An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Smith, William

(Sept. 7, 1727-May 14, 1803). Educator and priest. Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Smith received his M.A. degree from the University of Aberdeen in 1747. He lived in London after graduation and served as an agent for the Society for the Education of Parochial Schoolmasters and then for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1751 he sailed to the United States to be a tutor to a family on Long Island. In Aug. 1753 Smith published A General Idea of the College of Mirania, which was a description of the ideal university. He returned to England. Smith was ordained deacon on Dec. 21, 1753, and on Dec. 23, 1753, he was ordained priest. Upon his return to Philadelphia, Smith taught at the Academy and Charitable School. When a college was added in 1754 he became Provost of the College, Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia. He served in that position until 1779. While provost he also served as rector of Trinity Church, Oxford, Pennsylvania, 1766-1777. In 1779 the Pennsylvania Assembly passed an act which made void the charter of the College and created a new institution called the Trustees of the University of the State of Pennsylvania. Smith moved to Maryland. He became the principal of Kent County Free School, which had been founded around 1729. In 1782 Kent School became Washington College. While there he was also rector of Kent Parish. During the American Revolution he supported the Loyalist position. Smith played a leading role in the organization of the Episcopal Church and in adapting the BCP to the Episcopal Church. He was elected the first Bishop of Maryland in 1783, but his election was not confirmed by the General Convention. Smith died in Philadelphia.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.