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The following particulars respecting this family of Smyth, which, as far as can be ascertained, is now extinct, have been gleaned almost entirely from original records and registers, and may therefore be deemed worthy of preservation in the pages of "N. & Q." Some particulars of the Stansfields are added, in the hope of eliciting some more information about them.
I. The Rev. James Smyth, born 1613, died 1673, was minister of the parish of Innerleithen, in Tweedale, and afterwards of the neighbouring parish of Eddlestone, where he died and was buried. In 1643, when at Innerleithen, he married Euphemia Somervall, of the parish of Newton in Midlothian, and had the following children (from Registers of Innerleithen) :
1. (Name torn out), baptized by Mr. Theodor Hay: witnesses William Givan of Cardrona; Mr. John Hay, minister of Peebles; Geo. Tait of Pirn; and Alexander Murray of Kirkhouse.
No doubt this entry is that of the birth of William Smyth, who gave in Sir James Stansfield's testament dative, and of whom some particulars are given, infrà.
2. James, 1646. I find in 1680 a James Smyth in Leith, who, with his wife Isobel Allan, leaves that and settles in St. Andrews, and is apprehended for debt there; George Fogo, late baillie of St. Andrews, being his friend and helper (General Register of Deeds, " Dalrymple," 1680). There is little doubt that these two Jameses are one and the same.
3. Margaret. (No account.)
4. George, 1650. In 1682 he appears before the Presbytery of Peebles with a certificate from Mr. William Fogo, minister of St. Ninians, and is "entered for his trials." In 1684 he is presented to the parish of Dawick (now broken up between the parishes of Stobo and Drumelzier) by the Archbishop of Glasgow, being inducted by one Mr. Robert Smith or Smyth, minister of Manor in the same county (Peebles). This Robert Smith was formerly schoolmaster at Peebles, and appears to have been a relation of the family of which we are speaking. His wife's name was Janet Buchanan, and they had, with other children, a daughter Agnes, born in 1664; and as I find from the Register of Manor parish that in 1690 Mr. George Smyth of Dawick was married, at Kilbucho, by Mr. William Alieson, to Agnes Smith of Manor parish, I have no doubt it was to his daughter Agnes that George of Dawick was married. George was dead before 1717, leaving a daughter Ann, and, possibly, other children. (Presbytery Record.)
5. Alexander, 1652, afterwards a merchant in Edinburgh, the "cautioner" for Sir Jas. Stansfield's testament. He died at Edinburgh in 1689, unmarried. His "testament dative and inventar &c. is given in by his brother William,
who gave in Sir James's, the "cautioners" being James Anderson, merchant, David Somervill, merchant, and John Somervill, writer; the last two being, probably, cousins, as his mother was a Somervall. (See suprà.)
The testament contains a long list of debtors and creditors, which is here re-arranged alphabetically for convenience of reference, occasional notes being added to some of the names.
Debts were owing to the deceased by the following persons, all residing in St. Andrews:
Jas. and Robert Carstairs; Baillie Findlay; Mr. Jas. Hamilton; Mrs. Livingstone; Mr. David M'Gill; Thos. Rankillour, skipper; John Sangster; James Smyth (qy. his brother?); Dr. Skene; Dr. Waddel; and William Watson.
