George Adam Smith

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Note in particular that this George Smith is to be distinguished from George Smith (assyriologist) (1840–1876) who researched in some overlapping areas.
The grave of George Adam Smith, Currie Cemetery

Sir George Adam Smith FBA (19 October 1856 – 3 March 1942), Scottish theologian, was born in Calcutta, where his father, George Smith, C.I.E., was then Principal of the Doveton College, a boys' school in Madras.


He was educated at Edinburgh in the Royal High School, the University of Edinburgh and the New College. After studying for summer semesters at the University of Tübingen (1876) and the University of Leipzig (1878) and travelling in Egypt and Syria, he entered the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland and was appointed professor of Old Testament subjects in the Free Church College at Glasgow in 1892. In 1909 he was appointed principal of the University of Aberdeen, a post he held until his retirement in 1935. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1916, and was knighted in the same year. He was appointed a Chaplain-in-Ordinary to King George V in 1933,[1] and reappointed by King Edward VIII[2] and King George VI.[3] He served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland in 1916-17.[4] Most of his papers are held in the National Library of Scotland, in Edinburgh.[5]

His Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land (HGHL), published in London in 1915, remains a standard reference book until today.


He married Lillian Buchanan (1866-1949). They had seven children: George Buchanan Smith (1890-1915); Robert Dunlop Smith (1892-1917); Lilian May Buchanan Drew (1894-1980); Alick Buchanan-Smith, Baron Balerno (1898-1984); Kathleen Paget Thomson (1900-1941); Janet Adam Smith (1905-1999); Margaret Buchanan Smith Clarke (1910-2000).

George Adam Smith, Lilian Buchanan and Alick Buchanan Smith are buried together in the north-east corner of Currie Cemetery in south-west Edinburgh.



  • Iain D. Campbell, Fixing the Indemnity: The Life and Work of Sir George Adam Smith (1856-1942) (Carlyle, Paternoster Press, 2004) (Paternoster Theological Monographs - PTM).


  1. ^ "No. 33983". The London Gazette. 3 October 1933. p. 6351. 
  2. ^ "No. 34306". The London Gazette. 20 July 1936. p. 4665. 
  3. ^ "No. 34376". The London Gazette. 2 March 1937. p. 1407. 
  4. ^ These facts of his life are largely drawn from S.A. Cook,'George Adam Smith 1856-1942', Proceedings of the British Academy, vol.xxviii (London: Oxford University Press).
  5. ^ For the inventory of George Adam Smith's papers, see

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