who married Mary Neville in Leicestershire in about 1554. This line of the family Neville can be traced back to 1000 CE and to Normandy. Mary Neville was a daughter of Thomas Neville and Clara Neville. His grandfather was John Smythe who had married Alice Woode. His great grandfather was also named (Sir) John Smythe - of Cressing Temple, in Essex - great grandmother thought to be Agnes Harwell. Sir John was the second Bt. and was born in about 1494. The first Bt. - Hugh Smythe, (wife Elizabeth) the father of this latter John, died in 1485.

Is this perhaps the Hugh Smyth/e that Churton (see above) mentions as being associated with Lord Strange, son of the first Earl of Derby?

Clement Smythe's siblings were William Smythe, Mary Smythe Clare Smythe, Thomas Smythe or Neville (1555-1636) and Henry Smythe. The question of "Smythe or Neville" is raised elsewhere in relation to the Smyth families of Ireland researched on this site and in connection with William Smyth who had probably been educated at Knowsley (Derby Household) and who became Bishop of Lincoln. He was much favoured by Margaret Beaufort and her son, Henry Tudor.

In the "Essex" Smythe line, we find Sir Thomas Smythe (1513-1577) who was was 'one of the most upright statesmen of his era'. He was born at Saffron Walden, Essex, 23 Dec 1513, the eldest son of John Smith (Smythe) (d. 1547) and Agnes Charnock - b. Lancashire; d. 1547 - in the same year as the death of Henry VIII.

Sir Thomas Smythe (1513-1577) married first 15 Apr 1548 Elizabeth, daughter of William Carkett. Born 29 Nov 1529. She died childless in 1552. He married secondly 23 Jul 1554 Philippa, daughter of John Wilford of London, widow of Sir John Hampden of Theydon Mount, Essex who died 21 Dec 1553. Philippa outlived her husband (she died in 1584) but they had no children. For an expansion of this biography, see the Essex Smyth/e page.

The LDS International Genealogical Index has this entry: WILLIAM SMYTHE
Birth:  About 1500  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England
Marriage:  About 1521  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England
His wife is named as just "Mrs. William Smythe".
The above William Smythe is listed as having the following first born child, a son: THOMAS SMYTHE
Male - Birth: 1522  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England. Further children of William Smythe and "Mrs. William Smythe" of Stainforth and Hatfield were:

   Birth:  1524  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England  
   Birth:  1526  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England  
   Birth:  1528  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England  
   Birth:  1532  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England
   Birth:  1534  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England  
   Birth:  1536  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England  
   Birth:  1538  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England  
   Birth:  1541  Stainforth And Hatfield, Yorkshire, England

This genealogy may also be seen as follows:-

See this link for William Smythe of Stainforth (Birth: ABT 1500 Hatfield, Stainforth, Yorkshire, England Death: 1559/60 Hatfield, Stainforth, Yorkshire, England).
His daughter, Mary Smythe, married William Brewster in 1564 at Scrooby in Nottingham.
These details are also for the same William Smythe and state that he died before May 1560. He is buried at "Lady of Hatfield". His children are listed as follows and include Mary Smythe who married first John Simkinson and then William Brewster.
Mary Smythe born about 1566.
John Smythe born about 1555 and died 1590 - married firstly to Jane (unknown) with a son Edward Smythe. He married secondly Anne (unknown).
Thomas Smythe born before 1551 and died before July 1569. He married (unknown) and had two sons, William Smythe (-1591) and John Smythe who died after 24th Marth 1568.
Agnes Smythe born before 1551 and died after 8th August 1592. She married John Parke who died before 7th June 1582.
Margaret Smythe who married Thomas Saile and died after 8th August 1592.
Francis Smythe fl. circa 1540-1604
Richard Smythe who died after 25th January 1559
Jenet Smythe who was born before 1551 and died circa October 1575. She married firstly John Grene who died about 1562 and then married secondly Nicolas Cressy.
Cuthbert Smythe who died before 1551.

There is an internet note that accompanies the reference to Cuthbert Smythe which states that in the Will of his son, also Cuthbert Smythe - of Fishlake - dated 25th January 1559 and proved 2nd May 1560

- William Smythe might have had two wives with Thomas, John, Jenet and Agnes being the older siblings born of the first wife and Mary, Margaret and Cuthbert being born of the second. From the wills of John and William Parke and of Sir Francis Hastings, it appears that he may have married his second wife before 1551 and that she may have been the mother to John Parke (his son-in-law by Agnes) and William Parke.

Mary Smythe - other related notes with credible sources ...

