Thomas Smith (scholar)

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Thomas Smith (3 Jun 1638 – 11 May 1710) was an English scholar, expelled Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and non-juring divine.

Magdalen College, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford in England

Magdalen College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford. It was founded in 1458 by William of Waynflete. Today, it is one of the wealthiest colleges, with a financial endowment of £273.2 million as of 2018, and one of the strongest academically, setting the record for the highest Norrington Score in 2010 and topping the table twice since then.

Nonjuring schism split in the Anglican church of the 17th and 18th centuries over whether William III and Mary II could legally be recognised as sovereigns

The Nonjuring schism was a split in the national churches of England, Scotland and Ireland following the deposition and exile of James II & VII in the 1688 Glorious Revolution.


Early life and academic career

He was the son of John Smith, a London merchant, and was born in the parish of Allhallows, Barking, on 3 June 1638. He was admitted batler (poor scholar) of The Queen's College, Oxford, on 7 August 1657, and matriculated as servitor on 29 October following, graduating B.A. on 15 March 1651, and M.A. on 13 October 1653. In that year he was appointed master of Magdalen school, in succession to Timothy Parker. He was elected probationer-fellow of Magdalen College in 1666 (when he resigned the schoolmastership), actual fellow in 1667, and dean in 1674, the year in which he graduated B.D. Elected vice-president of Magdalen in 1682, he proceeded D.D. in 1683, and became bursar of the college in 1686. he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in December 1677. [1]

The Queens College, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

The Queen's College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford, England. The college was founded in 1341 by Robert de Eglesfield (d'Eglesfield) in honour of Queen Philippa of Hainault. It is distinguished by its predominantly neoclassical architecture, which includes buildings designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor.

A bursar is a professional financial administrator in a school or university. In the United States, bursars usually exist only at the level of higher education or at private secondary schools. In Australia, Great Britain, and other countries, bursars are common at lower levels of education.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

Voyage to the Levant

In 1668, Smith served as chaplain to Sir Daniel Harvey, ambassador at Constantinople. He returned to Oxford after three years, bringing with him a number of Greek manuscripts. He then devoted several years to the expression of his opinions and observations on the affairs of the Levant, and especially on the state of the Greek Orthodox Church; he gained the name at Oxford of 'Rabbi' Smith or 'Tograi' Smith. In common with Sir Paul Rycaut, he projected a rapprochement with the eastern church.

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul. The city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources.

Levant Region in the eastern Mediterranean

The Levant is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily in Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the historical region of Syria. In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the eastern Mediterranean with its islands; that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica.

Greek Orthodox Church Orthodox Christian denominations descended from a Greek cultural tradition, Wikimedia disambiguation page

The name Greek Orthodox Church, or Greek Orthodoxy, is a term referring to the body of several Churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the Septuagint and the New Testament, and whose history, traditions, and theology are rooted in the early Church Fathers and the culture of the Byzantine Empire. Greek Orthodox Christianity has also traditionally placed heavy emphasis and awarded high prestige to traditions of Eastern Orthodox monasticism and asceticism, with origins in Early Christianity in the Near East and in Byzantine Anatolia.


He held for about two years (1678-9) the post of chaplain to Sir Joseph Williamson. He returned to Magdalen on his election as vice-president in 1683. He was in 1684, presented to the rectory of Standlake, but soon resigned. When Henry Clerke died on 24 March 1687, Smith tried through Bishop Samuel Parker to become his successor as Magdalen's President. James II, however, had other intentions. In August 1688 Smith was deprived of his fellowship by Bonaventure Giffard, President after Parker had died in the office. He was restored in October 1688, but he detested the revolution that ensued bringing William III and Mary II to the throne, and, losing touch with the other Fellows, he left Oxford finally for London on 1 August 1689. His fellowship was declared void on 26 July 1692, after he had repeatedly refused to subscribe the oaths to William and Mary.

Standlake village and civil parish in West Oxfordshire, England

Standlake is a village and civil parish about 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Witney and 7 miles (11 km) west of Oxford, England in the district of West Oxfordshire. The parish includes the hamlet of Brighthampton. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 1,497.

Henry Clerke was an English academic and physician, President of Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1672.

James II of England 17th-century King of England and Ireland, and of Scotland (as James VII)

James II and VII was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland, his reign is now remembered primarily for struggles over religious tolerance. However, it also involved the principles of absolutism and divine right of kings and his deposition ended a century of political and civil strife by confirming the primacy of Parliament over the Crown.

Later life

He settled in the household of Sir John Cotton, the grandson of Sir Robert Cotton, founder of the Cotton library. For twelve years at least, he seems to have had the principal charge of the Cottonian manuscripts. He was consulted on the formation of libraries, in particular by Narcissus Marsh. At this period he knew Samuel Pepys, and corresponded with Humphrey Wanley in Oxford.

Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Baronet, of Connington English antiquarian

Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1st Baronet of Conington Hall in the parish of Conington in Huntingdonshire, England, was a Member of Parliament and an antiquarian who founded the Cotton library.

Cotton library manuscript collection

The Cotton or Cottonian library is a collection of manuscripts once owned by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton MP (1571–1631), an antiquarian and bibliophile. It later became the basis of what is now the British Library, which still holds the collection. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, many priceless and ancient manuscripts that had belonged to the monastic libraries began to be disseminated among various owners, many of whom were unaware of the cultural value of the manuscripts. Cotton's skill lay in finding, purchasing and preserving these ancient documents. The leading scholars of the era, including Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh, and James Ussher, came to use Sir Robert's library. Richard James acted as his librarian. The library is of special importance for sometimes having preserved the only copy of a work, such as happened with Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Narcissus Marsh Irish Anglican bishop

Narcissus Marsh was an English clergyman who was successively Church of Ireland Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin, Archbishop of Cashel, Archbishop of Dublin and Archbishop of Armagh.

Death and legacy

Smith appears to have moved from the Cottons' at Westminster before his death, which took place on 11 May 1710 in Dean Street, Soho, in the house of his friend Hilkiah Bedford. He was buried on the night of Saturday, 13 May, in St. Anne's Church, Soho. He left Thomas Hearne a large collection of books and papers. On Hearne's death, in 1735, manuscripts, book, notes and papers came to the Bodleian Library; with the rest following in 1755.

Westminster Area of central London, within the City of Westminster

Westminster is a government district and former capital of the Kingdom of England in Central London within the City of Westminster, part of the West End, on the north bank of the River Thames. Westminster's concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

Hilkiah Bedford (1663–1724) was an English clergyman, a nonjuror and writer, imprisoned as the author of a book really by George Harbin.

Thomas Hearne (antiquarian) English antiquary and historian

Thomas Hearne or Hearn was an English diarist and prolific antiquary, particularly remembered for his published editions of many medieval English chronicles and other important historical texts.



  1. "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 19 October 2010.

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