SMITH, Clement (by 1515-52), of Little Baddow and Rivenhall, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. by 1515, 2nd s. of Thomas Smith of Rivenhall by 2nd w. Isabel, da. and h. of William Foster of Little Baddow. m. Dorothy, da. of Sir John Seymour of Wolf Hall, Wilts. 3s. 4da. Kntd. 22 Feb. 1547.1

Offices Held

Lord treasurer’s remembrancer in the Exchequer, Dec. 1539; j.p. Essex 1541-d.; commr. relief, Essex and household of Princess Mary 1550.2


The Smiths of Rivenhall, near Witham, were a county family of little distinction: the manor of Little Baddow, where Clement Smith for the most part lived, may have come through his mother, an heiress there. In 1513 Smith’s elder brother John had become reversioner or assistant to Edmund Denny in the important office of lord treasurer’s remembrancer in the Exchequer and in 1539, when he was probably already at work there, perhaps as his brother’s subordinate, he obtained the reversion of the same office. He was admitted and took the oath on 2 Dec. in the presence of Cromwell as chancellor of the Exchequer: the office, which had to be exercised in person, carried a fee of £64 2s. a year. The provision in Smith’s will that his sons should be trained by ‘auditors or other officers toward the laws’ may reflect a hope that one of them might in turn hold it.3

It was probably several years before 1539 that Smith had married Sir John Seymour’s youngest daughter, whose sister was to become Henry VIII’s third Queen and whose eldest brother Duke of Somerset and Protector. The alliance was not to yield him much advantage beyond the knighthood which he received a few days after his nephew’s coronation. He acquired a little property in Essex, in 1540 by leasing some of the forfeited lands of the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and four years later by buying from the augmentations the mansion of Bourchiers and its appurtenances at Coggeshall, but the second of these at least cost him the full price, without any hint of favour. His lease of Bradwell manor from Queen Catherine Parr hints at a connexion which may have contributed more to his two elections at Maldon (a borough five miles away from Little Baddow) than his Seymour one, for the Queen’s brother was a considerable landowner there and one of Smith’s fellow-Members, Nicholas Throckmorton, was a servant of William Parr.4

That Smith was to profit so little from the Seymour ascendancy is to be ascribed, at least in part, to his lack of sympathy with the religious changes which accompanied it. A staunch Catholic, he was once reprimanded by Edward VI himself for hearing mass and in April 1550 he spent a few weeks in the Fleet for the same offence. A year earlier he had been in trouble on another score, this time for offending Somerset’s rival and successor the Earl of Warwick. In April 1550 Smith was summoned before the Council to answer for his ‘presumption and lewdness’ in subscribing his name to a writ issued by the Exchequer against Warwick for a debt due to the crown. The writ had been issued as a matter of course by Smith in the process of collecting crown revenue, and there is no indication of his appearance in answer to the summons.5

Smith died on 26 Aug. 1552. His will is instinct with Catholic feeling, from its long preamble to its final prayer to God for forgiveness, if anything in it ‘for lack of great knowledge and learning be contrary unto His will and word or unto the Church Catholic’. The greater part of it is concerned with arrangements for repaying Smith’s debts and with provisions for the education and marriage of his younger children. He left nothing to his wife, ‘which she or her friends might think an unkindness in me other than I would they should or than I mean or is true’; his explanation was that ‘the King’s Majesty hath given [her] fair lands which with the poor jointure and other such lands as I have put her in jointly with me for term of her life ... and her dowry be double as much as all my lands manors and tenements’. Among the five executors Smith named his ‘most especial friends’ Robert Rochester and John Ryther. Although the will bears the date 13 July 1552 it must have been drawn up earlier, for one of the supervisors was the Duke of Somerset who had been executed in the previous January; the other was Smith’s surviving brother-in-law Sir Henry Seymour.6

Dorothy Smith was granted a pension of 100 marks a year towards her expenses in the maintenance of her niece, the Protector’s daughter Lady Elizabeth Seymour. She did not long remain a widow, marrying Thomas Laventhorpe before November 1553. Smith’s children stuck to Catholicism and one of his sons, Sir John Smith, won distinction as a soldier in the reign of Elizabeth.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference, 1536, Essex Feet of Fines, iv. ed. Reaney and Fitch, 204. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 173-4; PCC 28 Powell; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, ii(2), 327-8.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiv, xvi, xvii, xx; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 76, 83; 1550-3, pp 352, 363.
  • 3. LP Hen VIII, xiv; PCC 28 Powell; Elton, Tudor Rev. in Govt. 115; E405/205, 210.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xv, xix; Strype, ii(I), 451; E315/340, f. 6v.
  • 5. W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, ii. 253; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 310; APC, iii. 8.
  • 6. PCC 28 Powell; J. E. Oxley, Ref. in Essex, 260.
  • 7. CPR, 1553-4, p. 170; APC, iv. 362; DNB (Smith, Sir John).