Thomas Smiley

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Thomas Smiley

Smiley Family Ensign.jpg

Smiley Armorial Ensign
Born c1660
Lanarkshire, Scotland
Died 1689
Derry, Northern Ireland
Nationality Scots-Irish
Occupation Williamite Defender
Known for Siege of Derry
Smiley Ensign draft with motto

Smiley Ensign with Motto.jpg

"Viribus Virtus"
Nationality Scots-Irish
Known for Siege of Derry

Thomas Smiley (c. 1660 1689) was a Williamite defender during the Siege of Derry.

Siege of Derry siege of Derry during the Williamite War in Ireland (1688-1689)

The Siege of Derry was the first major event in the Williamite War in Ireland. The siege was preceded by a first attempt against the town by Jacobite forces on 7 December 1688 that was foiled when 13 apprentices shut the gates. The second attempt began when James II himself appeared before the walls on 18 April 1689 and lasted 105 days until 1 August. It ended after ships bringing food broke through to the town. The siege is commemorated yearly by the Protestant community.



Thomas Smiley was the son of Presbyterian Minister Thomas Smiley (born c1630) in Scotland. Minister Smiley moved his family to County Donegal, Ireland about 1670 as part of the Plantation of Ulster.

County Donegal County in the Republic of Ireland

County Donegal is a county of Ireland in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal in the south of the county. Donegal County Council is the local council and Lifford the county town.

Plantation of Ulster plantation

The Plantation of Ulster was the organised colonisation (plantation) of Ulster – a province of Ireland – by people from Great Britain during the reign of King James VI & I. Most of the colonists came from Scotland and England, and had a different culture to the natives. Small private plantations by wealthy landowners began in 1606, while the official plantation began in 1609. Most of the land colonised was forfeited from the native Gaelic chiefs, several of whom had fled Ireland for mainland Europe in 1607 following the Nine Years' War against English rule. The official plantation comprised an estimated half a million acres (2,000 km²) of arable land in counties Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Tyrconnell and Londonderry. Land in counties Antrim, Down and Monaghan was privately colonised with the king's support.

Thomas Smiley (the son) married his wife Ann (1663-1731) about 1679, and they had four children; John, Rose, William, and Francis. Rose remained in Ireland, while the three sons set sail for America in the early 1700s.


The Smiley Family originated from Lanarkshire, Scotland; where their surname was Smylie, Smyly or Smaillie, and other versions exist as well. The family name changed to Smiley in Ireland, as family members settled near Derry in the 17th century. [1]

Lanarkshire Historic county in Scotland

Lanarkshire, also called the County of Lanark is a historic county in the central Lowlands of Scotland.

Derry city in Northern Ireland

Derry, officially Londonderry, is the second-largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name Daire meaning "oak grove". In 1613, the city was granted a Royal Charter by King James I and gained the "London" prefix to reflect the funding of its construction by the London guilds. While the city is more usually known colloquially as Derry, Londonderry is also commonly used and remains the legal name.


Thomas Smiley died in battle during the Siege of Derry in 1689. As a Williamite defender of the city, he helped to prevent the fall of the city to King James II, which allowed time for the Royal Navy of William III of England to arrive and lift the siege. [2]


A Williamite is a follower of King William III of England who deposed King James II in the Glorious Revolution. William, the Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, replaced James with the support of English Whigs.

William III of England Stadtholder, Prince of Orange and King of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy".


In recognition of Thomas's courage in battle, the Smiley Family was awarded an Armorial Ensign by William Hawkins, Esq., Ulster King of Arms about 1700. [3]

This ensign was confirmed and duly recorded in 1815 by the Crown; through Sir William Betham, Knight Deputy of Ulster, King of Arms. [4]

King of Arms

King of Arms is the senior rank of an officer of arms. In many heraldic traditions, only a king of arms has the authority to grant armorial bearings and sometimes certify genealogies and noble titles. In other traditions, the power has been delegated to other officers of similar rank.

Key elements of the ensign include: a Chevron (insignia) which denotes military valor, an armored arm upon the Crest (heraldry) which signifies strength or power, and iron dart heads Pheon indicating defence of Crown property.

The motto of the crest "Viribus Virtus" translates as "Valor in Arms" or "Virtue with Power".


Despite the fact that Thomas Smiley died in battle, his legacy extends through his three sons that settled in America in the 1700s. They established the bloodlines that subsequently have grown to many thousands of Smiley descendants. [5]

John Smiley settled in Pennsylvania, William Smiley settled in Virginia, and Francis Smiley settled in New Hampshire.

Several sons of these settlers served as soldiers in the American Revolutionary War. [6] [7]


Thomas Smiley's biography was written by Oliver H. White in 1949. This biography was compiled into the book Genealogy of Smiley family and descendants (1971) by Jane Myrtle Hinkhouse, which may be found in the Library of Congress. [8] [9] In addition, the Library of Congress produced a microfilm record of this book in 1985. [10]

The biography details the notability of Thomas Smiley that was recorded by the Crown of England following the Siege of Derry in 1689.

See also

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  1. The Scots in Ulster Surname Map by Dr. William Roulston, Ulster Historical Foundation, 2008
  2. Fighters of Derry; Their Deeds and Descendants, Being a Chronicle of Events in Ireland during the Revolutionary Period, 1688-1691 by William R Young, published by London, Evre and Spottiswoode, 1932
  3. Representative Women of New England, p.30, by Julia Ward Howe, New England Historical Pub. Co., 1904
  4. Office of the Chief Herald, National Library of Ireland
  5., Smiley Family data page
  6. Daughters of the American Revolution, National Number 639031, et al.
  7. Daughters of the American Revolution, Patriot Index (1966), page 623
  8. Genealogy of Smiley Family and descendants, by M. J. Hinkhouse, LC class CS71.S64 1971, Dewey Decimal class 929/.2/0973
  9. Open Library ID OL5469676M, LC Control Number 73172694
  10. Open Library ID OL2689590M, LC Control Number 85890870