Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Smith, Richard (1500-1563)
SMITH, RICHARD, D.D. (1500–1563), described by Wood as ‘the greatest pillar for the Roman catholic cause in his time,’ was born in Worcestershire in 1500. In the title-page to his treatise, ‘De Missæ Sacrificio,’ he styles himself ‘Wigornensis, Anglus, sacræ theologiæ professor,’ and Bale, who knew him personally, numbers him among English writers. Stanihurst and Ussher erroneously assert that he was the son of a blacksmith, and that he was a native of Rathmacknee, a village in Ireland three miles from Wexford. He was elected a probationer fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1527, was admitted B.A. on 5 April in that year, and commenced M.A. 18 July 1530 (Oxford Univ. Register, i. 146). He became the public scribe or registrar of the university on 8 Feb. 1531–2, was appointed the first regius professor of divinity on the foundation of that chair by Henry VIII, was admitted B.D. 13 May 1536, and D.D. 10 July the same year. On 9 Sept. 1537 he was admitted master of Whittington College, London, and he was one of the divines who were commissioned in that year to compose ‘The Institution of a Christian Man.’ Archbishop Cranmer collated him to the rectory of St. Dunstan's-in-the-East (Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 334). He was also rector of Cuxham, Oxfordshire, principal of St. Alban's Hall, and divinity reader in Magdalen College.
On the accession of Edward VI he complied with the change of religion, and on 15 May 1547 he made his recantation at St. Paul's Cross, declaring that the authority of the bishop of Rome had been justly and lawfully abolished in this realm (Strype, Cranmer, p. 171, app. p. 84, fol.). This statement he repeated at Oxford on 24 July, but he maintained that, while retracting, he did not recant (Strype, Memorials, ii. 39, seq.; Lit. Rem. of Edw. VI, p. 214). He was accordingly deprived of his regius professorship, being succeeded by Peter Martyr. Early in 1549 he had a famous disputation with Peter Martyr at Oxford (Orig. Letters, Parker Soc. ii. 478–9). A few days later Smith was imprisoned. He was released on finding security for good behaviour, but fled first to St. Andrews in Scotland, then to Paris, and afterwards to Louvain, where he was received with solemnity on 9 April 1549 (Andreas, Fasti Academici Studii Generalis Lovaniensis, 1650, p. 85); he was afterwards appointed public professor of divinity in Louvain university.
On Mary's accession he was not only restored to his professorship at Oxford and to the mastership of Whittington College, but appointed one of her majesty's chaplains and a canon of Christ Church (Le Neve, Fasti, ii. 530). He was one of the witnesses against Archbishop Cranmer, his former friend, was the principal opponent of Ridley in the disputation held at Oxford on 7 April 1554, and took part in the disputations with Latimer (see Foxe, Actes). When those prelates were about to be burnt he preached a sermon before a large auditory near Balliol College on the text, ‘If I give my body to be burnt, and have no charity, it profiteth nothing.’
After the accession of Elizabeth he lost all his preferments, and was committed in 1559 to the custody of Archbishop Parker, who induced him to recant what he had written in defence of the celibacy of priests (cf. Dodd, Church History, ii. 101). According to Jewel he was removed from his professorship owing to a charge of adultery being brought against him (Zurich Letters, i. 12, 45). Smith's attempt to take refuge in Scotland failed. Subsequently, ‘giving Matthew [Parker] the slip,’ he reached Douay, and was constituted dean of St. Peter's Church in that city by Philip II, king of Spain, who made him one of the royal chaplains. The new university of Douay was solemnly installed on 5 Oct. 1562, and Smith was appointed chancellor (Records of the English Catholics, vol. i. p. xxvii). He was also professor of theology. He died on 9 July (N.S.) 1563, and was buried in the lady-chapel within the church of St. Peter, Douay.
