John Smith, of Rivenhall

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John Smith, of Rivenhall

Also Known As: "Sir John Carrington alias Smythe of Essex"
Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: of, Rivenhall, Essex, England
Death: June 25, 1446 (72-80)
Rivenhall, Essex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of unknown Smith, in county Essex and N.N.
Husband of Millicent Smith
Father of Thomas Smith, of Rivenhall; Robart Smith, of Rivenhall; Hugh Smith, of Rivenhall; Christopher Smith, of Rivenhall; John Smith, of Cressing and 3 others

Managed by: Gwyneth McNeil
Last Updated:

About John Smith, of Rivenhall

John Smith (died 1446) married Millicent Leynham, their sons: Hugh & Thomas.

He became known by Victorian era descendants as John Carrington alias Smith, but that was disproved by 1910. A coat of arms was obtained by a descendant -- who did not, at that time, claim ancestry to the Cheshire Carrington family. See Peerage and pedigree : studies in peerage law and ffamily history, vol. 2, page 137, by J. Round "The Carington Imposture". He "demolished" (his word) the Carrington ancestry of John Smith of Rivenhall as fraudulent.

The article is also published here: Studies in Peerage and Family History By John Horace Round. "The Peerage." A. Constable, Limited, 1901 - Genealogy - 496 pages page 22 It's long, please read the entire argument, which begins:

"... Apart from the "modern antiques" at which we have glanced above, the Complete Peerage is severely critical of the efforts made by certain families to connect themselves, by title or by surname, with houses of older standing to which they are unrelated. The most glaring of these cases is that of the banking family of Smith, originating, as observed above, in "a respectable draper at Nottingham."1 When raised to the peerage by Pitt about a hundred years ago, it selected as the title of its barony 'Carrington,' doubtless, as is pointed out by G. E. C, because an older family of Smith, "in no way connected with the family of the grantee," had borne that title from 1643 to 1706.1 And this latter house had itself selected that title because of a 'cock-and-bull' story that its real ancestor was Sir Michael Carrington, standard bearer to Richard I. in Palestine, a descendant of whom, John Carrington, "fled out of England and named him selfe Smith."* .... Their actual founder, Sir John Smith, a baron of the Exchequer, who died 1547, is alleged to have been a great-grandson of Sir Thomas de Carington, who died 1383! But the family arms have mysteriously changed more than once (see Complete Peerage, II. 167). ...."

The pedigree published in the Visitation of Essex seems to have the fraudulent ancestry also:

Photo of Smith family crest by Andrew Smith of Blackmore, Essex, UK. From his excellent blog on Blackmore local history:

Thanks to Andrew for sharing this photo at the blog.


From written by contributors to Wikitree


"This John Smith founded a family which had several wealthy branches in the following centuries, as for example shown in detail in the 1612 visitation of Essex.[1] They are also difficult for genealogists, because a false pedigree was developed for them in the Stewart era which is still popular despite having been shown to be fraudulent in great detail by John Horace Round in the early 20th century.

"The fraudulent pedigree states that John was born a Carrington from Cheshire, son of Carrington-322 and Roos-524, descendant of fictitious Sir Michael Carrington, supposed standard bearer of Richard I. The story was that he had to flee the country because of his ties to Richard II, and that to return safely he changed his name to Smith (Smyth). Richard II was deposed in 1399 and died in 1400.

"This myth reached its most complex version with the publication of an enormous work compiled by Walter Copinger in 1907[2], and it was in reaction to this work that J. H. Round published his article on the "Smith Carrington imposture" in 1910.[3]

"Round was sceptical of whether this John could even be proven to exist under the surname Smith, but he did admit that his family did lay claim to an inheritance in Essex on the basis of descent from his second wife, a grand daughter of John Hende, mayor of London (d. 1418).

"There is also evidence of more Smiths in the area in this period, as collected on the webpage of Andrew Lancaster.[4] In about 1396 there is an Inquisition Post Mortem for a John Smyth of Bradwell, and in about 1426 there was an inquisition post mortem for a John Smyth, son and heir of Edmund, of Bradwell: Essex C 139/29/37. C 1/17/393 and C 1/25/216 both in the early 1400s involve Joan or Jane, widow of Edmund Smyth of Coggeshall plaintiff in a case concerning messuages in Coggeshall. Edmund Smyth also seems to have an interest in land in nearby Terling and Witham. There seems to have also been a marriage to someone with the Terling surname, possibly Joan. For example in C 1/75/90 the plaintiff is John Terlynge, of Stanys, and it concerns lands in Terlynge and Witham, late of Edmund Smyth, uncle to complainant. About 1433 (C 1/39/146) John Smith, of Staines, son of John, brother of Edmund Smyth was complaining about a mesusage in Terling.

