Erasmus Smith

Smith, Erasmus, the founder and endower of a number of Protestant schools in Ireland, was a wealthy Turkey merchant, and an alderman of London. According to one account he was living in 1683, aged 73. His town residence was in St. John's, Clerkenwell; his country seat, Weald Hall, in Essex. He married a daughter of Lord Coleraine, and had three daughters and six sons, all of whom died without issue, except Hugh, who succeeded to his father's estates. There is a portrait of Erasmus Smith in Christ's Hospital, London. He was one of the adventurers under the Cromwellian settlement, and was granted in return for his "adventure" of £300, 666 plantation acres in the barony of Clanwilliam, and County of Tipperary. This must, however, have been but a small portion of his landed property in Ireland, as in 1657 he by deed made over 13,000 acres in different counties, for the formation and endowment of grammar schools in Ireland.

The trustees being all Non-conformists — "men after Cromwell's own heart" — were unable to execute their functions after the Restoration; and, in 1669, on Erasmus Smith's petition, a new charter was granted, placing the schools practically under Episcopal supervision. It cannot be clearly ascertained whether the donor himself was a Churchman or a Dissenter. The future visitation and government of the schools founded by him was entrusted to a board of thirty-two governors, with the power of electing their successors. When the Endowed Schools Commission enquired into his foundations in 1857, they numbered 4 grammar schools, and 140 English schools, in different parts of Ireland; having 7,170 children on the rolls, and an average attendance of 4,357. The nett income from lands and investments was £8,162. After paying £600 a year for exhibitions to Trinity College, and £100 to Christ's Hospital, £7,462 was available for the support of the schools. Full particulars regarding their condition and management, will be found in the report of the before- mentioned Commission. It is much to be regretted that so few particulars are attainable concerning the life of one who was such a benefactor to Ireland.


93. Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland: John P. Prendergast. London, 1870.

125c. Endowed Schools, Ireland, Commission Report. Dublin, 1858.

254. Notes and Queries. London, 1850-'78.
O'Callaghan, John C., see No. 186.

307c. Smith, Erasmus, a paper in Social Science Congress Report for 1861.