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Access the Smythe IndexThe reverend James Francis SmytheThomas Smyth of East Dereham, Norfolk and associated families - updated research
September 2004 - Source Page

In the early 1800s, a Thomas Smyth of East Dereham - Norfolk - left an £82,000 Will (a vast fortune in those days). The document is an extensive and very complicated instrument and is accompanied by some seven Codicils - on which probate was granted in 1835.

The Reverend James Francis Smythe and Norfolk
(click on adjacent image for further details)

When he finished his training to become a Baptist Minister (at Bristol College), James Francis Smythe who was baptised 'James Francis Smith' in Temple parish, Bristol, 1830) did not take up a pastorate immediately (because of poor health) but removed to East Dereham in Norfolk. His father was Francis Smith/Smythe, a 'cooper master' of Bristol. His grandfather's name was Thomas Smith, also a cooper, and also said to be "of Bristol".

The research question raised is:Researcher Why would a newly qualified Baptist minister leave the city of his youth for Norfolk - and without a pastorate to go to - when he had at least two previous generations of family linkage to Bristol - unless (and especially as his health was poor) he had some family connection with Norfolk, and in particular, with East Dereham?

Assistance in this on-going research has been given by Rita Dinser who is a researcher and archivist with a special interest in significant historical documents. Over the years, she has collected and analysed many letters and parchments. Quite by chance (the Serendipity Syndrome) she was researching names associated with a box of documents in her possession and discovered "the story so far" in this Family Vault. Her collaboration is valued and gratefully acknowledged.

The Smyth/e lineage of this site runs thus: Mark David Drew-Smythe > Ian David Drew-Smythe > (Capt.) Richard David Somerset Drew-Smythe > (Prof./Col,) Henry James Drew Smythe > (Rev.) Frank Tompson Smythe > (Rev.) James Francis Smythe > Francis Smyth/Smith > Thomas Smith. It should be noted that the names Smith, Smithe, Smyth and Smythe appear in a variety of forms during the different centuries - sometimes with the variation seen within members of the same family group, even to the point of siblings carrying a different spelling.

James Francis Smythe began attending the Baptist Church at King Street, Bristol, in his youth, where the Minister (Thomas Roberts) was very active in the abolition movement (slavery) for which Bristol was a notorious centre. Another active campaigner for abolition was the Reverend William Smyth Thorpe - a man also associated with Norfolk and closely related to the family of Thomas Smyth of East Dereham.

Original image courtesy of Rita Dinser

The story so far ...

Earlier information from East Dereham, Norfolk - under reference ACC 2001/95 - has records of a Smyth family connection with the family, Dickens - based in East Dereham. These snippets of various papers were batched together as one group which suggested a close connection between the two families.

The following material was noted in the collection by Archivist, Theresa Nichols - to whom gratitude is extended.

Bills paid for 1835 - Mrs Dickens - for building work and domestic items such as bonnets, ribbons and stationery. One bill is addressed to Mrs John Dickens, East Dereham. Another says, 'received of Mrs Peter Dickens'. Papers relating to the Thorpe family: Elizabeth Dickens married the Rev'd William Smythe Thorpe of Shropham.

Clothing bill from Regent Street, London to Miss Smyth of East Dereham, Norfolk dated May 23 1831.
1830s probate material of Thomas Smyth of East Dereham.
Probate document relating to Louisa Dickens, 'late of East Dereham', dated 1869. Various documents regarding the purchase of Egyptian Bonds, 1869.
These Egyptian Bonds were later to be sold (1902) by the family. The sale was to take place as a result of the death of "William Nicholas Thorpe late of Mattishall".
Image of Draft (1902) Authority Document courtesy of Rita Dinser.

Probate Records - analysis

On inspection, the probate records mention a large sum of money which was expended in securing the release of a Mr. Thorpe from gaol in Paris. Why he was imprisoned in Paris is not stated. It must be concluded that his wife was a Dickens or - at very least - he was a close Smyth relative.