"More relevant to John himself, around 1380, a John Smith was in fact clearly already involved in land deals in the same area around Cressing where this family were found later. In fact, a few years earlier in the 1377 poll tax, a Johannes Smyth was in the tax collection team for Cressing, while Robertus Laynham (clearly the father in law of the John under discussion in this article) was in Rivenhall. These were already during the time of Richard II, which is of course incompatible with the Carrington story. Perhaps this indicates that John Smyth's father was also named John Smyth.

"Concerning his wives, the old pedigrees name two: Anne Gernon, a widow, who had no children, and then John married Milicent Laynham (or Lenham) the daughter of Robert Laynham of Rivenhall and his wife Alice or Alison, a daughter of John Hende. This all seems confirmed by documents from the early 1500s (before the fraudulent pedigree) involving Thomas Smyth versus Bassett regarding the manor of Bradwell, for example C 1/356/89, and E 314/68/5. The latter indicates that in a legal dispute, Thomas Smyth and the Bassett heirs agreed that John Hende and Elizabeth his wife had three children, John, John and Alice, and that Alice's daughter was Millicent, and Millicent's son Thomas, and then there was a son Thomas, who was in dispute with the Bassetts.

"According to Copinger, "John Smith died in 1446 aged 72, and was buried in the Ladye Chappell which he builded and founded in the churchyard of Lenham, in the parish of Rivenhall, Essex.""

From on Andrew Lancaster’s genealogical webpages

"John Smith. In the mythical version, John is the one who changed his surname from Carrington to Smith to keep in hiding after the removal of Richard II from power, and then later managed to settle in Essex under this new name. So this is the first person who might be real, at least concerning his life story as a Smith. Round apparently does not check back this far, but around 1380, a John Smith was in fact clearly already involved in land deals in the same area around Cressing where this family were found later. In fact, a few years earlier in the 1377 poll tax, Johannes Smyth was in the tax collection team for Cressing, while Robertus Laynham was in Rivenhall. These were already during the time of Richard II, which of course makes the Carrington story hard to believe in, as long as we accept that it is very unlikely that these Smiths were not relatives.

"John Smith's first wife was, according to those old pedigrees, Anne Gernon, a widow. John Smith apparently had no children from her.

"John's second wife was said to be Milicent Laynham from a family spelled variously as Lenham, Lainham, Layneham and so on, which is also the name of a small manor near Cressing and Rivenhall. The visitations name their arms as quarterly argent and sable, in first quarter a fleur-de-lis gules, and fourth quarter an ermine spot. Milicent's father was said to be Robert Laynham. Coppinger again apparently adds claims based on his research. ... The details of the claims of the Smiths to be heirs of the Hendes do still seem to deserve investigation. ... It looks a bit like the Smiths might not be as "new" as Round thinks, and may have been holding other properties which they then lost. The claims of a connection to the Hendes might not originally have been so simple and should be checked.

"According to the traditional account, using the visitation for example, John Smith and Millicent had the following children (boys first, then girls, as often in the pedigrees):

