Ancestor Index Ancestor Index

Smythe - believed to be descended from Thomas Smyth (b.1520)

Consideration of some known details and research notes -

(Benjamin) James Francis Smythe, a son of Francis, the cooper, Smythe (Smith?) was educated as a boarder at Queen Elizabeth Hospital School (The City School) Bristol and also sang in the choir as a child chorister at Temple Church, Bristol. Temple Church was (it was destroyed by enemy bombing during World War II) a traditional Anglican church. His father was Francis Smythe, a 'Cooper Master' - and may have been connected with it as a member of its congregation. (research on-going).

In his early adulthood, James Francis Smythe (he seems to have dropped the name Benjamin, except for the 1861 census!) started attending Baptist services at Old King Street Baptist Church, Bristol - which is now called 'Cairns Road Baptist Church' and then trained as a Baptist minister at the Baptist College in Bristol. He therefore spent his whole childhood and 'studenthood' in Bristol. It is also recorded that he was not a particularly robust and healthy young adult and may have inherited some of the health problems of an immediate ancestor.

It is possible that Francis Smith or Smythe (the Cooper) the great great grandfather of Captain Richard David Somerset Drew-Smythe (deceased 1987) and John Roderick Drew-Smythe (deceased 1995) was descended from Edward Smyth, a Bishop of Down, who prudently left Ireland during the troubles of 1688 and became chaplain to the Smyrna Co. at Constantinople and Smyrna. He returned to England in 1692 and was made chaplain to King William III. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he contributed papers to its transactions and to the Dublin Philosophical Society, including "Account of Soap Earth, near Smyrna," and "The Use of Opium Among the Turks."

"Edward Smyth died at Bath October 16, 1720, and, having married a couple of rich women, he left large legacies to his children, according to "The Clergy of Down and Dromore," from which these details about him are taken." - writes David Smyth, in America..Dublin

Dr Edward Smyth was expelled from the Church of Ireland because he embraced the Methodist cause and so turned his back on the established Church of Ireland and thus also upon his clergyman father - and also upon his most illustrious uncle, Arthur F. Smyth, who was the Archbishop of Dublin, 1766-1772.

Some Smyth clergy ... references courtesy of Barry Reid
Some Smyth Family Clergy of Ireland

Dr. The Reverend Edward Smyth was a non-conformist - a trait that translates sufficiently well to the life and religious calling of Benjamin James Francis Smythe - and his son, Frank Tompson Smythe, who also became a Baptist minister. His grandson, Henry James Drew Smythe was not a regular church-goer but professed to being 'Church of England', was a communicant and had a refined appreciation of church architecture.

Following the 'non-conformist' theme, in papers available on the internet there is mention of an Edwin Smyth as lending his home and being host to conventions for Rural Evangelists - known under many other names too - such as Go-Preachers - using, in the early days, (inter alia) the Methodist circuit, chapels, churches, private houses or meeting rooms. In 1908, The Journal of one such Rural Evangelist, John Long, states - "MAY:  I left London and cycled to Bristol, and crossed to Cork, then cycled to Adare, where I had a week's mission in the home of Edwin Smyth, Rieintula.  While there I preached in most of the towns and villages of the County Limerick ..."

Edwin was also the name of one of Benjamin James Francis Smythe's sons - and Edwin seems to be a fairly uncommon name in the Smyth(e) family line leading up to this era. There are, for example, more 'Benjamins' in the Smith line - notably in Norfolk. Another son had the first name, Arthur.

In the descendant charts of Smyth of Kilcornan, Co. Limerick, Ireland, there is mention of an Edwin Smyth of Ryntulla. From the dates given in that chart, he married in 1879 which makes it clear that this is not the same Edwin as the son of Benjamin James Francis Smythe - though Edwin (Rieintula/Ryntulla) Smyth is charted as having a father called James.

Edwin (Rieintula/Ryntulla) Smyth married Sarah Chamberlain, daughter of Richard Chamberlain of West Moig, Ireland. Sarah's sister, Mary Chamberlain, was born in England and married William Smyth (c.1844-1916) of Moig, a son of James Smyth (c.1814-1870) of Dromlohan. Strangely enough, there is also a record in this family line of a Smyth/Drew marriage - that of Charles Smyth (c.1879-1963) of Ballyvogue who married Margaret Anne Drew (c.1877-1942). She was a teacher in Dromlohan. Benjamin James Francis Smythe's son, Frank Tompson Smythe, married Ada Josephine Drew a descendant of the Radnorshire (Cefnllys) Drew family. Branches of this Drew family, though mainly of yeoman farmer stock, also had a strong tradition as Quakers and Methodists - "teachers and preachers".

The Somerset-based 'Meade Smythe' branch of the family - that of Canon Ronald Smythe (still living, 2002) and his sister, Pat Smythe, the Olympic equestrian (d. 1996) - is descended via Ralph Smyth of Ballymacash, Co. Antrim, (brother of William Smyth of Dundrum). The Kemmis family into which the Meade Smythe line married (by the marriage of Arthur Meade Smythe to Alice Louisa Kemmis) was long-established in the same areas of Ireland as the Smyth(e)s and also in Bath, near Bristol, by this time - thus suggesting a more-than-likely connection between the two 'cousin' branches.

Additionally, though perhaps coincidental, Benjamin James Francis Smythe (mostly referenced on this site as James Francis Smythe) spent a period of his own Baptist ministry at Bolton - Claremont Chapel, Bolton, Lancashire (1876-1883) - in close proximity to where the non-conformist Dr. Edward Smyth had earlier settled, built two churches, ministered to his congregation and died in 1825.

There is a record of a Thomas William SMYTH marrying an Ann VAUGHAN 25 Dec 1832 at Clifton in Bristol. (A Christmas Day marriage) (Information courtesy of Mike Browning, researcher, of Bristol.)

Pigot's Directory for 1830 lists SMYTH F.G., (Francis George?) Colonel. Down Place, Clifton, Bristol. It is possible that Colonel F.G. Smyth was a member of the illustrious Smyth family of Ashton Court, Bristol whose forebears and related marriage families were connected with the settlement of America. The Smyth/e family of Bristol and Ashton Court pedigree shows, however, that the line became very thin and, in fact, died out on more than one occasion so this is unlikely. The will of F.G. Smyth, which is available for purchase on the internet, associates him with the slave trade and extensive plantations in Jamaica. Henry James Drew Smythe, grandson of Benjamin James Francis Smythe, held documents and letters refering to the slave trade and the brig, 'Tom Cod' - a slaver ship out of Bristol.

The majority of F.G. Smyth's estate was bequeathed in an extensive and complicated document to female descendants, which is in itself 'interesting' because - if Colonel F.G. Smyth is connected to this line - a future generation (now deceased) 'daughter-in-law' professed a profound dislike (rational or not!) of female children, brought about, so current family was led to believe, by some event in the past which had affected the prosperity of her particular Smyth(e) family's male line ... possibly the cutting out of a male heir to any inheritance.

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