And by the following, residing in various other places:
Andrew Aitkin; Sir David Arnot; the Laird of Balroune (who was this?); Jas. Buird Alexander Brown, merchant; Chas. Chalmer, writer; William Cockburn, merchant in Edinburgh (he was banished, Lord Fountainhall tells us, in 1674, for defaming Lady Oxfurd-" not without reason," says Robert Mylne in a note— and prayed for a remission of sentence in 1679. His brother-in-law, William Clerk, advocate, was the Stansfields' lawyer); Lady Craigleith; Pat. Crawford, merchant; Lady Crimstain (Crimstain is in the parish of Dunse, Berwickshire; the lady was probably a Home or a Bredfoot); Mr. James Dalrymple (no doubt Mr. James Dalrymple of Killoch, one of the clerks of session, mentioned also in Sir James Stansfield's testament dative; brother of Sir John Dalrymple, afterwards first Earl of Stair, and of Mr. Hugh Dalrymple, one of the Commissaries of Edinburgh. To the latter, Sir James Stansfield bequeathed all his estate, after cutting off his eldest son Philip, the parricide; and failing his second son John, who seems to have been nearly as bad as the elder. Sir James was probably associated with the Dalrymples from holding leases over the lands of Hailes, Morhame, and others, in East Lothian); Mr. Robert Douglas, and Mr. George Douglas, brothers of the Earl of Morton (afterwards seventh and eighth Earls. Their mother was a Hay of Smithfield, in Peeblesshire); William Donne, writer; James Elies (probably the father-in-law of the celebrated James Anderson, compiler of the Diplomata Scotia); the Laird of Gredoun (probably Ker of Graden, in Berwickshire); Thomas Hamilton, of Aliestob; Hunter, in Polmood; Charles Kinnaird; the Laird of Kinnaldie (Kinnaldie is in the parish of St. Viglaus; the laird was probably a Rennald); Rob. Kyll, W.S.; James Linton, merchant; Geo. Livingstone; Geo. Marshall; William Masman; John Morrison, writer; James, Earl of Morton (sixth earl); Robert Murray,
merchant; James Nasmyth in Posso (no doubt the "Deil of Dawick," father of Sir James, first baronet of Posso); John Oliphant; the Laird of Prestoungrange (Morrison of Prestoungrange, in Haddingtonshire); Mr. Duncan Robertson (sheriffclerk of Argyll; he married Alison, youngest daughter of James Aitkin, Bishop of Moray and Galloway, who died 1687); Mr. Patrick Smyth, advocate, and Anna Rutherford, his wife, relict of James (Aitkin), Bishop of Galloway (see "N. & Q." 3rd S. viii. 533). Was this Patrick Sir James Stansfield's brother-in-law? Unfortunately at this date there was another Mr. Patrick Smyth, advocate, who married Lillias, daughter of Bishop Aitkin. This was Patrick Smyth of Rapness, in Orkney, a cousin of Patrick Smyth of Braco in Perthshire, now represented by William Smythe of Methven Castle. He was also of Burruine or Burwane, in the parish of Culross, and had a house on the south side of the Castlehill of Edinburgh; and had been Commissaryprincipal of Wigton from 1682 to 1687. Both he and his wife Lillias were dead before 1723, leaving Archibald, Ann, and Lillias, who married one George Cheyne, surgeon in Leith. Any information as to the descent of the first Patrick will be esteemed a very great favour. There were other two Patrick Smyths of the Braco family, probably also living at this time, both nephews of Patrick, the laird of Braco, viz. Patrick, son of John Smyth of Huip, in Orkney; and Patrick, son of Alexander Smyth of Strynzie in Orkney, and Isobel Gladstones his wife, born 1665. (Registers of Edinburgh.) Robert Sharpe; Mr. Andrew Smyth, doctor at.... (undecipherable); Alexander Thomson; Thomas Thomson, student in divinity; Patrick Tailziefer; and Thomas Young, tailor.
Debts were owing to the deceased by the following persons:-Mr. William Bullo, "person of Stobo; Alexander Campbell, merchant (he was one of the persons present in Morhame church when Philip Stansfield assisted to raise his father's body); John and Lawrence Gellitie; Robert Halyburton; Patrick Johnston; William Menzies; Mr. Robert Smyth, minister (this may have been Mr. Robert of Manor, mentioned above, or Mr. Robert, minister of the parish of Longformacus, near Dunse: I should much like to discover which); and Alexander Wood, brewer.
Mention is made in the testament of a legacy to the defunct by the deceased Charles Smyth, probably an uncle or near kinsman.
To return now to the eldest son, William, who carried on the line of the family. There appears to be no doubt that it is the entry of his birth which is torn out of the register of Innerleithen; for circ. 1675, he receives a grant of arms from the Lord Lyon of Scotland, being described in the grant as son to the deceast Mr. James Smith,
The arms are,
minister at Ethelston Kirk." "Azur, a book expanded, proper, between three flames of fire, or; all within a bordure engrailed argent, charged with mullets and cross-crosslets of the first. The arms of the family of Braco, "Azure, a burning cup between two chess-rooks fessways, or," were granted about the same date.
