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Smyth, William

SMYTH, WILLIAM (or SMITH, WILLIAM) (c. 1460-1514), bishop of Lincoln, was a Lancashire man by birth, and probably passed some of his early days at Knowsley under the roof of Margaret, countess of Richmond and Derby, the mother of Henry VII. He appears to have been a member of Lincoln College, Oxford, and in 1485, just after the battle of Bosworth, he was made keeper of the hanaper of the chancery. Two of Edward IV's daughters were entrusted to his keeping; he was a member of the royal council and he obtained the livings of Combe Martin, Devon, of Great Grimsby and of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. In 1491 he was made dean of St Stephen's, Westminster, and two years later bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. The bishop was a member of Prince Arthur's council in the marches of Wales, and in 1501, five years after he had been translated to the bishopric of Lincoln, he became lord president of Wales. About 1507 he and Sir Richard Sutton (d. 1524) set to work to found a new college in Oxford. They rebuilt Brasenose Hall, added other existing halls to it, and having obtained a charter in 1512, called it The King's haule and college of Brasennose. Smyth, who was one of the executors of Henry VII. 's will, retired from public life just after this King's death, owing probably to some differences between Bishop Richard Fox and himself; he was, however, president of Wales until his death at Buckden in Huntingdonshire on the and of January 1514. Although an able and scholarly man, Smyth had little sympathy with the new learning. He bestowed rich livings upon his relatives, one of whom, Matthew Smyth, was the first principal of Brasenose College. In addition to his liberal gifts to Brasenose College he gave money or land to Lincoln and to Oriel Colleges; he founded a school at Farnworth, Lancashire, and he refounded the hospital of St John at Lichfield. From 1 500 to 1 503 he was chancellor of Oxford University.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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