His works are: 1. ‘The Assertion and Defence of the Sacramente of the aulter,’ London, 1546, 8vo, dedicated to Henry VIII. 2. ‘A defence of the sacrifice of the masse,’ London, 1 Feb. 1546–7, 8vo, also dedicated to Henry VIII. 3. ‘A brief treatyse settynge forth diuers truthes necessary both to be belieued of chrysten people, & kept also, whiche are not expressed in the scripture but left to ye church by the apostles tradition,’ London, 1547, 8vo; to this Cranmer replied in his ‘Confutation of Unwritten Verities,’ 1558. 4. ‘A godly and faythfull retractation made and published at Paules Crosse in London, by mayster Rich. Smyth,’ London, 1547, 8vo. 5. ‘A Playne Declaration made at Oxforde, the 24 daye of July … M.D.xlvij,’ London, 1547, 8vo. 6. ‘A Confutation of a certen Booke, called a defence of the true and Catholike doctrine of the sacramēt, &c., sette fourth of late in the name of Thomas [Cranmer] Archebysshope of Canterburye,’ ff. 166, printed abroad , 8vo; to this Cranmer again replied. 7. ‘Defensio cœlebatûs sacerdotum, contra P. Mart.,’ Louvain, 1550, 8vo. This volume contains also ‘Confutatio quorundam articulorum de votis monasticis Pet. Martyris Itali.’ As the work was disfigured by many typographical errors, both the treatises were reprinted with the following title, ‘Defensio Sacri Episcoporum & Sacerdotum Cœlibatûs contra impias & indoctas Petri Martyris Vermilii nugas & calumnias,’ Paris, 1550, 8vo. 8. ‘Diatriba de hominis justificatione edita Oxoniæ aduersus Pet. Martyrem,’ Louvain, 1550, 8vo. 9. ‘A Bouclier of the catholike fayth of Christes church,’ 2 parts, London, 1555–6, 8vo. Dedicated to Queen Mary. 10. ‘A sermon by Dr. Smith, with which he entertained his congregation in queen Mary's reign,’ was published in 1572 by Richard Tottel, who affirmed that he was both eye and ear witness (Morgan, Phœnix Britannicus, p. 18). 11. ‘De Missæ Sacrificio succincta quædam enarratio, ac brevis repulsio præcipuorum argumentorum, quæ Phil. Melanchthon et alii sectarii objecerunt aduersus illud et Purgatorium,’ Louvain, 1562, 8vo. 12. ‘De Infantium Baptismo, contra Jo. Caluinum, ac de operibus supererogationis, et merito mortis Christi, adversus eundem Caluinum et ejus discipulos,’ Louvain, 1562, 8vo; Cologne, 1563, 8vo. 13. ‘Refutatio luculenta crassæ et exitiosæ hæresis Johannis Calvini & Christop. Carlili Angli, qua astruunt Christum non descendisse ad inferos alios, quam ad infernum infimum,’ printed abroad, 1562. 14. ‘Refutatio J. Calvini erroris de Christi merito et hominis redemptione,’ Louvain, 1562, 8vo. 15. ‘Confutatio eorum quæ Phil. Melanchthon objicit contra Missæ sacrificium propitiatorium … Cui accessit et repulsio calumniarum Jo. Caluini, et Musculi, et Jo. Juelli contra missam, ejus canonem, et purgatorium,’ Louvain, 1562, 8vo. 16. ‘Defensio compendiaria et orthodoxa sacri externi et visibilis Jesu Christi Sacerdotii. Cui addita est sacratorum Catholicæ Ecclesiæ altarium propugnatio, ac Caluinianæ Communionis succincta Refutatio,’ Louvain, 1562, 8vo. 17. ‘Religionis et Regis adversus exitiosas Calvini, Bezæ, et Ottomani coniuratorum factiones, defensio prima,’ Cologne, 1562, 8vo. 18. ‘Refutatio Locorum communium Theologicorum Philippi Melanchthonis,’ Douay (Jacques Boscard), 1563, 8vo; dedicated to Philip, king of Spain. 19. ‘Delibero hominis arbitrio adversus Jo. Caluinum, et quotquot impiè illud auferunt, Lutherum imitati,’ Louvain, 1563, 8vo.[Bale, De Scriptoribus, ix. 46; Bloxam's Magd. Coll. Reg. viii. 128; Bodleian Cat.; Brodrick's Memorials of Merton College, p. 408; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation; Chambers's Biogr. Illustr. of Worcestershire, p. 60; Dixon's Hist. of Church of England; Foster's Alumni Oxon. early ser. iv. 1378; Foxe's Actes and Mon.; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ed. Gairdner; Humfredus, Vita Juelli (1573), p. 42; Lansdowne MS. 981, f. 19; Le Neve's Fasti; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn); Molanus, Historiæ Lovaniensium, ii. 787; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 494; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 761; Stanihurst's Description of Ireland, prefixed to Holinshed's Chronicle, p. 43; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Strype's Works (general index); Ussher's Dissertation, prefixed to Ignatii Epistolæ (1644), p. 123; Ware's Writers (Harris), p. 96; Wood's Athenæ and Fasti Oxonienses.]