Smith, Jeremiah (d.1675) (DNB00)

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SMITH or SMYTH, Sir JEREMIAH (d. 1675), admiral, grandson of John Smyth of Much Warlingfield, Suffolk, and third son of Jeremiah Smyth of Canterbury, was presumably settled at Hull as a merchant and shipowner, living at Birkin, where his wife, Frances, died in her fortieth year, on 3 Sept. 1656. Whether he served in the parliamentary army during the civil war is uncertain; in connection with the sea service his name first appears as one of the signatories to the declaration of confidence in Cromwell made by the admirals and captains of the fleet on 22 April 1653. He had then been recently appointed captain of the Advice, a ship of 42 guns, which he commanded during the summer and in the battles of 2 and 3 June, and of 29 and 31 July. In December he was appointed to the Essex, a new ship, and during the next three years seems to have had the command of a small squadron for the police of the North Sea.

In 1664 Smyth was appointed to the command of the Mary, from which, on the imminence of the Dutch war in the spring of 1665, he was moved to the Sovereign, and sent to the Mediterranean as commander-in-chief of a small squadron. He is said by Charnock to have been ordered to hoist the union flag at the main when clear of the Channel, but this seems very doubtful. On his return he was appointed admiral of the blue squadron in the grand fleet, and, remaining with the duke of Albemarle when the fleet was divided, took part in the ‘Four Days' Fight,’ 1–4 June. The same month he was knighted (cf. Pepys, Diary, iv. 439). He was still admiral of the blue squadron in the battle of 25 July, where, by withdrawing from the line, he tempted Tromp to follow him with a very superior force, thus weakening the Dutch line of battle. It was doubted at the time, and may be doubted still, whether this was done of set purpose in consequence of some accident or of shoal water, or from being beaten out of his station. Sir Robert Holmes [q. v.], who had got separated from the red squadron and joined the blue, fiercely maintained that it was cowardice, of which a court-martial fully acquitted Smyth. The quarrel, however, continued with bitterness, and extended through all ranks of the fleet, Albemarle taking part with Smyth, and Prince Rupert with Holmes. It is said that between the two there was a duel, which in itself is not improbable, though there is no evidence of the fact. In 1667 Smyth commanded a small squadron in the North Sea to prey on the enemy's commerce, while the Thames and Medway were left open to the enemy's fleet, and in 1668 was vice-admiral of the fleet under Sir Thomas Allin [q. v.] in the Channel. In the following year he was appointed one of the commissioners of the navy as comptroller of the victualling, and this office he held till his death at Clapham in October or November 1675. His body was brought from Clapham to Hemingbrough, where, in the church, is a monument, to his memory. His will, dated 13 Oct., was proved on 13 Nov. In 1662 he bought Prior House in Hemingbrough, near Selby; he afterwards bought various pieces of land in Hemingbrough and the neighbourhood, and in 1668 he bought the manor of Osgodby. He married, for a second wife, Anne, daughter of John Pockley of Thorp Willoughby, and by her had three sons.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. i. 136; Calendars of State Papers, Dom.; Burton's Hist. of Hemingbrough, edited by Raine, pp. 322–4.]

J. K. L.