About Thomas Smith
Sir Thomas Smythe (1558-1625) - The son was therefore the namesake of a very powerful and well connected family. He also must have been quite brilliant. The deeds of both father and son seemed to ge combined but the son did have several notable accomplishments which can be attributed to him. In 1588, he lent £31,000 to Queen Elizabeth and raised the necessary funds for her to finance the English fleet which would destroy the Spanish Armada.
He was the Governor (Director) of the very successful and famous East India Company which contributed vast revenues to England after 1609. He was a member of the Levant Company, organized the Bermuda and Hudson Companies. He incorporated the Turkey Company in 1581, was a member of the Russian Company in 1587, succeeded his father as Master of Customs in 1591, sent exploratory ships to East India.
In 1596, he was knighted for bravery by Lord Essex at Cadiz, and served as sheriff of London from 1600-1601.
Smythe also served with Essex in Ireland in 1599, and was an acknowleded friend of his. This friendship would lead Smythe to the Tower of London with Essex in 1600 because he apparently had pledged to support Essex in London with 1,000 men, but apparently reniged at the last moment. While Essex was beheaded, Smythe was released. Smythe became the Governor of the East India Company at this time, and the new King James I knighted Sir Thomas Smythe at the Tower of London in 1603. He was soon appointed to many commissions, was generally recognized as the best business man in England, and made Treasurer of the London Company of Virginia.
Sir Thomas Smythe is buried in St. John the Baptist Church at Sutton-at-Hone,Kent. It is located about one mile east of the M-25 (the beltway around London). The effigy of Sir Thomas in alabaster exhibits a family likeness to that of his father (The Customer) in Ashford. As you enter the church, you see a mound of soil on each side,and according to the Vicar,contains the remains of plague victims. It is believed by some that Sir Thomas died of the plague also. Marie Gay Washington map Society member Douglas McNaughton recently traveled to the Canadian north in an effort to retrace the last voyage of Henry Hudson and to reconcile it with a mysterious Dutch chart that appeared immediately after
the return of Hudson's mutineers to England.
By Douglas McNaughton On September 1611 the bark Discovery sailed in among an English fishing
fleet off the Southwest coast of Ireland like a ghost ship. At first no fisherman would venture anywhere near the tattered vessel in answer to the mournful cries of her meager crew. The ship had last been seen in April 1610
when it left England under the command of Henry Hudson, master navigator and explorer. Twenty-two men, including Hudson and his son John, had left
England. A year later only six souls called from the Discovery's deck for help, and the group did not include Hudson, his son, or any of his experienced Arctic seamen.
For centuries many thought Hudson made TABVLA NAVTICA, but practically nothing from Hudson's voyage appears on this map (the first printing appeared in a 1611 book by Hessel Gerritsz). The Dutch text on the verso states that the mutiny occurred on the west coast of the (Hudson) bay at around 63 degrees. This location was independently confirmed in 1612 by the voyages of
Captains Button and Ingram, who sailed across the bay with two of the surviving mutineers. More than 250 years later, English historians began to create different locations for the mutiny, some seven hundred miles away, as part of the Victorian mythology about Hudson.
The six survivors claimed to be innocent victims of a bloodless mutiny led by a hungry passenger who had taken over the ship and forced Hudson into another
boat in the icy Northwest Passage. The survivors said that during the mutiny they were either asleep or too sick to assist their captain. But the wounds of the group's leader, Habbakkuk Prickett, and the blood stains on the deck so frightened the fishermen that they initially refused to assist the wretched men. Within days of the Discovery's return, word of Hudson's abandonment among the ice floes raced through the seaports of Europe. After hearing Prickett's story, the Masters of Trinity House in England declared that all the survivors should be hung for mutiny. But Sir Thomas Smythe,
governor and treasurer of the Virginia Company and the English East India Company, who sponsored Hudson's voyage, never brought mutiny charges against anyone. Many in Europe considered Hudson a slain hero. Some even pointed out that the mutiny occurred on June 22, Saint Alban's Day, which commemorates the first English Christian martyr. A rumor spread throughout London that before the mutiny Hudson had discovered the "Northwest Passage." The source of the report seemed to be Smythe, a man who had a lot to gain from the passage's discovery. But Hudson himself never wrote anything to suggest he had found the long-searched-for route to Asia. Smythe immediately formed a royal-chartered company under King James I called "Discoverers of the
Northwest Passage," which granted him a percentage of all trade revenue through the "Passage." Hundreds rushed to invest, 270 of England's wealthiest
and most powerful persons along with surviving crew member Habbakkuk Prickett. In Amsterdam the cartographer and author Hessel Gerritsz heard one
version of the Hudson story from his friend Peter Plancius, a Calvinist priest and first official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company. Gerritsz had met Hudson in Amsterdam in 1609 and had discussed with him the notion that the northern European countries could reach Asia faster by sailing over the top of North America - through a Northwest Passage - than by
sailing all the way around Africa. Hudson thought a promising area to explore might be a strait at approximately 61 degrees north latitude on the Labrador
coast. The English called it "Lumley's Inlet," but Plancius knew the region as "Gulfo de Merosro" from his own charts, which were based on early-sixteenth-century Portuguese sources. Gerard Mercator had charted this
strait better than anyone in his highly accurate 1569 map of the world.