About 1686, William married Jean Todrig, daughter of James Todrig, indweller in Newbottle, afterwards of Edgefield (qy. where is this?) and Margaret Syme his wife; and had the following children (from the Edinburgh register):
1. Margaret, 1687; baptized by Mr. Alexander Ramsay; witnesses, Mr. William Smyth, minister; Mr. George Smyth, at Daick Kirk (see suprà); Mr. Patrick Smyth, advocate (which of them?) and James Todrig. (William Smyth, minister, was no doubt William, parson of Moneydie in Perthshire, brother of Patrick Smyth of Braco; he also married a daughter of Bishop Aitkin.)
2. James, 1689; witnesses, Mr. Duncan Robertson (son-in-law of Bishop Aitkin, see suprà); David Plenderleath of Blyth (in Peeblesshire); Andrew Aitkin, and James Todrig of Edgefield. 3. Jean, 1691; same witnesses.
4. Marion, 1699; witnesses, Mr. Duncan Robertson; Mr. John Plenderleath (a brother of Mr. David's above; he died at Dalkeith, in 1728); and John Henrie, Cordiner.
It appears highly probable, from the way the two families seem to have been mixed up, that this Peeblesshire family of Smyth was a branch of the family of Braco in Perthshire. A satisfactory identification of the two "Patrick Smyths, advocates," will throw much light on the question; and it would be interesting to determine which of them was Sir James's brother-in-law, both for genealogical considerations, and on account of the horrible rumours afloat respecting Lady Stansfield at the time of the murder.
James Smyth of Innerleithen and Eddlestone appears to have had brothers or cousins, as under, for he baptizes some of their children, and appears to have been otherwise mixed up with them. (See Register of Peebles, 1660-80):
1. Thomas Smyth, town clerk of Peebles: his wife was Isobel Todrig; and their son John was served heir to his father in 1677. (Retours.)
2. John Smyth, dean of guild of Peebles. 3. Another Thomas Smyth, whose wife's name was Margaret Turnbull, and who left
1. Thomas, served heir 1699, as "Thomas Smyth generosus vir, filius nat. mat. et haer. Thomae Smyth quondam lanionis in Peeblis." II. Robert, 1662. (What became of him?) III. Barbara, 1665.
This last Thomas appears to have been twice married, his second wife being one Margaret Aitkins.
Sir James Stansfield came from Yorkshire. Was he one of the Stansfields of Stansfield in that country? (See Pedigree, Harl. MS. No. 4630.) When young he was secretary to General Morgan, but soon after took to trade and married a Scotch lady. Philip the parricide was sent to college at Saint Andrews. He was of age, and married, in 1680-82; and before 1687 had been a soldier abroad, and in several prisons. As early as 1683, he attempted his father's life. John, the second son, was also an "evil youth." Sir James had a nephew named James Mitchell, aged twenty at the time of the murder; wanted, his mother's
Any information relative to the Stansfields or Smyths will be thankfully received by me, if addressed care of the Publisher of "N. & Q." F. M. S.
(3rd S. xi. 485.)
After a careful investigation, I have come to the conclusion that the report that descendants of this illustrious Byzantine family are at present existing in Cornwall, and Cargreen near Plymouth, earning a miserable existence as miners and bargemen, is as groundless as the claims (see Morning Star, February 6, 1863,) of a W. T. Palæologus, medical officer in the English army, and some others in different parts of Europe, who boast of such imperial descent without, as it can clearly be proved, their having had any just claim to that distinction.
What gave rise to such assertions in England, I am at a loss to imagine-most probably the small brass tablet fixed against the wall in the parish church of Landulph, to the memory of Theodore Palæologus, whose English marriage with Mary Balls, it may be worth noting while on the subject, according to the ecclesiastical and civil laws of the Byzantine empire, was illegal.
The name of Palæologus,† though rare in
* Have any of your antiquarian readers examined personally this tablet? And if so, did they conclude from its vetustity that it was really erected at the time of the death of Theodore Palæologus? The non-mention in it of the name of his first wife and daughter ("N. & Q.," 3rd S. vii. 506), and the nonconformity in the date of his death, which according to the inscription took place the 21st of January, 1636, with the entry of his burial in the Landulph registry book, a copy of which was dis
covered by the Rev. F. Vyvyan Jago, deposited of the
room of the archives in Exeter Cathedral, and from which we learn that he was buried the 20th day of October, 1636, or rather 1637-as, from the mode of calculating in use at that time, the year commenced at Lady Day (Archæologia, vol. xviii. p. 92),-give grounds to suspect its erection, near the mortal remains of Palæologus, to be more recent.
