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William Smith papers


Scope and Contents Note

From the Record Group:

This collection contains the papers of the early Presidents of Washington College. Beginning with Washington College’s first President William Smith through it’s fourteenth Dr. Charles W. Reid. Francis Waters served two times as President making him the fifth and nineth President. Due to the fires of 1827 and 1916 many of the early records were lost including the identity of the Presidents from 1805-1813. These papers consist of original materials, research from primary and secondary sources, facsimile copies, and published materials.

This Record Group is divided into thirteen groups: Group 1: William Smith papers; Group 2: Colin Ferguson papers; Group 3: Hugh McGuire papers; Group 4: Joab Goldsmith Cooper papers; Group 5: Gerard E. Stack papers; Group 6: Francis Waters papers; Group 7: Timothy Clowes papers; Group 8: Peter Clark papers; Group 9: Richard W. Ringgold papers; Group 10: Andrew J. Sutton papers; Group 11: Robert C. Berkeley papers; Group 12: Thomas N. Williams papers; Group 13: Charles W. Reid papers.


  • 1752-1997

Access restrictions

Collection in open for research.

Biographical Information

William Smith (1727-1803) was born near Aberdeen, Scotland to Thomas and Elizabeth Duncan Smith. He attended the University of Aberdeen from 1743-1747, he left before receiving his degree. Smith became a schoolmaster in England and in 1751 came to America to serve as the tutor of the sons of Colonel Martin of Long Island, New York. After Benjamin Franklin read Smith’s pamphlet for the New York Assembly outlining his proposals for a new college in the colony, Franklin asked him to be provost of the newly formed College of Philadelphia, now known as the University of Pennsylvania. In 1753 Smith returned to England to receive orders from the Church of England. In 1789 Smith received an honorary doctorate in Divinity from Oxford University and Trinity College. When the charter for the College of Philadelphia was taken away in 1779 Smith moved to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and became rector of Chester Parish. He also led the Kent County Free School and it’s 140 students. Smith was integral the founding of Washington College and became its first President in 1782. In 1789 Smith left Washington College, he spent the remainder of his life near Philadelphia, he died in 1803. While living in Philadelphia William Smith owned at least one enslaved person. In 1785 William Smith married Rebecca Moore (1733-1793) and together they had eight children: William Moore Smith (1759-1821), Thomas Duncan Smith (1760-1821), Williamina Elizabeth Smith (1762-1790) who married Charles Goldsborough of Horn’s Point, Maryland, Charles Smith (1765-1836) who married Mary Yeates, Phineas Smith (1767-1770), Richard Smith (1769-1823), Rebecca Smith (1772-1837) who married Samuel Blodget, Jr., and Elizabeth Smith (1776-1778).


From the Record Group: 3.5 Cubic Feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials

From the Record Group: English

Repository Details

Part of the Washington College Archives & Special Collections Repository

300 Washington Avenue
Chestertown MD 21620