Richard Smith, Gent. (1620 - 1691) MP

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Nicknames: ""Bull Smith", "" Richard "Bull" Smythe", ""The Bull"", "Richard "The Bull" Smith"
Birthplace: Thenford, South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, East Midlands, England
Death: Died in Brookhaven, Suffolk, New York, United States
Occupation: Patentee of Smithtown, Long Island, NY;Coat Of Arms, founded Smithtown, New York, Founder of Smithtown, Honorable, captain, and reverend.
Managed by: Sharon Sue Whitney
Last Updated:

About Richard Smith, Gent.

Biographical Summary:

Richard Smith and The Bull Story


One of the most controversial figures in Long Island history is Richard (Bull) Smith (Smythe), the founder of Smithtown. The owner of lands of vast extent, he was often engaged in boundary disputes. His contest with the town of Huntington over the boundary between it and his own lands was long and bitter, the courts finally deciding in his favor. Richard Smith, Jr., came with his father, Richard Smith, Sr. in 1630, from Gloucestershire, England, to Boston where he married. The young man settled with his father at Taunton, Massachusetts, in 1641; he then purchased a large tract of land on Narragansett Bay and built a trading post at Wickford, Rhode Island. After having trouble with his neighbors in Rhode Island, young Smith removed to the colony of Southampton on Long Island where he again got into difficulty, finally moving to Setauket where he built a home and became a magistrate and public spirited citizen. His wealth permitted him to buy land freely and he soon had assembled a princely domain. He became one of the great men of Colonial Long Island. Smith was buried near his home at Nissequogue.

The often repeated story about Smith, and one which apparently lacks historical foundation, recounts how he made an agreement with the Indians that he could have all of the land which he could encircle in one day riding on the back of a bull. From daylight to dusk he rode, so the legend goes, defining a huge domain. This story, whether true or not, left its mark upon the neighborhood; "Bread and Cheese Hollow" was so named, it is said, because Mr. Smith tarried there on the momentous ride for his noon-day meal.

The bronze statue of a bull, which was erected on a prominent corner of the village of Smithtown to commemorate Smith's reputed exploit, has met with considerable disapproval throughout the years on the part of aesthetic- minded citizens. The principal part of Smithtown originally was owned by Lion Gardiner who received it from Grand Sachem Wyandanch in return for a noble service performed by the Englishman. Gardiner procured the ransom of the chief's lovely daughter, Heather Flower, who had been captured on her wedding night by a raiding band of Narragansett Indians and carried off captive to Connecticut.

In a deed dated July 14, 1659, and witnessed by Richard Smith, Wyandanch in the last year of his life transferred the Smithtown lands to Gardiner, his friend and benefactor. This deed is in the possession of the Long Island Historical Society in Brooklyn. Before his death in 1663, Gardiner in turn transferred his entire rights to this land to Smith who later obtained a patent on March 3, 1665, from Governor Nicoll of New York.

The first deed of land from the Indians is dated 1650. Smith was a shrewd businessman and had his deeds recorded with the local authorities on March 2, 1666, and at the same time with the Secretary of State. In subsequent litigation over the boundaries between Smithtown and Huntington, Smith's claims were sustained in the courts


  • The Bull Smith Family: The family of Richard Smith, the "Bullrider"Of Smithtown, Long Island, New York. Database on line.

Discussion comments:

April 2014

"The only place I have found where Richard 'Bull' Smith is called Major is on his Geni profile. I don't know who or why put Major in his profile."

Removed. EH, curator



Came To New England Early Part Of 1600 A Patentee Of Smithtown, Long Island, NY

Coat of Arms: Pictured in William S. Pelletreau's "Records of Smithtown", show on the shield six fleur-de-lis set in three, two and one. The fleur-de-lis was also a prominent figure on the Arms of the Augusta County early Smiths, who settled there from PA, as shown by the seal on Captain John Smith's Will. Son, Col. Daniel Smith b 1724 in Ulster; m. c 1751 Jane Harrison, dau Capt. Daniel Harrison and his wife, Margaret Cravens, sister of Robert Cravens, Sr.

It is likely there was a relationship between the immigrant, Richard Smith of Smithtown, and the immigrant, Capt. John Smith, both of whom were born in England in the 1600's. Capt. Smith died in Smithland, VA, the home of his son, Daniel, shortly after the beginning of the Revolution. --------------------

One of the "EIGHT MEN" who came to America before 1654. Leader of the first Squadron, Member of Colonial Council 1688. Justice of Suffolk County, L.I.

Magistrate, Brookhaven and Setauket L.I.


