Henry was the fourth son (the third surviving son) of Thomas (Customer) Smythe and Alice Judde. In the 1963 edition of the Visitation of London of 1568 Henry was noted as being 4 years and 6 months old at the time of the Visitation, indicating he was born around 1563.
The place of birth of Henry Smythe is unknown. Unlike 11 of his twelve siblings, his baptism was not recorded in the register of All Hallows Lombard Street, City of London. The most likely places of birth for Henry are the City of London, Barnes in Surrey, or at one of his father's estates in Kent.
In the will of his father, Thomas (Customer) Smythe, the will made on 22 May 1591 and proved on 29 October 1591 Henry was bequeathed £100. His father also bequeathed £50 each to up to three children which Henry may have in the future.
Henry was a beneficiary of the will of his mother, Alice (Judde) Smythe, the will made on 10 Jul 1592. He and his wife (she was not named) were bequeathed "one Table cloth of damaske of the storye of the Prodigall Child conteyninge syx yards, one dozen of napkins, two towells and a Cupbord clothe of the same worke and one hundred Ounces of White plate". In a Codicil of 22 May 1593 there was a further bequest of £100 to Henry and £40 pounds to his wife. As the very detailed will of Alice (Judde) Smythe did not refer to any children of Henry and his wife it is probable that they had no living children at the time the will was made in July 1592.
In 1597, Henry, recorded as Harry Smythe of Corsham, was granted a legacy of £100, following the death of his youngest brother Simon Smythe.
Henry was noted in the will of his father in law Thomas Owen, one of the Justices of the Common Pleas, the will made on 09 Dec 1598 and proved on 28 Feb 1598/1599. The will also noted his wife Elizabeth and their son Thomas.
In the will of his brother in law, Robert Davy, the will proved in 1599, he was recorded as “Mr Harrie Smith” and bequeathed a ring, while in 1624 in the will of his nephew, Sir John Davy, the Testator bequeathed £1000 to his cousin "Thomas Smith of Cossom my unckle Harrys sonne".
Henry was noted in the will of his brother, Roberte Smythe, gentleman of London, the will made on 01 Dec 1600 and proved on 28 Jan 1600/1601.
Henry Smythe married Elizabeth Owen, daughter of Thomas Owen, Serjeant at Law of London and Condover, Shropshire. The date and place of the marriage are unknown but they were married by the time of the Inquisition Post Mortem for his father of 01 Sep 1591.
Henry Smythe was recorded in the Smythe pedigree taken during the Visitation of Kent in 1619. Henry Smythe was also recorded in the Smyth pedigree taken during the Visitation of London 1633-1635 (the information provided by his eldest son, Thomas). Henry was noted as being the father of three sons.
There is evidence of six children of Henry and Elizabeth. The following were baptised at Corsham, Wiltshire: Thomas (1593), Mary (1595); Alice (1597) and Henry (1598).
A John Smythe, son of Henry esq was buried on 24 Dec 1601 at Corsham.
Edward Smythe as a son of Henry was recorded in the wills of Henry's brothers Sir John Smythe (Edward described as the 3rd son) and Sir Richard Smythe (Edward described as the 2nd son),and in 1621 Edward Smyth, son of Henry, late of Corsham, Wilts, Esq., deceased, became an Apprentice of the Skinners' Company of the City of London.
Customer Smythe built a manor house at Holme Park, the property now known as Corsham Court. "After purchasing Corsham, Customer Smythe rebuilt the house at a cost of £4,000 and the date 1582 is still to be seen on the south front of the house".
Most of Thomas Smythe's lands in Wiltshire including Corsham Court and the Manor of Nettleton passed to Henry Smythe and it is presumed that Henry took possession of Corsham Court relatively soon after his father's death.
Henry sold Corsham Court in 1602 to Sir Edward Hungerford, the Hungerfords then sold to the Methuens, the current owners.
On 4 Oct 1594 Sir Charles and Sir Henry Danvers, with 17 or 18 followers, burst in on a group of Justices of the peace gathered at John Chamberlayne’s house at Corsham and shot Henry Long dead where he sat at dinner with his brother Sir Walter, his brother-in-law Thomas Snell, Anthony Mildmay and Henry Smyth. The Danvers brothers fled the country, and were not to be promised a pardon until four years later, and that conditionally on paying Sir Walter £1,500. It is presumed that the Henry Smyth noted at this incident was this Henry Smythe.
There were two Manors in Corsham, the Town Manor and the Rectory (or Parsonage) Manor. The Rectory Manor had been a leasehold possession of Henry's uncle, John Smyth who died in 1564, but by 1602 the Rectory Manor was in the possession of Henry.