In researching the files of the LDS IGI the following record is of interest. According to LDS, a Thomas Smith married a Frances Dickens at Newton Longville, Buckinghamshire in March 1792. They were both of Newton Longville. Thomas Smith was born in Newton Longville in 1753 to parents, Thomas Smith and Ann (unknown).

Thomas Smith and Frances Dickens had a son, Francis Smith, who was baptised on the 13th June 1802 - also at Newton Longville. The Thomas Smith in question is recorded by LDS as having been buried on 30th October 1831. The Smith/Dickens link of this Buckinghamshire marriage and the bundling together of Smyth/Dickens papers under reference ACC 2001/95 in Norfolk is of interest.

In the Norfolk probate papers of Thomas Smyth, no son is mentioned but four daughters are listed either in their own right or via their children. The four daughters of Thomas Smyth of East Dereham, Norfolk were:

Louisa Smyth - there is also mention of a grand daughter, Ann Elizabeth, who may have been Louisa's daughter. Perhaps she married into the Dickens family? Louisa Dickens d. 1869? (Now explained - see below, September 2004.)
Emily Smyth - who married into the Nelson family and had three daughters - Harriet Nelson, Elizabeth Nelson and Louisa Nelson.
Frances Maria Smyth - who married into the Preston family. (See below)
Ann Smyth - who married into the Boycott family and is noted as having children.
Frances Maria Smyth
According to LDS IGI records, the following details pertain to her. She was born 7th February 1780 and died 14th January 1822 - almost ten years before her father who is listed as being Thomas Smyth of East Dereham. She married Edmund Preston who was born in 1773 at Yarmouth and died in 1856. His parents were Jacob Preston and Elizabeth Abbott. Edmund Preston was twice married - his "other" (first) wife being Phyllis Symonds.

The same set of records detailed that Thomas Smyth was born in East Dereham - thus it may be that Thomas of Bucks. and Thomas of Norfolk were cousins, united by Smith/Smyth Dickens marriages and that Francis Smith/Smythe, the cooper of Bristol, was a nephew of Norfolk Thomas Smyth whose Smyth descendants (or marriage relatives) welcomed James Francis Smythe to East Dereham after he finished his training as a Baptist Minister in Bristol in 1855. The Rev. William Smyth Thorpe B.A. of Wadham College, Oxford - for example!

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Norfolk - Smyth/e - Smith and related Documentation ... image courtesy of Rita DinserSeptember 2004

Information courtesy of Rita Dinser of America.

"The information [I have] comes from a 28 page office copy of a Will for Louisa Dickens, daughter of Thomas Smyth, East Dereham. The Will discusses so many things - including her father's fifth codicil and the trustees increase in money from £8000  to £10,000 Sterling. Trustee Edward Palmer Clarke.

It appears that Ann Elizabeth Thorpe, Harriet Elizabeth Thorpe and Emma Elizabeth Thorpe were Louisa's sister's daughters. The sister's name being Elizabeth Dickens Thorpe, married to Rev. William Thorpe.   I also have copies of Power of Attorney for the Thorpe family, Will of Rev. Thorpe, Probate of the Will of Emma Thorpe 1912, Powers of Attorney Transfer, Information for William Nicholas Thorpe, Octavia Helen Robbins (William Nicholas Thorpe's Wife) Probate of Octavia, Declaration of Thorpe seperate Estate 1845, and Probate of Harriet Thorpe ... I am not sure but I believe I also have a Vellum Indenture of Thorpe lands ..."

At first glance ...

The Will of Mrs. Louisa Dickens (née Smyth, daughter of Thomas Smyth) of East Dereham in Norfolk. Widow Deceased. Will dated 8th May 1839. Testatrix died 20th November 1841. There is a note on the reverse of the document: "Mrs. Thorpe - born 28th October 1790"

The following persons are mentioned by name ...

I appoint Edward Palmer Clarke of Wymondham in the County of Norfolk Gentleman and Clarke Houghton of Sparham in the said county Gentleman executors of this my will ...

