During the eighteenth century, the male line of this Smyth branch became extinct twice (and again in the nineteenth century and ended (officially at least) in the twentieth century) but was first "rescued" when Florence Smyth, born in 1701, (heiress and daughter of Sir John Smyth (d. 1726) and Elizabeth Astry) married (later, Sir - 1st Baronet of the second creation) Jarrit Smith of Evesham and Bristol, as her second husband.
Jarrit Smith was a prominent Bristol lawyer and a steward to the Earl of Bath's estates - which included property at Wrington in Somerset. He also had shares in four privateers (licensed pirate ships) and connections with the West Indies and the slave trade. He was the first Ashton Court "miner" of coal.
Their eldest son, Sir John Hugh Smyth (born in 1734) was the 2nd. Baronet of the second creation. He married (1757) Elizabeth Woolnough. Sir John Hugh Smyth died in 1802 just two years after his brother, Thomas Smyth, Esq., of Stapleton, whose son, Hugh Smyth, became heir to the title and estates of the family, seated at Ashton Court.
As an aside of interest, this will is of note - with thanks to "sjk", who is related to Mary Freeman. She was the wife of the transcriber's 1st cousin, 8th removed.
Thomas Smyth of Stapleton was born in 1740. He married Jane Whitchurch in 1767 and died in 1800. His eldest son, who became the 3rd. Baronet, Sir Hugh Smyth, born in 1772, married (1797) Margaret Wilson.
Sir Hugh Smyth is said to have had "no legitimate children" by which it must be inferred that he left a child or children born outside the marriage. One such child was probably named Richard as "Provis" (qv following) later claimed to be "Sir Richard Smyth".
Sir Hugh died in 1824. His brother, John Smyth, became the 4th Bt. but he died (1849) unmarried and without children. This lack of a legitimate heir gave rise in later years (1852) to what was called the "Thomas Provis affair". In the meantime, Thomas Smyth's daughter, Mary Smyth, of Stapleton had married (1798) Benjamin Way and it was through her offspring that the line was "rescued" for the second time.
In September 1852, Arthur Way was steward of Ashton Court for his under-age nephew, (later Sir) Greville Smyth. A man claiming to be Sir Richard Smyth (son - illegitimate, according to pedigree qv - of the late Sir Hugh Smyth) insisted the estate and another at Stapleton belonged to him. According to Ways journal, Sir Richard told him: I wish you to discharge the household as my own servants are coming here, and I request you will hand me the keys of the Mansion. But you need not hurry, sir, I will allow you two hours to take your departure. Way immediately accused the visitor and his solicitor of attempted daylight robbery and ordered them to leave the house. They refused and servants carried them out by the arms and legs and dumped them in the drive.
There were further ugly confrontations between the occupants and the claimant, who made his home in St Vincents Priory, in Sion Hill, Clifton, a suburb of Bristol. There is an old story that the Priory was built over a cave used by Roman Catholics for secret masses in times of persecution.
Sir Richard - Thomas Provis - even circulated all the Smyth tenants, calling upon them to pay their rents in future to him, and there were rumours that he was preparing to take Ashton Court by force. Way engaged three policemen and armed the servants. His journal states: Had all the men mustered at Ashton Court, loaded the guns with swanshot and had the garden pikes brought into the house and dispersed them ready for use. The attack never materialised and the whole issue was resolved in 1857 at Gloucester Assizes where Sir Richard was unmasked as Thomas Provis a former horse-thief. This false claim to the extensive Smyth Estates at Ashton Court meant his transportation to Australia.
See also Thomas Smyth on the site of the Minot family. Trish Minot has collated a wealth of Smyth family geneaology and emphemera and references in detail the lineage and closing years of the Smyth dynasty of Ashton Court, Bristol.
Described in 1868 (The National Gazetteer) as being a parish "in the hundred of Barton Regis" within the county of Gloucestershire, Stapleton - the village, as it was then, was about two miles north-east of the city of Bristol. It sat atop the South Gloucester and Somerset coalfield. In the north runs a ridge some two hundred feet high. The river Froom (Frome) used to cross the parish and was an integral part of Stapleton and its neighbouring parish of Fishponds, created as a separate entity in about 1830. Modern transport networks have long since seen the Frome degraded. The Gazetteer goes on to state that "The Wesleyans have a chapel, and the Baptists two. Hannah More (celebrated "blue stocking" activist, abolitionist (slavery) and writer) was born here in 1744, and died in 1833. Heath House, Stoke Court, Stapleton Grove, and Stapleton House are the principal residences, besides several others."
Information about this area in the modern era, relates that it was originally part of the old Kingswood Forest which became gradually reduced until it was downgraded in status to a "Royal Chase". It extended "some 6 miles north east of Bristol and covered the present day St.George, Upper and Lower Easton, Bitton, Hanham, Oldland and Brislington, together with parts of Stapleton and Mangotsfield parishes."
John Penny - author of the above information, states:
"The Manor of Barton, comprising an area of about 6 square miles, was one of several within the Forest of Kingswood, and was so called because it was attached to Bristol Castle and under the direct authority of its Constable. There was the Barton proper, just outside the castle walls which acted as an area of supply and provision for the castle (today's Old Market Street area of Bristol), as well as the rest of the parish of St. Philip & Jacob (later St.George, Upper and Lower Easton), Mangotsfield and part of Stapleton parish. As the whole area was Crown Land, it was described as "Barton Regis", a title which was later given to the new Hundred, (Clifton, Stapleton, Mangotsfield and St.Philip & Jacob parishes) carved out of Swineshead as the population increased."
