Scope and arrangement
The William Smith Jr. papers comprise the papers of American loyalist William Smith Jr. (1728-1793), 1683-1793; papers of his son William Smith III (1769-1847), a Canadian government official, historian and militia officer, 1797-1848; and Smith family land and estate papers, 1665-1912.
The bulk of the collection consists of William Smith Jr.’s papers: his correspondence and documents, writings for publication, his diaries, and legal volumes, 1683-1793. These pertain to Smith’s activities as a lawyer, journalist and historian, and as a Councillor and Chief Justice in the British provinces of New York and Quebec (later Upper Canada). Notable writings include essays for the periodicals Independent Reflector and Occasional Reverberator, some written in collaboration with William Livingston and John Morin Scott; the draft Continuation of Smith’s published History of the Province of New-York; and his Historical Memoirs, diaries kept from 1753 to 1783. The diaries form an important political record of colonial and revolutionary New York. Legal volumes comprise a commonplace book, a register of cases before the New York Supreme Court of Judicature, and an index rerum.
The papers of William Smith III, 1797-1848, contain personal and professional correspondence, a journal of a trip to England in 1803-1804, certificates of appointment, a checkbook, receipts, notes pertaining to Canadian history and government, and an incomplete edited proof copy of his History of Canada.
Smith family land and estate papers, 1665-1912, consist of family wills, property records, correspondence and other papers regarding the land holdings and finances of William Smith Jr. and his heirs.
The collection also contains miscellaneous documents concerning legal and land transactions in Lower Canada not directly related to the Smith family, 1788-1804, and a small amount of loose printed matter, 1767-1844.
The William Smith Jr. papers are arranged in three series:
The William Smith Jr. papers comprise his correspondence and documents, 1683-1793; his writings, consisting of works chiefly intended for publication and his diaries (Historical Memoirs), 1749-1785; and three volumes pertaining to his legal practice in New York, 1740s-1760s.
The papers of William Smith III, 1797-1848, contain personal and professional correspondence, a journal of a trip to England in 1803-1804, certificates of appointment, a checkbook, receipts, notes pertaining to Canadian history and government, and an incomplete edited proof copy of his History of Canada. Smith’s correspondence contains personal letters from Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, and letters from British officials concerning his provincial offices and efforts to obtain a pension. Also present are a few letters to his wife Susan written by others, and papers relating to the estate of William Osgoode. Smith’s correspondence and accounts concerning the family’s property are found in Series III, Smith family land and estate papers.
Smith family land and estate papers, dated 1665 to 1912, consist of family wills, property records, correspondence and other papers regarding the land holdings and finances of William Smith Jr. and his heirs. Papers include the wills of Smith and Livingston family members; land conveyances and powers of attorney, the bulk concerning the New York land holdings of William Smith Jr. and his heirs; accounts for Vermont lands; and correspondence between William Smith III and agents for New York lands, with accounts. Also included are deeds documenting the ownership of land acquired by relative Jonathan Sewell in Quebec, chiefly in French; and papers of John Hodgson and Percy A.S. Hickey concerning Smith family estate matters and genealogy.