on the last day of 1490, with liberty to apply its revenues to his own use without rendering account to the crown (Exch. Q. R. Mem. Roll, 21 Hen. VII, inter brevia, Easter Term m. iii.). The Lichfield registers show that he at once diligently entered upon his episcopal duties, but within three months he was acting as a member of Prince Arthur's council in the marches of Wales. This necessitated the nomination by him, after the example of Foxe and other contemporary prelates, of a suffragan bishop, Thomas Fort, bishop of Achonry in Ireland, in 1494. He presumably resigned at the same time his office of keeper or clerk of the hanaper, his successor, Edmund Martyn, who also followed him as dean of St. Stephen's, being appointed to the place on 6 Feb. 1493 (Pat. Roll, 8 Hen. VII, pt. ii. m. 18). While bishop of Lichfield, Smyth refounded the ruinous hospital of St. John, originally a priory of friars, but transformed by him into an almshouse and free grammar school. To it he annexed the hospital of Denhall or Denwall in Cheshire, and secured for it liberal patronage from Henry VII. This hospital of St. John still survives at Lichfield as a monument to Smyth's memory.
On 31 Jan. 1496 Smyth was translated to Lincoln, at that time the most extensive diocese in England, stretching, as it did, from the Humber to the Thames. But he was generally an absentee, resident at Ludlow or Bewdley in attendance upon Prince Arthur, though he found time in the first year of his episcopate to make a visitation at Oxford. Even as long after his translation as 1500, when he proposed to make his first entry into his cathedral city, affairs of state recalled him to Bewdley; nor was his visitation carried out until the spring of 1501. The wealth now at his disposal enabled him in the same year to acquire private property in land, and he purchased an estate at St. John's, Bedwardyn, near Worcester.
On 22 Aug. 1501 Smyth was appointed lord president of Wales, upon the reform of the administration of that principality, with a salary of 20l. a week, equivalent to about 12,000l. a year of our money, for a table for himself and the council. He had already for some years presided at Prince Arthur's council. His new office was one comprising both administrative and judicial functions. On 5 Nov. 1500, within a few days after Cardinal Morton's death, Smyth, who had previously been recommended for the post in 1495 by Henry VII, was elected the cardinal's successor in the chancellorship of Oxford University. He resigned it in August 1503. During his chancellorship in September 1501 the Prince of Wales (Arthur), with Smyth in attendance, visited Oxford. In April 1502 the prince died in Ludlow Castle, and Smyth officiated at his funeral in Worcester Cathedral. He still remained lord president of Wales, and retained the office during life; but there are indications that after Prince Arthur's death his attention was less absorbed by Welsh affairs. In 1503 he took part in the investiture of Warham, of whom he had been an early patron, as archbishop of Canterbury. In November 1504 he joined in a celebrated decree of the Star-chamber regulating the relations of the staplers and merchant adventurers. On 3 June 1505 he was condemned by the commissioners of sewers at Newark, Nottinghamshire, to pay a fine of eight hundred marks (533l. 6s. 8d.) for erecting weirs and mills in the Trent ‘to the noysaunce of the passage of boats and other vesselles.’ The fine was remitted by the king on the following 11 April (Exch. Q. R. Mem. Roll, 21 Hen. VII, E. T. inter brevia, m. i.). At some time towards the close of Henry VII's reign Smyth's wealth invited extortion of the kind generally associated with the names of Sir Richard Empson [q. v.] and Edmund Dudley [q. v.] An information was laid against him that he had paid English gold to a foreigner, presumably for exportation abroad, in violation of the statute of 1488–9 (4 Hen. VII, c. 23). He was condemned in the immense sum of 1,800l., the penalty being double the amount of gold alienated by the offender. Of this sum, it appears from an account rendered by the executors of Henry VII, Smyth paid in ready money two instalments of 100l. and 1,200l. respectively. Henry VII having left instructions that this and other extortions from dignified ecclesiastics should be restored, Smyth received the money back again about 1509 (State Papers, Dom. 1 Hen. VIII, 776). But his apprehension of a continuance of similar proceedings led him to procure for himself a pardon, dated less than three weeks after Henry VIII's accession, for every conceivable common-law or statutory offence which might have been committed by him, beginning with homicide and ending with breaches of the manufacturing regulations (Exch. Q. R. Mem. Roll, 1 Hen. VIII, Trinity Term, m. vii.).
In 1507 Smyth began a series of benefactions which elicited Fuller's eulogy that ‘this man wheresoever he went may be followed by the perfume of charity he left behind him.’ In the course of this year he founded a fellowship in Oriel College; he established a free school at Farnworth in Lancashire, where he added a south aisle to the church;