17 February 2004
I stumbled across your name on a website devoted to Rivenhall. I am currently writing a book about the church, its people and history [Since published in booklet form].
I understand you are related to the Smyth family and that you have visited Blackmore and seen the tomb to Thomas Smyth and the memorials to your other ancestors.
As part of my research I have seen the original document which transferred the Priory from Henry VIII to John Smyth in 1540. It is in the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford.
I have also seen a document relating to a dispute that Thomas Smyth had with the parishioners over the use of the chancel (1583). I think that your forebear has been the subject of an historical misunderstanding - caused by an error in our 1966 guidebook - which suggested that his intention was to demolish the church entirely. This does not appear to be the truth.
One query I have is that the parishioners in 1583 claimed that a Sir Brian Tuke demolished the buildings some 40 years earlier (some historians say that Sir Brian purchased the property from Henry VIII and sold it on to John Smyth). Do you know who Sir Brian Tuke was? I would be very pleased to hear from you.
18 February 2004
First let me say that I am very happy that you found me.
I have not visited Blackmore as yet. I have some wonderful pictures of the church and its interior. And, actually, it is my wife who is the Smyth/Smith descendant. I do the research.
Yes, I have heard of Sir Brian Tuke, although not in relation to the Smyths.
Do you know Rivenhall well? John Carrington Smyth died on the 25th of June in 1446 and is very possibly buried in the chapel that he himself had built in the churchyard of St. Mary and All Saints in Rivenhall. I would like to find out more about this chapel.
Thanks for the info on the original document which transferred the Priory from Henry VIII to John Smyth in 1540. I will have to contact the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford to get a copy.
Andrew, how can I help you? I know I have many questions I would like to ask you if you don't mind. I have not worked on the Smyth line for a while but I will get up to speed right away.
So great to hear from you.
Don Timmerberg, USA
21 February 2004
Thank you for your E mail. It seems to me that rather than sell the property to John Smyth, Brian Tuke may have been acting as Henry VIII's "estate agent".
In a previous E mail you wrote that you had many questions. If I can assist, please let me know. In turn, I would welcome some assistance at some stage soon understanding the Smyth family line in Blackmore. For example, I am not clear as to whether Thomas Smyth (buried 1594 [thought now to be 1592 – see blog entry 6.1.10]) was John's son or grandson.
I have during the course of my research found various references to the Smyth family which I would be happy to copy to you.
22 February 2004
I am happy you were able to download the Brian Tuke data. I agree with you; it has been my impression that the priory was given to Smyth by Henry VIII ... but ... could it not be true that awarding land belonging to the Crown could be done by an agent without any knowledge of the King?
To answer your question about the relationship between Thomas Smyth (buried 1594) and John Smith I offer the following:
- John Carrington Smith (the use of Carrington in his name was initiated by me for my personal use, i.e. to identify the John Carrington who changed his name to Smyth).
- Son: Thomas Smyth (married Isabell Toft of Little Baddow.
- Grandson: John Smyth (married Dorothy Trymmell)
- Great-grandson: Sir Thomas Smyth (died 1594) (married Margaret Turner) (husband and wife entombed in St. Laurence)
I would like to accept your offer for a copy of extract of John Smyth's will, published in 1914 in Parish Priests by E L Cutts. I would appreciate it very much.
I am sending you pages from History and Antiquities of the County of Essex (1768), by Phillip Morant. Do you know it? I only have a very few pages which I obtained from the Essex Record Office. The pages I am sending refer to Blackmore including the Priory and Church.
I also am writing a book. It will be a family history, i.e., ancestors of my three daughters. I have not concentrated very much on the Smyths but now that you and I are exchanging data I will start to do so. Then you will have all I know of that family. But please do not wait to ask questions. I will be glad to supply any info at any time.
23 February 2004
Please find attached notes regarding the sale of the manor to John Smyth, and an extract of his will.
Henry VIII sold the Priory to one of his auditors, John Smyth Esq. in 1540. In the Essex Record Office are copies, dated 1714, of the original Deed in Latin and translated into English.
Henry the Eighth by the grace of God of England … supreme Head of the English Church . To all whom those present Letters shall ye know that for the sum of Five hundred and sixty three pounds and five shillings of lawfull money to the hands of the Eroafuror (?) of the Court of Augman … by our John Smith of Blakemore … in the County of Essex … have given and granted and by those present do give and grant to the said John Smith and Elizabeth his Wife Honour Lordship and Manor of Blakemore … belonging … to the late Monastery of Waltham Holy Cross in the County of Essex lately dissolved. And also land … pastures … Woods. And also all the Rectory and Church of Blakemore ... all the tiyhts and appurtanances whatsoever in our said County … to the said late Monstery. … And the Advowson … of the parish Church of Blakemore [from] Abbot Fuller late Abbot of the late Monastory or any other of his … Abbots of the same late Monastory in right of that late Monastory at any time before the Dissolution … .
This document, dated 22nd September 1541, meant that John Smyth now held the manor, rectory and advowson (the right to appoint a priest).
At that time about two fifths of the County’s land was sold, which represented one of the biggest sales of property since the Norman Conquest. For example, when Barking Abbey was suppressed, Sir William Petre bought Ingatestone Manor for £849 12s 6d, paying the King in instalments. Sir Thomas Audley did one better; he received Walden Abbey as a gift.
John Smyth however did receive in the same year, as a gift from Henry VIII, property previously belonging to William Pawne. The original Deed, which is in the Essex Record Office, bears the great seal of the King. An English translation is given:
John Smyth Esquire in our Court before the Justices at Westminster impleaded William Pawne and Ellen his Wife of Four Messuages one Dovehouse One Hundred Acres of Land twenty Acres of Meadow twenty Acres of Pastuer and twelve Acres of Wood with the Appurtances in Blakemore and High Ongar by a Writ of Entity upon Disseisin …. And into which the same William and Ellen have not Entry but after the Disseisin which Hugh Hunt … hath made to the aforesaid John ….
Smyth sold 30 acres of this land the following year.
John Smyth died in 1543, about the same time as the demolition of the priory buildings. In the inventories of his will he mentions the contents of his private chapel in his manor house.
In the chapel chamber, a long setle joyned. In the chapel, one aulter of joyner’s work. Item, a table with two leaves of passion gilt [a panelled ditych]. Item, a long setle of wainscott. Item, a bell hanging over the chapel. Chapel stuff, copes and vestments three. Aulter fronts four, corporal case one, and dyvers peces of silk necessary for cushyons v.
Altar vessels are not mentioned, as these were probably included with the remainder of the silver: such was the wealth of the Smyths.