Additional Manuscripts 836: Rev. Samuel Smith papers


Reference code: GB-0033-ADD 836
Title: Additional Manuscripts 836: Rev. Samuel Smith papers
Dates of creation: 1786-1887
Extent: 1 box
Held by: Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections
Origination: Correspondence and family papers of the Rev. Samuel Smith, D.D. (1766-1841), and his sons
Language: English

Samuel Smith, the son of Dr. Samuel Smith of Westminster, was born in 1766. After attending Westminster College, he entered Christ Church, Oxford, in 1782. He graduated as B.A. in 1786, as M.A. in 1789, as B.D. in 1797 and as D.D. in 1808. The date and place of his ordination are untraced. From 1795 he held the perpetual curacy of Daventry (Northants); in addition, from 1808 to 1829 and again from 1831 until his death in 1841 he was rector of Dry Drayton (Cambs). 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. He died on 19 January 1841. (J. Foster, Alumni Oxonienses, 1715-1886 (Oxford, 1888), IV, 319).
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). (Ibid. Foster states, incorrectly, that he was also a prebendary of Durham). William, probably the second son, followed his older brother to Westminster and Christ Church. He also took Holy Orders, and became rector of Dry Drayton in 1841 after his father's death. (Ibid., p.1321). Two other sons are recorded: Charles, another cleric (d.1855) (J. Foster, Alumni Oxonienses, 1715-1886 (Oxford, 1888), iv, 1310), and Thomas, who pursued a military career (see below, p.5).
This chief interest of this small collection lies in the twenty one letters concerning the University of Durham in its earliest years (A/1-21). These have been calendared briefly below. The remainder of the collection represents the surviving fragments of the family papers. These throw only a fitful light on the careers of Samuel Smith and his children, and have been listed by group, but not by item.


The letters concerning Durham University are of interest more for the opinions which they reflect than for any new facts which they reveal about the early years of the institution. They bear no comparison with the rich collection of Archdeacon Thorp's correspondence, also held by Durham University Library, and arranged and calendared by Canon J.T. Fowler. They are few in number, comprising ten letters from Samuel Smith to William Van Mildert, bishop of Durham, nine from Van Mildert to Smith, and two from Hugh James Rose, prospective professor of Divinity, to the dean and chapter of Durham. Two date from 1832, the rest from 1834.
The background to this correspondence may be outlined here; Durham's history is recounted in detail elsewhere (C.E. Whiting, The University of Durham, 1832-1932 (London, 1932), especially chapters I and II). Although the identity of the actual originator of the plan to found a university at Durham in the 1830s remains unclear, both the bishop and most members of the Chapter believed that some such plan was the most appropriate means of forestalling “radical” attacks, at a time of widespread criticism of the church and of the higher clergy and their wealth. By 1831, Charles Thorp, archdeacon of Durham, and Bishop Van Mildert were among those discussing the idea of founding an institution of higher education in Durham, endowed from the Chapter's estates and income. Suggestions ranged from a full scale university on the pattern of Oxford and Cambridge (then the only universities in England) to a theological college similar to St Bees in Cumberland. Some measure of consensus was achieved in favour of a university and draft plans were drawn up. By 1832, a general proposal was ready for submission to Parliament in the form of a bill introduced by Van Mildert in the House of Lords. The earliest letter in the present collection concerns the second reading of this bill; the bishop remarks on his fear of “the consequences of the Whig and Radical tyranny now exercised over us” (A/1). The bill received the royal assent on 4 July 1832.
The earliest years of the foundation were marked by difficulties concerning the endowment and the appointment of professors. Both issues receive attention in the letters of 1834 in this collection. From an early stage in the discussions it had been expected that some provision would be made for the professors, or at least those of Divinity and Greek, by the annexation of prebendal stalls in the cathedral to their chairs. Similar provision was to be made for the Warden of the University. (This was a less pressing problem at this date, as the first Warden, Archdeacon Thorp, already held a prebend). Difficulties arose over how such endowment was to be effected: some members of the Chapter thought that specific stalls should be selected and annexed as they fell vacant, while others favoured straightfoward annexation of the first three stalls to fall vacant. (For this complex problem, which was not solved until several years later, see Whiting, op. cit., pp.54-6, 62-6, 76-7). Van Mildert, while not objecting in principle, believed that the Chapter should clarify the plans and proposals before promoting bills for such annexation in Parliament (A/3, A/8, A/17).