Named Beneficiaries and relationships ...
unto my nieces Ann Elizabeth Thorpe, Harriet Elizabeth Thorpe and Emma Elizabeth Thorpe the daughters of my sister Elizabeth the wife of the Reverend William Thorpe (suggesting that she is Elizabeth Smyth - who is NOT mentioned in the Thomas Smyth will above)
unto my Nephews and Godsons William Smyth Thorpe and Charles Nelson
for my Sister Harriet Cooper and for my said sister Elizabeth Thorpe and her husband and children respectively (suggesting that she has a sister born Harriet Smyth - NOT mentioned in the Thomas Smyth will above) (Also - re. COOPER - see below).
unto each of my three nieces the said Ann Elizabeth Thorpe, Harriet Elizabeth Thorpe and  Emma Elizabeth Thorpe
unto my niece Ann Elizabeth Smyth (suggesting that she has a brother Smyth who has a daughter named Ann Elizabeth - he is NOT mentioned in the Thomas Smyth will above)
unto my said Nephew and Godson the said Charles Nelson
unto my niece and god daughter Augusta Louisa Preston
unto my God daughter Louisa Mary Goldson
unto each of my Nephews The Reverend John Nelson the younger and George Nelson
unto my niece Frances the wife of Reverend John Joseph Badely
unto each of my nieces Emily Boycott and Harriet Boycott
with each of my four great nephews Arthur Boycott , Charles Boycott, Thomas Boycott, and Edmund Boycott the four children of my Nephew the Reverend William Boycott
unto each of my three nieces Maria Frances the wife of Edward Harbord(?) Washington Preston and Emily Preston
unto my nephew Thomas Preston
unto my Sister Harriet (NOT mentioned in the Thomas Smyth will above) the wife of Edmund Cooper
(The first wife of James Frances Smythe was Eleanor COOPER)

Worstead proximity to SmallburghCooper + Smyth + East Dereham - and Francis James Smythe electing to go to Norfolk - all seem too close for co-incidence.

First Marriage - James Francis Smythe was first married on the 10th November 1858 at The Independent Chapel, East Dereham,  Norfolk England. "Married in the Independent Chapel according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Baptist Dissenters". Described as of  Full age. A  Dissenting Minister. His father is named as Francis Smythe, and is described as a 'Cooper Master.'  The bride's name is listed as Eleanor Cooper.
According to the Marriage Certificate, Eleanor Cooper was the daughter of William Cooper, a Landed Proprietor. The bride's residence (the Cooper home) is given as 'of Russell Place, East Dereham'. The witnesses were: William Cooper (the bride's father), Edward Wigg and Hannah Wigg and Elijah Gould with Fanny Shalders. The Minister was (Chas?) Gould and the Registrar, William Mark Warcup. (Marriage Certificate Certified Copy TG602799 29th October 2002 signed by A. Dagless - Registrar 2002).
His second wife was Elizabeth Tompson Smith - born in about 1834 - her parents are likely to have been living at Smallburgh, Norfolk at the time. He became the Baptist Minister of Worstead. Click on the above sketch for his career details.

LDS IGI - one Smith/Thompson Marriage - significant area for a later century birth of a Smythe child baptised with Dickens as a middle name.

31 DEC 1769   John Smith & Eleanor Thompson - Saint Nicholas Parish Reg And Nonconf, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland
And in Bunwell, Norfolk
Depwade District Bunwell
1766 SMITH John THOMPSON Eleanor
Bequests to Friends - (some probably family)
unto my friend Edmund Mark Dickens the son of Captain Samuel Dickens
unto my friend Charlotte Mary Ann Dickens daughter of the late Reverend James Dickens
unto my friend June Louisa Lane daughter of my late deceased friend Elizabeth Lacey
unto my friend Louisa Collis daughter of Colonel Collis now or lately residing in or near the County of Somerset
unto my friend Emily Charlotte Bruce daughter of the late General Bruce
unto my friend Maria Dickens daughter of the late Colonel Dickens
unto Mrs. Jackson now or late of the Hamlet of Lakenham the county of the City of Norwich

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From extant Norfolk records, it would seem that Edmund Cooper was born at East Dereham in 1778 to parents, Robert Cooper and his wife, Ann. In the same register is the birth of one William Smith - parents William Smith and Ann. There may also be found the birth of one John Harcourt Smith (?) Smyth, mother Ann (presumed Smith/Smyth) since the child's father is listed as Matthew Brook.

