Smith, Richard

, one of the earliest book-collectors upon record, and the Isaac Reed of his time, was the son of Richard Smith, a clergyman, and was born at Lillingston Dayrell, in Buckinghamshire, in 1590. He appears to have studied for some time at Oxford, but was removed thence by his parents, and placed as clferk with an attorney in London, where he spent all the time he could spare from business in reading. He became at length secondary of the Poultry counter, a place worth 700l. a year, which he enjoyed many years, and sold it in 1655, on the death of his son, to whom he intended to resign it. He now retired to private life, two thirds of which, at least, Wood says, he spent in his library. “He was a person,” adds the same author, “infinitely curious and inquisitive after books, and suffered nothing extraordinary to escape him | that fell within the compass of his learning desiring to be master of no more than he knew how to use.” If in this last respect he differed from some modern collectors, he was equally indefatigable in his inquiries after libraries to be disposed of, and passed much of his time in Little Britain and other repositories of stall-books, by which means he accumulated a vast collection of curiosities relative to history, general and particular, politics, biography, with many curious Mss. all which he carefully collated, compared editions, wrote notes upon them, assigning the authors to anonymous works, and, in short, performing all the duties and all the drudgery of a genuine collector. He also occasionally took up his pen, wrote a life of Hugh Broughton, and had a short controversy with Dr. Hammond on the sense of that article in the creed “He descended into hell,” published in 1684. He also wrote some translations, but it does not very clearly appear from Wood, whether these were printed. He died March 26, 1675, and was buried in St. Giles’s Cripplegate, where a marble monument was soon afterwards erected to his memory. In 1682 his library was sold by Chiswell, the famous bookseller of St. Paul’s Church-yard, by a printed catalogue, “to the great reluctance,” says Wood, “of public-spirited men.” His “Obituary,” or “catalogue of all such persons as he knew in their life,” extending from 1606 to 1674, a very useful article, is printed by Peck in the second volume of his “Desiderata.1


Ath. Ox. vol. II. Peck’s Desiderata, vol. II. See some of his Mss. in Ayscough’s Catalogue.