John Penny continues:
"Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 Henry VIII granted the Priory of St. James and its lands to one Henry Braine, [als. Brayne] a wealthy London merchant tailor, an agreement which also gave him the right of presentation to the vicarages of the parish churches of Stapleton and Mangotsfield, Stapleton paying him 2 lbs and Mangotsfield 1 lb. of wax yearly. By the time of Elizabeth I Stapleton Manor was in the hands of Richard Berkeley of Stoke Gifford and from his heirs passed down to the Dukes of Beaufort, who by the mid-nineteenth century were the largest local landowners."
"Shortly after, in 1564, the Kingswood Chase was separated from Barton Manor, when Edward VI granted the lordship of the Manor of Barton to the Earl of Pembroke and William Clark ... neither Pembroke or Clark making any claim upon the Chase itself. The manor was then held briefly by Sir Maurice Dennis before passing to Thomas Chester in 1610 ..."
"The final separation of the Bristol Castle from Kingswood Chase came in 1631 when, by Charter, Charles I made over Bristol Castle to the Mayor and Burgesses of the City of Bristol. After this we find the Chase prey to all comers in regard to cutting down wood, coal mining, quarrying stone and pasturage for cattle and horses. By 1652 the area of Kingswood Chase was standing at 3432 acres and by 1670 it had been unofficially divided into a number of so called "Lordships" or "Liberties", land claimed totally without any authority by the Lords of the adjacent Manors and other local landowners. Of these, the two in the western part of the chase were the largest, Sir John Berkeley's "Liberty" covering that part lying in Stapleton parish and Thomas Chester's covering the present day St. George Parish (formed 1753 out of St. Philip & Jacob) ..."
A survey of Kingswood Forest was undertaken by John Norden in 1615 - as decreed by James I. His report declared -
Several decades later, Sir Baynham Throckmorton (family name sometimes seen as "Throgmorton") who was Charles II's commissioner and who owned a sixty year lease on the Chase made legal complaint that "... the said Lords of the Manor, having made a division of the Chase amongst themselves, and called them Liberties ... made 2,000 cole pits and other pits, and thereby spoil 500 acres of ground."
John Penny also has this note:
For the following text, gratitude is expressed to Harry McPhillimy who is an environmental champion of the area today.
What is now called St Werburghs used to be part of an estate named 'Asslega'. This later became known as Ashley. Asslega comes from the Old English 'aesc' (an ash tree) and 'leah' (a wood). In 1170 the lands of Ashley were given to the Monks of St James Benedictine Priory. In 1544 Henry VIII 'privatised' the Priory's land and sold it to Henry Brayne. The estate was gradually broken up until 1626 when Thomas Walker, who owned Heath House Estate, bought the neighbouring former priory lands. He also bought 'a certain hill and land called Northeway'. It is presumed that this is the hill which was later called Netherways and later still, Narroways.
In 1767 the Smyth family of Ashton Court came into possession of the whole area. They were still in ownership when the Railways were developed in the mid 1800s. It was in this period that the topography of Narroways Hill and St Werburghs was dramatically altered with the construction of deep cuts and huge railway embankments.
Recently the 12 acre open space which is Narroways Hill has been under threat of development. However local people, through the formation in 1996 of the Narroways Action Group, have managed to keep Narroways Hill an Open Green Space in the inner-city. With recent actions such as this and the success of the protection gained for near-by Royate Hill it is clear that local people want to retain the few open green spaces which remain in East Bristol. With this in mind the 'Free The Frome!' campaign to create an environment/history cycle/walk way through the Frome/M32 corridor is in line with local current thinking."
It is a matter of some confusion for researchers to find that Kingswood (an area stretching from Wotton under Edge) - for some one hundred and fifty years, associated with "Gloucestershire" - was historically a small island of land deemed to be part of the county of Wiltshire - yet totally surrounded by Gloucestershire. It was not until the mid 1800s that this quirky situation was altered. Given its original isolation, it is an important factor in Smith/Smyth family research. The following should be noted:
John Smyth (d. 1641) of Nibley in Gloucestershire (Steward to the Lords Berkeley and an active promoter of the Virginia plantations in America) was of a Lincolnshire line of the family Smith/Smyth - of Humberstone. He was born in Leicestershire and married to a Gloucestershire woman by the name of Mary Browning. They had five sons and four daughters. Their third son, William Smith (1625) is described as being "of Kingswood, Wiltshire". William Smith of Southfield, Kingswood, Wiltshire, married (1646) Catherine Martin, sole daughter and heiress of Richard Martin of Nibley. They, too, had several children: William Smith, John Smith, Margaret Smith, Mary Smith, George Smith, Richard Smith, Sarah Smith and Thomas Smith - the last child - being born in about 1664. He was christened on June 3rd. 1665 in Kingswood.
Perhaps this is the beginning of the Smith/Smyth line of the area which later produced a Thomas Smith/Smyth (Bristol cooper) whose son, Francis Smith/Smyth/e (born 1807) - also a cooper - married Martha Roberts, (born 1808)