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Richard Smyth (theologian)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Smyth reading 1 Corinthians 13:3 ("If I give my body to be burned and have not love, I gain nothing") at the burning of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley in a woodcut from Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
Smyth reading 1 Corinthians 13:3 ("If I give my body to be burned and have not love, I gain nothing") at the burning of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley in a woodcut from Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Richard Smyth (or Smith) (1499/1500, Worcestershire, England – 9 July 1563, Douai, France) was the first person to hold the office of Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford and the first Chancellor of the University of Douai.


Educated at Merton College, Oxford, and taking his MA degree in 1530, he became Registrar of the University of Oxford in 1532 then (by royal appointment) its first Regius Professor of divinity in 1536. Taking his doctorate in divinity on 10 July 1536, he was subsequently made master of Whittington College, London, rector of St Dunstan-in-the-East and then Cuxham, Oxfordshire, principal of St. Alban's Hall, and divinity reader at Magdalen College.

Some (possibly unreliable) accounts have him renouncing Catholicism and the authority of the Pope at Oxford and (on 15 May 1547) at St Paul's Cross on the accession of the Protestant Edward VI. However, even if the accounts are reliable, soon afterwards he became a Catholic again and was thus replaced in his professorship with Peter Martyr. He and Martyr were to hold a public disputation in 1549, but fled to Leuven before it could be held.

On release he left to become professor of divinity at Louvain, returning on the accession of Mary to become canon of Christ Church and royal chaplain and take a major part in proceedings against Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer. Regaining most of his benefices, he lost them all again when Elizabeth succeeded Mary, and was briefly imprisoned in the house of Archbishop Matthew Parker. On release, he again fled to the continent, this time to Douai, where Mary's widower Philip II of Spain appointed him dean of St. Peter's church and then (on Philip II's inauguration of University of Douai on 5 October 1562) the university's chancellor and professor of theology.



  1. ^ Refutatio luculenta crasse et exitiosae haeresis Johannis Calvini et Christo. Carlili. Angli, qua astruunt Christum non descendine ad inferos alios, quam ad infernum infimum 1562
  2. ^ Confutatio eorum, quae Philippus Melanchthon obijcit contra Missae 1562
  3. ^ who had accused Smyth of adultery


  • J. Andreas Löwe, Richard Smyth and the Language of Orthodoxy: Re-imagining Tudor Catholic Polemicism (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions: History, Culture, Religion, Ideas, 96; Leiden: Brill, 2003).
Academic offices
Preceded by
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford
Succeeded by
Pietro Martire Vermigli
Preceded by
Pietro Martire Vermigli
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford
Succeeded by
Juan de Villagarcía
Preceded by
John Warner
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
William Tresham
Preceded by
Juan de Villagarcía
Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford
Succeeded by
Lawrence Humphrey
This page was last edited on 12 November 2020, at 02:34
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