Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Smedley, Edward

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SMEDLEY, EDWARD (1788–1836), miscellaneous writer, second son of the Rev. Edward Smedley by his wife Hannah, fourth daughter of George Bellas of Willey in the county of Surrey, was born in the Sanctuary, Westminster, on 12 Sept. 1788. His father was educated at Westminster school and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. 1773, M.A. 1776, and became a fellow of his college. He held the post of usher of Westminster school from 1774 to 1820, and was sometime reader of the Rolls Chapel. He was appointed vicar of Little Coates, Lincolnshire, in 1782, and of Meopham, Kent, in 1786. He published in 1810, ‘Erin: a Geographical and Descriptive Poem,’ London, 8vo. In 1812 he was instituted vicar of Bradford Abbas, and rector of Clifton-Maybank in Dorset, and in 1816 was made rector of North Bovey and of Powderham in Devonshire. He died on 8 Aug. 1825.

Edward was sent to Westminster school as a home boarder in 1795, before he had completed his seventh year. He became a king's scholar in 1800, and was elected head to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1805. He obtained the wooden spoon in 1809, graduating B.A. in the same year, and M.A. in 1812. As a middle bachelor he gained one of the members' prizes for Latin prose in 1810, and in the following year he gained a similar distinction as a senior bachelor. He was elected to a fellowship of Sidney-Sussex College in 1812, and won the Seatonian prize for English verse in 1813, 1814, 1827, and 1828. Smedley was ordained deacon in September 1811, and took priest's orders in the following year. Through the kindness of his father's old friend, Gerrard Andrewes [q. v.], Smedley became preacher at St. James's Chapel, Tottenham Court Road, and in July 1815 was appointed clerk in orders of St. James's parish, Westminster. Smedley vacated his fellowship on his marriage, on 8 Jan. 1816. Shortly afterwards he became evening lecturer at St. Giles's, Camberwell, a post which he held for a few years only. In 1819 he resigned his appointment of clerk in orders of St. James's parish, and took to teaching in addition to his literary and clerical work. In 1822 he accepted the editorship of the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana.’ He commenced his duties with the seventh part, and continued to hold the post of editor until his death. Owing to his increasing deafness, he was compelled in 1827 to give up taking pupils, and in the following year he became totally deaf. In 1829 he was collated by the bishop of Lincoln to the prebend of Sleaford, and in 1831 he resigned his preachership at St. James's Chapel. In spite of his many bodily infirmities he continued his literary labours until within a few months of his death. He died, after a lingering illness, on 29 June 1836, aged 47, and was buried at Dulwich. By his wife Mary, youngest daughter of James Hume of Wandsworth Common, Surrey, secretary of the customs, he had several children.

Smedley was a frequent contributor to the ‘British Critic’ and to the ‘Penny Cyclopædia,’ as well as to the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana.’ His ‘Poems … with a Selection from his Correspondence and a Memoir of his Life,’ London, 8vo, were published by his widow in 1837. ‘The Tribute: a Collection of Miscellaneous unpublished Poems by various Authors,’ London, 1837, 8vo, was edited by the Marquis of Northampton for the benefit of Smedley's family.

Smedley was also author of the following works:

  1. ‘A Few Verses, English and Latin,’ 1812, anon.
  2. ‘The Death of Saul and Jonathan, a [Seatonian Prize] Poem,’ London, 1814, 8vo; 2nd ed. London, 1814, 8vo.
  3. ‘Jephthah, a [Seatonian Prize] Poem,’ London, 1814, 8vo.
  4. ‘Jonah: a Poem,’ London, 1815, 8vo.
  5. ‘Prescience, or the Secrets of Divination: a Poem in two parts,’ London, 1816, 12mo.
  6. ‘Religio Clerici: a Churchman's Epistle [in verse],’ London, 1818, 8vo, anon.
  7. ‘A Churchman's second Epistle [in verse],’ London, 1819, 8vo, anon.
  8. ‘The Parson's Choice of Town or Country: an Epistle to a Young Divine [in verse],’ London, 1821, 8vo, anon. These last three poems were republished under the title of ‘Religio Clerici: two Epistles by a Churchman, with Notes; a new edition,’ &c., London, 1821, 8vo.
  9. ‘Fables of my Garden.’ These were written by Smedley in verse for his children, and were privately printed (see Memoir, p. 346).
  10. ‘Lux Renata: a Protestant's Epistle [in verse], with Notes,’ London, 1827, 8vo, anon. This poem had been previously printed privately.
  11. ‘The Marriage in Cana: a [Seatonian Prize] Poem,’ London, 1828, 8vo.
  12. ‘Saul at Endor: a Dramatic Sketch [a Seatonian Prize Poem],’ London, 1829, 8vo.
  13. ‘A very short Letter from one old Westminster to another, touching some Matters connected with their School,’ London, 1829, 8vo, anon.
  14. ‘Sketches from Venetian History,’ London, 1831–2, 12mo; 2 vols. anon. These formed vols. xx. and xxxii. of Murray's ‘Family Library,’ and were reprinted in Harper's ‘Family Library,’ New York, 1844, 12mo, 2 vols.
  15. ‘History of the Reformed Religion in France,’ London, 1832–4, 8vo, 3 vols. These formed vols. iii. vi. and viii. of Rivington's ‘Theological Library,’ and were reprinted in New York, 1834, 18mo, 3 vols.
  16. ‘History of France: Part I., from the Final Partition of the Empire of Charlemagne, A.D. 843, to the Peace of Cambray, A.D. 1529,’ London, 1836, 8vo. This formed vol. x. of the ‘Library of Useful Knowledge.’

[Memoir prefixed to Smedley's Poems, 1837; Gent. Mag. 1825 ii. 283–4, 1836 ii. 330; Alumni Westmon. 1852, pp. 380, 389, 390–1, 439, 454, 462–3; Barker and Stenning's Westminster School Register, 1892, p. 199; Grad. Cantabr. 1856, p. 349; Cambridge Univ. Calendar, 1895–6, pp. 150, 519, 525; Foster's Index Ecclesiasticus, 1890, p. 162; Encyclop. Metropolitana, 1845, vol. i. pp. xx–xxi; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. vii. 448, 486, ix. 353; Allibone's Dict. of English Lit. 1859–71, ii. 2123; Halkett and Laing's Dict. of Anon. and Pseudon. Lit. 1882–1888; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.