Tynemouth, Smyth/e and a Voyage in Time ...
Tynemouth Castle and Priory is set high on the cliffs above the Black Midden Rocks in the dangerous estuary of the river Tyne on the north east coast of England. Now in ruins, it has moated castle-towers, a gatehouse and a keep which are all combined with the ruins of a Benedictine Priory where many of the early kings of Northumbria were buried. It is preserved and maintained in the modern era.
Image adapted from Finden's Ports and Harbours of Great Britain, 19th Century Book Plate; "Tynemouth Priory and Light-House".
The settlement dates from the 7th century and occupies the site of a Saxon church - built first in wood, then in stone - and is most famous as the burial-place of St. Oswin, 'king and martyr'. The priory was plundered and burnt several times by the Danes but just as frequently rebuilt. In 1074 it was granted to the Benedictines of Yarrow and annexed to Durham Abbey.
During the reign of William II, Robert de Mowbray brought monks from St. Albans to Tynemouth and it became a cell of that abbey.The Dissolution brought this to an end and Sir Thomas Hilton was the first secular beneficiary of the Priory (granted to him by Henry VIII just after the Dissolution) and later, under Edward VI, it passed again to the Percys - Earls of Northumberland. (The Percy family was closely connected with Neville and Smyth families of Durham and Yorkshire).
The Smyth family of Durham were also beneficiaries under the Dissolution, being granted a lease on Rosedale Abbey (new window) - to the south, in Yorkshire. This is the Smyth family from which one later son, William Smyth (commonly known as 'the first settler') removed to Ireland in the early 1600s with most of his children. His sons became the progenitors of the majority of the Smith Smyth Smythe families of Ireland.
The Earl of Northumberland who gained the benefit of Tynemouth Priory would have been Henry Percy, 8th Earl. His son - also Henry - the 9th Earl, was heavily fined for corresponding secretly with the (Catholic) King James VIth of Scotland (James Ist of England) in 1601 (the Durham House plot - with Raleigh and Cobham) before the death of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth of England, whom James VI succeeded a couple of years later. The 9th Earl was born at Tynemouth Castle and became known as "the wizard Earl" because of his scientific experiments. He was also suspected of being involved in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. His mother was a Neville (Catherine) and he married Dorothy Devereux. In 1616, Lady Frances Devereux married William Seymour, Duke of Somerset. Lady Frances was the daughter of the executed Robert, 2nd. Earl of Essex and is part of the lineage of the maternal line of this site. ("Hastings Legacy" link at foot of page.)
The 9th Earl of Northumberland's sister, Dorothy Percy, married Robert Sydney, 2nd Earl of Leicester. A daughter of this marriage, Dorothy Sidney (Waller's "Saccharissa") married firstly (1639) Henry Spencer, the 1st Earl of Sunderland but then secondly - as a widow - she married Robert Smyth, Governor of Dover Castle. Robert Smyth's lineage goes to the line of Smythe of Wiltshire - that of the renowned Elizabethan, Thomas, "Customer" Smythe whose son, Sir Thomas Smythe, (along with many Smiths and Smyth/e's of that epoch - amongst them, the Smyths of Bristol) became so closely involved with the American colonies and the Virginia Company. He died in 1625 and his widow married the 1st Earl of Leicester. Sir Thomas Smythe was an uncle of the first Viscount Strangford - which family preferred the spelling "Smythe" and kept a household in Bristol - but his name is written "Smith" on his monument at Sutton-at-Hone in Kent. Robert Smyth/e was his grandson. The Wiltshire Smythe line of Customer Smythe goes also to the line of the Smythes of Acton Burnell in Shropshire and to Eshe Hall in Durham, as a number of 17th century property records show.
A brother of Dorothy Sidney, Algernon, was executed (thus becoming a 'Republican martyr') in 1683 at the same time as William Russell. Worth noting is that Corbetta Smyth (she is also an ancestor of this site in the maternal line and a daughter of William Smyth, Apothecary of Shrewsbury in Shropshire) and Lord William Manners named one of their illegitimate sons 'Russell' - being related by marriage to that family. Their children (nine are listed in her Will) were all born of a de facto relationship, between 1728 - with the birth of Corbetta Manners - to 1743 when Robert Manners was born.
The last male descendant of Robert Smyth's line was Sir Sidney Stafford Smythe, Baron of the Exchequer in George IIIrd's (1760-1820) reign. This was also the era of Maria Smythe (Fitzherbert) - of the branch of the Acton Burnell (Shropshire) and Eshe Hall (Durham) Smythe family. Maria was the mistress and (though some would argue otherwise) a wife of George, the Prince of Wales (later King George IVth) by whom she had a daughter, Marianne Smythe, who was later connected to Norfolk and the Stafford-Jerningham family of Costessay through her marriage in 1828 to Edward Stafford-Jerningham, the son of the 8th Baron Stafford. The Jerningham family were also connected by marriage to the families Smythe, Clifford, Sulyard. Blount and Langdale. The Costessay Estate is a but short distance from Dereham ...