Charles Smith

(c1715 - 1762)

Charles Smith had a varied and inconsistent career as: topographer; local historian; an apothecary in Dungarvan, County Waterford (1740); and in 1744, as “an itinerant inquirer” for the Physico-Historical Society in Dublin, commissioned with collecting topographical, historical, and antiquarian information for the counties of Munster. He was very interested in “meterological and natural oddities” (Magennis).

His first forays into topography were the chapters about Cork and Waterford for an unpublished natural history atlas of the counties of Ireland in about 1738. In 1744, he contributed to The Antient and Present State of County Down, mostly by Walter Harris. This was followed by The Antient and Present State of County Waterford (1746), The Antient and Present State of the County and City of Cork(1750), and The Antient and Present State of County Kerry (1756). He left similar surveys of Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary, unfinished in manuscript.

In July 1756 Smith and “some medical friends founded the Medico-Philosophical Society in Dublin to inform others of medical advances and develop areas of intellectual curiosity for physicians. He was the author of the society’s Discourses (1758), in which he outlined its aims and appealed for more members to support this second attempt to cultivate Irish enlightenment. The society prospered, and Smith enjoyed a happier time than when in the Physico-Historical Society until this was cut short by his sudden death from gout in July 1762 while on a visit to Bristol, where he was buried” (Eoin Magennis, for DNB online).

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