Nathaniel Smith, a founder member of the Medical Reading Society, and a member until 1817

An extract from Munro Smith's A History of the Bristol Royal Infirmary; Bristol: Arrowsmith, 1917

    Nathaniel Smith, who was elected as Shute's successor on September 19, 1816, was born at Islington on March 31st, 1782. He received his schooling under the Rev Mr Crole's at Islington, and the Rev Mr Eyres at Hackney. His family came to Bristol in 1796, and Nathaniel then "read Homer, Vergil, and Horace with Mr Griffiths, as a private pupil."

    He was indentured in 1799 to FC Bowles, and when that gentleman left England for his health, to Richard Smith, in 1803.

    He practised at Horfield Road, and afterwards in Queen Square, and became well-known and busy, doing a large amount of midwifery. (His name is in the notices of the Bristol Medical and Surgical School at 5 Kings Square, as lecturer on midwifery in 1829)

    In November 1809 he married the daughter of Joseph Hall, of Mary-Le-Port Street.

    Vaccination for smallpox, discovered by Edward Jenner in 1780, had become general at the time of Nathaniel Smith's election to the Infirmary. There was then no public Vaccination Institute (one was founded in Bristol in 1838), and the need of this protective measure was urgently felt. Nathaniel Smith realised this, and had printed on his Out-patient cards, "Vaccination every Tuesday at half-past Twelve."

    After a long career at the Infirmary he resigned in August, 1844, and some years afterwards went to live at Weston-super-Mare, where he continued to practice as an operating surgeon. He was a remarkably good, steady, and each operator, and retained his skill to a great age. He died December 20, 1869, aged 87 years.

    He was a short, active, bright little man, was polite, polished manners and pleasant conversation. His neatness of dress in person and very noticeable; he was "natty" both by name and nature.

    Although he had a fairly lucrative practice, he was unbusiness-like and careless in money matters, and in consequence was occasionally in such need of ready cash that he was unable to pay his coachman, who sued him, cheerfully drove down to the police court in his stylish carriage, and took him back again when the affair was amicably settled! I am informed by an old patient of his that he seldom sent in his  accounts for professional attendance; appeals were unavailing, and "you had to send him a cheque from time to time, guessing what you owed him."


Nathaniel Smith is mentioned on 26 pages in Munro Smith's A History of the Royal Infirmary; the extract above is just from 2 of these.