Problems over the professorships centered round the person of Hugh James Rose, of Trinity College, Cambridge, to whom the chair of Divinity was offered in 1833. Rose, whose health was precarious, was hesitant to commit himself to the move to Durham until he could be sure of an adequate emolument. He also required special timetabling arrangements for his lectures, whereby he might spend the bitterly cold Epiphany Term away from Durham. Although his lectures in 1833-1834 were well received, his demands complicated the already delicate issues of the endowment and the statutes for the new university. His inability to accept the Chapter's terms for his residence and lectures was construed as de facto resignation from the post (which he had, in fact, never held formally), and in July 1834 he departed. Rose, however, came to believe that he had been ousted from Durham on a flimsy excuse; fears were expressed lest he attempt to blacken Durham's reputation elsewhere.
Rose's two letters to the Chapter, preserved by Smith, the sub-dean, (A/4, A/5) explain in detail his ideas concerning the endowment and the draft statutes. Letters exchanged between Smith and Van Mildert from July to December 1834 reflect the surprise and concern of the Durham dignitaries at Rose's apparently unfounded belief that he had been treated in an underhand fashion (A/9, A/12, A/14, A/18, A/19, A/20, A/21).
The correspondence also reveals the opinions of Smith, and more especially Van Mildert, concerning various theologians and academics who were considered for and in some cases appointed to posts in the University. Henry Jenkyns, professor of Greek from 1833, was admired by both Smith (A/14) and Van Mildert, but the bishop considered that a proposal to transfer him to the chair of Divinity “might not satisfy others, and would still leave the Greek professorship to be provided for; for which I am as unprepared as for the other” (A/18). Van Mildert repeated his objections to Jenkyns at the same time as expressing interest in the possibility of appointing Temple Chevallier, fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, who was assisting with Divinity lectures in Durham in the Michaelmas Term of 1834, during the gap caused by Rose's abrupt departure (A/21). (See Chevallier Papers, Durham University Library). Others mentioned by Van Mildert, with little enthusiasm, were Evans and Whewell. Robert Wilson Evans (1789-1866), was a theologian and a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge ( Dictionary of National Biography, XVIII, 72). William Whewell (1794-1866), also of Trinity, was, as Van Mildert recognised, a scientist rather than a theologian (Ibid., LX, 454-63). The bishop considered a number of Cambridge scholars for the chair, “in order to avoid the seeming partiality of having all the offices in my patronage in the hands of Oxford men” (A/21). In the event, the chair remained vacant until 1841, when Jenkyns was transferred formally, after undertaking the bulk of the lecturing in the interval.
These letters shed little light on Smith's own involvement in the early days of the University. His activities in drafting the statutes are unrecorded (see Whiting op.cit., p.57); in sum, the picture of Smith which emerges is of a trusted link between bishop and Chapter, rather than of a prime mover in the establishment of the new institution.
B/1-12 are letters to Samuel Smith from a variety of correspondents, over a period of more than twenty years. Many refer to events and business familiar to sender and recipient, but now obscure. There are, however, occasional comments on the political scene of the day (B/5, B/6) or reflections of social history: the macadamising of the high street in Daventry in 1833 B.7) and the proposed route for the Liverpool-Birmingham railway, in the same year (B.9). Of particular interest is a letter of 1838 from William Wood, of Coulsdon (Surrey), concerning his plans to send his two sons, Cyril and Theodore, to Durham University (B/10). Of Theodore, nothing further is recorded, but Cyril graduated as B.A. in Classics in 1842, M.A. in 1843 and Licenciate in Theology in 1844, in which year he also became a Fellow. (For his life and career, see the Card Index of Durham Graduates, Durham University Library).
C/1-34 are letters and papers of Thomas, son of Samuel Smith. Little is known of Thomas's life, beyond the bare outline of his military career obtainable from the Army Lists. His letters to his brother William from the Crimea and India are concerned mainly with his hopes of promotion, although there are occasional references to conditions and the conduct of campaigns.
D/1-26, family correspondence, suffer from the impossibility of reconstructing fully the Smith and Rose families. The bulk of these letters relate to William, son of Samuel Smith, and to his family. William married Constance Margaret Rose (no relation of Hugh James Rose, as far as is known), by whom he had at least three children, including a son, Francis, and a daughter, also Constance Margaret. The family used pet names extensively, which hampers identification: “Pussy” is probably the young Constance Margaret, but “Baba”, “Dannie” and “Cockatoo” remain unknown. Most of these letters are on trivial family matters.
