There’s a statue of a man in the City of London who is famous in the USA, and little remembered in the UK, but his statue is here, in London. This is Captain John Smith and his statue, erected in 1960 can be found in the churchyard next to St Mary-le-Bow at Cheapside.
But why is it here?
Captain John Smith was born in Lancashire in 1580, and played a very important role in the establishment of the Jamestown colony, the first permanent English settlement in North America. His later books and maps of the area were also an important tool in garnering English support for colonising the New World, and his decision to to name what is today the region of the USA known as New England.
The statue is made of bronze and stands on a Portland stone plinth and shows Smith dressed in Elizabethan fashion with a sword in his left hand and a book in his right.
The statue is a loose copy by Charles Renick of a sculpture by the American William Couper standing in Jamestown. It was erected in 1960 and unveiled by the Jamestown Foundation of Commonwealth of Virginia, who presented it to the City of London. It was erected to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the return of Smith to England in the winter of 1609-10.
A small carved relief of the City of London’s crest with details picked out in red. The inscription reads, ‘First among the leaders of the settlement at Jamestown Virginia which began the overseas expansion of the English-speaking peoples’.
Smith died in 1631, and is buried in Saint Sepulchre-without-Newgate Church, Holborn.