SMITH, Samuel I (1754-1834), of Welford, Notts. and Woodhall Park, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



3 Sept. 1788 - 1790
1790 - 1818
1818 - 1820
1820 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 14 Apr. 1754, 4th s. of Abel Smith, banker, of Nottingham, and bro. of George Smith*, John Smith II* and Robert Smith*. m. 2 Dec. 1783, Elizabeth Frances, da. of Edmund Turnor of Panton, Lincs., 3s. 7da.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. commdt. Nottingham vols. 1799.


Smith was a partner in the family’s Nottingham bank and in its offshoots in London, Hull and Lincoln, but the parent bank was his chief responsibility. Having come into Parliament in succession to his father and supported Pitt, he was returned on the corporation interest at Leicester in 1790. He retained this troublesome seat for 28 years, though for security he was also returned at Malmesbury in 1796 and for Midhurst in 1802 and 1807. In 1801 he purchased Woodhall, the palatial residence of the bankrupt Paul Benfield*.1

Smith gave an unobtrusive support to administration. He had turned against dissenting pressure for the repeal of the Test Act by 1791. On 26 Nov. 1795 he presented his constituents’ petition in favour of legislation against sedition. A week later, like his brothers George and John, he signed the London declaration of support for Pitt. His only known minority votes in that Parliament were for Foster Barham’s motion, 2 June 1795, and for his cousin Wilberforce’s bid to abolish the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796. He was government teller on the Bank question, 3 Apr. 1797, voted for Pitt’s triple tax assessment, 4 Jan. 1798, and was in the chair on the Election Treating Law amendment bill in February. He supported Addington, but as a Pittite: he may have voted with Pitt for the orders of the day, 3 June 1803, and he certainly did so on his naval motion, 15 Mar. 1804, and on the defence questions of 23 and 25 Apr. which brought Addington down. He was listed a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry and in 1805 applied to him to make his brother-in-law a remembrancer in the Exchequer court: ‘not having been in the habit of soliciting places for my connections’, he explained, 23 June, ‘I flatter myself that this application will be received with favourable attention’. He was indignant when the place was awarded to Snowdon Barne* and remonstrated with Pitt, 10 Dec.:

I have had the honour to vote with you ever since I have been in Parliament, now above 17 years and I am not aware that I have ever asked from you during that period any personal favour to myself ... it would be strange indeed if I did not feel some mortification in being refused a small annual place of £150 or £200 when in addition to the obligation conferred on me, it would have attached decidedly to your interest Mr Edmund Turnor who at present sits for Midhurst ... I hope neither myself nor those friends whom I can influence will materially deviate from the line they have hitherto pursued, though if I do not feel the same zeal in your support, I trust you will ascribe it to the slight I have received in this occasion.2

Except on the American intercourse bill, 17 June 1806 (which his brothers in the House also opposed), Smith followed his brother Lord Carrington’s line in adhering to Lord Grenville in and out of office. He was among the ‘staunch friends’ of the abolition of the slave trade and voted for Brand’s motion after the ministry’s dismissal. This made him unpopular at Leicester and he felt obliged to say that he had voted against Catholic relief, presumably in 1805, and to deny any commitment to it; also to assist the corporation in the creation of a block of new freemen to secure re-election.3 Although the Whigs placed him, with his brothers, on their list of ‘thick and thin’ adherents in 1810, he was less steady than his brothers. After 26 June 1807,4 no minority vote is known until 14 Mar. 1808; but he voted against the convention of Cintra, the Duke of York’s conduct and that of the Dutch commissioners in 1809, and against the address and for the Scheldt inquiry, January-March 1810. He voted against parliamentary reform, 21 May. He joined opposition against the adjournment, 29 Nov. 1810, and on the Regency question of 1 Jan. 1811. He opposed McMahon’s sinecure and Regency appointment, 24, 27 Feb., 14 Apr. 1812, and was in the minorities against the orders in council and the barracks estimates, 3 Mar. and 13 Apr. On 17 Mar. he presented the Leicester framework knitters’ petition against the orders and against the renewal of the East India Company trade monopoly.

Despite Whig fears that he might lose Leicester because he was ‘timid and penurious’, Smith held his seat in 1812.5 He joined opposition to the vice-chancellor bill, 11 Feb., and on Burdett’s Regency motion, 23 Feb. 1813. He supported the sinecure reform bill, 29 Mar. Thought to be neutral on the Catholic question, he was credited with a vote for the relief bill on 13 May 1813 and voted for relief in 1815, but against it on 9 May 1817. He supported Christian missions to India, 22 June and 12 July 1813: he was an investor in East India Company stock. He opposed the alteration of the Corn Laws in three divisions in 1815 and opposed the continuation of the militia in peacetime, 28 Feb., and the transfer of Genoa, 27 Apr. 1815. He apparently followed the Grenvillite line of supporting the resumption of hostilities with Buonaparte, but voted with opposition for retrenchment, 31 May 1815, 28 Feb. and 6 Mar. 1816, opposing the renewal of the property tax, 18 Mar., and pairing against the navy estimates, 20 Mar. Further minority votes for the remainder of that Parliament were in the same sense. He also opposed the indemnity bill at the committee stage, 11 Mar. 1817, and voted for inquiry into the state of commerce and manufactures, 13 Mar. He voted for Grenville’s nephew as Speaker, 2 June 1817.

Smith was jettisoned at Leicester in 1818 when the corporation were unable to field more than one candidate. Lord Carrington had anticipated this and returned him for his borough of Midhurst.6 He again voted selectively with opposition: for the addition of Brougham to the Bank committee, 8 Feb. 1819; against the Windsor establishment, 25 Feb.; for a review of the criminal law (by pair), 2 Mar.; for Admiralty retrenchment, 18 Mar.; against public lotteries, 4 May; against the budget proposals, 7 June; ‘against the cash payments bill, 14 June, and against the foreign enlistment bill, 10 and 21 June. His only minority vote next session was against the second reading of the seditious meetings bill. In 1820 Carrington returned him for his other borough. He died 12 Mar. 1834.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Lawrence Taylor


  • 1. J. A. S. L. Leighton-Boyce, Smiths the Bankers, 54, 141, 189; A. Temple Patterson, Radical Leicester, 112; Life of Wilberforce (1838), iii. 114.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/179, ff. 122, 124.
  • 3. Temple Patterson, 99.
  • 4. Buckingham, Court and Cabinets, iv. 180.
  • 5. Lansdowne mss, Abercromby to Lansdowne, 20 Sept. 1811.
  • 6. Fortescue mss, Carrington to Grenville, 9 June 1818.