Smyth (Smith), Edward (1665–1720), Church of Ireland bishop, was born at Lisburn, Co. Antrim, then known as Lisnagarvey, second son of James and Francesca (Dowdall) Smyth; the family was well connected. His mother was daughter of Edward Dowdall of Mounttown, Meath, registrar of the court of chancery. James Smyth's brother was William Smyth (d. 1697), bishop of Kilmore, and there were other clerical relatives; Edward's brother William became archdeacon of Connor. It is possible that Edward Smyth (1636?–1710), MP for Lisburn, may have been distantly related. Edward Smyth, the future bishop, was educated by Mr Haslam at Lisburn, and entered TCD on 12 September 1676 aged 14; he became a scholar (1678), graduated BA (1681), and was elected to fellowship in 1684. He received the further degrees of MA (1684), LLB (1687), BD (1694), and DD (1696).
During the disturbances in Ireland after the coming of James II (qv), when the college became a garrison, the provost and ten fellows, including Smyth, fled to England. He was appointed chaplain to the Smyrna Company set up to trade in Turkey, and spent five years in their ‘factories’ (trading establishments) at Smyrna and Constantinople. After greatly increasing his fortune, he returned to England (1693), became a chaplain to William III (qv), and travelled with him on campaign in Flanders. In 1695 Smyth became dean of St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin, resigning at that time his college fellowship, but he lived mostly in England, attending the king. In 1697 he was made vice-chancellor of the University of Dublin, and on 2 April 1699 was consecrated bishop of Down and Connor.
One of the earliest members of the Dublin Philosophical Society (when he joined in 1684 he was at 19 its youngest member by 1686 he was the society's secretary). He was clearly respected by the society's founder William Molyneux (qv) who in his will left Smyth (along with John Locke and St George Ashe (qv)) a small bequest. Although Smyth was appointed Donegal lecturer in mathematics at TCD in 1694 and, like many contemporaries, believed in the primacy of mathematics, his formal contributions to the society, in all seven papers, dealt mainly with problems in natural history. In 1695 he was elected FRS and subsequently published (1696, 1698) in the Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society, drawing on his experiences in the Near East. He wrote on the Turkish use of opium and on ‘soap earth near Smyrna’, and also described ‘Rusma, a black earth’, a chemical compound used in Turkey as a depilatory, and later employed in tanning. Smyth also wrote a description of Lough Neagh and a paper on imagination, and published four sermons.
He died in Bath on 16 October 1720. He married first (1696) his first cousin Elizabeth Smyth (d. 1706), daughter of William Smyth, bishop of Kilmore; they had two sons and two daughters, one of whom married James Stopford, 1st earl of Courttown. Smyth married secondly (1710) Mary, daughter of Clotworthy Skeffington, 3rd Viscount Massereene; they had three sons and two daughters. Smyth's will distributed a large fortune to his descendants; a grandson became a baronet in 1776.