Smith, Richard (1566-1655) (DNB00)

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SMITH, RICHARD (1566–1655), bishop of Chalcedon, was born at Hanworth, Lincolnshire, in 1566. He was sent to Trinity College, Oxford, about 1583; but, there becoming a Roman catholic, he repaired in 1586 to Rome, where he entered the English College and studied under Bellarmine. In 1587 he engaged to return to England as a missionary, and in 1592 he was ordained. Arriving at Valladolid in February 1595, he took his doctor's degree and was professor of philosophy till 1598, when he settled at Seville as professor of controversy. In 1602–3 he visited Douay, where an uncle, a physician, died during his stay. In 1603 he landed in England. Thence after some years he was sent to Rome to obtain the settlement of disputes between the regular and secular clergy, and he thus came into collision with Robert Parsons (1546–1610) [q. v.], who said of him, ‘I never dealt with any man in my life more heady and resolute in his opinions.’ Quitting Rome without having effected his purpose, Smith arrived in Paris, where he presided at the Collège d'Arras over a small company of English priests, engaged there, from 1613 to 1631, in writing controversial works. On the death of the vicar-apostolic for England and Scotland, William Bishop [q. v.], Urban VIII, by the advice of Barloe, prior of the English College at Douay, chose Smith as his successor, and on 12 Jan. 1625 he was consecrated to that office as bishop of Chalcedon by the papal nuncio in Paris, Cardinal Spada.

He entered on his post in April 1625, residing mostly at Turvey, Bedfordshire, in a house belonging to Anthony Browne, second Viscount Montague. For two years harmony prevailed among the Roman catholics in England, but Smith then became embroiled with the regulars by claiming the full episcopal prerogatives enjoyed in catholic countries. He required the regulars to obtain his license for hearing confessions, he remodelled the chapter, and he created a probate court and ordered visitations of private houses. Some of these innovations gave umbrage to the catholic nobles, as rendering them liable to prosecution for misprision of treason. The pope was appealed to, and on 16 Dec. 1627 condemned some of Smith's pretensions. The quarrel brought him under the notice of the English government, which, on 11 Dec. 1628, issued a proclamation for his arrest, and on 24 March following offered a reward of 100l. for his capture. The object, however, seems to have been merely to frighten him into quietude, for he was in perfect security at the French embassy, where his sermons drew large congregations. When, however, the pope ordered the suspension, pending his decision, of controversial writings and disciplinary measures, Smith, in 1629, retired to France and apprised the nuncio of his readiness to resign, but when called upon for his resignation he refused to give it. The Vatican thenceforth ceased to recognise him, and Panzani's mission to England led to the virtual suppression of the episcopate. Cardinal Richelieu conferred on Smith the sinecure abbey of Charroux in Poitou, and offered him a home in his palace at Paris. The Sorbonne also sided with him, and Cardinal de Gondi, archbishop of Paris, delegated ordinations to him. In 1630 an unfounded rumour of his return to the French embassy at London elicited an offer by a Frenchman to the English government to inveigle and arrest him. On the death of Richelieu in 1642, Smith, deprived both of a home and the abbey, found a refuge at the English Austin nunnery in Paris, which he had assisted in founding, and there he remained till his death on 18 March 1655. He was buried in the convent chapel, and his tomb was preserved till the removal of the community to Neuilly in 1860. He bequeathed to the nuns St. Cuthbert's pastoral ring, which in 1856 was presented to Ushaw College, and a chaplet styled ‘My Lord,’ which each nun in rotation holds for a week, using it in prayers for the welfare of the community and the restoration of catholicism in England. An original portrait of Smith is at Neuilly.

Smith wrote: 1. ‘An Answer to T. Bels late Challeng named by him the Downfal of Popery,’ 1605, 8vo. 2. ‘The Prudentiall Ballance of Religion,’ 1609, 16mo. 3. ‘Vita … Dominæ Magdalenæ Montis-Acuti in Anglia Comitissæ’ [i.e. Magdalen, second wife of Anthony Browne, first viscount Montague [q. v.], Rome, 1609, 8vo; a German translation appeared at Augsburg in 1611 and an English one at Douai (?) in 1627. 4. ‘De Auctore et Essentia Protestanticæ Ecclesiæ et religionis libri duo,’ Paris, 1619, 8vo; English translation 1621, 8vo. 5. ‘Collatio Doctrinæ Catholicorum ac Protestantium cum Expressis S. Scripturæ,’ Paris, 1622, 4to; English translation, 1631, 4to. 6. ‘Of the Distinction of Fundamental and not Fundamental Points of Faith,’ 1645, 8vo. 7. ‘Monita quædam utilia pro Sacerdotibus, Seminaristis, Missionariis Angliæ,’ Paris, 1647, 12mo. 8. ‘A Treatise of the best Kinde of Confessors,’ London, 1651, 12mo. 9. ‘Of the al-sufficient Eternal Proposer of Matters of Faith,’ 1653, 8vo. 10. ‘Florum Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ gentis Anglorum libri septem … collectore R. Smitheo,’ Paris, 1654, fol.

[Dodd's Church History is the chief authority, and has been paraphrased or abridged by all subsequent catholic historians, who, like him, side with Smith; but some additional facts are given by Cédoz, Couvent de Religieuses Anglaises à Paris, 1891. See also Cal. State Papers, Dom., 1625–31; Carre's Pietas Parisiensis; Mem. of Panzani; Butler's Memoirs; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iii. 384; Weldon's Chron. Notes; Flanagan's History of the Church in England, 1850: Brady's Episcopal Succession.]

J. G. A.