Her father was William Smythe of Hatfield, Yorks. Mary Smythe married secondly - and as his first wife - William Brewster. She was the widow of John Simkinson of Doncaster, Yorks. William Smythe was a witness to the will of Thomas Simkinson, alderman of Doncaster. John Smythe was Mary's brother. He was an alderman of Hull. His will, dated 8th August 1592, was proved in the October following.

The fact that she (Mary) was not mentioned in the will of John Smythe of Hull, 1592, and that he did mention nearly every one of his nieces and nephews, suggests that she had no further children after William (Brewster), and thus probably died soon after 1566. - Source: "The Mother of Elder William Brewster of the Mayflower" by John G. Hunt, NEHGR 125:25 0 (1970) -

Thomas Smythe & John Smith were among those named in the will of Thomas Simkinson. Francis Smythe, brother of John Smythe was vicar of Crowle, Lincolnshire. Edward Smythe, Bachelor of Divinity, was a 1st cousin of William. Brewster, 1553-1585.

Another reference to a William SMYTHE of Hatfield, Yorkshire with wife, 'Mrs William SMYTHE' is noted as having the following children with this particular family branch producing a knight - Sir Francis Smythe - about whom it should be possible to trace further details.

1.   Richard SMYTHE
   Birth:  < 1531>  <Hatfield, , Yorkshire, England>
2.   Jenet SMYTHE   
   Birth:  < 1533>  <Hatfield, , Yorkshire, England>  
3.   Thomas SMYTHE     
   Birth:  < 1537>  <Hatfield, , Yorkshire, England> Death:  02 MAY 1569    
4.   Agnes SMYTHE    
   Birth:  < 1539>  <Hatfield, , Yorkshire, England> 
5.   Margaret SMYTHE    
   Birth:  < 1541>  <Hatfield, , Yorkshire, England>
6.   Sir Francis SMYTHE    
   Birth:  < 1543>  <Hatfield, , Yorkshire, England>  
7.   John SMYTHE     (twin)
   Birth:  < 1545>  Of, , , England  
8.   William SMYTHE (twin)   
   Birth:  < 1545>  <Hatfield, , Yorkshire, England> Death:  1560  

David Smyth says, "William Smithdike was, apparently, the father of Thomas Smyth, the first ancestor mentioned by name in the Burke genealogy of the Irish Smyth family." Burke’s Irish Family Records states: "THOMAS SMYTH, born 1520, married Jane Layton, of West Layton, and had with other issue, Thomas Smyth."

[Thus] "William Smithdike’s son, Thomas, was fifteen years old when the dissolution of the monasteries was first decreed by Henry VIII in 1535. It would appear from the initial Burke entry that the Smyth family had moved from Durham to Yorkshire before that event, in the early 1500s, but the timing is not very clear. It seems probable that the Earl of Westmorland leased Rosedale Abbey to Smithdike in the mid to late 1530s and that the family moved from Durham to Yorkshire at that time."

There is also this LDS IGI record: THOMAS SMITH
Birth:  About 1520   Durham, Durham, England
Marriages: Spouse:  ELIZABETH LAYTON
Birth:  About 1520  West Layton, , Durham, England

Was there a Smyth/e family - headed by William Smythe - at Stainton and Hatfield in Yorkshire whose eldest son was Thomas who perhaps married Jane Layton as well as a Smith family in Durham of whom a son, Thomas Smith, was born in Durham and married Elizabeth Layton? Could the father of Thomas Smith of Durham have been William Smithdike - a differentiating name to separate him from the local Smythe name - which would most likely have been pronounced Smith as well ... adding the 'dike' (or Dyke) as if it were "hyphenated" as in later generation Smyth/e tradition? Perhaps an earlier generation of this Smith of Durham family married a daughter by that name.

Go to the start of this line ..."Smithdike’s twenty-one-year lease apparently ran from about 1538 to 1559. The size of the property at that time is not known, but according to the “History of Rosedale,” some years later, “when the Manor of Rosedale was leased in 1576… there were forty farms and six mills.” We may therefore conclude [says David Smyth] that William Smithdike was probably running a rented estate of considerable size."

To read, in detail, further information about this lineage, click on the 'Rosedale spot' on the adjacent map.

To appreciate the significance of this lineage it is also important to be aware of the geographical relationship between Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire - three counties that touch and bounce off each other within a short distance of the Lancashire Smith/Smyth seats. The counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire lie close by and all held their quota of early "interesting" Smyth/Smith families.

Smythes of Acton Burnell - family of Maria "Fitzherbert" SmytheShropshire Smythe Sir William Smythe and Isabella Nevill/e of Elford, StaffordshireStaffordshire Smythe Smyths of Cheshire ...Cheshire Smythe

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