During the reigns of King Charles I. and II., many Greeks came over to England from Italy and Spain
England, is very common amongst the Greeks, as well as those of Cantacuzene, Comnenus, Ducas, Phocas, &c., without anyone imagining their bearers to be descendants of the emperors who bore them.
The frequency of these ancient names of extinct illustrious families of the lower empire arose from the vanity of the Phanariots-traitors of their emperor, and cause of the fall of Constantinoplechristening their children with them; who, after the lapse of years, either dropped their vulgar surname, substituting the illustrious one given to them in baptism-and so a Démétrius Comnenus Stephanoupolos became Démétrius Comnenus-or simply changed their position, as for instance Démétrius Stephanopoulos Comnenus.
I conclude, observing that the anecdote mentioned by Sir Robert Schomburgk in his History of Barbadoes, that during the last conflict for Grecian independence and deliverance from the Turkish yoke, a letter was received from the provisional government at Athens, addressed to the authorities in Barbadoes, inquiring whether a male branch of the Palæologi was still existing in the island, and conveying the request that, if such were the case, he should be provided with the means of returning to Greece, and the government would, if required, pay all the expenses the voyage-is merely an anecdote and nothing more, no such letter ever having been written. RHODOCANAKIS.
ABBESSES AS CONFESSORS. (3rd S. xi. 516.)
An abbess cannot exercise "ecclesiastica et spiritalia munera, quibus eam sexus ineptam reddit. (Ludov. Richard, Analysis Concilior., tom. iii., sub voce " Abbatissa."
Abbesses are forbidden-1. "Benedictiones impertiri cum manus impositione; et 2. Signaculo sanctæ crucis." (Aquisgranense, "Aix-la-Chapelle," capitulare i. an. 789.) Both are required from a confessor.
They cannot even select a priest to hear the confessions of their nuns without the authorisation of their superiors. In fact, they possess no spiritual jurisdiction whatever-"quia nulla clavium potestate gaudent." (L. Richard, loc. cit.)
Priests only can hear confessions, says the Council of Trent; such is, according to that famous assembly, "perpetua Ecclesiæ praxis et traditio, seu universorum patrum consensus." (Concil. Trident. sess. xiv. c. 1.)
("N. & Q.," 3rd S. iii. 172), amongst whom were some bearing the name of Palæologus, of course not related to the imperial family. This must account for the occasional entries of that name in the registry books of the parishes of St. Katharine Tower, London, St. Giles's-in-the-Fields, &c.; also of its mention elsewhere.
St. Ambrose says, "Jus absolvendi solis permissum est sacerdotibus." (Lib. 1. De Ponit. c. 2.) We find the same doctrine maintained by Cyprian (lib. De Lapsis), Chrysostom (De Sacerdotio, iii. 5); Jerome (Epist. 1. ad Heliodorum); Augustin (Epist. 128); Leo (Epist. 82), &c.
The following canon of the Council of Narbonne, in France, 1609, seems sufficiently explicit :
"Ad fidelium confessiones audiendas nullus, sive sæcularis, sive regularis sacerdos sit, aut quacunque dignitate, vel auctoritate fulgeat, admittatur, nisi qui per Episcopum. . . . fuerit approbatus; ... cum alias non sit absolvere, sed confitentem decipere; excepto mortis periculo, in quo quilibet sacerdos vere poenitentem potest ab omnibus peccatis absolvere."-Concil. Narbonense, De Fænitentia Sacramento, cap. 16.
A very learned French theologian, l'Abbé C. Bandeville, says: —
"La plupart des règles monastiques, celles de saint Benoit, de saint Colomban, de saint Basile, &c., pour mieux inculquer l'obéissance et l'humilité, assujétissaient les religieux à faire tous les jours leur examen de conscience, en présence de leurs supérieurs, à leur découvrir ce qui se passait dans leur âme, et à se soumettre aveuglément à leurs décisions. Cette pratique a pu être appelée confession, parce qu'elle demande aussi des aveux; mais elle n'a jamais été confondue avec la confession sacramentelle, et n'a jamais fait partie du sacrement de pénitence. Ce n'est donc que dans ce sens qu'on doit entendre ce qui a été dit que des abbesses auraient eu la permission d'entendre les confessions de leurs religieuses."— Diction, de la Conversat. Paris, 1853; art. "Confession."
