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Final years

Scarborough 1815 Map
Scarborough on the coast and Hackness (towards the centre) from Smith's 1815 Map

Until the late 1820s, William Smith, aided by his nephew John Phillips (1800-1874), was again working as an itinerant geologist and surveyor for hire around the country, but also began lecturing on the subject in Yorkshire. In 1828 Smith was appointed land steward to Sir John V B Johnstone, Bart, of Hackness, Yorkshire where he produced his last major work – a geological map of Johnstone’s estate, ‘The Stratification in Hackness Hills’ which was published in 1832.

In 1834, Smith was keen to move on, later writing 

William Smith oval portrait

“After living at Hackness near six years, I grew weary of nothing but farming concerns, and told my good friend Sir John Johnstone I wished to leave it, and as the last five or six years of a man’s life were seldom good for much, I wished to have them to myself (provided I lived so long), to complete and arrange my papers without the interruption of any business, to which he readily acceded, and kindly allowed me twenty pounds a year for occasional advice and visits.” [28 June 1839, in Phillips, J, ‘Memoirs of William Smith, LLD’, (1844) p118]

Smith moved to the nearby seaside town of Scarborough and despite the above assertions still had time to act as one of the commissioners charged with investigating and recommending the building stone for the new Houses of Parliament, 1837-1838, and submitting an (unsuccessful) application for the vacant curatorship post at the Geological Society of London in 1838.

In August 1839, Smith was travelling to the annual meeting of British Association for the Advancement of Science which was to be held in Birmingham that year. He stopped off en route at the residence of his friend George Baker in Northampton and undertook a series of geological field trips around the area. However he caught a chill, which developed into a severe illness, and died on the evening of 28 August 1839. Smith was buried in St Peter's Church, Northampton.


Map of Scarborough thumb
 Map of Scarborough, 1831
   
Hackness Hills thumb
 'Stratification in Hackness Hills', 1832 
   
Deductions thumb
 'Deductions from Established Facts in Geology', 1835
   
Museum application thumb
 Application for Museum Curator, 1838

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