Sir Thomas Smith (1556-1609)
Born: 1556 at Abingdon, Berkshire
Master of Requests
Died: 27th November 1609 at Fulham, Middlesex
Sir Thomas Smith, the Master of Requests, was born in Abingdon in Berkshire, about 1556, the son of Thomas Smith Senior, who is probably to be identified with the Thomas Smith who was Mayor of Abingdon in 1584. He must be distinguished from Sir Thomas Smythe (1558-1625), Governor of the East India Company, and from the latter's father, Thomas Smythe (d. 1591), 'Customer' of the Port of London. He was educated at Abingdon Grammar School and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was elected student in 1573, graduated BA in December 1574 and MA in June 1578. He was chosen public orator on 9th April 1582 and proctor on 29th April 1584. Soon afterwards, he became secretary to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex and, in 1587, was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council. In December 1591, he wrote to Cecil urging Essex's claims to the Chancellorship of Oxford University. He represented Cricklade in the Parliament of 1589, Tamworth in that of 1593 and Aylesbury in that of 1598. On 30th September 1597, he received a grant of the Clerkship of Parliament, in succession to Anthony Wyckes alias Mason, the heir of Sir John Mason. He kept aloof from Essex's intrigues and, on 29th November 1599, was sent by the Lords to summon the Earl before the Privy Council. On the accession of James I, he received further promotion, perhaps owing to his friendship with Carleton, Edmondes, Winwood and Bacon. He was knighted at Greenwich on 20th May 1603 and, in the following month, was granted the Latin Secretaryship for life, and the reversion to the Secretaryship of the Council of the North. On 8th June 1604, he obtained the manor of Wing in Rutland and, in 1608, he was made Master of Requests. On 20th May in the same year, he received a pension of £100. He died on 27th November 1609 at his residence, afterwards Peterborough House in Parsons Green, Fulham, and was buried on 7th December in the chancel of Fulham Church, where a monument, with an inscription to his memory, is extant. He married Frances (1580-1663), daughter of William Brydges, 4th Baron Chandos, and sister of Grey, the 5th Baron. His only son, Robert, died a minor and his only daughter, Margaret, married Thomas, second son of Robert Carey, 1st Earl of Monmouth. Smith's widow married Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, and survived till 1663. By his will, dated 12th September 1609, Smith left £100 to the poor of Abingdon and a similar sum to the Bodleian Library.
Edited from Leslie Stephens & Sidney Lee's "Dictionary of
National Biography" (1898).
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