Samuel Smith papers

Scope and Content

The chief interest of this collection lies in the twenty-one letters concerning the University of Durham in its earliest years. The remaining papers represent the surviving fragment of the family's papers, and throw only a fitful light on the careers of Samuel Smith and his children.

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Smith (1766-1841), son of Dr. Samuel Smith of Westminster, was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford (B.A. 1786, M.A. 1789, B.D. 1797, D.D. 1808). The date and place of his ordination are untraced. From 1795 he held the perpetual curacy of Daventry (Northamptonshire); in addition from 1808 to 1829 and again from 1831 until his death he was rector of Dry Drayton (Cambridgeshire). Prebends at Southwell and York were bestowed upon him in 1800 and 1801 respectively. In 1802 he was appointed chaplain to the House of Commons. From 1807 to 1831 he was active at Christ Church, Oxford, as canon (1807-1824), sub-dean (1809), treasurer (1813), and dean (1824-1831). From 1831 he was a canon and sub-dean of Durham.

Smith married a Miss Taunton, by whom he had at least four children. Their eldest son, Samuel, pre-deceased his father in 1831, after education at Westminster and Christ Church, and a brief tenure of the rectory of Dry Drayton (1829-1831). William, probably the second son, followed his brother to Westminster and Christ Church. He also took holy orders, and became rector of Dry Drayton after his father's death. Two other sons are recorded, Charles, another cleric (d. 1855), and Thomas, who pursued a military career.


  • Add. MS 836/A/1-21: Correspondence concerning the University of Durham, 1832-1834 (9 letters from Samuel Smith to William Van Mildert, Bishop of Durham; 9 letters from Van Mildert to Smith; 2 letters to the Dean and Chapter of Durham from Hugh James Rose, to whom the chair of Divinity was offered in 1833).
  • Add. MS 836/B/1-12: Letters to Samuel Smith from various correspondents, 1816-1838. Many refer to events and business familiar to the recipients but now obscure, but there are occasional comments on the political scene of the day, or reflections of social history.
  • Add. MS 836/C/1-35: Letters of Thomas Smith, 90th Infantry Regiment, to his brother, Rev. William Smith, from the Crimea, 1857-1859, with other papers relating to Thomas Smith's career. The letters are mainly concerned with Thomas's hopes of promotion, but there are occasional references to conditions and the conduct of campaigns.
  • Add. MS 836/D/1-26: Correspondence and other papers of the Smith family, 1827-1887
  • Add. MS 836/E/1-13: Letters to members of the Smith family from various correspondents outside the family circle, 1807-1885
  • Add. MS 836/F/1-33: Correspondence and papers relating to administration of the Strahan Trust, 1852-1863
  • Add. MS 836/G/1-10: Correspondence relating to the administration of the Eliot Trust, 1865
  • Add. MS 836/H/1: Draft letter from Rev. George Strahan to David [?Robertson], 14 February 1800
  • Add. MS 836/I/1-5: Correspondence of Rev. George Quilter, 1817-1818
  • Add. MS 836/J/1-11: Miscellaneous letters and papers not obviously connected with the Smith family, 1786-1856, including a letter from the Duke of Wellington to Henry Goulburn, M.P., 29 August 1836

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Purchased, with help from the Purchase Grant Fund, from Robin Waterfield Ltd, Oxford, in 1980


Part of : Additional Manuscripts

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue available at online catalogue.

Related Material

Thorp Correspondence

University of Durham Records