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NOTES about WILLIAM SMITH, GEOLOGIST

These notes are taken out of:-
Winchester, Simon: 2001: Map that Changed the World, The: Penguin Group:: ISBN 0 670 88407 3

Edwards, W N: 1976: Early History of Palaeontology: British Museum Natural History (London)

In this much of the detail about William Smith comes from notes he wrote towards an autobiography, and from his diaries.
map type: HantsMap & Smith 1815

The Map

On the stair in the east wing of Burlington House, Piccadilly, London there is a map of England and Wales, printed upper right (The author's transcription is not strict about letter case.):-
[A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland; exhibiting the Collieries and Mines; the Marshes and fen Lands originally overflowed by the Sea; and the Varieties of Soil according to the Variations in the Sub Strata; illustrated by the most Descriptive Names.
By W. Smith ... Augst. 1, 1815]
The map is in 15 sheets, 3 across by 5 up, size about 6x8 feet.
(HOW can you write a book about a map 6x8 feet, that's what the title says, and illustrate it 5x7 inches; not even the title is legible! Forgive any misinterpretations of the map features, which are taken from this useless illustration.)
scale line    
Printed lower left is a scale line.

table of symbols    
Low on the left side is a coloured table of symbols, a stratigraphic key. And printed on the right above centre is a section of hills showing coloured and labelled strata.

compass rose    
orientation    

Printed upper right of centre is a compass rose. The map is printed with North at the top.

lat and long scales    
Printed in the borders are scales of latitude and longitude for a rectangular projection.

This is the first geological map of the country; of any country. It was published (if I understand the book right) by John Cary, Strand, London, part of a Geological Atlas of England and Wales, 1815.
The first suggestion for a geological map is much earlier, made by Martin Lister in the 17th century:-
... an Ingenious proposal for a new sort of Maps of Countrys, together with tables of Sands and Clays, such chiefly as are found in the north parts of England, drawn up about ten years since, and delivered to the Royal Society, March 12, 1683.
Lister believed that such a map would enable better judgement:-
... of the make of the earth and of the many phenomena belonging thereto, when we have well and duly examined it, as far as human art can possibly reach, beginning from the outside downwards ... The soil might be either coloured, by variety of lines or etchings, but the great care must be, where such and such soils are bounded ... and something more might be comprehended from the whole, and from every part, than I can possibly foresee.

William Smith

William Smith was born son of a blacksmith, John and his wife Ann, Churchill, Oxfordshire, 23 March 1769. John died when William was 8, and William, brothers David and John, and sister Elizabeth, were brought up by an uncle, William, a farmer.
In the farm dairy WS noticed pound stones used as weights, locally known as Chedworth Buns, these were fossil echinoids, Clypeus ploti. These figured stones had already been recognised as similar to living sea urchins. WS also played marbles with local terrabratulids, Lobothyris sp. These are a brachiopod known as lamp shells; much later called pundibs by WS in his diaries. WS's diaries and memos note that he developed an interest in rocks and what we now call fossils.
Living in the country it was hard to get books but he did have a copy of the Art of Measuring, by Daniel Fenning, from which he learned surveying. In autumn 1787, age 18, WS happened to meet Edward Webb, a surveyor working in local enclosures. By the end of a day he had become Webb's assistant; by 1788 he was being sent out to do surveys on his own and was living with Webb at Stow on the Wold.

Fossils

Fossils were not then known as fossils, they were referred to as figured stones. It was held that they couldn't possibly be the remains of past creatures, they were created by God to remind man of His omnipotence. More thinking minds enquired how did they get where they were. The thought could not be spoken; but perhaps fossils really were the organic remains of the creatures that they looked like. Robert Hooke identified stages in the formation of a fossil; and somehow managed to avoid criticism of the church.
A Naturalist, John Rawthmell, 1730s, had noticed that most curious figured stones were to be found in a line diagonally across England from Dorset, through the Cotswolds and Leicestershire, to Yorkshire.
The word geology was first used in its modern sense in 1735. It is not mentioned in Encyclopaedia Britannica 1797, 3rd edition; but the 4th edition, 1810, has a lengthy article about geology, established to enquire into the nature of the earth before and after the Deluge.

