Smith, Charles (1786-1856) (DNB00)

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SMITH, CHARLES (1786–1856), singer, born in London in 1786, was grandson of Edward Smith, page to the Princess Amelia, and son of Felton Smith, a chorister at Christ Church, Oxford. At the age of five, owing to his precocity, he became a pupil of Costellow for singing. Later, in 1796, on the advice of Dr. Arnold, he became a chorister at the Chapel Royal under Ayrton, and sang the principal solo in the anthem on the marriage of Charlotte Augusta Matilda, the princess royal, to the Prince of Würtemberg on 18 May 1797 [see Charlotte, (1766–1828)]. In 1798 he was articled to John Ashley, and in the following year was engaged to sing at Ranelagh, the Oratorio, and other concerts. In 1803 he went on tour in Scotland, but, his voice having broken, he renounced singing temporarily, and devoted himself to teaching and organ-playing, in which he was sufficiently proficient to act as deputy for Knyvett and John Stafford Smith at the Chapel Royal and for Bartleman at Croydon. On the latter's retirement, Smith was appointed organist there; but shortly afterwards he went to Ireland with a theatrical party as tenor singer, and on his return, a year later, he became organist of the Welbeck chapel in succession to Charles Wesley. In conjunction with Isaac Pocock [q. v.], he next turned his attention to writing for the theatres, and produced in rapid succession the music to the farces ‘Yes or No’ (produced at the Haymarket on 31 Aug. 1808 and published next year); ‘Hit or Miss’ (produced at the Lyceum on 26 Feb. 1810); ‘Anything New’ (produced on 1 July 1811); and ‘The Tourist's Friend,’ a melodrama; but withdrew from theatrical matters when Pocock left Drury Lane. In 1813 he was singing bass parts at the Oratorio concerts; in 1815 he married Miss Booth of Norwich; and in 1816 went to fill a lucrative post at Liverpool. He ultimately retired to Crediton in Devon, where he died on 22 Nov. 1856. He was an excellent organist and a fine singer. Many of his compositions enjoyed a considerable vogue, the most popular being a setting of Campbell's ‘Battle of Hohenlinden,’ ‘a work of rare and extraordinary merit.’

[Quarterly Mus. Mag. and Rev. ii. 214; Georgian Era, iv. 304–5; Dict. of Musicians, 1824.]

R. H. L.