Thomas Smyth (merchant)

Last updated

Thomas Smyth (1737? – 1824) was an English merchant, banker and Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

The office of Lord Mayor of Liverpool has existed in one form or another since the foundation of Liverpool as a borough by the Royal Charter of King John in 1207, simply being referred to as the Mayor of Liverpool. The current Lord Mayor of Liverpool is the Right Worshipful Councillor Peter Brennan who has held the post since May 2019.



He was son of Thomas Smyth of the Middle Temple, the sixth son of Bishop Thomas Smyth. [1] [2]

Middle Temple one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, commonly known simply as Middle Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers, the others being the Inner Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. It is located in the wider Temple area of London, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.

Thomas Smyth was an Irish bishop in the last decade of the 17th century and the first three of the 18th.

Smyth was partner with Charles Caldwell in Charles Caldwell & Co., a Liverpool bank. He became a shareholder (holding joint with Caldwell) in the Macclesfield Copper Company, known as Roe and Co. after its founder Charles Roe, in 1774. [1]

Charles Roe English businessman

Charles Roe was an English industrialist. He played an important part in establishing the silk industry in Macclesfield, Cheshire and later became involved in the mining and metal industries.

Smyth was a lessee on behalf of Roe and Co. of land near Llandudno from Lord Penrhyn, by an agreement of 1785. [3] On 12 October 1788 Lord Penrhyn visited Merseyside, riding the liberties of the borough of Sefton, and Smyth accompanied him. The occasion was seen as largely political and symbolic, part of the contest between Lord Penrhyn, whose title was in the Peerage of Ireland and who was the sitting Member of Parliament for Liverpool at the time, and Banastre Tarleton. [4]

Llandudno seaside resort in Wales

Llandudno is a seaside resort, town and community in Conwy County Borough, Wales, located on the Creuddyn peninsula, which protrudes into the Irish Sea. In the 2011 UK census, the community, which includes Gogarth, Penrhyn Bay, Craigside, Glanwydden, Penrhynside and Bryn Pydew had a population of 20,701. The town's name is derived from its patron saint, Saint Tudno.

Metropolitan Borough of Sefton Metropolitan borough in England

The Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England, was formed on 1 April 1974 by the amalgamation of the county boroughs of Bootle and Southport, the municipal borough of Crosby, the urban districts of Formby and Litherland, and part of West Lancashire Rural District within the new county of Merseyside. The borough consists of a coastal strip of land on the Irish Sea, and extends from Bootle in the south, to Southport in the north. In the south-east, it extends inland to Maghull. The district is bounded by Liverpool to the south, Knowsley to the south-east, and West Lancashire to the east.

The Peerage of Ireland consists of those titles of nobility created by the English monarchs in their capacity as lord or king of Ireland, or later by monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The creation of such titles came to an end in the 19th century. The ranks of the Irish peerage are duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron. As of 2016, there were 135 titles in the Peerage of Ireland extant: two dukedoms, ten marquessates, 43 earldoms, 28 viscountcies, and 52 baronies. The Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland continues to exercise jurisdiction over the Peerage of Ireland, including those peers whose titles derive from places located in what is now the Republic of Ireland. Article 40.2 of the Irish Constitution forbids the state conferring titles of nobility and a citizen may not accept titles of nobility or honour except with the prior approval of the Government. As stated above, this issue does not arise in respect of the Peerage of Ireland, as no creations of titles in it have been made since the Constitution came into force.

Smyth was Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1789–1790. An important issue for Liverpool Corporation at the period was the development of Liverpool Docks. Smyth undertook negotiations with Lord Sefton over a lease in the Harrington area, for planned expansion. That lease was currently held by Roe & Co. The negotiation failed, however, Lord Sefton expressing a wish not to have the area developed with labourers' houses. [5]

Charles Molyneux, 1st Earl of Sefton British politician

Charles William Molyneux, 1st Earl of Sefton was a Member of the British Parliament and a member of the peerage of Ireland.