Somerset Coal

While working for Edward Webb, 1791, WS was sent to Somerset to make a valuation survey of an estate at Nether Stowey recently bequeathed to Lady Elizabeth Jones, who was also a local coal owner, a director of the High Littleton Coal Company. WS was engaged to landscape her estates and took board and lodging at Rugbourne Farm near High Littleton. WS later calls this the birthplace of geology. Later he worked for Lady Jones at the Mearns Pit, which had been opened 1783, entering this pit for the first time summer 1792. The coal in Somerset is in the Upper, Middle and Lower Coal Measures, in the Westphalian stage of the Upper Carboniferous, 310-290 Mybp. WS:-
The stratification of the stones struck me as something very uncommon, and till I learned the technical names of the strata and made a subterranean journey or two, I could not conceive a clear idea of what seemed so familiar to the colliers. But when these difficulties were surmounted and an intelligent bailiff accompanied me, I was much pleased with my peregrinations below, and soon learned enough of the order of strata to describe on a plan the manner of working the coal in the lands I was then surveying.
Notice that the language of this note belongs to a later reflective period, it is not contemporary with the working visits.
This note is the first time WS used the term stratification, and WS introduced the term stratigraphical, in 1817.
The sketch he drew is now at Oxford (in which museum?) titled:-
Original Sketch and Observations of My First Subterranean Survey of Mearns Colliery in the parish of High Littleton
In the sketch WS notes the dip, about 3 degrees from horizontal, and strike, compass bearing 95 degrees East of North, of the strata. He noticed that the change from one rock to another was abrupt; that different rocks had a different dip and strike; that there were what are now called unconformities; and that the strata were folded.
About this time James Hutton was spotting the unconformity at Siccar Point, Berwickshire. There almost horizontal Old red Sandstone of the Devonian lie on nearly vertical Grey Sandstones of the Silurian age. Hutton proposed a cycle of deposition, folding, erosion, and so on to produce the strata we see now.
The coal seams lower down had names, sometimes just numbers: Main Coal, Great Course, Little Course, Slyving, Dungy Drift, No.5, No.7, etc. The colliers recognised where they were by the appearance and internal structure of the coal, and by the sorts of fossils it carried.
William Smith recognised that the sequence of strata was the same from pit to pit in the area. He had the [new] idea that the rocks laid down as sediments in a place are laid down with the same fossils in the same order. And, so, if you found a particular bed somewhere you could predict what else you could find. This is commercially what geology is about. WS believed that the sequence was the same for the whole coalfield; and wondered if it might be the same for all rocks everywhere. The miners thought not, and said not. WS:-
The order of superposition in the Coal Measures at each pit seemed well enough known to the colliers, and on drawing a section thereof with nine veins of coal I was naturally led to ask whether the superincumbent strata rising high into the hills 20 or 300 feet above the mouths of the coalpits, were not also regular. I was told that there was 'nothing regular in the Red Ground', which in their sinkings varied much in thickness. This did not deter me from pursuing my own thoughts about this subject.
But more data from a wider area was needed.

