Smith , JAMES, journalist, b. at Skolland, in the Shetland Isles, about 1790; d. January, 1866. He spent his boyhood at Skolland, a small place belonging to his mother, who was a member of a branch of the Bruce family which had settled in Shetland in the sixteenth century. He studied law in Edinburgh became a solicitor to the Supreme Court there, and married a Catholic lady (a cousin of Bishop Macdonell of the Glengarry clan), the result being his own conversion to Catholicism. Naturally hampered in his career, at that period, by his profession of Catholicism, he turned his attention to literature, and became the pioneer of Catholic journalism in Scotland. In 1832 he originated and edited the “Edinburgh Catholic Magazine”, which appeared somewhat intermittently in Scotland until April, 1838, at which date Mr. Smith went to reside in London, and the word “Edinburgh” was dropped from the title of the magazine, the publication of which was continued for some years in London. Mr. Smith, on settling in London, inaugurated the “Catholic Directory” for England, in succession to the old “Laity‘s Directory”, and edited it for many years; and he was also for a short time editor of the “Dublin Review”, in 1837. Possessed of considerable gifts both as a speaker and as a writer, he was always ready to put them at the service of the Catholic cause; and during the years of agitation immediately preceding Catholic Emancipation, as well as at a later period, he was one of the most active champions of the Church in England and Scotland. He made a brilliant defense in public of Catholic doctrine when it was violently attacked by certain prominent members of the Established Church of Scotland, and published in this connection, in 1831, his “Dialogues on the Catholic and Protestant Rules of Faith“, between a member of the Protestant Reformation Society and a Catholic layman. He also edited (1838) Challoner’s abridgment of Gother’s “Papist Misrepresented and Represented”, with copious notes. Mr. Smith was father of the Most Rev. William Smith, second Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in the restored hierarchy of Scotland, and a distinguished Biblical scholar.
D. O. HUNTER-BLAIR