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John Smith [alias Francis Dade]
Member From: 1658 - 1658
- Birth Date: 1620 Birth Place:
- Death Date: 1663
- Gender: Male Race: Caucasian
- Military Service:
- Additional Info: Francis Dade is thought to have taken the alias John Smith upon arriving in Virginia early in the 1650s to escape prosecution for hi part in a royalist intrigue against the Cromwellian Protectorate. It is also possible that two other royalists; Sir Henry Chicheley and Colonel Richard Lee, or Jenkin Price, a trader who rescued Henry Norwood and Francis Moryson may have been the Speaker!
During the last days of the assembly of 1658 Smith was involved in a confrontation between the House and Council that led to a full affirmation of the House of Burgesses' claim of constitutional supremecy.
- Bio: JOHN SMITH (alias Francis Dade) was Speaker of the House of Burgesses at the assembly of 1658, which was the only time he was a member of the assembly. Francis Dade is thought to have taken the alias John Smith upon arriving in Virginia early in the 1650s to escape prosecution for his part in a royalist intrigue against the Cromwellian Protectorate. The name John Smith appears among the headrights listed by two royalists, Sir Henry Chicheley and Colonel Richard Lee, and by Jenkin Price, a trader who rescued Henry Norwood and Francis Morysonindeed, Henry Norwood mentions a John Smith as having been aboard The Virginia Merchant, with Francis Moryson, in 1649.
Any one of these immigrants may have been the Speaker. Another possibility is that Smith transported himself to Virginia, or, given the loose administration of the headright system, the same man might have been claimed as a headright on one or all of the patents mentioned.
Speaker Smith settled in Warwick County, where he was elected for his only term as a burgess in 1658, but by January 1660 he lived in Westmoreland County. In September 1654 Francis and John Smith had patented 3,000 acres in Westmoreland County for having transported to Virginia sixty persons, one of whom was Katherine Whitby, wife of Speaker William Whitby. The tract also included "150 acres by assignment of a patent from Robert Newman to Mr. Whitby and by the said Whitby delivered up ... for the above said Smith's use." Like his predecessor, Francis Moryson, Smith evidently was a good friend of Whitby. He died at sea in 1663.
During the last days of the assembly of 1658 Smith was involved in a confrontation between the House and Council that led to a full affirmation of the House of Burgesses' claim of constitutional supremacy. On 1 April 1658 Governor Samuel Mathews, Jr., and nine councillors signed a message dissolving the assembly and ordering Smith to '' dismiss the Burgesses.'' The House replied ''that the said dissolution . . . is not presidentiall neither legal according to the lawes, now in force, Therefore we humbly desire a revocation of the said declaration.'' Then, to enforce its position, it threatened to censure any burgess who left '' as a person betraying the trust reposed in him by his country,'' and imposed an oath of secrecy on its members.
On 2 April 1658 the governor and Council offered to refer the dispute to Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, but the House unanimously agreed "that the answer returned is unsatisfactory." The Council's second reply revoked its earlier order for a dissolution, but again suggested that the dispute be referred to Cromwell. This, too, was unsatisfactory, and the House named a committee to vindicate its power. In the committee report adopted by the House, the burgesses declared themselves '' not dissolvable by any power yet extant in Virginia but our owne," and further declared that "all former election of Governor and Council be void and null.'' Having made its constitutional position clear, the House then elected Mathews as governor, reappointed most of the councillors together with several new ones, and required all the officers to acknowledge under oath the House's claim to sovereignty. Secretary William Claiborne came under particular scrutiny. Sergeant at arms Robert Ellison, who had been instructed "not to act or execute any warrant, precept or command . . . from any other power or person then the Speaker," brought Claiborne to the bar, where he was ordered to deliver to Speaker Smith '' all the records concerning this country of Virginia or any perticular member thereof unto this Grand Assembly." (At the assembly of 1659 Claiborne again was required to acknowledge that his appointment as secretary was "received from the Assembly.") Finally, to ensure that no precedent inimical to the House's claims could be drawn, the House, rather than dissolve, adjourned until November. This was a tactical move, and there is no evidence that the assembly of 1658 ever reconvened. Throughout the whole controversy, Speaker John Smith seems to have guided the House of Burgesses in defense of its constitutional claims and served as its able spokesman.
- Other Notable Service and/or Elected Offices: Speaker of the House of Burgesses: 1658
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