U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 about Richard Smith

Name: Richard Smith

Gender: Male

Birth Place: EN

Birth Year: 1615

Spouse Name: Sarah Folger

Marriage State: of NY

Number Pages: 1


Deed to Samuel Smith - Aug 29, 1688

Richard Smith and Wife Sarah Deed to Samuel Smith - August 29 1688



Conveys All his messuage tenement or dwelling house and one acre of land next adjoining for a home lot and 3 acres of land more or less adjoining to the north side of Daniel Smith's home lot and Nissequage river westerly and 20 acres of upland adjoining to ye east side of the land in the occupation of Job Smith bounded northerly by the Cliff and sound and two points of meadow land on ye east side of Nissequogue river below the second brook above the mill Also one equal third part of the tract of land meadow and creek thatch on ye east side of ye river a little to ye southward of a small inclosure late in ye occupation of Jonathan Smith and 2 acres of upland next Rasapeage bay northward of the next brook to ye southward of Adam Smiths farm and all the lands meadows and creek thatch be it whatsoever now in ye tenure and occupation of him the said Samuel It is also agreed that Samuel Smith shall have 3 acres adjoining his house for a home lot on condition he maintains a fence Recorded in Suffolk Co Clerk's office Liber A p 25 RECORDS OF THE TOWN OF SMITHTOWN 69


He was living in Southampton by Oct. 26, 1643. He had the titles of Mr. and Gentleman. On Dec. 3, 1656, he was banished from Southampton for his unreverend carriage toward the magistrates. Then he went to Setauket, where he lived when he patented and founded Smithtown, Long Island, NY. He was traditionally known as the "Bull Rider", and his descendants were known as the "Bull Smiths". He was named "Bull" because he trained and used a bull for riding instead of a horse. He owned at least two slaves. He was buried near his house at Missequaque.


Richard sailed from England on October 2, 1635, at age 22, on the ship John of London, bound for St. Christopher's. He was in Boston in 1639 and 1640. He migrated to Southampton with a group of men who livedvat Lynn, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in June 1640. His name is found in the Southampton recordsvbetween 1643 and June 6, 1656. He was made a freeman on October 7, 1648. On October 7, 1650, he was chosen constable by the General Court. From Southampton, Richard migrated to the north side of Long Island and went to Setauket in Brookhaven. In 1663, Lion Gardiner conveyed to Richard the title to the lands covered by the deed of gift dated July 14, 1659 which described the land as between Huntington and Setauket and extending southerly half way through the island. In 1677, a patent was issued by Gov. Andros. In 1688, Richard became a member of the Colonial Council.

Early records show that Richard was referred to as "Mr. Smith" and was considered a "gentleman", in the English social terminology. Richard designated himself as such in some of the deeds, suggesting he was from an armigerious family. This is confirmed by the fact that with his signature on legal documents, he used a seal bearing a fleur-de-lis which may have been a charge on his coat-of-arms. He had the liberal schooling of English boys of the more privileged families and based on his penmanship, may have been subjected to the influence of an atmosphere of legal or official procedures and records. Based on the many silver items handed down to various family members, Richard apparently had been brought up surrounded by a considerable degree of luxury. Richard married Sarah probably in New England. Tradition has it that Sarah was the daughter of John Folger, who was the first of that name in New England and one of the settlers of Martha's vineyard.



The town was first settled around 1665. Local legend has it that after rescuing a Native American Chief's kidnapped daughter, Richard Smith was told that the Chief would grant title to all of the land Smith could encircle in one day - on a bull. Richard Smith chose to ride the bull on the longest day of the year (summer solstice) - to enable him to ride longer "in one day". The land he acquired in this way is said to approximate the current town's location. There is a large anatomically correct statue of Smith's bull, known as Whisper, at the fork of Jericho Turnpike (New York State Route 25) and St. Johnland Road (New York State Route 25A). Smithtown originally was known as "Smithfield."

More History of Richard "The Bull" Smith and Smithtown:


Family Data Collection - Deaths about Richard Smith

Name: Richard Smith

Death Date: 7 Mar 1692

City: Smithtown

County: Suffolk

State: NY

Country: USA

view all 35

Richard "Bull" Smith's Timeline

September 13, 1620
South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, East Midlands, England
July 13, 1628
Age 7
July 13, 1628
Age 7
Chipping Campden, Gloucs., Eng.
Age 14
from England
Age 20
Smithtown, Cattaraurgus, NY
Age 21
Glastonbury, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Age 22
Smithtown, Long Island, New York
March 7, 1644
Age 23
Southampton, Suffolk, L.I., Ny
Age 24
- present
Age 27
Smithtown, Suffolk Co, Long Island, NY