Plancius made his best representation of the region in his world map of 1590. But over time maps showing the strait became less and less accurate. By 1609
published charts seemed to suggest that no explorers had been to the region. Yet Portuguese explorers had sailed deep into Hudson Strait (as it's now
called) and carefully recorded it, though what lay at the western end remained a state secret. Officially the Portuguese said the strait terminated, but the English did not believe this claim, because they had heard other accounts that the strait opened into a great sea. As early as Sir Humfry Gilbert's A Discourse of a Discoverie for a New Passage to Cataia of 1576, England was speculating that the Portuguese were keeping a secret about the strait. Rumors circulated from Spain and Portugal that it was an entrance to the Northwest Passage. Hudson publicly entered the search for a northern passage to China in 1607, when he tested the direct route north, over the Pole, and proved it wrong. A popular European belief held that the North Pole was warm due to the midnight sun; only the presence of ice kept the latitudes south of the Pole cold. If Hudson could just get beyond the ice, he would enter the warm waters. On his 1607 journey he sailed north of 80 degrees
latitude, farther north than anyone would in the next 150 years. But he found he could not get beyond the ice, that it only grew thicker, and thus disproved the theory of a direct northern passage. In 1608 Hudson tested the
more popular belief of a northeast passage, over the top of Russia, to China and proved to his own satisfaction that it was impassable by ship, again due to heavy ice. In 1609 Hudson and his crew, by now the most experienced Arctic explorers in the world, left England for Amsterdam and were hired by the Dutch East India Company to search for the northeast route again - the only known case in which the navigator and his crew were retained together. For contractual reasons related to the Dutch East India Company's charter, Hudson's search for a passage was limited to the northeast; the charter only permitted trade via a route east of Africa's Cape of Good Hope. A good Dutch sea lawyer would have argued that a passage over Russia was east of the cape, making that trade route technically legal. Others in the Dutch East India Company, particularly Calvinist members, wanted Hudson to search for a passage in the west, a route that would lie outside the charter altogether
and allow for the launching of a new, Calvinist-centered corporation (indeed, the formation of the Dutch West India Company in 1621 and the founding of the colony of New Amsterdam in 1626 fulfilled this wish). Hudson reexplored the northeast with a fleet of two ships but then sent one Dutch vessel home and sailed west for the New World. English Dreams Propaganda published by the Virginia Company - a colonization company charted by King James I in 1606 -
promoted the notion that Virginia was only about seventy miles wide, bordered by an ocean to the west. If one sailed up the Chesapeake Bay or carefully explored around 40 degrees north latitude, the company maintained, one could find a passage to Asia. During his 1609 voyage Hudson searched for this route, by invitation of his friend Captain John Smith. In the process he
explored and charted almost the entire half of the eastern seaboard and traveled, most famously, up the Hudson River - thus laying the groundwork for later Dutch claims in New Amsterdam. Hudson easily disproved the existence of a passage to China through Virginia. Only the Northwest Passage remained for Hudson to prove or disprove. He'd already received a retainer from the Dutch
to explore in the northwest the following year. As Hudson sailed back across the Atlantic from the New World, he decided to make a few changes in his crew and to seek a larger vessel for the northwest expedition. He anchored his ship, the Half-Moon, in Dartmouth, England, and wrote the Amsterdam directors of the Dutch East India Company about his plans for the 1610 voyage. Even
today Dartmouth is a small port, and the mayor soon learned of Hudson's Virginia exploits. He sent word to Smythe that Hudson was in Dartmouth with a Dutch ship and that he had explored and charted the Virginia Company's lands for the Dutch. By coincidence Smythe had recently learned of the tragedy that befell the fleet he had sent to Virginia the previous spring. It was the
largest effort at colonization in English history to date - some six hundred men aboard more than seven ships had sailed from Plymouth. But a storm had scattered the fleet led by Smythe's close friends George Somers and Thomas Gates, and hundreds went missing. Smythe and the rest of England feared the worst. It was a terrible blow to the Virginia Company and to English dreams.