A. D. F.
Martene says that the abbesses in early times exercised some of the spiritual functions of the priesthood, and even confessed their nuns. This practice, having led to various inconveniences, was suppressed. Bingham (Antiq. b. vii. c. 3, 13), referring to the statement in the Saxon Chronicle, that abbesses were present at the council held at Becancelde or Baccancelde in 694, remarks:
"It is justly noted by learned men as a new thing to find abbesses, as well as abbots, subscribing in the Council of Becancelde in Kent, anno 694, and that before both presbyters and temporal lords, as the author of the Saxon Chronicle reports it. For this is the first time we meet with any such thing in the records of the ancient
affair, and while so doing have tried to explain it as much as was in my power. Afterwards I have reported the official one. Between the two tales there is no material difference. I now shall have to examine the testimonies on which ulterior and entirely distinct accounts have been founded. Some have questioned the Chevalier d'Assas's heroic deed altogether, because of a passage which occurs in Grimm's inedited memoirs. I must not forget to state that these memoirs are very suspicious, and are generally taken for apocryphal. I have read that no one can produce the original manuscript. I am not in a position to verify that assertion; besides, here is not the place to settle that matter. As an impartial judge I must register all the evidence of the case, whether suspicious or not. All I can do is to evince my individual opinion on the probable and improbable sides of the question; the ultimate decision must be left to the grand jury-the public at large.
I transcribe word for word the passage in Grimm's memoirs referred to:
"J'étais au camp de Rhinberg le jour du combat si connu par le dévouement d'un militaire français. Le mot sublime, A moi, Auvergne, ce sont les ennemis ! appartient au valeureux Dubois, sergent de ce régiment; mais, par une erreur presque inévitable dans un jour de bataille, ce mot fut attribué à un jeune officier nommé d'Assas. M. de Castries le crut comme tant d'autres ; mais quand, après ce combat, il eut forcé le prince héréditaire à repasser le Rhin et à lever le siège de Wesel, des renseignements positifs apprirent que le Chevalier d'Assas n'était pas entre seul dans le bois, mais accompagné de Dubois, sergent de la compagnie. Ce fut celui-ci qui cria A nous, etc. Le chevalier fut blessé en même temps, mais il n'expira pas sous le coup, comme Dubois; et une foule de témoins affirmèrent à M. de Castries que cet officier avait souvent répété à ceux qui le transportaient au camp: Enfants, ce n'est pas moi qui ait crié, c'est Dubois. A mon retour à Paris, on ne parlait que du beau trait du Chevalier d'Assas, et il n'était pas plus convaincre personne," etc. question de Dubois que s'il n'eût jamais existé. Je ne pus
Now, first of all, I find it very curious that M. de Castries, being so well acquainted with the facts of the case, did not offer any opposition at all to the letters patent of 1777 rewarding the chevalier's family. On the contrary, I read in the letter of the Baron d'Assas, mentioned by me in the first article:
"M. de Castries ne vit pas sans doute avec plaisir sortir du sein de l'oubli une action qui ternissait un peu l'éclat de la sienne. La demande de la jonction du nom de Clostercamp au mien ne l'amusa pas davantage; mais j'en reçus deshonnêtetés. Il en fit même de marquées à mon fils le chevalier, dans son voyage à Brest, et en présence de tout le corps de la marine."
Well, how is this? It would have been quite natural, if M. de Castries had protested against an undeserved honour being conferred on D'Assas's family. I do not for a moment believe that a military man of reputation, like M. de Castries, would have liked to share the honours of a glorious engagement with a fictitious hero. But, I
"A mon retour à Paris, on ne parlait que du beau trait du Chevalier d'Assas, et il n'était pas plus question de Dubois que s'il n'eût jamais existé," &c.
