gaged in stopping irruptions of the sea into the marshland of East Norfolk, from Happisburg to Yarmouth, and in improving its drainage. This occupied him at intervals from 1800 to 1809. In 1810 his services were required in Bath, the prosperity of which was threatened by a failure of its hot springs. Their waters had found a new channel; this Smith detected and stopped, so that they flowed more copiously than before. At the same time he successfully checked an influx of water into a coal-pit at Batheaston, to which some persons had attributed the failure at the springs; and in 1811–12 he was employed in stopping some serious leakages in the Somerset Coal Canal.
Meanwhile he had removed his geological collections to London, placing them in a house in Buckingham Street, Strand, which he had rented from 1805, and was endeavouring to complete his geological map. Among other difficulties under which he laboured must be reckoned the want of a topographical map suitable for geological colouring. This was overcome by the enterprise of William Cary [q. v.], who in 1812 had undertaken to publish Smith's map, and had a new topographical one (81/2 feet high by 61/6 wide) engraved for the purpose. At last the work was completed, was submitted to the Society of Arts, received from them a premium of 50l., and was published on 1 Aug. 1815. ‘From that hour the fame of its author as a great original discoverer in English geology was secured’ (J. Phillips).
The first marked public tribute to Smith's services to science was in 1818 from Dr. William Henry Fitton [q. v.], in an article on the progress of English geology (Edinb. Rev. xxix. p. 310). Meanwhile he was busily engaged in Suffolk and Norfolk on drainage operations, in Yorkshire planning canals, and in the Forest of Dean as a surveyor of the coal-field. But in 1816 he began to issue a work entitled ‘Strata identified by Organised Fossils,’ which, however, stopped at the fourth number; and next year he published ‘A Stratigraphical System of Organised Fossils,’ compiled from his own collection, which had been purchased for the British Museum early in the previous year. A geological map on a reduced scale was published in 1819, and the issue of a ‘New Geological Atlas of England and Wales,’ &c., was begun the same year (six parts appeared, the last in 1824).
But while his fame was spreading and his professional prospects were still good, ill-fortune was near at hand. He had sacrificed all his earnings, even his little patrimony, in the preparation of his map, and had involved himself in an unsuccessful speculation connected with his small estate near Bath. Pecuniary difficulties at last became so pressing that in the autumn of 1819 he was obliged to give up his house in London, to sell his books and everything he possessed; even his papers, drawings, and maps would have gone had they not been secured by the kindness of a friend. At the time he was engaged in Yorkshire; but the blow, though endured with apparent fortitude, was a sore one, and after that he came but seldom to London. To add to his anxieties, his wife's health failed, and in the next year her mind became deranged.
For some years after this Smith had no regular home, but moved about as his professional engagements or his geological investigations dictated, chiefly in the north of England, having for a time as companion his nephew, John Phillips (1800–1874) [q. v.] He lingered long at Kirkby Lonsdale. Henceforth geology, notwithstanding straitened circumstances, evidently more and more engrossed his thoughts. In 1824 he made, at York, his first attempt as a lecturer, and was encouraged by the results to appear in the like capacity in Hull, Sheffield, and Scarborough. After this he fixed his residence at Scarborough, where he designed the museum, improved the water supply, and worked at geology. But over-exertion in examining a fault displayed on the north side of the Castle Hill brought on muscular paralysis in his legs. This confined him to his bed during the early part of 1825, but it gradually passed away in the course of the year.
At last, in 1828 he settled down at Hackness as land steward to Sir John V. B. Johnstone. The latter used every friendly endeavour to stimulate Smith to publish more of his vast stores of geological information; but, though so ready to impart knowledge to friends by word of mouth, he had an aversion to proof-sheets. ‘Mr. Smith meditated and wrote, but did not arrange his papers; and, excepting a beautiful geological map of the Hackness estate, executed in great detail and with extreme exactitude, nothing of importance came from his hands to the public’ (J. Phillips, Memoirs, p. 113).
But Smith's position as the ‘father of British geology’ was now acknowledged. In February 1831 the council of the Geological Society voted him the Wollaston medal, and Professor Adam Sedgwick [q. v.], the president, took the opportunity of this, the first award, to expatiate upon Smith's services to the science. The medal itself had not then been made, so it was actually presented to him at Oxford during the second meeting of the British Association, when he