Somerset Coal Canal

The act for the Somerset Coal canal was passed 1794. 25 miles long, it lasted a short while and is mostly forgotten. Its surveyor was William Smith.
John Rennie had the job of an initial survey for a Dunkerton and Radstock Canal. He hired William Smith to help, and later WS had the whole job; and an opportunity to cut a slice through Somerset and its rocks. The canal ran from Limpley Stoke, junction with the Kennet and Avon Canal, to Camerton in the coal fields. Two branches were planned. Dundas by Limpley Stoke, to Monkton Combe, Midford, Combe Hay, Dunkerton, Camerton, and Timsbury; and from Midford to Twinhoe, Wellow and Radstock. This was a bonus to WS, parallel slices to compare. He saw what he hoped for:-
I observed a variation of the strata on the same line of level and found that the Lias rock which about 3 miles back was a full 300 feet above this line was now 30 feet below it, and became the bed of a river, and did not appear any more at the surface.
This induced me to note the inclination of the same rock, which I knew was to be found at the head of two other valleys lying each about a mile distant from, and in a parallel direction to the one just described - and accordingly found it to dip to the south-east, and sink under the river in a similar manner.
From this I began to consider that other strata might also have the same general inclination as well as this. By tracing them through the country some miles I found the inclination of every bed to be nearly the same as the Lias; and notwithstanding the partial and local dips of many quarries which varied from this rule, I was thoroughly satisfied by these observations that everything had a general tendency to the south-east and that there could be none of these beds to the north-west.
The rocks layers were arranged:-
... to resemble, on a large scale, the ordinary appearance of superposed slices of bread and butter
WS began:-
... to delineate on maps the courses of the strata, and constantly traced and retraced the order in which they would be intersected in making the canal.
WS took supposition a step too far; perhaps all the rocks in the world:-
... form a set of lines extending from Pole to Pole with a regular inclination to the East. And the motion of the earth, which probably commenced while these strata were in a soft state or of a pulpy consistency, would naturally place them in an inclined curvilinear position.
This he later withdrew!
In summer 1794 WS was sent to accompany two members of the canal committee on a two month tour by post chaise to inspect other canal works. First there was a visit to London to give evidence to Parliament for the canal's bill. In spare time WS explored libraries and bookshops, and came home with a small library which included suggestions that others were following similar ideas to his, but:-
Although several authors had noticed the thickness of some strata in succession in various parts of the country, their resemblance to others was never noticed - none were collated, ...
On his return from the long trip he moved from Rugbourne Farm to a house in Cottage Crescent, now called Bloomfield Crescent, Bath. He also had rooms in the Swan Inn, Dunkerton, more handy for the canal. In March 1798 he bought, with a mortgage that was later to put him in debt and in a debtor's prison, Tucking Mill estate between Midford and Monkton Combe. He lived in Tucking Mill House behind Tucking Mill (do not believe the incorrect plaque on the latter house). This house had a room set aside for his collection of rocks and fossils, with glass fronted cabinets.
Having a collection of fossils was very fashionable in the 18th century, an outward show of an interest in learning.
Working on the canal WS recognised some rocks easily, they looked different, Red Marl, Coal Measures, Oolitic Limestones, etc. But there were some fine grain sandstones which looked the same but had different dip, suggesting they were different beds. WS spotted a difference; colour same, chemical composition same, appearance same, but fossil content different - similar families and genuses but different species. This is a key insight. As his systematic collection grew so he realised that the fossil content, what is now called zoostratigraphy, was a sure identifier for rocks around Bath, and in Oxfordshire, Rutland, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, ...
In the Swan Inn, Dunkerton, 5 January 1796:-
Fossils have long been studied as great curiosities, collected with great pains, treasured with great care and at great expense, and showed and admired with as much pleasure as a child's rattle or a hobby-horse is shown and admired by himself and his playfellows, because it is pretty; and this has been done by thousands who have never paid the least regard to that wonderful order and regularity with which Nature has disposed of these singular productions, and assigned to each class its particular stratum ...
And later he wrote:-
For six years I put my notions of stratification to the test of excavation; ... doubts were at length removed by more particular attention to the site of the organic fossils which I had long collected. The discovery of the mode of identifying strata by the organised fossils respectively imbedded therein led to the most important distinctions.

