SMITH, Francis (by 1516-1605), of Ashby Folville, Leics. and Wootton Wawen, Warws.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1516, 1st s. of Sir John Smith of Cressing Temple, Essex, by 2nd w. Agnes, da. and coh. of Sir William Harwell of Wootton Wawen; half-bro. of Edmund Smith. m. (1) Apr. 1537, Mary (d. 30 Mar. 1550), da. and h. of John Moreton of Ashby Folville, 1s.; (2) Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Brudenell of Deene, Northants., s.p.1

Offices Held

Sec. to Walter Devereux, 1st Viscount Hereford by 1558; j.p. Leics. 1558/59-64, q. 1569-84/87; sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 1566-7.2


Francis Smith was a stranger to both the boroughs for which he served in the Commons. His return as senior Member for Truro to Henry VIII’s last Parliament suggests that in 1545 he had the backing of the receiver-general of the duchy of Cornwall, Sir Thomas Arundell, who supervised the elections in the south-west. Smith’s father was a baron of the Exchequer whom Arundell may have wished to please, and his own business dealings with Lord John Grey, a kinsman of Arundell, could also have helped. By the beginning of 1553 both Arundell and Sir John Smith were dead, and Francis Smith evidently turned to his master Viscount Hereford and to the Giffard family of Chillington for a seat at Stafford in the Parliament summoned on the initiative of the Duke of Northumberland: Hereford’s son William Devereux was returned on that occasion as one of the knights for the county. In 1558 Smith was to witness Hereford’s will under which he received clothes and an annuity of 40s.3

After his first marriage Smith occupied his wife’s house at Ashby Folville, but his mother’s death in 1562 led him to settle at Wootton Wawen. At the accession of Elizabeth he was named to the Leicestershire bench, on which he remained until old age, despite having been reported in 1564 ‘an adversary of true religion’; he was even pricked sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire in 1566, the last man to hold the joint office. By 1586 two of his fellow-justices could assure the Council that he was not a recusant, being ‘a good and dutiful’ subject who attended church regularly. In his will of 10 Jan. 1605 he asked to be buried in the church at Wootton ‘before the place were I have usually sat’. After several bequests to his grandson and to his great-grandchildren, he left £1,000 to be divided between three granddaughters and the residue of his property to his only son George. He appointed his ‘loving kinsmen’ John Giffard and Thomas Throckmorton II overseers. Smith died on 3 Sept. 1605 and was buried on the same day at Wootton, where a fine tomb still marks his grave.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 175-6; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 71; W. Cooper, Wootton Wawen, 21; CPR, 1553, p. 377.
  • 2. PCC 47 Noodes; CPR, 1563-6, p. 24; 1569-72, p. 226.
  • 3. PCC 42 Alen; Morant, Essex, ii. 114; VCH Staffs. iv. 81; VCH Warws. iii. 197-8.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xii; CPR, 1558-60, p. 135; VCH Warws. iii. 197-8, 205; Cooper, 21-24; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 8; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 319; C142/293/70; Pevsner and Wedgwood, Warws. 481.