SMYTH, John (1748-1811), of Heath Hall, nr. Pontefract, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



11 Apr. 1783 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 12 Feb. 1748, o.s. of John Smyth of Heath Hall by Bridget, da. of Benjamin Foxley of London.  educ. Westminster; Trinity, Camb. 1766.  m. 4 June 1778, Lady Georgiana Fitzroy, da. of Augustus Henry, 3rd Duke of Grafton,1 4s. 2da.  suc. fa. 1771.

Offices Held

Ld. of Admiralty 1791-4, of Treasury 1794-1802; P.C. 22 Sept. 1803; master of the mint 1802-4; member of Board of Trade 1805-6.


John Smyth was a Yorkshire country gentleman who took an active part in the petitioning movement of 1779-80. He signed the demand for the county meeting of 30 Dec. 1779, was one of the committee of seven appointed to consider Wyvill’s draft petition, and helped to circulate it in the West Riding. He remained a member of the committee, although Rockingham on 17 Sept. 1780 described him to Savile as ‘a warm and zealous petitioner, though not an Associator’.2

In 1780 Smyth was invited to stand at Pontefract on the interest of the resident householders, but declined. In 1783 he accepted a second invitation, though not sanguine of success; was defeated at the poll; and seated on petition. His first recorded vote was for Pitt’s motion on parliamentary reform 7 May 1783. He did not vote on Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, but was classed by both Robinson and Stockdale as a supporter of Pitt. He was a member of the St. Alban’s Tavern group of country gentlemen who tried to bring about a union between Fox and Pitt.

At the contest of 1784 he was returned head of the poll. In 1785 he again supported Pitt’s parliamentary reform plan. In May 1785 at the request of his constituents he opposed the shop tax,

though he thought the paying a blind and implicit obedience to constituents in all cases was not only to admit a doctrine dangerous to the independence of that House but to sacrifice their own judgement, yet he was of opinion that the utmost deference and respect should ... be paid to the wishes of those who were to be materially ... affected by any measures of Government.3

Normally, however, he was a regular Government supporter: on 24 Jan. 1786 he moved the Address, and voted with Pitt on the Duke of Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786, and on the Regency. Four speeches by him are reported before 1790.

Smyth died 12 Feb. 1811.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: E. A. Smith


  • 1. A. M. W. Stirling, Annals of a Yorks. House, ii. 108-12.
  • 2. HMC Foljambe, 155.
  • 3. Stockdale,vi. 296-7.