In 1872 Brakspear copied the following from the Marquis of Bath's papers at Longleat:
"In The survey of Mr. Henry Smyths lands 1602 at Cossam is
Item a parsonage, being a Manor and keepeth Courts, whereon standeth a faire dwelling howse with a garden, large court, Barnes and all out howses and pigeon howse, with cxx acres of gleebe land, beinge meadowe, pasture, and errable, worth by the yeere xl£. Quit Rent and kyne white pr ann. X£ : with lambes pr ann. Xv£: Tithe Hay pr ann. Xx£: with corne pr ann. C£: all clxxxv£. And it is holden of her Majestie by lease for one life who is now about xxxviij years of age. And fifty yeres in reversion after that life at the yearly rent of xxvj£. Xiijs. Iiijd. And this lease is worth xij yeres purchase which at clviij£. Vjs. Viijd. De claro amountithe to MixC£."
The survey of Mr Henry Smith's lands in Corsham 1602 with a letter from [Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst and Sir Robert Cecil] to the steward of the manor of Corsham requesting him (as the king has been pleased to convey the manor to the Queen 'for part of her Jointure') to forbear from keeping 'any courts whatsoever' in the said manor, till their 'further warrant', 16 September 1603, is still held at Longleat.
The Rectory Manor of Corsham subsequently came into the possession of John Ayliffe esq of Grittenham, Brinkworth, Wiltshire, who had married Henry's widow, Elizabeth. On 27 Oct 1626 John Ayliffe granted Thomas 'Smith' (the eldest son of Henry Smythe) and his wife Isabell (daughter of John Ayliffe) the rectory, parsonage and church of Corsham etc..
On 23 Sep 44 Eliz I (23 Sep 1602), Henry Smyth esq. of 'Cosham', Wiltshire, was granted a lease from Dame Elizabeth Leighton, widow of Sir Edward Leighton, Kt., of the manor or farm of Countess Court in the parish of Great Amesbury and two grystes or corn mills commonly called Clyffe mills. The lease was for ten years at an annual rent of £110.
The following was recorded in the Calendar of Antrobus Deeds concerning lands in Amesbury, Wiltshire, owned by the Earl of Hertford: On 28 Feb, 3 James I (28 Feb 1605/1606) Henry Smyth gained a Lease of the Priory Farm of Amesbury, St Johns Fair and an acre of wood, the Lease indented for the life in survivorship of Elizabeth the lessee’s wife and of Thomas Smyth and Henry Smyth the younger, two of his sons. This lease was surrendered by Henry on 02 Dec 1607. On 03 Apr 1608, two brothers of Henry, Sir Thomas Smythe and Sir Richard Smythe, surrendered a lease on The George, Amesbury, the Farm Amesbury Erle and other parcels of land, all premises which the Earl by indenture dated 2 Dec 4 Jas I (02 Dec 1606) had leased to "Henry Smith of Amrosbury esq", for the life in survivorship of himself, Elizabeth his wife, and Thomas Smith gentleman their son.
In the will of his brother Sir John Smythe the will made on 16 Mar 1607/1608 and proved in 1609, Henry was noted as being of Amesbury, Wiltshire and was deceased. Sir John Smythe bequeathed "unto my brother Henry Smyth deceased his poore children fortie poundes a peece to each of them".
The date of death of Henry is unknown but the evidence described above indicates that it was between 02 Dec 1607 and 16 Mar 1607/1608.
An entry in the Manor Court records of Corsham for 02 Apr 1608 referred to Elizabeth, the widow of Henry. His wife remarried on 24 Feb 1608/1609.
The place of burial of Henry is unknown. It was not recorded at Corsham and hence Amesbury would seem to be the most likely place. However, only fragments of the burial records for Amesbury exist for the relevant time period and Henry is not recorded in those that remain.
No will for Henry has been identified.
In the will of Henry's sister in law, Sarah the Dowager Countess of Leicester, the will made on 02 Feb 1655/1656 and proved on 13 Mar 1655/1656 she made a bequest as follows: "I doe give and bequeath unto my nephew John Smith of Highgate in the Countie of Middlesex Esquire fourteene pictures … Customer Smith and his wife and of their sixe sonnes and sixe daughters".
A number of these paintings were later in the possession of the descendants of the Viscounts of Strangford and were purchased in 2016 by the Company of Skinners in London. However, the painting of Henry is absent from the collection and its fate is unknown.
There is a family tree for Smythe in Stemmata Chicheleana. However, Figure 2 is in error. It is described as the family tree of Henry Smythe, son of Thomas (Customer) Smythe, but appears to mix and confuse the family tree of Henry Smythe, brother of Thomas (Customer) Smythe and Henry, son of the Customer.
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