James Smith (priest)

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James Smith
Archdeacon of Barnstaple
Diocese Exeter
In office 1660-1662
Other posts Precentor of Exeter cathedral
Rector of Alphington, Devon
Personal details
Born 1605
Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire
Nationality English
Denomination Church of England
Spouse Elizabeth Smith
Profession clergyman

James Smith (baptized 1605, died 1667) was a clergymsn who became Archdeacon of Barnstaple in 1660.[1] He was also much admired for his wit, and collections of his satirical verse were published in the 1650s.

He was the son of Thomas, the rector of Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, who owned land in three counties.[2] He matriculated at Oxford in 1622/3. He was awarded the degree of D.D. in 1661.


He was navy chaplain to Admiral Henry, earl of Holland and domestic chaplain to Thomas, earl of Cleveland. He was also rector of Wainfleet All Saints, Lincolnshire in 1634 and of Kings Nympton, Devon from 1639 to 1662. He was collated archdeacon of Barnstaple in 1660 (until 1662), resigning to become precentor of Exeter cathedral and a canon of Exeter in 1662. He had been granted the title Doctor of Divinity in 1661. He was rector of Alphington, Devon in 1662 and of Exminster, Devon in 1664.[3]

He died on 22 June 1667 and was buried in the chancel of Kings Nympton church.


Smith was much admired by the "poetical wits" of the day.[4] Philip Massinger is said to have referred to him as his son. He was also friendly with William Davenant. He wrote satirical poetry, which was published in a collection entitled Musarum Deliciæ or the Muses's Recreation, in 1656. Smith's verses appear to have been written for amusement in correspondence with Sir John Mennis, whose replies were also included. Both were light and satirical in tone. The publisher, Henry Herringman, stated that the poems had been collected by him from "Sir John Mennis and Dr. Smith's drolish intercourses." Another anthology called Wit Restored was published in 1658. This contains verse letters from Smith to Mennis, "then commanding a troop of horse against the Scots." Another piece was written to Mennis "on the Surrender of Conway Castle."

Smith also wrote sacred anthems which were sung at Exeter in his day.


  1. ^ "Memorials of Barnstaple; being an attempt to supply the want of a history of that ancient borough" Gribble, J.B: Barnstaple, J.Avery, 1830
  2. ^ Timothy Raylor, Cavaliers, Clubs, and Literary Culture (1994), p. 50: "James Smith was baptized at Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, on 25 July 1605. His father, Thomas Smith, was parson of Marston and a man of some means. He owned lands and houses in Oxford, Berkshire, and Bedfordshire..."
  3. ^ "Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714". British History Online. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  4. ^ Facetiae. Musarum deliciae: or, The muses recreation., Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817, intro, ppxxx.ff,