Who was he?
William Smith (23 March 1769 – 28 August 1839) was an English
geologist, credited with creating the first nationwide geological
map. He is known as the "Father of English Geology", although
recognition was very slow in coming. At the time his map was first
published he was overlooked by the scientific community; his
relatively humble education and family connections preventing him
from mixing easily in learned society. Consequently his work was
plagiarised, he was financially ruined, and he spent time in
debtors' prison. It was only much later in his life that Smith
received recognition for his accomplishments.
Why was he in Bath?
From 1798 to 1810 he lived at Tucking Mill, just three miles from
the centre of Bath in the Wellow valley (for more information see:
Smith at Tucking Mill).
In 1799 he visited 29, Great Pulteney Street, the house of two of
his local supporters, the Reverends Benjamin Richardson and Joseph
Townsend. There he dictated his 'Order of Strata..........'
dividing the succession from the Coal Measures to the Chalk into
twenty-three named units.
The text reads
'In this house William Smith the
father of English Geology dictated "The Order of the Strata"
December 11th 1799'
The date on the plaque should read
June 11th 1799, not December 11th. According to Benjamin
Richardson (1758-1832), who was then present, Smith was in
Bath for the annual meeting in June, 1799, of the Bath
Agricultural Society; and the gathering at Townsend’s
residence took place at that time, only a few weeks after the
termination in April of Smith’s employment with the
Somersetshire Coal Canal Company. (https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Geoscientist/Archive/July-2007/Smiths-other-debt/Smith-field-trip-2)
Location map of 29, Great
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