E/1-13, correspondence of the Smith family with persons outside the family circle, contain little of importance apart from three personal letters concerned with the management of the Strahan Trust (E/4, E/5, E/7), for which numerous business letters and papers are preserved in F/1-32. Details of this trust are not given; it was, however, set up by the Rev. George Strahan (d.1824), grandfather of Constance Margaret Rose (Mrs William Smith). ( Dictionary of National Biography, LV, 18) .
G/1-11 are business letters relating to the Eliot Trust, apparently a separate trust, involving several of the same members of the family.
H/1 is a draft of a letter from George Strahan to “David”, probably David Robertson, later a Strahan trustee (see F/1a and b) .
I/1-5 comprise correspondence of the Rev. George Quilter (d.1871): one letter to Quilter from the bishop of Ely, concerning ordination, and four from Quilter to his fiancee, Miss Arabella Julius. The connection with the Smith family remains untraced. (J.A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, Part II, 1752-1900 (Cambridge, 1940-1954), V, 227) .
J/1-11 are letters and papers with no known connection with the family. They include a letter of 29 August 1836 from the Duke of Wellington to Henry Goulburn, M.P. (J/1).

Accession details

This group of letters and papers was purchased by Durham University Library in 1980 (with the help of a grant from the government fund administered by the Victoria and Albert Museum), from Robin Waterfield Ltd., Antiquarian Booksellers, Oxford. The earlier provenance is unknown.
Summary catalogue of Additional Manuscripts


A/1-21: Correspondence concerning the University of Durham, 1832-1834
A/1   24 May 1832
Van Mildert, London, to Smith, Daventry, Northants.
Van Mildert describes the second reading of the Durham University bill in the House of Lords. Smith may have to assist at later stages, as Van Mildert's health is deteriorating in London.
A/2   26 May 1832
Van Mildert, London, to Smith
Van Mildert asks Smith to preach the summer Assize Sermon, either at Durham or, preferably, at Newcastle, where Durham dignitaries rarely preach.
A/3   28 April 1834
Smith to Van Mildert
Smith discusses precedents and procedures for the annexation of cathedral stalls to university offices, and the problems of ensuring that stall and office will not be separated in the future. He counsels delay in the promotion of the bill for annexation, for fear of opposition in the House of Commons during the present session. [incomplete draft]
A/4   16 July 1834
H.J. Rose, St Thomas's Hospital, to the Dean and Chapter of Durham
Rose explains his initial reluctance to accept the Divinity professorship because of ill health, and his subsequent proposals for a re-arrangement of the lectures in Divinity, negotiated with the Warden and Van Mildert. With the postponement of the bill for the annexation of stalls, he fears that the promised endowment may never be made; he can give no unconditional acceptance to the offer of the chair until the position concerning the endowment is clarified.
A/5   17 July 1834
H.J. Rose to the Dean and Chapter of Durham
Rose objects to two of the statutes proposed for the University: (i) that the professor of Divinity must give a weekly lecture to the ordinary students, and (ii) that the professor shall deliver any course of lectures required by the Dean and Chapter.
A/6a & b   18 July 1834
Van Mildert, Auckland Castle, to Smith, Durham
Van Mildert asks Smith to bring the question of Rose's residence before the Chapter; he remarks confidentially to Smith that Rose's precarious health may prevent full residence in Durham, and that there seem to have been two different understandings of the conditions of the professorship.
A/7   “17” (?19) July 1834
Smith, Durham, to Van Mildert
Smith promises to make cautious use of Van Mildert's letter in discussions in Chapter concerning Rose.
A/8   19 July 1834
Van Mildert, Auckland Castle, to Smith, Durham
Van Mildert explains the withdrawal of the bill for annexing some stalls to university offices and requests that the Chapter reconsider the scheme in detail before a new bill is introduced in parliament. He has ordered Coutts Bank to pay £1,000 to the Chapter Clerk for the use of the University, each July and January during his tenure of the bishopric.
A/9   19 July 1834
Smith, Durham, to Van Mildert
Smith read an abstract of Van Mildert's letter (? of 18 July) to the Chapter; the prevailing opinion is in favour of one professor of Divinity, resident during the whole of every term. Further consideration will be given to the matter at a meeting next Monday (21 July) which will be more fully attended.
A/10   21 July 1834
Smith, Durham, to Van Mildert
Smith conveys the Chapter's thanks to Van Mildert for the grant announced in the bishop's letter of 19 July, and promises reconsideration of the annexation bill.
A/11   21 July 1834
Smith, Durham, to Van Mildert, Auckland Castle
Smith, leaving for the South, expresses doubt whether progress will be made with the proposed new statutes.