Geology round Bath

Bath was fashionable not only for polite society but for intelligent society. It had numerous high sounding societies, one of which, The Royal Bath and West of England Society, elected William Smith, blacksmith's son, a member, 22 December 1796. Here he had opportunities to meet other fossil collectors and men with ideas. Reading an edition of the Somerset County Agricultural Report, 1798, he saw a coloured map drawn by Thomas Davis, land steward at Longleat, and John Billingsley, showing the geographical extent of soils and vegetation around Bath. WS realised he could do the same to map strata, the unseen below the ground; he could draw a geological map. Notes in his diaries show that he planned carefully, deciding that colour was necessary, although expensive, you couldn't rely on engraved hatching and other shadings.
WS used an existing map if the area as a base map. This had been recently published in a Historic and Local New Bath Guide by Taylor and Nayler, 1799. The map was circular centred on Bath, about 32cm diameter:-
A Map of Five Miles round the City of Bath, on a scale of one inch and a half to a mile, from an Actual Survey, including all the new roads, with Alterations and Improvements to the present time, 1799. Printed for and sold by A. Taylor and W. Nayler, Booksellers, Bath.
WS transferred data from notebooks and plotted the locations of the Oolite, Lias and so on, hand colouring the areas:-
 
Oolite - rich shade of yellow
Lias - dirty blue
Red Marl - brick red
etc
This map now hangs in a room at the Geological Society of London, Piccadilly. Inscribed:-
Presented to the Geological Society, February 18th. 1831. Wm. Smith, Coloured Geologically in 1799.
This is the earliest geological map?
Another step occurred after dinner at the house of Rev Joseph Townsend, together with Rev Benjamin Richard. WS dictated data from a tabulation of local strata, in 5 columns:-
Strata / Thickness / Springs / Fossil Petrifactions &c. &c. / Descriptive Characters and Situations
WS listed 23 horizons, bands of rock sufficiently different to be considered separate strata, the youngest no.1 Chalk at the top, the oldest No.23 Coal at the bottom. Some horizons were named others just described:-
     
Chalk   300 ft
Sand   70 ft
Clay   30 ft
Clay and Sand   30 ft
Clay   15 ft
Forest Marble   10 ft
Freestone   60 ft
Blue Clay   6 ft
Yellow Clay   8 ft
[Fullers Earth]   6 ft
Bastard Fullers Earth   80 ft
Freestone   30 ft
Sand   30 ft
Blue Marl   40 ft
Blue Lias   25 ft
White Lias   15 ft
Marl Stone   15 ft
Red Ground   180 ft
Milstone    
  here an unconformity; and a difference in fossils, no vegetable impressions above, no animal fossils below.
Pennant Stone    
Greys    
Cliff    
etc    
Three fair copies were made, one for each man who was free to copy and distribute the ideas:-
Order of the STRATA and their embedded ORGANIC REMAINS, in the vicinity of BATH; examined and proved prior to 1799.

Geology of England

In 1799 WS was sacked by the Somerset Coal Canal, why is not clear. He was left with an insecure income from freelance work. In this state he set about a project to map the geology of England.
Earlier, 1794, WS had met John Cary who was busy mapping the mail coach routes for the General Post Office. Cary got the job of engraving the canal plans. WS chose to use one of John Cary's maps as a base map; the general map from Cary's New and Correct Atlas of England and Wales, 1794. This is about 47 miles to 1 inch.
On this base map WS coloured geological areas:-
     
Tertiary strata   greys
Chalk   blue-green
Coral Rag   chocolate brown
Carstone   brown
Oolites   yellow
Lias   prussian blue
Red Ground   red
Magnesian Limestone    
Coal Measures    
Carboniferous Limestone    
Each of the colours shades from bold at its base to pale at its junction with the stratum above. WS named horizons with a variety of terms, some of which are still in use, others abandoned because to refined ears they were uncouth: Cornbrash, Forest Marble, Lias, Clunch Clay now Oxford Clay.
Rocks are often named after the place of their first recognition. An instance: William Smith worked on farm drainage for Thomas Crook, near Tytherington, Wiltshire. Near here he discovered a new horizon, a friable sandstone with a fossil called Sigaloceras sp, which he called Kelloway's Stone after roadstone quarries near Kellaways village. This is in the upper part of No.4 in his 1799 table. It is now known as Kellaways Beds, and the term Callovian derives from it.
On the map, added to Cary's title, is:-
Strata in England and Wales by W. Smith, 1801.
There were at least two other trial maps in 1801 like the above. One of the maps, a lot smaller than the 1815 map, was presented to the Geological Society of London in 1831.
Another map at the Geological Society is based on a general map of England and Wales by Robert Wilkinson, about 37 miles to 1 inch. Seven strata are coloured:-
     
