Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Smith, William (1550?-1618)

SMITH, WILLIAM (1550?–1618), herald, born about 1550 at Warmingham in Cheshire, was a younger son of Randle Smith of Oldhaugh in Warmingham, by his wife Jane, daughter of Ralph Bostock of Norcroft in Cheshire. The Smiths of Oldhaugh were a branch of the Smiths of Cuerdley in Lancashire. William is said to have been educated at Oxford. He may be the William Smith who graduated B.A., 8 Feb. 1566–7, at Brasenose College, which was founded by a collateral ancestor, William Smith or Smyth (1460?–1514) [q. v.] In March 1561–2 his mother died, and in July 1568 he paid a visit to Bristol. About 1575 Smith became a citizen of London and a member of the Haberdashers' Company. He proceeded to Germany about 1578, and for some years kept an inn at Nürnberg with the sign of the Goose. On the death of his father, on 6 Oct. 1584, he returned to England, and in 1585 took up his residence in Cheshire. On 23 Oct. 1597 he was created rouge dragon pursuivant on the recommendation of Sir George Carey, knight marshal. He never attained higher office, owing partly to a lack of amiability and a sharp tongue. He died on 10 Oct. 1618, and was buried, as Wood thinks, in the churchyard of St. Benedict, near Paul's Wharf. About 1580 he married Veronica, daughter of Francis Altensteig of Nürnberg. By her he had two sons—William, born in 1581; and Paul, born in 1588—and three daughters, Jane, Frances, and Hester.

Smith was the author of: 1. ‘The Vale Royall of England, or Countie Palatine of Chester; containing a Geographicall Description of the said Countrey or Shyre, with other things thereunto appertayning. Collected and written by William Smith,’ 1585 (Ashmolean MS. 765; Rawlinson MSS. B. Nos. 282–3), which was published in 1656 by Daniel King [q. v.], together with another work with a similar title by William Webb, under the title ‘The Vale Royall of England … with maps and prospects, performed by W. Smith and W. Webb,’ London, fol. 2. ‘The Particuler Description of England, with Portratures of certaine of the cheifest Citties and Townes.’ The manuscript, which is among the Sloane MSS. (No. 2596) in the British Museum, was published by Henry B. Wheatley and Edmund W. Ashbee, London, 1879, 8vo.

Smith also wrote the following unpublished manuscripts: 1. ‘Genealogical Tables of the Kings of England and Scotland, and the Sovereigns of Europe, to the years 1578–9, with their arms, in colours,’ 1579 (Rawlinson MS. B. No. 141). 2. ‘1580 Angliæ Descriptio,’ dedicated: ‘Amplissimo Viro, D. Christophoro Fhurero, Reipub. Noribergenss. senatori Prudentiss.’ (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 10620). 3. ‘How Germany is devyded into 10 Kreises, that is to say Circutes, and the names of all such Estates as dwell in ech of them particulerly,’ Nürnberg, 1582 (Brit. Mus. Harl. MS. 994). 4. ‘The Armes and Descents of all the Dukes, Marquesses, Erlls, Viscounts, and Lords created in England since the tyme of the Conqueror until this present yeare 1584’ (Brit. Mus. Harl. MS. 6099). 5. Heraldic tracts and miscellanies, 1586 (Rawlinson MS. B. No. 120). 6. ‘Baronagium Angliæ,’ 1587 (Harl. MS. 806); another copy, 1597 (Harl. MS. 1160). 7. ‘A Brief Description of the Famous Cittie of London,’ 1588 (Harl. MS. 6363). 8. ‘A Treatise on the History and Antiquities of Cheshire,’ 1588 (Harl. MS. 1046, ff. 122–168). 9. ‘German Coats collected by William Smith during his abode in Germany,’ 1591 (Philipot's Press, College of Arms). 10. ‘A Breef Description of the famous Cittie of Norenberg,’ 1594 (circa) (Lambeth MS. 508). 11. ‘The Names of all the Knights in England that served [in Scotland] under Edward I, with the Blazon of their Armes,’ 1597 (Harl. MS. 4628). 12. ‘The Visitacion of Lancashire; made in 1567,’ 1598 (Harl. MS. 6159). 13. ‘A Book of Miscellaneous Pedigrees,’ 1599 (Philipot's Press, College of Arms). 14. ‘Stemmata Magnatum,’ 1600 (Harl. MS. 6156). 15. ‘Cooke's orders for the feast of St. George.’ Enlarged by Smith, 1600 (Ashmolean MS. 1108). 16. ‘Book of Coates and Creasts,’ 1602 (Harl. MS. 5807). 17. ‘A large alphabet in blazon, beginning with the letter B,’ 1604 (Harl. MS. 2092). 18. ‘W. Smith's Alphabet of Arms,’ 1604 (Harl. MS. 5798). 19. ‘The XII Worshipfull Companies or Misteries of London,’ 1605 (Moule's ‘Bibliotheca Heraldica,’ p. 104). 20. ‘The Visitation of Dorsetshire,’ copied by Smith, 1612. 21. ‘The Armes and Descents of all the Kinges of England’ (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 27438). There are also several smaller manuscripts by him extant.

[Wheatley's Introduction to the Particular Description of England; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 233; Gough's British Topography, i. 37, 91, 247; Ormerod's Cheshire, i. 92, iii. 123, 141; Noble's Hist. of the College of Arms, p. 217.]

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