In terms of Cooper genealogy, the following records are significant for children born to Edmund and Frances Cooper

Mitford & Launditch District
East Dereham
Surname, Forename
COOPER, Mary Nelson
COOPER Matthew Halcot
COOPER, John Nelson
Edmund + Frances

Also born in 1808 - James Cooper to parents John Cooper and Ellen (née Taylor) Cooper.

The family of Eleanor Cooper - 1841Census

At the date of the 1841 Census, Eleanor Cooper - who eventually married (as his first wife) the Rev. James Francis Smythe - is listed with her family. She was seven years old at the time which puts her date of birth as about the same year (1834) as Elizabeth Tompson (Thompson) Smith, the second wife of James Francis Smythe. Eleanor's father is listed as William Cooper, a 34-year-old Brewer of Baxter's Row, East Dereham. He was born in Norfolk - as was his wife Eleanor - who is also aged 34. Their children are listed as William Cooper, aged 10, Eleanor Cooper, aged 7 and Mary Cooper, aged 5. All the children were born in Norfolk.

Smith/Smyth Snippets ...

Currently, the 1841 Census record for Elizabeth T. Smith and her family has yet to be discovered; but some of the other Norfolk Smith/Smyth records show the following:

There appear to have been two couples (Thomas Smith/Smyth) who are recorded as having children in 1781. Thomas Smith and his wife, Dorothy, had a son, John Smith and Thomas Smyth and his wife, Ann, had a daughter named Harriet. Might this be Harriet (Hariet) Smyth noted in the above Will as married to Edmund Cooper? In that same year, a William Smyth was born to parents, William Smyth and Mary.

It is likely that Dorothy Smith/Smyth was born Dorothy Balls - as there is a marriage record for a Thomas Smith and Dorothy Balls in 1778. In 1779, Thomas and Dorothy seem to have buried their first-born child, who was baptised, William.

In 1783, Elizabeth Smyth was born to Thomas Smyth and Ann and in 1784, a son, Benjamin Smyth was born to Thomas Smyth and Dorothy (name spelling as listed). In 1785, Emily Smyth was born to Thomas Smyth and Ann - the latter being noted as having been Ann ("late") Claxton. Curiously, however, there is also a listing which states that Thomas Smyth and Ann ("late Rust") had a child in 1787 named James Rust Claxton. In 1791, a George Smyth and his wife, Elizabeth, ("late Fitt") had a son named James Smyth.

Research questions ...

Is it possible that Benjamin Smyth, son of Thomas Smyth and Dorothy, carried a second name Thomas, by which name he came to be known - Benjamin Thomas Smith - and who, perhaps, went on to become a cooper and moved to Bristol - later (1807) to father a son named Francis who also became a cooper - whose son, the Rev. James Francis Smythe, first married Eleanor Cooper of East Dereham and secondly - perhaps a cousin - Elizabeth Tompson Smith, born 1834 in Norfolk, possibly at Smallburgh?
Was the addition of the name "Benjamin" a mistake on the part of the Census-taker, perhaps, in noting that the Rev. "Benjamin James" was of the line of local Benjamin Smith - when discussing his birthplace as having been Bristol and not Norfolk? From where else might the 1861 Census confusion over the name "Benjamin" associated with Smith (and especially James Francis Smythe) have originated? Source Page

In 1854, there is listed (Kelly's Directory) for Smallburgh, one Smith, Washington, "master of wkhouse & supt. registrar" ... and it is also noted that "John Postle, Esq. and Sir J(acob?) H. Preston "are joint lords of the manor". David Smyth's History of Smyth