Chalk   green
Coral rag   purple
Cluch Clay   grey
Oolite Freestone   yellow
Lias and Carboniferous Limestone   blue
Red Ground   red
earlier strata   brown
Although neither complete nor entirely accurate these early small geological maps show the overall geology of the country, the broad pattern of the sedimentary rocks in England and Wales and compare well with today's mapping.
By this time WS had not published his ideas, which were at risk of being pirated. He still had no regular income; and still had a mortgage.

THE Geological Map

WS set out to map the whole country geologically, 50000 square miles of it. This required thousands of miles of travel in the 1800s-10s. He wanted to do it; he wanted recognition for his ideas; and perhaps he saw possible reward from the knowledge of commercially useful rocks.
Others too saw the need for geological knowledge. The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce offered a 50 guinea prize to anyone who might made:-
... a mineralogical map of either England, Scotland or Wales
So WS was not alone.
William Smith became well known on the road, nicknamed Strata Smith by fellow travellers. One serious expense was a need for topographical maps. WS cut some of these unhandy sheets into sections to cary in a travelling case, noting in a diary entry that after the journeys they were:-
... in pretty good preservation, though disfigured in some parts by speculative attempts at the delineation of strata ...
Although having a mortgage on property at Tucking Mill, rent to pay for an office in Bath, and an uncertain income from freelance work, WS took rooms at 80 guineas a year, an entire five storey mansion at the Adelphi, 15 Buckingham Street, London, plus a pound a month for a housekeeper. In 1804, shortly after the Duke of Bedford had inspected them at Bath, he moved his collections of thousands of fossils to London; now numbering 720 different species. In a latter to a friend:-
I am happy to inform you that my fossils are now safely arrived in London and are now arranged in the same order as they lay in the earth.
In 1818, in serious financial difficulties, William Smith sold his collection of 2657 fossils, 693 species, to the British Museum, Natural History. Now still arranged in one collection they are 24 drawers of fossils and 5 of rocks. He only got 500 pounds for them.
William Smith's work in drainage and other surveying took him all over England and Wales. And at the same time he was committed to writing down his theories and drawing up a great geological map to which Sir Joseph Banks had already subscribed 50 guineas. Lots of things in William Smith's life went wrong about now. He was working hard but getting nowhere. A book on drainage failed.
He was pointedly not asked to join the newly founded Geological Society of London, 1807. This society was a social and dining club
for the purpose of making geologists acquainted with each other, of stimulating their zeal, of inducing them to adopt one nomenclature, of facilitating the communication of new facts, and of contributing to the advancement of geological sciences
Money was short, he sold off land but could not sell Tucking Mill. Nevertheless he got married, to Mary Ann, who it seems was little more than a burden for the rest of his life.
About 1812 John Cary, a friend for 20 years or so, announced that he would publish William Smith's great map. This just about guaranteed that something would come of the idea. John Cary had to make a new, large topographical map of England and Wales. WS decreed a scale of 5 miles to 1 inch, so the overall size would be about 6 ft 2 ins across by 8 ft 9 inches high. It was planned in 15 sheets with sheet 16 being a cross section of the country from London to Snowdon showing the dip of the strata. John Cary did the outline drawing. One of WS's friends, Henry Jermyn, helped in the engraving which included thousands of place names. WS:-
I have a copy of Cary's map spread out on the carpet, he [HJ] turned to his valuable collection of old authors - and thus did we proceed in marking the names ... in those gleams of light thrown on the dark pages of our history we had many pleasant discussions.
By 1814 the sheets were engraved; WS could now begin colouring them.
18 April 1814 John Cary placed four finished sheets in his window at 181 Strand, including sheet 11, around Bath; surprising and delighting William Smith. WS took the sheets to Sir Joseph Banks, his first subscriber, at Somerset House, and suggested that the set be dedicated to him. Six weeks later WS was summoned to a meeting of the Board of Agriculture who were delighted with the maps, told WS to send a prospectus of the map to every one of their members which includes an invitation:-
William Smith will explain the Subject of the Strata at his house, 15 Buckingham Street, Strand, on this and the following days between the hours of eleven and five, to such gentlemen as choose to subscribe towards the publication of this great national work. W. Smith's Discoveries of the Regularities of the Strata, with their accompanying organic remains, will be illustrated with Engravings of his large collection of Fossils, which are placed in the same order as they lay in the Earth.
prices:-
 