The 1790 British general election fell in the summer, towards the end of Smyth's term of office. Lord Penrhyn and Bamber Gascoyne the younger were candidates posing as defenders of Liverpool's commercial interests, against abolitionists, such as Tarleton. Feelings ran high, and Smyth called a noon meeting on 16 June outside the Liverpool Exchange. He warned of violence, and attempted a straw poll by show of hands. But Tarleton had much support, and was not faced down. [6]

1790 British general election

The 1790 British general election returned members to serve in the House of Commons of the 17th Parliament of Great Britain to be summoned after the merger of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1707.

Bamber Gascoyne of Childwall Hall, Lancashire, was an eighteenth-century British politician. He was an ancestor of two British Prime Ministers, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, and Arthur Balfour.

Abolitionism in the United Kingdom Movement to end slavery in the United Kingdom

Abolitionism in the United Kingdom was the movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to end the practice of slavery, whether formal or informal, in the United Kingdom, the British Empire and the world, including ending the Atlantic slave trade. It was part of a wider abolitionism movement in Western Europe and the Americas.

Smyth's term as mayor also brought to the surface a related sharp rivalry with John Sparling, his successor the following year. Smyth manoeuvred to bring his partner Caldwell into the Corporation; in retaliation Sparling tried to bring in supporters of his own. Sparling and his bailiffs, one of whom was Clayton Tarleton [7] (brother to Banastre Tarleton), were impugned by a comment Smyth had minuted for illegal acts. The matter went to a court case. [8]

Smyth became bankrupt in 1793, when the bank failed, hit by the fall in the price of cotton at the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars. [9] Losing most of his possessions, Smyth was able to remain at Fair View, Toxteth Park, by arrangement with his landlord William Roe, son of Charles Roe. An estate in Macclesfield, that had come through his wife, remained unaffected. [10] The impact in Liverpool of the failure of Charles Caldwell & Co. was serious on business confidence, and there was a failed attempt to obtain a loan from the Bank of England. The Corporation resolved the financial crisis by an Act of Parliament allowing it to issue banknotes. [11] [12]

Smyth died, aged 87, at Fence House in Macclesfield, on 12 July 1824. [13]


Smyth married Elizabeth Blagg or Blagge of Macclesfield in 1762 at Prestbury. Their children included William Smyth. [14] [15]

Related Research Articles


Aigburth is a suburb of Liverpool, England. Located to the south of the city, it is bordered by Dingle, Toxteth, Sefton Park, Mossley Hill, Garston and Grassendale.

George Rennie (engineer) British engineer

George Rennie was an engineer born in London, England. He was the son of the Scottish engineer John Rennie the Elder and the brother of Sir John Rennie.

Banastre Tarleton British Army general

Sir Banastre Tarleton, 1st Baronet, GCB was a British soldier and politician. Tarleton was eventually ranked as a general years after his service in the colonies during the American Revolutionary War, and afterwards did not lead troops into battle.

William Molyneux, 2nd Earl of Sefton Irish Earl

William Philip Molyneux, 2nd Earl of Sefton, also known as Lord Dashalong, was a sportsman, gambler and a friend of the Prince Regent.

John Raphael Smith English painter and mezzotint engraver

John Raphael Smith was a British painter and mezzotinter, son of Thomas Smith of Derby, the landscape painter, and father of John Rubens Smith, a painter who emigrated to the United States.

<i>Lady Penrhyn</i> (1786 ship)

Lady Penrhyn was built on the River Thames in 1786 as a slave ship.

Joseph Barss Canadian sea captain

Joseph Barss was a sea captain of the schooner Liverpool Packet and was one of the most successful privateers on the North American Atlantic coast during the War of 1812.

Richard Pennant, 1st Baron Penrhyn, was the owner of Penrhyn estate, on the outskirts of Bangor, North Wales, six sugar plantations in Jamaica, and hundreds of enslaved African workers. He was a staunch anti-abolitionist and sat in the House of Commons between 1761 and 1790. He received an Irish peerage in 1783.

