Sir Thomas Smith: scholar, statesman and son of Saffron Walden

Sir Thomas Smith of Saffron Walden

Vol 3: Sir Thomas Smith: scholar, statesman and son of Saffron Walden

by Jeremy Collingwood £7.50 + pp

Edited by Jacqueline Cooper

Published by SWHS Publications

ISBN 978-1-873669-08-2

Books can be ordered from Saffron Walden Tourist Information

Sales Enquiries:

Editorial enquiries:


  • The Lonely Boy
  • The Cambridge Scholar
  • The Edwardian Secretary of State
  • The Wilderness Years
  • The Elizabethan Envoy
  • The Elizabethan Secretary of State
  • The Merchant Venturer
  • The Lasting Legacy
  • Appendix: Sir Thomas Smith’s Will


sir thomas smith of saffron walden

The author signing books at the launch.
Photograph © Gordon Ridgewell.

Sir Thomas Smith can justly claim to be one of Saffron Walden’s most distinguished sons. Smith’s curriculum vitae speaks for itself. He was the first Regius Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, Provost of Eton, Principal Secretary of State to Edward VI and Elizabeth I, a Member of Parliament under the last three Tudor monarchs, several times ambassador to France and the Low Countries, a Privy Councillor, Chancellor of the Order of the Garter, and not least the builder of Hill Hall, one of England’s first great classical or Paladian mansions. He was also the author of two of the most eminent writings of Tudor times, The Discourse of the Commonweal, 1549; and De Republica Anglorum, 1562-1565, an authoritative account of the English constitution and legal system. Smith was one of the great letter writers of his age, and nearly 700 of his letters survive. This book examines the character and background of Smith, and the achievements and failures of a self-made man who in a time of unprecedented religious and political ferment rose from obscurity to achieve riches and power. Despite leaving Saffron Walden for Cambridge as a young boy, Smith did not forget his native town, playing a part in obtaining the new charter of the town in 1549, re-founding the Almshouses and obtaining a new charter for the grammar school. This book marks the 500th anniversary of his birth.

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