SMYTH, Sir Robert, 3rd Bt. (c.1659-1745), of Upton, West Ham, Essex
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Family and Education
b. c.1659, 1st s. of Sir Robert Smyth, 2nd Bt., of Upton by Jane, da. of John Trafford of Dunton Hall, Lincs. and Low Leyton, Essex. educ. M. Temple 1676; St. Alban Hall, Oxf. matric. 30 Mar. 1677, aged 17. m. lic. 6 Feb. 1684, Anne, da. of Henry Whithed† of West Tytherley, Hants, wid. of John Button† of Buckland, Hants, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. between 1684 and 1695.
Commr. felling trees in New Forest, Hants 1694–?1712.1
The fortunes of Smyth’s family had been made by his great-grandfather, a successful London merchant. His grandfather bought Upton and several other estates in Essex. It was through marriage that Smyth’s ties with Hampshire were established, and connected him with three prominent families: the Whitheds of West Tytherley, the Nortons of Southwick and the Buttons of Lymington. It was doubtless these links which led the 1st Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett†), the lord lieutenant of Hampshire, to recommend him as a commissioner in the New Forest in February 1694. The following year Smyth was returned for Andover. He was forecast as likely to support the government in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade and signed the Association in February. On 19 Mar., just before the division on the price of guineas, he was granted leave of absence to go into the country upon ‘extraordinary occasions’, and again on 18 Dec.2
Smyth made no attempt to retain his seat, and was listed after the 1698 election as having been a Court supporter. A venomous letter of 25 Feb. 1701 raises a question over his loyalty to the government, as it accused him of being a close associate of Jacobites and Catholics: ‘he that knows his principles will say he’ll sell our Saviour (if on earth) for interest, nay for less than 30 pieces of silver, much more his K[ing] and country’. The same letter accused Smyth of having saved Catholics and non-jurors in the county from paying the heavier rates of land tax imposed on them, so that ‘they came off better than their neighbours’. This information may have been malicious as it does not seem to have affected his New Forest commissionership, which he continued to hold. In September 1712 Smyth was threatened with an action unless he desisted from exercising a pretended right to cut down and sell verminous trees in the forest. He died on 27 Jan. 1745, aged 86, and was buried at West Ham. His eldest son having predeceased him, the baronetcy and most of his estate passed to his grandson Trafford.3