Smith, John (1659-1715) (DNB00)

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SMITH, JOHN (1659–1715), divine, was grandson of Matthew Smith (1589–1640), a barrister of the Inner Temple, and a strong adherent of the royal prerogative, who was in 1639 appointed a member of the council of the north. He left behind him in manuscript some ‘valuable annotations’ on Littleton's ‘Tenures,’ and two dramatic pieces, ‘The Country Squire, or the Merry Mountebank: a Ballad Opera,’ and ‘The Masquerade du Ciel: a Masque.’ The last-named was published in the year of his death by his eldest son, John Smith of Knaresborough (the divine's uncle), who subsequently fought under the command of Prince Rupert at Marston Moor in 1644 (cf. Cibber, Lives of the Poets, ii. 324). A younger son, William Smith, married in 1657 Elizabeth, daughter of Giles Wetherall of Stockton, and was father of the subject of this article.

John Smith, born at Lowther in Westmoreland on 10 Nov. 1659, was one of eleven brothers, all of whom rose to prominent positions. William, a well-known physician of Leeds, died in 1729; George, a chaplain-general in the army, died in 1725; Joseph Smith (1670–1756) [q. v.] became provost of Queen's College, Oxford; and Posthumus, an eminent civilian, died in 1725. John was educated by his father at Bradford, Yorkshire, under Christopher Ness or Nesse [q. v.], where he made little progress, and subsequently at Appleby school, whence he was admitted to St. John's College, Cambridge, on 11 June 1674. He distinguished himself at college, where he graduated B.A. 1677, M.A. 1681, and D.D. July 1696, and was, on leaving St. John's, ordained deacon and priest by Archbishop Richard Sterne [q. v.] In July 1682 he was admitted a minor canon of Durham, and shortly afterwards collated to the curacy of Croxdale, and on 1 July 1684 to that of Witton Gilbert. From 1686 to 1689 he acted as chaplain to Lord Lansdowne, the English ambassador at Madrid. In 1694 he was appointed domestic chaplain to Nathaniel Crew [q. v.], who in the following year collated him to the rectory and hospital of Gateshead, and on 25 Sept. 1695 to the seventh prebendal stall in Durham Cathedral. In 1696 he was created D.D. at Cambridge, and three years later was made treasurer of Durham, to which the bishop added in July 1704 the rectory of Bishop-Wearmouth. Here he rebuilt the rectory and restored the chancel of the church, but he spent the larger portion of his time at Cambridge, labouring at an edition of Bede's ‘History’ which he did not live to complete. In 1713 his health began to fail, and he died at Cambridge on 30 July 1715. He was buried in the chapel of St. John's College, where a monument was erected, with an inscription by his friend, Thomas Baker (1656–1740) [q. v.], the historian of the college. John Smith married in 1692 Mary, eldest daughter of William Cooper of Scarborough, who gave his daughter a portion of 4,500l.; by her he had, with four other sons, George (1693–1756) [q. v.], who inherited his father's scholarly tastes, and brought out from his materials in 1722 the ‘Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ Gentis Anglorum Libri Quinque, auctore Venerabili Bæda … cura et studio Johannis Smith, S. T. P.,’ Cambridge University Press, fol., which was admittedly the best of the older editions of Bede. Besides some published sermons, John Smith projected a history of Durham, and furnished some materials to Bishop Gibson for his edition of Camden, and to James Anderson (1662–1728) [q. v.] for his ‘Historical Essay’ in 1705.

[Le Neve's Fasti, iii. 315; Biographia Britannica; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 233; Hutchinson's Durham, i. 61, 198; Surtees's Hist. of Durham, iv. 76; Nicolson's Letters, i. 224; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict. xxviii. 119; Allibone's Dict. of English Lit.]

T. S.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.254
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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76 i 13f.e. Smith, John (1659-1715): for Witten read Witton