Thomas Smith 1513-1577

From Book Owners Online

Sir Thomas SMITH 1513-1577

Biographical Note

Thomas Smith was born in Saffron Walden, son of John Smith (d. 1557), a sheep farmer. He was educated at the University of Cambridge (BA 1530, MA 1532) where he was appointed Regius Professor of civil law in 1540 and was vice-chancellor in 1543. He was recruited to Protector Somerset's household in 1547, becoming a member of Parliament, Provost of Eton and Dean of Carlisle and was knighted in 1549. He served several times as English ambassador to France. In the 1570s he was a not entirely successful Secretary of State.

Smith was essentially a humanist scholar, with several philological and historical publications to his name.


Smith collected a considerable library for which a library list from 1566 survives. The bulk of his collection went to Queens' College, Cambridge. At least one of his books survives in the Sion College collection at Lambeth Palace Library (C11/P69 GRY).

Greek ownership inscription from Sion College collection (Lambeth Palace Library C11/P69 GRY)

Characteristic markings

His books are signed in Latin as 'Thomas Smithus' and in Greek as 'Θωμᾶς ὁ Σμΐτθος'.