SMYTHE, William Meade (1786-1866), of Westgate, Drogheda, co. Louth and Deer Park, nr. Honiton, Devon

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

9 Mar. 1822 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 16 May 1786, 2nd s. of William Smythe (d. 1812) of BarbaVilla House, co. Westmeath and Catherine, da. and h. of William Meade Ogle, MP [I], of Drogheda. educ. by Mr. Foligny; Sidney Sussex, Camb. 1811. m. Aug. 1815, Lady Isabella Howard, da. of William, 3rd earl of Wicklow [I], 3da. (2 d.v.p.). d. 9 July 1866.

Offices Held

Biography

Smythe’s father had married into the Meade Ogle dynasty of wealthy merchants who dominated the representation of Drogheda. His maternal uncle Henry Meade Ogle had sat there, 1806-7, 1812-20, with the backing of the corporation, of which his elder brother Ralph (1784-1814) was a leading alderman and its mayor in 1812.1 On the death of the sitting Member in 1822, Smythe came forward citing his support for Catholic emancipation and his hope of regaining the ‘honour which you have so often conferred on different members of my family’. With backing from the independent gentlemen and freemen, whom the Countess de Salis accused of ‘rallying round’ him, ‘though an unpopular person, to save their town from the disgrace of being a second time bought by an attorney’, he was returned at the head of the poll.2 A radical commentary of 1823 stated that Smythe, who is not known to have spoken in debate, had shown ‘no trace of attendance in the last three sessions’, but two years later he was noted to have ‘attended frequently, and voted with ministers’.3 He presented a Drogheda petition for repeal of the Irish window tax, 1 May 1822.4 On 6 June 1822 he applied to the Irish secretary Goulburn for the ‘living of Collan in the county of Louth’ on behalf of his younger brother John, explaining that

our family have been long soliciting this favour and have received many promises from government but never have obtained anything ... In a late interview I had with Lord Liverpool, he promised to speak to you on the subject; the living in question is a very small one, not £500 a year I believe, but from its situation it is particularly desirable for our family.5

He voted with the Liverpool ministry against inquiry into the parliamentary franchise, 20 Feb., and tax reductions, 13, 18 Mar. 1823. He divided against the production of papers on the Orange plot to murder the lord lieutenant of Ireland, 24 Mar. He voted for the grant for Irish churches and glebe houses, 11 Apr. He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June 1823. He presented Drogheda petitions against repeal of the Irish fishing bounties, 3 May 1824, and against the county assessment, 3 June 1824.6 He was granted a fortnight’s leave on account of ill health, 15 Feb. 1825, but was present to vote for suppression of the Catholic Association, 25 Feb. He divided for Catholic claims, 1 Mar., 10 May 1825. He voted against condemnation of the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar. 1826.

At that year’s general election Smythe offered again, denouncing the rival candidature of Drogheda’s recorder Peter Van Homrigh*, whom he accused of breaking a promise not to intervene. A bitter struggle ensued, but following the appearance on the fourth day of another pro-Catholic candidate Smythe withdrew, claiming to have been ‘deserted by the Roman Catholic interest of the town’.7 He died at Scarborough, Yorkshire, in July 1866.8

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon

Notes