SMYTHE, Edward (bef. 1583-1637), of the Middle Temple and Drury Lane, Westminster, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. bef. 1583,1 3rd s. of Richard Smythe of Abingdon, Berks. and Barbara, da. of Roger Jodrell of Yeardsley, Cheshire.2 educ. M. Temple 1602, called 1608.3 m. bef. 1605 Katherine, at least 2s. 1da.4 d. 23 Dec. 1637.5 sig. Edwarde Smythe.

Offices Held

Clerk to exch. bar. (Sir) George Snygge* to 1602;6 counsel to Edmund, 3rd Bar. Sheffield, by 1609-at least 1614.7


Though Smythe’s grandfather, a gentleman usher to Queen Elizabeth, came from Abingdon, no direct connection with local namesakes Richard† and (Sir) Thomas Smith† has been traced. Nothing is known of Smythe’s life until 1602 when his admission fine at the Middle Temple was waived ‘because he was long the treasurer’s clerk’. Presumably possessed of some independent financial means, he was among the undertakers authorized to build a new set of chambers in 1608, one of which he occupied for the rest of his life.8

In the following year he acted on behalf of Lord Sheffield in negotiations with Robert Cecil†, 1st earl of Salisbury on financial matters, possibly on the recommendation of George Wetherid*, who later became Sheffield’s secretary, and named Smythe as an overseer of his will. It was Sheffield, as lord president in the north, who recommended Smythe to the bailiffs of Scarborough in 1614 as ‘one of whom I assure myself you will like very well when he shall be known to any of you’. Smythe made only one recorded contribution, to the debates on the Sabbath bill, moving for a proviso ‘against working on the Sabbath, wherein the lawyers most faulty’.9

With Sheffield’s removal from the presidency in 1619, Smythe did not stand for Parliament again. He apparently declined promotion to the bench of his inn, as he was fined for not reading in 1628.10 This may have been because his legal practice was not sufficiently remunerative: he was only rated at £10 for the 1625 Privy Seal loan.11 However, he may only have been considered for promotion because of his daughter’s secretly marriage to Sir Charles Howard, the future 3rd earl of Nottingham, which had occurred ‘without the consent of parents of either side’.12 Very little else can be ascertained about his life: he may have been involved in litigation concerning the lease of a house in St. Giles’ parish in 1613, and he was presumably the Edward Smith investigated by order of the Privy Council in 1618 for buying a house in Drury Lane which contravened the proclamations against new building in London suburbs.13

Smythe died on 23 Dec. 1637 and was buried at the church of St. Mary-le-Strand. No will or letters of administration have been found. He should not be confused with the son of Sir Nicholas Smith*, whose will was proved in the following year.14 In April 1638 his widow, as executrix, named his second son Edward†, subsequently a Member of the Cavalier Parliament, to succeed him in his chambers.15

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Which was the date of his fa.’s death, see C142/203/2. As Smythe had already been a clerk by 1602, he was probably much older.
  • 2. Vis. London, (Harl. Soc. xvii), 246; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvii), 208-9; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. lix), 136.
  • 3. MTR, 425, 500.
  • 4. Ibid. 725, 868; Add. 4177, f. 316.
  • 5. Smyth’s Obit. ed. H. Ellis (Cam. Soc. xliv), 13.
  • 6. MTR, 425.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 534.
  • 8. MTR, 425, 493, 523, 868.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 534, 541; Borthwick, Reg. Test. 38, f. 582; Scarborough Recs. ed. M.Y. Ashcroft (N. Yorks. RO, xlvii), 57; CJ, i. 476b.
  • 10. MTR, 738.
  • 11. E401/2586, p. 427. His highest subsidy rating was £6 in goods, see E115/352/133.
  • 12. Add. 4177, f. 316.
  • 13. C78/159/8; APC 1618-19, pp. 210, 229-30; CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 551, 555.
  • 14. Smyth’s Obit. 13; WCA, St. Mary-le-Strand par. reg. f. 132; PROB 11/180, f. 183v.
  • 15. MTR, 868.