SMITH, John II, All Saints', Southampton, Hants.
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Family and Education
?m. lic. 10 Oct. 1671, Mary Hopgood of All Saints’, Southampton, 3s. (at least 1 d.v.p.), 2da. (at least 1 d.v.p.).1
?Freeman, Southampton 1676, common council 1681, sheriff 1683–4, mayor, 1689–90.2
It is difficult to be certain as to the identity of the Member returned for Southampton in 1698. John Smith of Beaufort Buildings, Westminster – a London merchant who had been appointed a receiver of crown revenues during the 1670s, retained his offices at the Revolution and who became, in 1694, one of the founding directors of the Bank of England – is unlikely to have sat in the 1698 Parliament. In August 1698 this John Smith had been appointed an excise commissioner, but when on 17 Feb. 1699 a list was presented to the House of the excise commissioners who also held a seat in the Commons, Smith’s name was not included. Additionally, the place of excise commissioner became incompatible with a seat in the Commons on 24 June 1700, under the Act 11 and 12 Gul. III c.2, and Smith was not among those excise commissioners who appeared before the Treasury lords in June 1700 to choose between their office or their seat in the Commons. Nor was he included on the lists of Narcissus Luttrell* or James Vernon I* of excise commissioners who were forced to make such a choice. Smith of Beaufort Buildings remained an excise commissioner until 1702.3
It is also unlikely that the Member for Southampton was the John Smith who was appointed a deputy-chamberlain of the Exchequer in 1696. Though little is known of the origins of this man, he gained his place through the patronage of Sir Nicholas Steward, 1st Bt.†, who had been appointed chamberlain of the Exchequer for life in 1660. His family having settled in Hampshire in the early 17th century, Steward himself had represented Lymington in the Cavalier Parliament and it may be that the family also possessed some electoral interest at Southampton, as his grandson Simeon Stewart was returned for the borough at a by-election in December 1708. However, John Smith was to remain deputy-chamberlain until 1752, suggesting that he was a young man in the 1690s and therefore unlikely to have been elected to the Commons.
The man returned in 1698 was more probably the John Smith who served as mayor of Southampton in 1689–90. It seems probable that this Smith was the ‘gent.’ of Leckford, Hampshire who in 1671 obtained a licence to marry the daughter of a resident of All Saints’ parish in Southampton. Thereafter, he appears to have settled in the borough since a number of tax assessments dating from the 1690s identify John Smith, his wife Mary and their children as living with the widow Elizabeth Hopgood in the parish of All Saints. He was probably the John Smith of Southampton who at the visitation of 1686 had disclaimed verbally any pretensions to ‘gentility’ or a coat of arms. Despite this unwillingness to claim genteel status, Smith’s tax assessments of the 1690s would suggest nevertheless that he was the most substantial inhabitant of All Saints. His income appears to have been derived largely from brewing – in 1697 he was assessed for ‘malthouses’ and ‘brewhouses’ within All Saints – and he was probably the John Smith who had, in March 1693, joined another Southampton brewer to petition the Treasury requesting that bills drawn by their agents on the victualling commissioners be allowed in the payment of excise bonds. Tax assessments of the 1690s refer to ‘John Smith’, ‘Captain Smith’, ‘Captain John Smith’, ‘Commissioner Smith’ and ‘Capt. Smith Commissioner’, but all appear to have been the same person because between 1695 and 1697 the assessments for the tax on births, marriages and deaths noted that John Smith of All Saints was the only man of that name then resident in Southampton. The appellation ‘commissioner’ almost certainly refers to John Smith’s position in Southampton’s land tax commission, while the title ‘captain’ may perhaps refer to a militia rank. Given that John Smith of All Saints was a successful brewer, it seems likely that he was the ‘maulster’ admitted a freeman of Southampton in 1676, and who entered the common council in 1681. He subsequently served as sheriff in 1683, and though defeated in the mayoral poll of 1688 he was elected to this office the following year. Smith’s tenure as mayor coincided with the Southampton by-election of November 1689, at which the right of election was contested between the freemen alone, and the freemen and the inhabitants. The corporation ordered Smith to return ‘such [a] person only as shall be elected by the majority of the burgesses’, but this limited definition was subsequently rejected by the Commons.4
Clearly, Smith the brewer was a man of some prominence in Southampton and therefore could have been the man who was unsuccessful at the 1695 election before being returned three years later. At the former election Smith had been defeated and on 29 Nov. petitioned the Commons, arguing that the borough franchise lay in the inhabitants and resident freemen. By disfranchising the out-burgesses Smith would have limited both the power of the corporation to influence elections through large-scale creations of non-resident freemen and the influence that could be wielded by interests from outside the borough. On 17 Mar. 1696 Smith’s claims were rejected by the Commons, but at the general election two years later he was elected unopposed. Shortly before the opening of the new Parliament the Member for Southampton was listed as a placeman and, in a comparison of the old and new House of Commons, was classed as a Court supporter. This assessment was borne out on 18 Jan. 1699 when Smith voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill, though the following year an analysis of the House into interests and factions, listed him as doubtful, or perhaps of the opposition. Any further contribution to this Parliament is impossible to gauge due to the presence in the Commons of John Smith I, but it seems likely that the Southampton Member was an inactive parliamentarian, and following the dissolution did not stand for election again.
Little is known of John Smith the Southampton brewer after 1700. That he remained active in local affairs is suggested by his voting at the Southampton elections of 1702 and 1705, on both occasions supporting Whig candidates, and by his signing Southampton’s election returns of 1701 and 1705. He also remained one of the borough’s land tax commissioners until 1707. His date of death is not known, though when Southampton’s common council was listed in 1722 his name was not included.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Richard Harrison
- 1. A. J. Willis, Hants. Mar. Lic. 1669–80, 34; Southampton RO, Southampton bor. recs. SC14/2/65, 70, 75, tax assessments, 1695, 1696, 1697.
- 2. Southampton bor. recs. SC3/1/1, f. 235; SC3/7/56–70, nomination bks. 1681–98.
- 3. N. and Q. clxxix. 40; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 292; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 410, 619, 655; v. 178; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 366; Cal. Treas. Bks. xv. 96; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 92–93; Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 48/21, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 15 June 1700.
- 4. J. S. Davies, Hist. Southampton, 179; Southampton bor. recs. SC2/1/9, pp. 153, 156–7; SC14/2/37b, 39, 50a, 70, 75, 91, 96, 106, tax assessments, n.d., 1689, , 1695, 1696, 1697, 1698–9, 1699; SC3/1/1, f. 235; SC3/7/56, 58, 64, 64, examination bks. 1681, 1693, 1688, 1689; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. n.s. x), 188; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 118; Statutes of the Realm (1819), vi. 44, 203, 284, 349, 538; Add. 61413, f. 194.
- 5. Add. 61413, ff. 190–1, 196–7; Southampton bor. recs. SC12/1/6–8, election returns, 4 Jan. 1700[–1], 26 Nov. 1701, 12 May 1705; SC3/7/71, examination bk. 1722; Statutes of the Realm, vii. 38, 340, 684; viii. 122, 422, 679.