Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Smith, Thomas (1556?-1609)

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SMITH, Sir THOMAS (1556?–1609), master of requests, born at Abingdon, Berkshire, about 1556, was the son of Thomas Smith, who is probably to be identified with the Thomas Smith who was mayor of Abingdon in 1584 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–90, p. 177). He must be distinguished from Sir Thomas Smith or Smythe (1558?–1625) [q. v.], governor of the East India Company, and from the latter's father, Thomas Smythe (d. 1591), ‘customer’ of the port of London (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–91, passim). He was educated at Abingdon grammar school and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was elected student in 1573, graduated B.A. in December 1574, and M.A. in June 1578. He was chosen public orator on 9 April 1582, and proctor on 29 April 1584. Soon afterwards he became secretary to Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex [q. v.], and in 1587 was appointed clerk of the privy council. In December 1591 he wrote to Cecil urging Essex's claims to the chancellorship of Oxford University (Murdin, pp. 649–50). He represented Cricklade in the parliament of 1588–9, Tamworth in that of 1593 (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. i. 330 a), and Aylesbury in that of 1597–8. On 30 Sept. 1597 he received a grant of the clerkship of parliament, in succession to Anthony Wyckes, alias Mason [see under Mason, Sir John]. He kept aloof from Essex's intrigues, and on 29 Nov. 1599 was sent by the lords to summon the earl before the privy council (Collins, Mem. of State, ii. 126, 129). On the accession of James I he received further promotion, perhaps owing to his friendship with Carleton, Edmondes, Winwood, and Bacon (Spedding, Letters and Life of Bacon, iv. 138–9). He was knighted at Greenwich on 20 May 1603, and in the following month was granted the Latin secretaryship for life, and the reversion to the secretaryship of the council of the north. On 8 June 1604 he obtained the manor of Wing, Rutland, and in 1608 he was made master of requests. On 20 May in the same year he received a pension of 100l. He died on 27 Nov. 1609 at his residence, afterwards Peterborough House, Parsons Green, Fulham, and was buried on 7 Dec. in the chancel of Fulham church, where a monument, with an inscription to his memory, is extant (Faulkner, Fulham, p. 73). He married Frances (1580–1663), daughter of William Brydges, fourth baron Chandos, and sister of Grey, fifth baron [q. v.] His only son, Robert, died a minor, and his only daughter, Margaret, married Thomas, second son of Robert Carey, first earl of Monmouth [q. v.] Smith's widow married Thomas Cecil, first earl of Exeter [q. v.], and survived till 1663. By his will, dated 12 Sept. 1609, Smith left 100l. to the poor of Abingdon, and a similar sum to the Bodleian Library.

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1580–1609 passim; Cal. Hatfield MSS. pts. iv.–vi.; Lansd. MS. 983, f. 145; Addit. MS. 22583, ff. 56, 57, 78; Official Return of Members of Parl.; Winwood's Memorials, ii. 35, 57, 198, 399; Collins's Sydney Papers, passim; Birch's Memoirs of Queen Elizabeth, i. 112, ii. 38–9; Spedding's Letters and Life of Bacon, i. 294, iii. 366, iv. 138–9; D'Ewes's Journals; Camden's Elizabeth, vol. iii.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 53; Brown's Genesis U.S.A. ii. 1018; Clark's Reg. Univ. Oxon. II. i. 250, ii. 134, iii. 44; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Faulkner's Fulham, pp. 73, 283–5; Collins's Peerage, iii. 133.]

A. F. P.