No, I think that I have established the fact, that people in Paris at that time neither talked about D'Assas nor about Dubois. The Gazette de France merely mentions the chevalier's name among the fallen, and misspells it. Voltaire records his heroic deed for the first time in his Précis du règne de Louis XVI, which was published in 1769. Mind, that at the same time he declares in the most positive manner that he learned D'Assas's extraordinary death long after it had occurred. This is, I should say, perfectly opposed to Grimm's statements. But then also I should be glad to learn his motives for not making generally known the circumstances of the event, such as he alleges to have witnessed them. If it was his conviction that Dubois, and not D'Assas, merited the title of "hero of Klostercamp," why then did he not express this conviction publicly? These various important contradictions in Grimm's memoirs induce me to think that they ought not to be taken as an authority in the pending
The same version of the affair is to be found in the memoirs of Lombard de Langres, who was Dutch ambassador at the French court during the Directoire. (Perhaps Grimm has gathered his details from this source.) Lombard published his work in 1823. He states (vol. i. p. 230 and following) that his father, who filled the place of sergeant-major in Auvergne, told him several times very positively that D'Assas did not go quite alone to watch the enemy in the wood, that Dubois accompanied him, that it was he who shouted "A nous Auvergne," &c., and that afterwards D'Assas had time before he died for nobly testifying in favour of his companion. Here, at least, we do not read about the presence of M. de Castries, who interferes in so unlucky a manner in Grimm's narrative. I believe Lombard to be bona fide: he says (and I fully agree with him there) that he could not see the use of his father uttering a continual falsehood, for the mere pleasure of lying. He finally tells us :
"J'ai hésité à rendre ce fait public. J'ai prié un ami, M. Crétu, employé au ministère de la guerre, de faire toutes les recherches possibles pour savoir s'il ne découvrirait point sur les registres du temps quelque indice qui pût jeter du jour sur un fait si remarquable: ses soins ont été infructueux; ces registres sont muets. Enfin j'ai cru devoir parler."
No doubt Lombard's account has a certain
stamp of veracity; but it is, I believe, not at all superfluous, and only fair, to state that the Dutch ambassador was, above all, notorious for his being an anecdotier, as the French call it. He liked to compile such matters as Contes militaires, AnecSome dotes secrètes, Niaiseries historiques, &c. of his assertions brought him into serious trouble. He was once, for instance, compelled by Fieldmarshal Lefebvre to disavow himself concerning certain details which he alleged to hold from his (Lefebvre's) own mouth.
The Bibliophile Belge (vol. iii. p. 130) has furnished another version. According to this entirely different one, D'Assas shouted "Tirez, Auvergne, c'est l'ennemi," after Dubois had done the same, and was deadly wounded, in the darkness of the night, by his own gens de piquet.
At last I find, in the Mémoires de Dumouriez (edited by MM. Berville and Barrière), a note in which the learned editors, after having mentioned the chevalier's heroic act, go on as fol
"Je dois à la vérité, dont j'ai toujours fait profession, de détailler ici le trait connu du Chevalier d'Assas dans
toute son exactitude. Charpentier, caporal des chasseurs, très-noire; il me mena sur cette colonne, qui fit feu sur fut le premier qui découvrit l'ennemi dans cette nuit nous. Je revins aux grenadiers et chasseurs, je leur ordonnai de faire feu par demi-compagnie alternativement, et surtout de périr à leur poste plutôt que de D'Assas, un des capitaines de chasseurs, placé à l'extrél'abandonner, en attendant l'arrivée de la brigade. mité de l'aile gauche de ce bataillon, fut attaqué et se défendait vigoureusement. Un officier lui criant qu'il tirait sur ses propres gens, il sortit du rang, reconnut l'ennemi et cria: Tirez, chasseurs, ce sont les ennemis !' Il fut criblé de coups de baïonnette, et voua ainsi à sa patrie le sacrifice de sa vie avec cet héroïsme qui a été si justement célébré."
It is quite true that the chevalier does not play as prominent a part in this narrative as in the others, but still his deed remains a praiseworthy
and noble sacrifice.
Thus, according to the above clear and probable account of the event, D'Assas left the ranks of his regiment in order to examine the position of the enemy; as a gallant officer he did it himself, and was killed before he could rejoin his soldiers. Perhaps Dubois was with him. It is even very likely that an officer should take some one with him in such a case. That D'Assas's act should be remembered, and Dubois's deed-if any there