Sermons of Rev. William Smith (died 1798), and Rev. Edward Smith (1765-1840), clergymen of Nottinghamshire, 1794-1958

Scope and Content

The collection comprises four soft bound notebooks containing manuscript sermons. The dates and places in Nottinghamshire where the sermons were given are included in the notebooks. It has been concluded therefore that the notebooks date from 1794 to 1958. It is possible though that the sermons were written much earlier that these dates indicate. The first three volumes are in a different hand to the fourth. The dates and locations suggest that these three are the work of Rev. William Smith and that the last volume is that of his son, Edward. The sermons deal with issues of faith and morality.

The first volume contains the sermon, 'The Benefit of Affliction' (MS 139/1). A note on the title page records that it was given at Linby, Nuthall, Gotham and Ratcliffe on Soar in 1795.

The second volume (MS 139/2) contains two sermons, 'He has shewed thee O Man what is good', given at Cotgrave, Tithby and Orston on 13 May 1781, and at Cotgrave, Plumtree, Colston Bassett, Cropwell and Tithby in 1796 and 1797, and 'Love maketh no evil to his neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law', given at Cotgrave in 1780, 1781, and 1796, Tithby in 1780 and 1797, Colston Bassett, Cropwell, and Plumtree in 1797, and Edwalton in 1797 and 1958 (the latter was given by Rev. J.E.H. Wood who made annotations to the sermon).

The third volume (MS 139/3) contains the sermon, 'One thing needful', given at Sutton in Ashfield on 20 July 1794, and Linby and Papplewick on 5 October 1794.

The fourth volume (MS 139/4) contains the sermon 'Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it', given at Cotgrave at Easter 1802, Linby and Papplewick at Easter 1805, Cotgrave and Orston in Easter 1811, and Owthorpe in Easter 1812.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Reverend William Smith, B.A., who wrote some of the sermons in this collection, was baptised in April 1728 at St Michael's, Kirkham, in Lancashire. He was the second son of John Smith (a yeoman) and his wife Ellen (nee Draper).

After attending Kirkham School, in 1847 William entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge aged 20. Upon gaining his degree, he became a deacon in 1751 and a priest in 1752. At he start of his career he held the curacies of Orston and Edwalton, both in Nottinghamshire. In 1765 he became the vicar of All Saints, Rampton, where his patron and the Prebendary of the church, Edward Chappell, was also the uncle of William's wife Judith (b.1833 in Nottingham), the daughter of mercer Henry Chappell and his wife Mary (nee Ellison).

The couple married in Nottingham in 1765, and had four sons and two daughters, four of whom - Edward, John (1767-1851), Henry (1771-1848) and Mary (c.1774-1844) - survived to adulthood. The family settled in Cotgrave and William appears to have spent the remainder of his career in the local area. Perhaps the most notable event was his appointment as Curate of Holy Trinity Church in Tithby-cum-Cropwell, where his patron was, very briefly, William Chaworth. Chaworth was killed in a duel by his cousin William Byron, 5th Baron Byron in January 1765. The Reverend Smith died in Cotgrave in June 1798, having outlived his wife by six years. They were buried in All Saints, Cotgrave, where their children who died in infancy, William and Judith, were also buried.

A note with the collection suggests that some of the sermons were written by William's eldest child Edward who was born in Cotgrave in 1765. Edward followed his father's footsteps and attained a Bachelor of Honours degree from Cambridge University, became a deacon in 1789 and a priest in 1790. He then held the curacies of Gotham (1789-1798), Ratcliffe on Soar (1791-1798), and Colston Bassett (1798, 1806-1827), all in Nottinghamshire, before becoming the vicar of Egmanton and the rector of Tollerton (1816-1840), both in Nottinghamshire. He remained in these posts until his death on 13 October 1840 at Tollerton. He is buried at Cotgrave.


No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Access Information

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Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright on the description belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements


Conditions Governing Use

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email

Custodial History

The collection was given to The University of Nottingham's Department of Manuscripts in April 1962.

Related Material

University of Nottingham; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections: Notebook of James Smith (fl. 1813) of Nottingham containing sermons. 1813-1834. Reference number: MS 118