Smith archives

Letters and papers were left by Rev. Hy. Smith; his son, the Thirsk solicitor, Henry Smith; his grandson Frederic Smith and Frederic's own children.

The entry point to the family and local history area organised by name is here.


General comments on Smiths
Family tree and local history working area
Henry Thornton and Henry Ward - The Thirsk 2 - 1883
Weighbridge proposed at Thirsk - 1884
Opposition to the Thirsk Water Company scheme and act of Parliament
Index of pictures (incomplete)
Thirsk Institute
A C Bamlett Ltd
Castle Brewery, Thirsk - A C Marr 1880
Viscount Helmsley's 1910 Parliamentary address
Buchanan family of Sowerby
Thirsk Falcom Masonic Lodge No 1416; 1872 - 1910
Kelly's Directory 1879 - Thirsk
Kelly's Directory 1879 - Sowerby
Funeral of Henry Smith (1850 - 1897)
Biography of Major Sanders (1806 - 1890)
Smiths at Westminster School 1740 - 1840
Letter Reverend Henry Smith to daughter Elizabeth - 1897
Archive blog

Introduction comments

These Smiths claim to trace their ancestry to William de Herris, who also used the name Smith, from Withcote in Leicestershire. William died in about 1512. Other information on the internet takes that de Herris line back to 1070.

This material was gathered by Frederic Smith. He followed the ancestral line of his own name - Smith.

A Henry Smith sat as a judge at the trial of King Charles I of England and subsequently signed the royal death warrant. Henry was excluded from the general amnesty upon the restoration of Charles II to the throne of England and was sentenced to death. Pleas for clemency spared him from the gallows and he died a prisoner after periods in the Tower of London and Jersey Castle. His children may have fled to Jamaica. Relatives renounced Henry's lands and property rather than be tainted by the shame of regicide.

This branch of the Smiths have claimed for many years to be descendants of Henry Smith Regicide, but proof is elusive; some of the dates involved are unlikely and I am rather dubious about it.

Once re-emerged, they took positions in the church, especially at Dry Drayton and Westminster. Samuel Smith was headmaster of Westminster school and is buried, with his wife Anna, in the north aisle there. Several Smiths were subsequently sent to their family school at Westminster.

Smiths arrived in Thirsk when one of Samuel's many grandsons, Reverend Henry Smith, youngest son of Samuel Smith (Dean of Christchurch, Oxford), married Frances Bell Macbean.

Frances' brother Frederic Macbean had obtained royal assent to take the arms of Bell and changed his name to Bell (their mother Frances's maiden name) in order to continue the Bell line at Thirsk Hall. Frederic Bell (Macbean) had no children and Frances' eldest son Reginald Smith eventually went on to change his own name to Reginald Bell, take the arms of Bell and to inherit and briefly reunite the Thirsk Hall Estate.

Reverend Henry Smith was vicar of Easton Maudit, and then at Clarendon House, Redcar. Some letters survive from the Reverend Henry Smith to his children including references to the former's schooldays (at Westminster), seeing King William IV and the rivalry of the Westminster - Eton school boat races. Fuller accounts of his schooldays were presented as an occasional, rambling series in The Elizabethan, the Westminster School magazine

Reverend Henry was one of thirteen children of the Dean. Twelve survived to adulthood. The Dean's eldest son, William sold Dry Drayton and moved to Greatham Moor. Some of the Dean's papers, which William saved, are now in the Cambridge County Archive Office. Another brother, Charles married a Fullerton from Thrybergh (A large house near Doncaster). Their family took the name Fullerton Smith.

The Reverend Henry Smith outlived son Henry. His life broadly ran throughout the same period as Queen Victoria amidst the tumultuous transport, political, social, technological and other changes of the era.

When their mother died the young Henry, his brother Reginald and their sisters Elizabeth and Josie spent much of their time living at Thirsk with Frederic MacBean/Bell. Henry was articled to Mr Arrowsmith, a Thirsk solicitor, and went on to study in London. Frederic wrote dull letters to Henry in London delighting only in celebrating those occasions where the Whigs managed to give the Tories a thrashing in the elections and criticising his servants. He found fault with the footmen, but particular attention was paid to his butler, Norris who kept lapsing to the old problem. It might not be any co-incidence that it was Norris who discovered Frederic collapsed dead in the Breakfast Room.

Henry qualified as a solicitor in 1875, at the same time that his uncle Frederic MacBean/Bell died. He acted principally as an agent for Reginald who took over Thirsk Hall in 1876, and on bodies such as the Burial Board and Manorial Courts, but his passion was the turf. Henry was instrumental in ensuring the survival of Thirsk Races, devoting the majority of his energies to directing and subsidising the Thirsk Race Committee and lobbying on its behalf. Shortly before his death he succeeded in arranging the attendence of Edward, Prince of Wales (The bearded cigar smoker) at both days of the Spring Meeting.

Henry's energies ensured that Thirsk retained its racing licence whilst many others (locally such as Northallerton) lost theirs. He was active in breeding racehorses and involved with York, Doncaster and other race courses.

Henry was an enthusiastic brother of several masonic lodges and a prominent early master of Thirsk Falcon that had been founded by his Uncle Frederic MacBean/Bell.

He was buried at the south side of Thirsk cemetery, where he had been the founding Clerk to the Burial Board, after an unusually large funeral that saw the windows of Kirkgate blacked out at his brother's instruction.

Henry had two children - Frances and Frederic. Frances married a local Doctor Sibbald and moved to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. In correspondence, her principal concern was the high cost and inefficiency of her servants. Frederic served very briefly in the Second Boer War, as a member of the Yorkshire Volunteer Regiment - commanded by his Uncle Reginald; returned to Thirsk and variously acted as a political agent, auctioneer, estate agent, valuer and crop inspector. He was a particularly regular customer of the Golden Fleece Hotel bar; a noted shot and smoker. He collected these papers and researched the family trees of Smith/Bell/Macbean as well as Lancaster (his mother) and Greenhill (his wife).

Frederic and his wife Mary had 5 children, but only one grandchild.

His three boys served in the British forces throughout the Second World War. The twin daughters trained as nurses and worked in the mould and core shops of A C Bamlett Ltd.. This Thirsk foundry and manufacturer of agricultural machinery was known especially for reapers and early grass mowers.

Anyone interested in these documents or holding complementary information can make contact at

Useful contacts - Rosemary Gardiner, Hugo Heriz Smith and Tom Lawson.


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