SMYTHE, Sir John II (c.1592-1632), of Leeds Castle, Kent

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. c.1592, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Sir Richard Smythe* and his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Scott of Scot’s Hall, Kent, wid. of John Knatchbull of Mersham Hatch, Kent.1 educ. ?travelled abroad 1610-13.2 m. 3 Mar. 1617 (with £4,000),3 Mary (d. 11 May 1678), da. of Richard Franklin of Willesden, Mdx., ?1s. d.v.p.4 kntd. 28 Feb. 1617;5 suc. fa. 1628. d. 20 May 1632.6

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Maidstone, Kent 1628, Ticehurst, Kent 1630, Kent and Suss. Feb. 1632-d.7


According to Chamberlain, Smythe’s knighthood in 1617 was a precondition of his marriage to Mary Franklin, who brought him a substantial dowry of £4,000. The union was possibly not childless as is usually supposed, for the financial records of Mary’s brother, Sir John Franklin*, include payments during the mid-1620s for the education of a boy named John Smith.8 Despite his lack of a university training, Smythe, who may have been the John Smith ‘of London’ licensed to travel abroad for three years in 1610, was evidently well educated. In 1623 he lent a number of French and Italian manuscripts to John Howell*, who also borrowed a copy of a work by Balzac from him two years later.9

Returned for Mitchell to the first and second Caroline Parliaments, Smythe probably owed his seats to the influence of his cousin, Sir Richard Buller*, who belonged to the same Cornish gentry faction as John Arundell*, the borough’s principal patron. Smythe left no trace on the records of either session.10 He succeeded to his patrimony in 1628, but played only a minor role in local government. In his will of 30 Dec. 1631 he appointed Sir John Franklin one of his overseers.11 He died without male heir five months later, aged 40, and was buried at Leeds Castle. His widow subsequently married Anthony Crofts*. Smythe’s two sisters, who were his coheirs, sold Leeds Castle to Sir Thomas Culpeper*.12

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Arch. Cant. xx. 78.
  • 2. SO3/4, unfol., April 1610.
  • 3. D. Lysons, Environs of London, iii. 622; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 62.
  • 4. Arch. Cant. xx. 78; S.H.A. Hervey, W. Stow Par. Reg. 78.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 161.
  • 6. Arch. Cant. xx. 78.
  • 7. C181/3, f. 252v; 181/4, ff. 38, 106v.
  • 8. Soc. Antiq. ms 133, ff. 1-2v, 4v, 5.
  • 9. J. Howell, Epistolae Ho-Elianae, 18, 92-3.
  • 10. Arch. Cant. xx. 78-9; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 57.
  • 11. PROB 11/162, f. 136.
  • 12. W. Copinger, Suff. Manors, i. 406; C. Wykeham Martin, Leeds Castle, Kent, 156.