SMITH, Hugh (1632-80), of Long Ashton, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 21 Apr. 1632, 1st s. of Thomas Smith† of Long Ashton by Florence, da. of John Paulett†, 1st Baron Poulett of Hinton St. George, Som. m. bef. 1658, Elizabeth (d. 26 June 1697), da. of John Ashburnham I of Ashburnham, Suss. 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1642; KB 23 Apr. 1661; cr. Bt. 16 May 1661.1
Commr. for assessment, Som. 1657, Jan. 1660-d., j.p. 1657-d., commr. for militia Mar. 1660; dep. lt. Som. June 1660-d., Bristol 1662-d.; commr. for sewers, Som. Aug., Dec. 1660; freeman, Bath 1662; commr. for corporations, Som. 1662-3, sheriff 1665-6, commr. for oyer and terminer, Western circuit 1665, recusants, Som. 1675.2
Smith’s family was of Gloucestershire origin, but his great-great-grandfather, who was twice mayor of Bristol, bought Long Ashton in 1545. The first of the family to enter Parliament was Hugh Smith, MP for Wareham in 1554. Smith’s father sat for Somerset in the Short Parliament, and for Bridgwater for a few months in its successor. He was in the royalist garrison of Sherborne in 1642, whence he fled to Cardiff and died soon afterwards. The estate, valued at £2,000 p.a., thus escaped sequestration. Smith was arrested for treasonable correspondence in 1651, and together with his stepfather Colonel Pigott attended a meeting of Cavalier conspirators at Salisbury just before Penruddock’s rising. But he later served as a grand juryman and a j.p. under the Protectorate.3
As a Cavalier’s son Smyth was ineligible for the Convention, but he stood for Somerset at the general election, no doubt with covert Poulett support, though against the cautious advice of his father-in-law, and to the dismay of the Presbyterians defeated John Buckland, who had represented the county in all three Protectorate Parliaments. Smith obtained leave to go ‘into the country’ on 9 May, but instead went to Breda to present his services to the King. He was named to only two committees, those to prepare bills for customs and excise on 28 May and to support the drainage of the fens on 4 Sept., and did not speak. ‘Be sure you endeavour to be of the next Parliament’, Ashburnham wrote to him on 9 Jan. 1661; but there is no record of any such attempt, though he was made knight of the Bath and baronet in the coronation honours, and was very active locally against suspected plotters.4
Smith was much embarrassed by the bill introduced by John Knight I in 1677 to prevent frauds over Irish cattle, which reflected on him for ‘a great deal of arbitrary power and violence’ as a j.p. in recovering some of his mother’s cattle seized as illegal imports. Sir Robert Southwell explained that Knight ‘thought you would rather lose your cattle than have all the circumstances exposed to the House’. John Maynard I, though refusing a retainer as contrary to parliamentary privilege, agreed to present a petition from Smith, and the bill was rejected on third reading. This episode may have determined Smith to contest the general election. With the country candidate Sir John Sydenham he defeated two strong supporters of the Court. Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubtful’, but he voted against the exclusion bill. Otherwise he took no known part in Parliament in 1679, and he did not seek re-election in the autumn. He died on 26 July 1680, and was buried at Long Ashton. His widow married Colonel John Romsey, the Rye House plotter.5