Correspondence of George Vance Smith

Scope and Content

Bundle of letters from George Vance Smith

Administrative / Biographical History

George Vance Smith was born in October 1816 at Portarlington (although he was unsure himself of the exact year) to George Smith, a joiner and builder, and Anne Smith (née Vance). He entered Manchester College, York in 1836, having been aided in his preparation for entry by Charles Wicksteed, moving to Manchester when the College resettled there in 1840. Whilst at the College he worked as an assistant tutor in mathematics during 1839-40, and graduated with a BA in 1841. He was made minister at Chapel Lane, Bradford the same year, transferring to King Edward Street Chapel, Macclesfield in 1843. He was appointed Vice Principal and professor of theology and Hebrew at Manchester College in 1846, becoming Principal of the College in 1850. When the College moved to London in 1853, he stepped down as Principal in favour of John James Tayler, and took up the position of professor of critical and exegetical theology. In 1857, he resigned in order to study abroad for Masters and PhD degrees, which he was awarded by the University of Tübingen in Germany. In 1858, he moved to York to assist Charles Wellbeloved at St Saviourgate Chapel, eventually succeeding him as minister, and he remained in York until 1875 when he moved to Sheffield to take up the ministry of Upper Chapel. The following year he became Principal of the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen where he remained until his retirement in 1888. Whilst in Carmarthen, he also served as minister of Parc-y-Felfed Chapel. He retired to Bath and later to Bowden in Cheshire.

Smith was a noted publisher of significant translations of works on Biblical themes. He also published works of his own, producing The Priesthood of Christ in 1843, English Orthodoxy, as it is and as it might be in 1863, Ethical Punishment in 1865, and The Bible and Popular Theology in 1865. Later he published The Prophets and their Interpreters (1878) and Texts and Margins of the Revised New Testament Affecting Theological Doctrine (1881). In 1870, he was invited to join the 'New Testament revision company', which proved to be a very controversial appointment, attracting widespread disapproval. In 1873 the University of Jena made him a Doctor of Divinity.

He married Agnes June Fletcher on 12 July 1843, with whom he had three sons and a daughter. Agnes died in 1893, and the following year he married Elizabeth Anne Todd. He died at Bowden on 28 February 1902.


The letters are arranged in chronological order.


Alexander Gordon, 'Smith, George Vance (1816?-1902)', rev. R.K. Webb, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).