The family name, Preston, is significant - and Washington Preston is doubly so - where Washington Smith is also found ... see (above) the list of beneficiaries associated with the Will of Mrs. Louisa Dickens (née Smyth, daughter of Thomas Smyth) of East Dereham - as transcribed by Rita Dinser. Additionally, for "Smith/Smyth/e" genealogy in general, the attachment of the name "Washington" is of interest since there are those who adhere to the theory that the Smith/Smyths of Yorkshire (and later, Ireland as well) were related to the early family of President George Washington whose family arrived in America at the time of the Virginia plantations ... for further details, click on the adjacent "Rosedale" image. The "First Settler" of the Irish branch of Smyth - to which this "Family Vault" Smythe family line is purported to be cousin kin, left Rosedale Abbey in Yorkshire for Ireland in about 1630.

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For the Nelson family - John Nelson married Emily Smyth (East Dereham) in 1808 - the following details:

Mitford & Launditch District
East Dereham
Surname, Forename
NELSON, Frederick
NELSON, Thomas
John (clerk) + Emily
late SMYTH

It is also apparent from the same set of records that Edward Preston married Frances Smyth in 1807. There is a note to the effect that Edward Preston is a widower. This ties in comfortably with the information above, seen as ...

Frances Maria Smyth - According to LDS IGI records, the following details pertain to her. She was born 7th February 1780 and died 14th January 1822 - almost ten years before her father who is listed as being Thomas Smyth of East Dereham. She married Edmund Preston who was born in 1773 at Yarmouth and died in 1856. His parents were Jacob Preston and Elizabeth Abbott. Edmund Preston was twice married - his "other" (first) wife being Phyllis Symonds.
Edward/Edmund as alternatives, noted but believed to be not unusual in those days.
The same confusion is apparent in Drew genealogy attaching to this Family Vault site.

The 1861 Census return for the area has already been discussed on the source page to this article. There is, however, further detail that links Smallborough (Elizabeth Tompson Smith) with the household of the Reverend James Frances Smythe - by then of Worstead. A servant employed there at the time of the 1861 Census is noted as being from Smallburgh. The reason for James Francis Smythe being accorded the first name Benjamin is still a mystery. (- also see source page for details.)

Elizabeth Tompson Smith - a visitor at the time, and still believed to have been a cousin - is noted in the 1861 Census as having been born in Norwich - a later Census year describes her as having been born at Smallboro. Also listed is a Housekeeper, aged 40 - Jane Shalders. A Fanny Shalders was a witness at James Francis Smythe's first marriage to Eleanor Cooper.

The two housemaids listed were:Macclesfield old town - cobbled streets on the hillside, silk factories and cotton mills ...

COX Mary Anne, 18
READ Sarah, 18
serv, unm house maid
serv, unm house maid

Pending notes/research

Finding the family name Parker - linked with the family name of Nelson, would be significant. see Nelson Parker name via this link.

Mitford & Launditch District Shipham
1775 SMITH, William MOULTON, Elizabeth

The above is noted since family anecdote (from the mid-1960s) suggested that the family name of Moulton is kin to the family line of Smythe of this Family Vault. Roseanne Moulton - in her late teens or early twenties at that time and of whom it was said the family relationship existed - was then working at a school near Bristol.

Given the City of Norwich plus a wealthy Smyth family of the area (as was Thomas who left £82,000 in his Will) and given the standing of the family Smyth in the local community - it may be pertinent to track (via the adjacent image link) the Smyth family of Macclesfield (Cheshire) - a line also being researched by Julie Summers whose Smyth family ancestors include the colourful composer and suffragette, Dame Ethel Smyth. Members of this Smyth family were returnees from Ireland and connect with the Smyth/e families of Durham and Rosedale Abbey in Yorkshire - Smyths who went to Ireland in the 1630s and to whom "Smythe" of this Family Vault is anecdotally connected. Edward Smyth (Dame Ethel's grandfather) became at one time Director of "the Norwich branch of the Bank of England". His brother, William Smyth (1765–1849) was Reguis Professor of History at Cambridge University 1807–49 and private tutor to Tom Sheridan, Richard Brinsley Sheridan's eldest son, 1793–1806. (see Cambridge University - Darwin Project).

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