William Rathbone V English merchant and politician

William Rathbone V was an English merchant and politician, serving as Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

Sir Richard Molyneux, 1st Baronet (1560–1622) was a Member of Parliament for Lancashire, Mayor of Liverpool and Receiver-General of the Duchy of Lancaster.

William Devaynes was an Africa trader, London banker, Government contractor, director of the East India Company, the Africa Company, the Globe Insurance Company, and the French Hospital and also five times Chairman of the East India Company. He was also for more than 26 years an undistinguished Member of Parliament in turn for Barnstaple and Winchelsea.

Tarleton was a 14-gun brig launched in 1780 at Glasgow. She was a letter of marque that made one capture.The French captured Tarleton in October 1782 in the Caribbean.They took her back to France in 1783 and she was subsequently stationed at Brest, where she served in the Mediterranean. The British recaptured her at Toulon in 1793 and she then served in the Mediterranean until no later than 1798 when she disappears from the lists.

Abraham Mills was an English mining company manager and geologist.

Arthur Bowes Smyth British colonist

Arthur Bowes Smyth was a naval officer and surgeon on the First Fleet that established the colony of New South Wales. Smyth kept a diary and documented the natural history he encountered in Australia.

Tarleton was built in France under another name in 1778. The partnership of the Tarletons and Backhouse purchased her in 1779. She first traded between Liverpool and Jamaica, and then became a slaver. She was lost in November 1788.

Banastre, was built at Ringsend, Dublin, in 1759, though under what name is unclear. By 1787 she was in the hands of the partnership of the Tarletons and Backhouse of Liverpool, noted slavers. Under their ownership she made five complete voyages transporting slaves from West Africa to the Caribbean. A French warship captured her in 1793 as she was on her way from West Africa to Jamaica on her sixth voyage transporting slaves.

Othello was launched in 1786 at Liverpool for the African slave trade. She made some five voyages before she burnt off the coast of Africa in 1796. During her first voyage her master fired on another British slave ship, which gave rise to an interesting court case. As a letter of marque she recaptured a British ship in 1794.

Tarleton was launched in 1796 at Liverpool for Tarleton & Co., a Liverpool firm that had been in the slave trade for three generations. She made two full voyages as a slaver before she was wrecked on a third voyage in late 1798. On her first voyage she repelled attacks by two French privateers in single-ship actions.



  1. 1 2 Smith, p. 593.
  2. William Courthope (1838). Debrett's Complete Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Printed for J. G. & F. Rivington. p. 649. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  3. Smith, p. 465.
  4. Engelbert Horley, Sefton; a descriptive and historical account (1893), pp. 210–1;
  5. Smith, pp. 501–2.
  6. Frank Howley (May 2008). Slavers, Traders and Privateers: Liverpool, the African Trade and Revolution, 1773-1808. Countyvise Ltd. p. 273. ISBN   978-1-901231-98-4 . Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  7. Frank Howley (May 2008). Slavers, Traders and Privateers: Liverpool, the African Trade and Revolution, 1773-1808. Countyvise Ltd. p. 172. ISBN   978-1-901231-98-4 . Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  8. Smith, p. 481.
  9. George Chandler (1964). Four Centuries of Banking. 1. B. T. Batsford. p. 204.
  10. Smith, p. 518.
  11. Yukihisa Kumagai (8 November 2012). Breaking Into the Monopoly: Provincial Merchants and Manufacturers' Campaigns for Access to the Asian Market, 1790-1833. BRILL. p. 119. ISBN   978-90-04-24172-5 . Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  12. S. G. Checkland (1971). The Gladstones: A Family Biography, 1764-1851. Cambridge University Press. p. 33. ISBN   978-0-521-07966-2 . Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  13. Smith, p. 564.
  14. Smith p. 219.
  15. Lee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Smyth, William (1765-1849)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 53. London: Smith, Elder & Co.