SMITH, Henry (?1765-1826), of Drapers' Hall, Throgmorton Street, London and Ellingham Hall, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



2 Apr. 1807 - 1812

Family and Education

b. ?1765, 2nd s. of John Smith of Drapers’ Hall by Elizabeth, da. of Chauncy Townsend of Austin Friars, London, sis. of James Townsend of Bruce Castle, Tottenham, Mdx. m. Maria Pyefinch, s.p.

Offices Held

Clerk to Drapers’ Co. 1797-d.; solicitor, E.I. Co. 1797-d.


Smith became a King’s bench solicitor like his father, and after entering into partnership with him succeeded him as clerk of the Drapers’ Company and solicitor to the East India Company, of which he was a stockholder, in 1797. Like his uncle Alderman Townsend some years before, he was returned for Calne on the Lansdowne interest, in his case by the 2nd Marquess, whose marriage he had witnessed in 1805.1

Like his patron, Smith supported the Portland administration2 and in his maiden speech said, 6 July 1807, that ‘the present ministers had done nothing to forfeit the confidence of the country, and until they showed themselves unworthy he ... would support them’. On 13 Mar. 1809 he said that the Duke of York should be impeached and punished if found guilty of misconduct of army patronage; the next day he repeated this view, claiming to have been misreported in a newspaper owing to ‘the disturbed state of the House’, and on the 17th twice voted with opposition on this issue. These were his first known minority votes, unless it was he who as ‘Hugh Smith’ appeared in the minority on the Oudh charge, 15 Mar. 1808. He refused to blame ministers for the irregularities of the Dutch commissioners, 1 May 1809. On 18 May he favoured facilitation of divorce proceedings. On 19 June, on behalf of the East India Company, he opposed Turton’s motion on their conduct. He rallied to Perceval’s ministry on the address, 23 Jan, 1810, and explained on 26 Jan. that, although he favoured inquiry into the Scheldt expedition, he would not support it that day. He spoke against Wellington’s pension, 16 Feb., but voted with ministers throughout the Scheldt inquiry and was listed ‘Government’ by the Whigs. He voted against Burdett’s imprisonment, 5 Apr. 1810, but against the discharge of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr. He objected to legislation on parliamentary privilege, 23 May, and supported Williams Wynn’s motion on it, 8 June. He voted with opposition on the Regency, 1 and 21 Jan. 1811, calling for a responsibility clause to be added to the bill, 17 Jan. On 4 Mar. he was the East India Company’s champion against Creevey’s attack on them. He supported the printers bill, 19 Mar. He objected to the funding of Exchequer bills as imprudent, 14 Feb. 1812, and to the bankers embezzlement bill as ineffective, 9 Mar. He saw no reason why a Member declared bankrupt should be obliged to vacate his seat, 23 Mar. On 4 May he was in the ministerial minority against sinecure reform. He nevertheless defended the bill to regulate the Admiralty registrarship, 19 June. His last speech, 30 June 1812, was against inquiry into the conduct of a judge of the Palace Court.

Since 1809 Smith’s patron had been the Whig 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne. It had been readily supposed that he would resign his seat to let in a Member more politically congenial to the marquess: but the latter allowed him to follow his own somewhat unpredictable line until the dissolution. He then retired and, so he assured William Adam, had ‘no electioneering project’ either for himself or his friends.3 In 1817 he visited the Drapers’ Irish estates. He paid an ‘elegant compliment’ to the Duke of York on his military capacity when he was made free of the Company on 2 Apr. 1818.4 On his death, 4 Mar. 1826, aged 61, his Norfolk estate went to his nephew John Smith, son of his elder brother Charles (1764-1813) at whose residence near Swansea he died. His remains, buried in the family vault at St. Peter le Poor, Old Broad Street, London, were removed to Ilford cemetery in 1907.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1797), i. 528; Rev. A. H. Johnson, Hist. Co. of Drapers of London, iii. 445-6; Mar. Reg. St. George’s Hanover Sq. ii. 325.
  • 2. Lansdowne mss, Viveash to Petty, 17 May 1807.
  • 3. Add. 51686, Petty to Holland, Thurs. [16 Nov. 1809]; Blair Adam mss, Smith to Adam, 9 Sept. 1812.
  • 4. T. Girtin, The Triple Crowns, 305-6, 308, 311.
  • 5. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), iv. 125-31; Gent. Mag. (1826), i. 283 gave his age as 62. He is not to be confused with his namesake, the London merchant and Bank director who died 3 Oct. 1826 (Allport, Camberwell, 180), and the attribution of two sons to him by Ward, Letters to ‘Ivy’, 175 is mistaken.