Select Smith Miscellany

 

Here are some Smith stories
and
accounts over the years:

 

Smyth or Smith?

 

The initial spelling preference for Smyth rather than
Smith might have come about because of the difficulty in reading
blackletter type where “Smith” might look like “Snuth” or “Simth.”  Still there were some early Smiths, such as Richard Smith the London cloth merchant in the late 1400’s. 
The Smith spelling became more widespread in the 1600’s.  The earlier spellings of Smyth and Smythe have now faded and Smith is
dominant
. 

 

The Smyths of Rosedale Abbey



According
to Raymond Hayes’ 1970 book The History of Rosedale:

On
the dissolution of the priory in 1538 Rosedale
Abbey was granted to Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland who leased it
to
William Smithdike of the household of the King, at seven pounds nine
shillings
per annum for twenty one years.”

Later
came the statement: “When the manor of Rosedale
was leased in
1576, there were forty farms and six mills.”
We
may conclude that William Smithdike was probably running a rented
estate of
considerable size.

William
Smithdike, according to Sir William
Dugdale’s 1665 Visitation, resided
at Sneinton in Pickering Lythe in the same wapentake as Rosedale Abbey.  How he had been connected to the King’s
household and why his son Thomas had the contracted surname spelling of
Smyth
is not known.  But the subsequent
generations were all Smyths. 

William
Smyth left Rosedale Abbey for Ireland in
1630 with his children after the death of his wife Ann.
He lived first at Dundrum in county Down
before moving to Lisburn in county Antrim.

 


The Smyths of Westmeath



The
Smyths were a rather grand family in 18th
century Westmeath, local country gentry and local MP’s.
The following story went the rounds:

“There was once a Smyth, whose house, Glananea, had such a
flamboyant
triumphal arch and gates at the entrance to his demesne that he became
known as
“Smyth o’ the Gates.”   A later descendant, growing weary and
annoyed with this hereditary tag, sold the arch and the gates to a
neighbor –
whereupon the family was immediately dubbed Smyth wid’out the
Gates.


The Rev. Robert Smyth had acquired Portlick
castle in Westmeath (formerly the home of the Dillons) in 1703.  There was a colorful story about how Portlick
remained in Smyth hands after the death of his son Ralph in 1782:

“When
the Rev. Robert Smyth’s son Ralph died, it
was generally assumed as a bachelor that he had no heirs.
His sister prepared to take over the
castle.  As was to be expected, distant
relatives also began to lay claim to Portlick, insisting that they were
the
true and rightful heirs.  But the future
ownership of the castle was decided when a local woman came forward.  Maggie Gerrity presented her son Robert as
Ralph’s secret child and heir.  A local
clergyman confirmed the story and the Smyth name was secured in
Portlick once more.” 


Portlick
castle remained in
Smyth hands until 1861 when it was destroyed by fire
.

 

Smiths and Smyths
in Ireland

Smiths
and Smyths in Ireland may have come from either
the plantation in Ulster and disbanded Cromwellian soldiers; or by
translation
from the Scottish McGowan or the Irish MacGabhann
or Mac an Ghabhainn.  County
Cavan included these Mac an Ghabhainns, as well as
families
transplanted there from Antrim and Down because they had sided with the
O’Neills at the time of Queen Elizabeth.

There
are approximately 55% Smiths and 45% Smyths in all of Ireland
today.  However, there remains a clear
divide between the two spellings.  Smyth
is very much the spelling in Northern Ireland, Smith elsewhere in
Ireland.  Maybe Smyth was the Protestant
name, to
distinguish themselves from the other Smiths
.

John Smith of Chester
County, Pennsylvania

John
Smith was born and brought up in county
Monaghan, probably of Scottish stock.
There was a story in the family that his father had been
MacDonald and
had been given the nickname of Smith when he had replaced a shoe on
King
William’s horse at about the time of the Battle of the Boyne.  The nickname stuck.

John
Smith came to Philadelphia with his wife and five children in 1720.  They made their home in the Brandywine
settlement of Chester county, Pennsylvania.  His gravestone at the
Presbyterian church there bore the following inscription:

“Sacred to the memory
of John Smith who died December 19, 1765,

And to Susanna his wife who died December 24, 1767,
Parents of fifteen
children.
An honest man’s the noblest work of God.
The virtuous woman’s a crown
to her husband.”

John was the forebear
of the first prominent Irish-American Smith family.  Their history
was
recounted in George Lasher’s 1906 book The
Smith Family
.

 

French Smith
in Texas

French
Smith
arrived in Texas in 1837 with his wife Mary. He was one of the original
shareholders of the newly founded town of Seguin in Gonzales county.  He spent his life in the area and is buried
in part of his land that he designated as a graveyard.

The
graveyard, deeded by
the family to the town of Seguin in 1880, is now part of the old
Riverside
cemetery.  French Smith is buried there
with his brother Paris and their father Ezekiel.  Ezekiel
Smith has a marker over his grave
that was put there in 1936:

“Ezekiel
Smith, soldier in the army of Texas in the
Mier expedition, 1842.  Born in Virginia,
died in Seguin, Texas on October 28, 1854.  Erected by the state
of Texas in
1836.

Ezekiel
Smith was
in
fact
an
old man at the time he was taken into the interior of Mexico as one of
the Mier
prisoners in 1842.
  He was
one of the fortunate ones to survive until his release two years later
.

 

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