Smith, Miles (DNB00)

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SMITH, MILES (d. 1624), bishop of Gloucester, son of a butcher, was born at Hereford, and became, about 1568, a student of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, from which college he migrated to Brasenose. He graduated B.A. in 1573 and M.A. in 1576, proceeding B.D. in 1585 and D.D. in 1594. About 1576 he was made a chaplain or petty canon of Christ Church; in 1580 he obtained the prebend of Hinton in Hereford cathedral, and in 1595 he was made a prebendary of Exeter cathedral. He also held the rectory of Hartlebury, and, possibly, that of Upton-upon-Severn, in Worcestershire.

Smith was a distinguished classical scholar, but his chief reputation was made as an orientalist. ‘Chaldiac, Syriac, and Arabic,’ says Wood, were ‘as familiar to him almost as his own native tongue.’ He acted as one of the translators of the authorised version of the Bible, and took part in the translation of the prophetic books, but he and Thomas Bilson [q. v.], bishop of Winchester, were appointed to make a final revision of the text of the Old Testament, and to Smith was assigned the honour of writing the preface to the completed work. As a reward for his labour he was appointed bishop of Gloucester, and consecrated at Croydon on 20 Sept. 1612.

In theology Smith held puritan views. His dislike of ceremonial observances attracted the notice of James I, Smith having allowed Gloucester Cathedral to fall into decay, while he retained the communion table in the middle of the choir. To correct these irregularities, James in 1616 appointed Laud to the deanery of Gloucester, with instructions to bring about a reformation. Laud, without consulting the bishop, summoned the chapter, and laid the king's commands before them. He induced them to give orders for the repair of the cathedral and for the removal of the communion table to the east end of the chancel. The consequence was a tumult among the townsfolk and the clergy of the district, which Smith aggravated by declaring that he would not enter the cathedral again till the causes of offence had been removed. Laud, however, secure of the countenance of the king, remained steadfast, and the puritans were obliged to relinquish a hopeless contest (Laud, Works, v. 495; Heylin, Cyprianus Anglicus, p. 70).

Smith died on 20 Oct. 1624 (Willis, Cathedrals, ‘Gloucester,’ p. 74; Le Neve, Fasti, i. 439). He was twice married. By his first wife, Mary Hawkins, of Cardiff, he had two sons: Gervase, of the Middle Temple, and Miles.

Smith was the author of a volume of sermons published in London (1632, fol.). He also edited the works of Gervase Babington [q. v.], bishop of Worcester (London, 1615, fol.), and wrote a commendatory preface to Babington's ‘Certaine plaine, briefe, and comfortable Notes upon every Chapter of Genesis’ (London, 1596, 4to). In 1602 one of Smith's sermons was published, without his consent, by Robert Burhill [q. v.], under the title of ‘A learned and godly Sermon, preached at Worcester, at an Assize, by the Rev. and learned Miles Smith, Doctor of Divinitie.’

A near kinsman of the bishop, Miles Smith (1618–1671), son of Miles Smith, a priest in Gloucester, matriculated from Magdalen College, Oxford, on 20 March 1634–5, graduated B.A. on 3 Dec. 1638, and was created B.C.L. on 4 Aug. 1646. From 1634 to 1641 he was a chorister at his college. He was a royalist, and, suffering for his opinions, became a retainer of Gilbert Sheldon [q. v.] On the latter being made archbishop of Canterbury in 1660, Smith became his secretary. He died on 17 Feb. 1670–1, and was buried in the chancel of Lambeth church. He was the author of ‘The Psalms of King David, paraphrased into English Meetre,’ London, 1668, 8vo. This was based on the ‘Paraphrase of the Psalms’ by Henry Hammond [q. v.] He had one son, Miles, a gentleman commoner of Trinity, who died at Oxford on 17 Oct. 1682 (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 951, and Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 94; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714).

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 359, 863; Stephens's Preface to Smith's Sermons; Funeral Sermon, by Thomas Prior, affixed to Smith's Sermons; Barksdale's Memoirs, decade 111; Lansdowne MS. 984, f. 39; Chambers's Biogr. Illustrations of Worcestershire, p. 84; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Fowler's History of Corpus Christi College, pp. 150, 156, 163; Anderson's Annals of the English Bible, ii. 376, 378.]

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