That Hudson had sailed up into the Chesapeake (and beyond), taking soundings and mapping it for the Dutch, compounded England's terrible loss. To make matters worse, Hudson had charted the coastal area around Cape Cod, where the Virginia Company's Plymouth group planned a northern colony. If not an actual
act of treason to the crown, it certainly must have seemed an act of personal betrayal to Smythe, who knew Hudson and his family from the earliest days.
Hudson, it seemed, was surveying Virginia for possible takeover by the Dutch East India Company - Smythe's greatest rival - at a time when the Virginia Company was most weak. Smythe took swift action. Hudson was brought to London and placed under a form of house arrest with his family. They were quartered in the Royal Peculiar of Saint Katherine's precinct next to the
Tower of London. Neither the city of London nor its sheriffs had authority in St. Katherine's, nor did the bishop of London. By tradition, the queen oversaw life in Saint Katherine's, and the royal chamberlain, who happened to be a friend of Smythe's, administered it. Smythe decided that Hudson would sail to the region around 61 degrees north latitude on behalf of English
interests. If Smythe could verify that the strait opened to the west, he stood to gain a fortune. The voyage would involve only surveying and charting, not passage through to Asia. Hudson's wife and remaining children
would remain in Saint Katherine's under the watchful eyes of the royal chamberlain. No surviving documents suggest that Hudson was offered any
payment or reward for his services. He would be given only a single small ship and no letters of introduction to the Oriental potentates from the king, no trade goods, no gold or coin for purchases in Asia, and no experienced
East India men with local knowledge of the Asian waters and ports. Furthermore, Hudson would be given only eight months of rations for the twenty-odd men aboard the Discovery. Smythe also placed several of his men
onboard the Discovery for the voyage, including Colburne, Bylot, and Habbakkuk Prickett, a man of mysterious talents and handy with the dirk. A
prickett is the sharp point placed atop a candlestick for impaling the candle and keeping it from falling off. Prickett would be well rewarded for his role in the mutiny. An Erroneous Chart Near the end of 1611, in Amsterdam, Hessel Gerritsz made a map showing the Northwest Passage as "discovered by
Master Henry Hudson." It was labeled tabvla navtica (Latin for a map showing the coastlines), and the first printing included Dutch text on verso describing what Gerritsz had heard of the voyage and the mutiny. The British Library holds the only known surviving copy from this first printing in a small book by Gerritsz, Beschyvinghe vander Samoyeden Landt en Tartarien,
which describes Hudson's voyage and his "discovery" of the Northwest Passage. Gerritsz's chart shows an open area in the northwest where he believed the passage to extend. He locates the mutiny on the western side of Hudson Bay, consistent with the written sailing directions in a journal attributed to Prickett (but not published until after Smythe's death in 1625). -------------------- 24. Thomas SMITH was born ABT 1565 in Devon, England. He was the son of 48. Arthur SMITH.
25. Elizabeth [Unknown] SMITH was born ABT 1566.
Child of Elizabeth [Unknown] SMITH and Thomas SMITH is:
12. i. Christopher Lawrence SMITH , of Stannihurst was born 18 MAR 1590/91 in Stonirakes, Burnley Parish, lancashire, England, and died 16 APR 1648 in Stonirakes, Burnley Parish, lancashire, England. He married Margaret Elizabeth TOWNLEY 3 MAY 1624 in Stannihurst, Lancashire, England, daughter of Lawrence TOWNELEY , III, of Stone Edge and Jennett HALSTEAD. She was born 1598 in Stonehedge, Colne, Burnley Parish, Lancashire, England, and died 28 JAN 1678/79 in Stonirakes, Burnley Parish, lancashire, England.
-------------------- the son of Customer Smythe, was an English entrepreneur in the Virginia Company which founded the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, and Bermuda.
Smythe financed numerous Elizabethan era trade ventures and voyages of exploration during the early 17th century. A member of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers and the Worshipful Company of Skinners in London from 1580, he accumulated a considerable fortune from commerce.
Thomas Smith's Timeline
Burnley, Lancashire, England, (Present UK)
January 4, 1585
Weston, Northamptonshire, England
Weston Hanger, Kent, England
September 4, 1625
Devon, England, (Present UK)
Sutton-At-Hone, Kent, England, United Kingdom