- 16 unmounted sheets plus a memoir in a box, 5 pounds.
- Mounted on canvas as one map, 7 pounds.
- Mounted on canvas, varnished, on spring rollers, with a leather carrying case, 12 pounds.
The map was finished 15 March 1815. Dedicated to:-
To the Right Honble Sir Joseph Banks, Bart. FRS, this Map is by permission most respectfully dedicated by his much obliged servant, W. Smith.
Later in May the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, came to see the map at Buckingham Street, and congratulated WS.
In May WS was awarded the 50 guinea prize offered 13 years before by the Society of Arts. In WS's diary:-
Received from Dr Taylor, Secretary to the Society of Arts, their premium of L52-10s.0d. for my Mineralogical Map of England.
About 400 copies were printed, numbered and signed; about 40 survive.
The Geological Society came to see his map. They, a small group of amateur dilettantes, paid little attention, looked bored, and snubbed William Smith who explained:-
... to these gentlemen (I think rather too freely) the order of the strata and the use of fossils so arranged as vouchers of the facts, not knowing but that the new body, the Geological Society, might be inclined to serve me ...
They served him ill; they went off and planned their own geological map to be the official map of the country's geology. And they would do it by copying William Smith's map, but would eschew any of the theoretical arguments and rely on practical observation only. The map was completed 1819, published by Longman, sold by a bookseller in the Strand, priced at 6 guineas to undercut Smith and Cary's map. It sold poorly, only 76 copies in the first year. Nevertheless the competition ruined WS and he was sent to a debtors prison, the King's Bench Prison:-
No.19, William Smith, Ented. 11th June 1819 in discharge of his bail at the suit of Charles Conolly Esq., Oath L300 and upwd, and was thereupon commd. By C. Abbott.
But eleven weeks later he was out:-
Dis. 31st Augst 18198. PPer Atty.
Charles Conolly had been paid off from the proceeds of the sale of WS's goods and chattels. WS quit London; he went to Northallerton, Yorkshire, to earn a living as a journeyman surveyor.

Acknowledgement

In parallel to the events that led to his fleeing to the north, there were effective moves to gain recognition for William Smith. In particular a member of the Geological Society of London who believed that the days of intellectual dilettantes were over, William Fitton, wrote an assessment of WS's work, praising it highly, published:-
Fitton, William: 1818: Notes on the History of English Geology: Edinburgh Review

