Smith family, of Hunslet, Leeds

William Smith I (b.1716) of Hunslet, an early Leeds Methodist, provided accommodation to George Whitefield when in Leeds. One of his sons, John Smith, was a Hunslet, Leeds, cloth manufacturer and from 1777 a local preacher. Another son, George Smith I (1764-1840), was named after George Whitefield who is said to have baptized him in 1764; he was a local preacher from 1788. He began as a clothier, but became a thread manufacturer. In turn his son, George Smith II (c. 1764-1846) was a banker from 1792 to 1812, probably a junior partner in the Leeds Commercial Bank and then a partner in what became Smith, Perfect and Co., where he was followed by his son George Smith III . The bank was sold in 1835 when the family opened the Leeds & West Riding Joint Stock Banking Co.

Another son of George Smith II, William Smith II (1785-1868), a cloth merchant, Tory, and supporter of the WMMS, was born on 16 April 1785. He, married Elizabeth, daughter of William Burrows of Scott Hall Mills. Having completed his apprenticeship in 1806, he formed the partnership of Smith & Baker, pelisse cloth manufacturers, then in 1816 set up his own company, Wm. Smith & Co, later to be joined by his son. As a director of the Leeds & West Riding Bank, he never fully recovered from its financial collapse in 1846. He joined the Methodist society in Leeds in 1814, at the same time as Richard Oastler. As a trustee of Brunswick he was a leading advocate for the organ, which subsequently led to the Protestant Methodist secession, and in 1846 donated £1,100 for the organ's extension by Francis Booth of Wakefield. He was a member of the first committee of the pioneering Leeds Methodist Missionary Society in 1813. In 1839, soon after the opening of his new Leeds warehouse, the annual Missionary Breakfast attended by a thousand was held in its upper room; from 1842 these breakfasts were hosted at his home, Allerton Hall, Gledhow. He was appointed Treasurer of the Worn Out Ministers Fund in 1861. As a generous supporter of its missions, in 1865 the Wesleyans presented him with a portrait by Samuel Sidley (1829-1896); formerly in the Mission House, it was sold to the USA in 1994. He died on 17 December 1868. He was the fourth generation of the Smith Family to ring the bells at Leeds Parish Church, beginning with his great grandfather John Smith (b.1686), then his grandfather and father. Following the rebuilding of Leeds Parish Church in 1837, he and his brother Samuel Smith donated a bell.

Samuel Smith FRCS (1790; d November 1867) another son of George Smith II, the banker, was apprenticed to his brother-in-law, Mr.Favell/Fawell, a Leeds apothecary and surgeon, before becoming a pupil of Sir Charles Bell in London and then further studies in Edinburgh. He was a surgeon at Leeds Infirmary from February 1819 to March 1864. From 1847 he was in practice with his son, Pyremont Smith. With strong religious convictions, Samuel Smith (almost certainly an Anglican) opposed the employment of children in factories for long hours and also published Tribute to the Poor Negro (1847) in opposition to the slave trade. He was a founder member with the *Heys in 1831 of the Leeds School of Medicine, from then for the next 35 years lecturing there on both midwifery and diseases to women and children. He was a member of the Volunteer force and Militia established to repel any Napoleonic invasion. He was interred in the graveyard at St. John's Moor Allerton, Leeds, and there is a memorial window to him in Leeds Parish Church.

William Smith II's son George Smith IV (1810-1884), was born on 24 March 1810. He was a mungo and wool waste merchant, held Connexional office and continued his father's support for the missions. He died on 26 February 1884. One daughter, Sarah, (d. 25 July 1836, aet. 23) married George Morley, a Leeds surgeon and W.M. trustee; another daughter, Ann, (d. 21 November 1847, aet. 26) died at Florence. Formerly there was a memorial tablet in Brunswick W.M., Leeds to William Smith and his son George, and another to his daughters.

Within Leeds WM there was also another William Smith (1776-1850) of Burley, connected with Oxford Place chapel, and a partner in Smith & Dickinson, wool merchants. From 1835 to 1842 he was on the council as a Liberal, and was the town's first WM mayor, serving from 1839 to 1841.

  • WM Magazine, 1871 pp.10-18
  • H. Pemberton, 'Two Hundred Years of Banking in Leeds' in Publications of the Thoresby Society, vol. 46 (1963) pp.54-86
  • S.T. Anning, The General Infirmary at Leeds ( 2 vols, 1966)
  • S.T. Anning and W.K.J. Walls, A History of the Leeds School of Medicine (Leeds (1982)
  • D. Colin Dews, 'William Smith (1785-1868)' in Wesley Historical Society (Yorkshire), no.105, Spring 2014, pp.18-22