Smith, Lucy Toulmin (DNB12)

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SMITH, LUCY TOULMIN (1838–1911), scholar, born at Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on 21 Nov. 1838, was eldest child of a family of two sons and three daughters of Joshua Toulmin Smith (1816–1869) [q. v.] by his wife Martha, daughter of William Jones Kendall. About 1842 her parents returned to England and settled at Highgate, London, where she resided for more than fifty years. Lucy was educated at home, and early became her father's amanuensis, actively aiding him in the compilation of his periodical, the 'Parliamentary Remembrancer' (1857-65). In 1870 she began original research, completing for the Early English Text Society the volume on 'English Gilds' begun by her father and left unfinished at his death. In 1872 she edited for the Camden Society 'The Maire of Bristoweis Kalendar,' by R. Ricart, and for the New Shakspere Society, in 1879, C. M. Ingleby's 'Shakespeare's Centurie of Prayse,' to which she made many additions.

Miss Toulmin Smith's most important contributions to research and scholarship were her editions of the 'York Plays' (1885); of the 'Expeditions to Prussia and the Holy Land by Henry, Earl of Derby (afterwards Henry IV) in 1390–1 and 1392–3,' issued by the Camden Society in 1894, a mine of information upon continental travel in the fourteenth century; and of Leland's 'Itinerary,' the preparation of which occupied her leisure for many years. The 'Itinerary in Wales' was issued in 1906, and the 'Itinerary in England' in 4 vols. 1907–10.

In November 1894 Miss Toulmin Smith left Highgate on being elected librarian of Manchester College, Oxford; she was the first woman in England to be appointed head of a public library, and held the post until her death. Her house at Oxford became the meeting-place of British and foreign scholars, at whose disposal she always placed her aid and advice and even her labour. At the same time she was an accomplished gardener and housewife. She died at 1 Park Terrace, Oxford, on 18 Dec. 1911, and was buried in Wolvercote cemetery. A memorial is to be placed in the library of Manchester College.

Besides the works already mentioned Miss Toulmin Smith edited 'Gorboduc' for Vollmoeller's 'Englische Sprach- und Literaturdenkmale' (1883) and 'A Commonplace Book of the Fifteenth Century' (1886). She translated Jusserand's 'La Vie Nomade et les routes d'Angleterre' under the title of 'English Wayfaring Life' (1889). Her 'Manual of the English Grammar and Language for Self-help' (1886) is a clear and practical work on historical lines. She assisted Paul Meyer in editing 'Les Contes moralisés de Nicole Bozon' for the Société des anciens Textes français (1889), and took some part in the editing of the medieval chronicle 'Cursor Mundi' (1893) and of the Registers of the Knights Hospitaller of Malta, which she examined during a six months' visit to Malta (1880–1).

[The Times, 21 Dec. 1911; The Inquirer, 23 Dec. 1911 (notice by C. H. Herford); Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

E. L.