Smith, Miles

, bishop of Gloucester, a very learned prelate, was born in the city of Hereford, and became, about the year 1568, a student in Corpus Christi college, Oxford; from which college he transferred himself to Brasen Nose, and took the degrees in arts, as a member of that house. He was afterwards made one of the chaplains, or petty canons of Christ-church, and was admitted to the degree of bachelor in divinity, whilst he belonged to that royal foundation. In process of time he was raised to the dignity of canon residentiary of the cathedral church of Hereford: he was created doctor of divinity in 1594; and, at length, in 1612, advanced to tke see of Gloucester, and consecrated on the 20th of September in that year. His knowledge of the Latin, Greek, and Oriental languages was so extraordinary, that, upon this account, he was described, by a learned bishop of the kingdom, as a, “very walking library.” He used to say of himself, that he was “covetous of nothing but books.” It was particularly for his exact and eminent skill in the Eastern tongues, that he was thought worthy, by king James the First, to be called to that great work, the last | transiation by authority of our English Bible. In this undertaking he was esteemed one of the principal persons. He began with the first, and was the last man in the translation of the work: for after the task was finished by the whole number appointed to the business, who were somewhat above forty, the version was revised and improved by twelve selected from them; and, at length, was referred to the final examination of Bilson bishop of Winchester, and our Dr. Smith. When all was ended, he was commanded to write a preface, which being performed by him, it was made public, and is the same that is now extant in our Church Bible. The original is said to be preserved in the Bodleian library. It was for his good services in this translation, that Dr. Smith was appointed bishop of Gloucester, and had leave to hold in commendam with his bishopric his former livings, namely, the prebend of Hinton in the church of Hereford, the rectories of Upton-onSevern, Hartlebury in the diocese of Worcester, and the first portion of Ledbury, called Overhall. According to Willis he died October 20; but W r ood says, in the beginning of November, 1624, and was buried in his own cathedral. He was a strict Calvinist, and of course no friend to the proceedings of Dr. Laud. In 1632, a volume of sermons, transcribed from his original manuscripts, being fifteen in number, was published at London, in folio, and he was the editor of bishop Babington’s works, to which he prefixed a preface, and wrote some verses for his picture. One of bishop Smith’s own sermons was published in octavo, 1602, without his knowledge or consent, by Robert Burhill, under the title of “A learned and godly Sermon, preached at Worcester, at an assize, by the Rev. and learned Miles Smith, doctor of divinitie.1


Ath. Ox. vol. I. new edit.—Fuller’s Worthies.—Preface to his Sermons by Stephens.—Barkdale’s Memorials, decade III.