It was a careful criticism, praising all but noting errors fairly. Fitton said that William Smith was:-
a most ingenious man ... singularly deficient in the art of introducing himself to public notice.
For seven years WS had no great project but continued to study the land he passed through, continued to meet famous men among the others. He met Adam Sedgwick in Kirby Lonsdale for instance. The one project he engaged upon was a series of county geological maps for which he did a little work each visit to London to see John Cary. This project was never completed.
He never settled anywhere for long, but did come to be fond of Scarborough. His first visit was to attend to problems in the town's water supply, which he fixed. Later he comments:-
... everyone here is very fond of talking on Geology
While in Scarborough he completed the Yorkshire geological map, 1821. And on one longer visit he helped set up the Scarborough City Museum. This round building still stands on the seafront. It ws designed with a spiral stair so that fossils could be arranged in their proper relative positions in cabinets on the walls; Cretaceous at the top, Trias at the bottom. The displays today are less exciting.
From 1828-34 WS lived at the vicarage in Hackness, in the Derwent Valley. He was land steward to Sir John Johnstone whom he had met at a Philosophical Society meeting in Scarborough. One of Sir John's friends who called to see William Smith as well as his patron, was William Vernon, who with Sir John decided that WS should be recognised. Vernon wrote to geologist Roderick Murchison:-
... Smith has dedicated his life to geological enquiries, and has done perhaps more than any other individual for the science, and is at an advanced age in poverty and dependence.
There has been nothing in his conduct or character to diminish the respect due to his exertions in the cause of knowledge and the compassion which his circumstances excite ... I have thought a subscription might be raised ... a small annuity purchased for him, sufficient to secure his not dying in the Poor House.
I should be much obliged to you if you would do what you can to forward it. I am sure you will find many able and willing friends to this project, in Dr Buckland and many other members of the Geological Society.
The new breed of members of that society paid more heed to science and practice than to breeding and taste. And, eventually, under the chairmanship of Adam Sedgwick, there was recognition to add to achievement.
The Wollaston Medal awarded by the Geological Society is the highest award in geology. It was founded by a bequest from William Wollaston, chemist, died in London, 1828. Its first award was to William Smith, 1831; no matter that he was not a member, had been rejected by the old guard of grandees, had been in gaol for debt, was a low born son of a blacksmith, and worst of all was a practical man. WS got the medal and a modest income for the rest of his life. The award was passed at a special meeting of the society's council, 11 January 1831.
18 February 1831, reported by WS in a letter to his niece Ann:-
At their meeting every countenance glowed with delight ... when the twenty guinea purse was delivered to me ... then ninety merry philosophical faces glowed over a most sumptuous dinner at the Crown & Anchor. The new President Mr Murchison took the Chair. On his right sat Mr Herschel, Sir John Johnstone, Professor Sedgwick, myself, Mr Blake, Dr Fitton ... after drinking much success to their fellow associates in science they drank my health, ... the Oolitic series was given was given with three times three, which was truly drunk with enthusiasm.
In his short speech Adam Sedgwick called William Smith:-
The Father of English Geology
WS presented the society with three documents that are still at Burlington House:
 
the manuscript version of the Table of Strata made 1799;
the circular map of Bath coloured by him in 1799;
and one of the geological maps of England and Wales, 1801.
Next day was more celebration, the engagement of an artist to paint William Smith's portrait, and a present from John Cary of a pair of silver spectacles.
WS returned home, to Hackness, after a visit to Churchill. And life was much better. He received the real medal in 1832, it had not been finished in 1831. Soon after he was awarded a government pension of L100 pa. In 1833 (34?) he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin.
In 1834 William Smith rented a small house called Newborough Cottage, Bar Street. In a letter to his niece Ann, 1835:-
I am now busy in partly furnishing a neat cottage situated in the midst of pleasure ground and walks laid out by Marshall, the tasteful designer and author of Rural Economy. We have two parlours and a kitchen, cellar and other conveniences - three good bedrooms with two staircases and attics. ... I shall have plenty of room to spread out MS, maps and fossils, ... in this snug retreat for doctors and philosophers I shall be happy to see you and the Professor whenever you choose to come.
The Professor was John Philips his orphaned nephew whom he brought up and taught geology, and who became Professor of Geology at Oxford, and President of the Geological Society of London.
28 August 1834 William Smith died of a cold on a journey. He was on his way to Birmingham for a meeting of the British Association; stopped at Northampton to stay with an old friend, George Baker; caught a chill and died. He is buried at St Peter's Church where there is a memorial; a bust of William Smith on a pedestal and a long eulogy. Outside WS's grave is marked by a block of sandstone, any inscription quite gone.

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MN: 5.4.2002
last edit: 21.7.2002