  • Thomas Smith was eldest, and we will deal with him next. A Thomas Smith starts appearing about 1412 and in 1424 (WARD 2/60A/240/20) he is described as a son of John Smith of Cressing.From about 1435 (for example DL 25/999/766) Thomas Smith "of Rivenhall" starts to appear.
  • Robart Smith, second son. The visitation says he had issue. Already in 1432-33 we see mention of a John son of Robert Smyth involved with lands in Terling (C 1/12/164, C 1/10/171). C 1/223/53 of 1493-1500 concerns John, son and heir of Robert Smyth, of White Notley, plaintiff against John Cheseman, late of Witham, husband of Elizabeth, executrix and late the wife of Hugh Smyth. It involves deeds relating to a messuage called Wodewardes and land in White Notley, purchased by the said Hugh Smyth from Robert Rolchestre. C 1/223/54 from the same period has the same subject and plaintiff but the defendent is Robert Rolchestre. Robert Rochester, who I think must be the same person, was son to one of the Writtle daughters (mother unclear) who are therefore connected to inheritances disputes concerning the Hendes.
  • Hugh Smith, third son, is the only one apart from Thomas who Coppinger deals with. Indeed Hugh's descendents are his focus. One of Hugh's sons was Sir John Smith, Baron of the Exchequer. J. Horace Round points out (and Coppinger admits it in places) that actually this other John bore different arms to those that his family used from the 1600s on (the peacock one at the head of this Smith section) apparently indicating that they had no arms at all before him. The arms granted to him (as new arms) were argent, on a chevon sable 6 fleurs-de-lis or, on a chief of the second, a lion passant of the first. It is doubted that this Smith family had any arms before him, so the peacock arms normally associated with this family are apparently a 17th century fraud which became accepted. As noted under his brother Robart, the wife of Hugh was named Elizabeth, and she re-married to John Cheseman. Round accepts the will reproduced by Copinger as real. It was dated the 12 March, 1486, was proved before 23 May, 1486. It leaves Rivenhall to his John Smith, son of his brother Thomas. He also mentions living brothers, Robert, Edward and John.
  • John Smith. 4th son. The visitation says he also had issue. Not dealt with by Coppinger, but I can add: About 1433 (C 1/39/146) John Smith, of Staines, son of John, brother of Edmund Smyth is complaining about a messuage in Terling. In 1457 a John Smith of Cressing witnesses a deed involving both John Hende and Roger Hamond of Little Baddow (D/DPo/T16/3). (This would have had to be a son of John Hende the mayor who had died 1418.) In 1477 or 1478 (DL 25/1008) a John Smith of Cressing makes a "Grant of land, etc., in Cressing called 'Turnorys', late of Robert Leynham of Rivenhall". 1479 (D/DXa 9) and 1495 (D/DXa 11) there is mention of John Smith of Cressing and his brother Hugh Smith who apparently held land in Rivenhall.
  • Christopher Smith, 4th son, only appears in the visitation that I have seen so far.
  • Jayne Smith married Mr. Edmondes of Rivenhall
  • Margaret Smith married Mr. Wightbread
  • Milicent Smith married Mr. Mone of Rivenhall

"According to the Coppinger version of events, "John Smith died in 1446 aged 72, and was buried in the Ladye Chappell which he builded and founded in the churchyard of Lenham, in the parish of Rivenhall, Essex.""

the legend

In 1399 when King Richard II was deposed, Michael’s descendant, John of Carrington had to flee the country and changed his name to (back to??) Smith and later returned to England.

"John Carrington Smythe, of Essex ,consinder to be the founder of 'Templar'of Cressing Temple, son of Sir Thomas Carrington, Knight, fled to France, upon the disposal of Richard II, for taking up arms with Earls of Huntington,Salifbury and Kent against Henry IV and when he returned to England, changed his name to "John Smith" to covered his identity and avoid prosecution."

(casthree originally submitted this to Stokes Family Tree on 30 Sep 2010.)



  • Thomas Carrington 1330(5) – 1380
  • Margaret Roos (De Ross) 1340– 1383

Spouse ?2)Anne Geron -Gordon 1358 –

Spouse ?1) Elizabeth [SIC: Millicent] Laingham 1390(1360) –

Children [TOO MANY - needs work!] Dec 2016

  • Jane, Margaret,Thomas...
  • Sir Thomas Smith 1446 -1507
  • Thomas VIIII Smith 1380 – 1446
  • Hugh Carrington Smith 1394(1420) – 1485
  • John Smith 1399 –
  • Robert Carrington Smith 1395Corthither, Cornwall,England – 1490 HOLDITCH, EXETER, DEVONSHIRE, ENGLAND
  • Christopher Smith 1408 –
  • Sir John Carrington Smythe 1447 –
  • (William) Smith(Smythe) 1435-1467


  • Lineage thus far confirmed from a period source refered to as: "Carrington or Smyth of co. Warwick, England" The source state, "Visitation of Warwick and Leicester, confirmed by the Deputies of Camden, Clarenceux, to Francis Smyth, of Wooton, grandson of Sir John Smyth, and 5th in descent from John Carrington or Smith, died in 1446, who was 5th in descent from - Sir Michael Carrington - Standard Bearer to Richard I - died in the Holy Land." Soarce from:

casthreeoriginally submitted this to Stokes Family Tree on 30 Sep 2010.

view all 12

John Smith, of Rivenhall's Timeline

Rivenhall, Essex, England
Age 42
Rivenhall, Essex, England
Age 45
Rivenhall, Essex, England
Age 50
Rivenhall, Essex, England
Age 60
Rivenhall, Essex, England
June 25, 1446
Age 76
Rivenhall, Essex, England
Rivenhall, Essex, England, United Kingdom