SMYTHE, Edward (c.1605-82), of the Middle Temple and Whitchurch, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1605, 2nd s. of Edward Smythe (d.1637) of Abingdon, Berks. and the Middle Temple by w. Katherine. educ. M. Temple 1627, called 1635. m. c.1648, Constance, da. of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, Warws., wid. of Sir William Spencer, 2nd Bt., of Yarnton, Oxon., 2s. Kntd. July/Oct. 1662.1

Offices Held

Bencher, M. Temple 1655; commr. for settlement [I] 1662-6, chief commr. 1666-9; l.c.j.c.p. [I] 1665-9; PC [I] 1665-9.

Commr. for recusants, Hants 1675; j.p. Bucks. by 1680-d.

MP [I] 1662-5.


Smythe’s sister, ‘a very lovely woman, they say, and of singular carriage for one of her breeding’, married ‘to his great disparagement ... a wild young scholar of Oxford’, who subsequently succeeded as 3rd Earl of Nottingham. Smythe himself succeeded to chambers in a new building in the Temple for which his father had been one of the undertakers. He seems to have avoided involvement in the Civil War, though he had Cavalier kinsfolk. It was, however, to his brother-in-law, Richard Lucy, a salaried official of the Commonwealth, who owned property in the Isle of Wight, that he owed his election at Yarmouth in 1661. He was probably the ‘Mr Smith’ listed by Lord Wharton as a friend. An active Member in the first session of the Cavalier Parliament, he was sent to ask Dr John Earle, the most moderate of the exiled clergymen, to preach to the House. He took the chair on the bill to regulate the fees of masters in chancery, and reported it on 20 June. He was appointed to the committees for the uniformity bill and the bill of pains and penalties. After the recess he reported the bill to sever the hundreds of Dudson and King’s Barton from the city of Gloucester, and carried it, with other bills, to the Lords. He was among those to whom was committed the proviso on the trial of peers charged under the bill to prevent mischief from schismatics, and he helped to peruse Wither’s ‘infamous libel’ on the ‘prevaricating Members’ of the House. He was on the committees to prepare the clause for street widening in the London and Westminster highways bill and to peruse the bill before engrossment. He reported the bankruptcy bill on 14 Apr. 1662 and returned it to the Lords, and helped to manage the conference on abuses in printing on 19 May.2

In July 1662 Smythe was appointed one of the commissioners for the Irish land settlement. Ormonde found him honest and well-natured, with much capacity for business, knighted him, and took him under his protection. He served in the Irish Parliament for Lisburn until he became chief justice in 1665. Two years later he bought an estate in Buckinghamshire, and after Ormonde’s dismissal he obtained leave to return to his native country, ‘where, considering with myself that ... there was something more necessary for the entertaining the short remainder of my life than barely the business of the world ... I did humbly petition his Majesty that he would be pleased to discharge me of my place of chief justice and give me leave to remain in England, that I might betake myself to a contemplative life’. Nevertheless he reappeared at Westminster after the collapse of the Cabal. On 23 Feb. 1674 he attacked a bill sent down from the Upper House to reform the trial of peers: ‘all are kindred and relations in the Lords’ House, and so there is no crime they will punish’. He was entered on the working lists to be managed by Henry Coventry, his old colleague on the Irish claims commission, and on Wiseman’s list. (Sir) Joseph Williamson noted him as wanting in a debate early in 1678, but Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’ and his name was on the government list. A moderately active Member, he was named to 76 committees, all but five before he left for Ireland. He did not stand again, and died on 20 Feb. 1682, aged 77. Besides a bequest to the poor of Whitchurch, where he was buried, he left the remainder of a long lease of an inn in Fetter Lane to the churchwardens of two London parishes, ‘and I hope that none of it will be diminished upon the usual account of dicing and drinking’. His sons died in 1690 and 1694 without male heirs.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. M. Temple Recs. 425, 868; Smith’s Obituary (Cam. Soc. xxxiv), 13; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. lxii), 94; CSP Ire. 1660-2, pp. 577, 610.
  • 2. CP, ix. 790; M. Temple Recs. 493, 523; Bodl. Carte 33, f. 22; CJ, viii. 266, 351.
  • 3. Cal. Cl. SP, v. 292, 347; VCH Bucks. iii. 446; PCC 49 Cottle; Grey, ii. 452; Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 513, 518.