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Fact or fiction? About our founder


Little is known about our founder, Henry Smith (1549-1628), but colourful myths are intertwined with the remarkable legacy that cannot be disputed.

  • Henry Smith established a legacy of philanthropy that continues to this day through The Henry Smith Charity, one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK, which gives around £40m a year
  • A member of the Salters’ Company, did Henry make his fortune as a salt merchant? Remember this was an era when salt was the only way of preserving food, which made it a rich commodity!
  • The few pictures we have of Henry Smith are of him wearing the prestigious robes of an Alderman, however, he only held this position for a matter of months (from February to May 1609)
  • Henry was heavily involved in the controversial practice of money lending – especially to members of the aristocracy – which would be key in bringing him to the centre of political and court power
  • Ill health in his final years meant he was unable to attend church. Henry was indicted for ‘Popish Recusancy’ and risked fines and the confiscation of property. Thankfully, his lawyer intervened and the case was dropped


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