A/12   a & b.23 July 1834
Smith, Durham, to Van Mildert, Auckland Castle
A covering letter for the enclosed letter to Rose, written at the direction of the Chapter and, under separate cover, Rose's letters (nos. A/4, A/5 above).
A/12a   [July 1834?]
Smith, Durham, to Van Mildert, Auckland Castle
A covering letter for the enclosed letter to Rose, written at the direction of the Chapter and, under separate cover, Rose's letters (nos. A/4, A/5 above).
A/12b   [July 1834?]
Enclosure: Smith, sub-dean, on behalf of the Chapter, to Rose.
The bishop intends to annex a stall to the Divinity professorship at the next vacancy. Residence during term will almost certainly be required of the professor. Lectures such as those which Rose delivered last year (1833-1834) would be the sort of thing required. [copy]
A/13   16 August 1834
Van Mildert, Auckland Castle, to Smith, [Dry] Drayton, Cambs.
Van Mildert has despatched a haunch of venison to Smith, and has forwarded Smith's letter, with Rose's, to the archdeacon. Mrs Van Mildert's health is improving.
A/14a   4 September 1834
Smith, [Dry] Drayton, to Van Mildert
Smith cannot feel regret at Rose's resignation; he expresses a high opinion of [Henry] Jenkyns, which many share.
A/14b   1 September 1834
Enclosure: Smith to Rose
Smith expresses regret that Rose's inability to accept the terms of the Chapter necessitates his resignation. [copy]
A/15   29 September 1834
Smith, Durham, to Van Mildert
Smith, on behalf of the Chapter, seeks Van Mildert's advice on filling the Divinity professorship.
A/16   29 September 1834
Smith, Durham, to Van Mildert
Smith writes to Van Mildert in a personal capacity, enclosing no. A/15 above.
A/17   1 October 1834
Van Mildert, Harrogate, Yorks., to Smith
A Durham stall has fallen vacant with the death of the bishop of Bristol [Robert Gray]. Van Mildert seeks Smith's advice as to whether he should bestow it as a private option as a personal kindness or for the benefit of the University, as the bill for annexing stalls is not yet passed.
A/18   11 October 1834
Van Mildert, Harrogate, to Smith
Van Mildert regrets that Rose regards his departure from Durham as the outcome of a difference on a matter of principle rather than as the result of the Chapter's inability to meet his particular needs. He asks the Chapter to suggest a temporary Divinity lecturer. There are possible objections to Jenkyns' removal from the chair of Greek to that of Divinity. Efforts must be made to clarify the reasons for Rose's departure both to the general public and to the episcopal bench.
A/19   10 November 1834
Van Mildert, Harrogate, to Smith
Van Mildert has received a letter from Rose [formerly enclosed], which he has shown to Archdeacon Thorp. He asks whether Smith thinks that he should take any notice of it.
A/20   28 November 1834
Smith, [Dry] Drayton, to Van Mildert
Smith returns Rose's letter, commenting that he does not understand why Rose feels that he was “compelled” to leave Durham, when in fact he resigned. The Chapter firmly deny that their dealings were underhand. Smith would like a complete revision of the proposals for the endowment of the professorships.
A/21   2 December 1834
Van Mildert, Auckland Castle, to Smith, [Dry] Drayton
Van Mildert is satisfied that Rose has no grounds for complaint and intends to ignore him unless he makes representations prejudicial to the Chapter. He seeks the Chapter's opinion on the manner of promoting the bill for annexation. He hopes to obtain a royal charter for the University. He discusses possible candidates for the chair of Divinity.
B/1-12: Letters to Samuel Smith from various correspondents, 1816-1838.
C/1-35: Letters of Thomas Smith, 90th Infantry Regiment, to his brother, Rev. William Smith, from the Crimea (1854-1856) and from India (1857-1859), with other papers relating to Thomas Smith's career.
D/1-26: Correspondence and other papers of members of the Smith family, 1827-1887.
E/1-13: Letters to members of the Smith family from various correspondents, 1807-1885.
F/1-33: Correspondence and papers relating to the administration of the Strahan Trust, 1852-1863.
G/1-10: Correspondence relating to the administration of the Eliot Trust, 1865.
H/1: A draft of a letter from Rev. George Strahan to David [?Robertson], 14 February 1800.
I/1-5: Correspondence of Rev. George Quilter, 1817-1818.
J/1-11: Miscellaneous letters and papers not obviously connected with the Smith family, 1786-1856.