Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Smith, William (1651?-1735)

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SMITH, WILLIAM (1651?–1735), antiquary, born about 1651, was the son of William Smith of Easby, near Richmond in Yorkshire, by his wife Anne, daughter of Francis Layton of Rawden, master of the jewel-house in the reign of Charles I. On 28 May 1668 William matriculated from University College, Oxford, and graduated B.A. in 1672, proceeding M.A. on 18 March 1674–5. In 1673 he was appointed rector of Goodmanham in Yorkshire, in 1675 elected a fellow of University College, and in 1678 incorporated M.A. at Cambridge. In 1704 he was presented by the college to the rectory of Melsonby in Yorkshire. Owing to some informality he was twice inducted, on 22 Oct. 1704 and on 23 June 1706. In 1705, having married, he was obliged to resign his fellowship; but he retained the revenues until 1711 (Hearne, Collections, i. 62, iii. 126). He died in December 1735, and was buried at Melsonby. By his wife Mary, widow of Gerard Langbaine (1656–1692) [q. v.], he had one child at least, according to Hearne, although he appears to have left no family at his death.

Smith was the author of: 1. ‘The Annals of University College,’ Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1728, 8vo. 2. ‘Litteræ de Re Nummaria,’ Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1729, 8vo. He also wrote twenty-seven manuscript volumes relating to Oxford, the result of his researches into the archives of the university and of his own college, which are in possession of the Society of Antiquaries.

A contemporary William Smith (fl. 1726), surveyor to the Royal African Company, proceeded to Africa in 1726 to make surveys and drafts of the English forts and settlements in Guinea. On his return he published the results of his labours in a volume entitled ‘Thirty different Draughts of Guinea,’ London, fol. He also left an account of his visit in a manuscript, published in 1744 under the title of ‘A New Voyage to Guinea,’ in which his own observations were eked out with long extracts from Bosman's ‘New Description of the Coast of Guinea.’ The importance of the part of the narrative actually written by Smith is very slight (Pinkerton, Collection of Voyages and Travels, 1745, ii. 464–481).

[Gent. Mag. 1853, ii. 163; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Thoresby Corresp.; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. ii. 137; Nichols's Illustrations of Literature, v. 485.]

E. I. C.