William Smith (1756-1835) and family correspondence, journals and other papers

Scope and Content

The larger part of the collection dates from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, chronicling William Smith's personal and political career, as well as illustrating the lives of his wife Frances and their children. The collection includes letters from Smith's friends, among them Charles James Fox, William Wilberforce and Sir Francis Burdett. The papers also chronicle Smith's time in Paris in 1790, where he witnessed and recorded his reactions to the 14th July celebrations. The collection is most revealing with regard to Smith's domestic arrangements and the upbringing of his children. There are journals of Frances Smith, recording the family's travels throughout the country during the 1780s and 1790s, and her children's correspondence with family and friends. Smith's love of fine art is represented by the auction catalogues and lists of paintings included in the collection, which also contains material relating to the construction of one of the earliest Turkish baths in London, Joseph Lem's Bagnio Building in Newgate Street, and sketches and plans of the long-vanished Parndon Hall in Essex.


At the time of presentation to the Library the papers showed no obvious sign of prior sorting or cataloguing, beyond a brief list of 'Papers at Scalands', Philip Leigh-Smith's residence, and it was therefore considered appropriate to group the material without reference to any supposed former order into Journals, Printed papers, Family papers, Genealogical research and Correspondence including photocopies. It should be noted that a considerable part of the collection was damaged by fire at an unknown date before accession.

Access Information

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).

Acquisition Information

This collection was presented by Victor Bonham-Carter, Katherine Duff and Philip Leigh-Smith, descendants of William Smith, 1962.

Other Finding Aids

The original version of the catalogue to this collection can be found on the Cambridge University Libarary Manuscripts department pages at http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/deptserv/manuscripts/Smith/smser.htm - please do not order manuscripts using the sequential numeration used in this catalogue; the hierarchical sequence classmarks should be used for all orders.

A catalogue of the collection can be found on ArchiveSearch.

Related Material

"Dissent..." is located in the Library on the North Front, Floor 4, Classmark: 544:32.b.95.3


Richard W. Davis "Dissent in politics, 1780-1830: the political life of William Smith, M.P.", London, Epworth Press, 1971

Additional Information

A considerable part of the collection was damaged by fire at an unknown date before accession.

Geographical Names