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William James Smith

Photo courtesy of Milton Hook from the Merlene Hall Collection, Western Australia.

Smith, William James (1867–1955)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

William James Smith was born in Hanworth, Middlesex, England, on May 4, 1867, and christened there on June 9. He migrated to New Zealand and married Eliza Wall in 1888. She also was from England, born in Lewes, Sussex, on July 2, 1857.1 They became Seventh-day Adventists under the ministry of Eugene Farnsworth in 1896. William, at the time, was a schoolteacher with the New Zealand Education Department.2 As new church members they attended a small Sabbath School company with Sidney Amyes on the Irwell farmlands, near Christchurch, and became close friends. When the central Christchurch meetinghouse was organized in Barbados Street, both men were among its leading officers.3

In 1901 Smith was asked by his school board to do a military drill training course on Sabbaths so that he could teach the same to his students. He refused to do this on Sabbaths and also objected to cultivating the war spirit in children. The school board asked him to resign. He said he had neither reason nor desire to resign, but if they wished to dismiss him, they were at liberty to do so.4 The confrontation was resolved with Smith leaving public school teaching that same year and finding employment with the New Zealand Conference, where Amyes was an executive officer.5 Within 12 months Smith was elected secretary and education director of the conference.6

In his administrative role Smith had a part in the establishment of the Pukekura Training School at Cambridge in the North Island. When it was opened in 1908, he was appointed to teach English grammar and literature in addition to physiology.7 He retained the office of conference education secretary and was later elected to the additional role of vice president of the New Zealand Conference.8 In Pukekura’s final year, 1911, he was elected as principal of the school before its transfer to Longburn.9 Smith was ordained in February 1911 at the camp meeting held at Petone near Wellington.10

For the start of the 1912 school year Smith did not follow the removal of the Pukekura school to Longburn. Instead, he accepted a transfer to be principal of the Darling Range School in Western Australia.11 He remained until 1916, carrying the dual responsibility of education secretary for the West Australian Conference.12

A further transfer was made in 1917 when Smith became the chaplain at the Sydney Sanitarium, a position he held until 1926.13 His duties included teaching Bible classes to the trainee nurses.14 During his tenure Eliza’s health deteriorated, and she passed away in the sanitarium on April 6, 1924, leaving five adult children.15

In 1925 Smith married widow Ruby Isobel Bucknell of Sydney.16 Ruby was born in 1886 and had three children from her first marriage.17 In 1927 Smith accepted a ministerial appointment in the South Australian Conference. Once again his teaching experience was utilized when he later was elected to be the conference education secretary. He was also a member of the executive committee.18

Smith spent eight years in the South Australian Conference and then transferred back to familiar South New Zealand for ministry in various churches.19 He retired in 1944, having given 45 years of service in teaching, ministry, and administration roles in New Zealand, Western Australia, New South Wales, and South Australia. He and Ruby returned to Sydney and enjoyed a decade together before William passed away on August 21, 1955.20 Ruby was only short of a century by a few months when she passed away in Harbord, Sydney, on August 1, 1986.21

Sources

Baker, W[illiam] L.H. “Report of the New Zealand Conference.” Union Conference Record, March 15, 1903.

Bath, A[rthur] J. “Ruby Isobel Smith.” South Pacific Record, September 20, 1986.

“Brother W. J. Smith, of Canterbury, N.Z. . . .” Union Conference Record, July 1, 1901.

District of Canterbury. Marriage Certificates. Government of New Zealand Births, Deaths, and Marriages Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, New Zealand.

District of Sydney. Death Certificates. Government of New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Sydney, New South Wales.

District of Sydney. Marriage Certificates. Government of New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Sydney, New South Wales.

Fulton, J[ohn] E. “Eliza Smith.” Australasian Record, April 28, 1924.

Hare, R[euben] E. “William James Smith.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, September 12, 1955.

Irwin, Geo[rge] A. “The N.Z. Camp Meeting.” Union Conference Record, January 1, 1902.

Pallant, J[esse]. “New Zealand Conference.” Australasian Record, March 20, 1911.

Pallant, J[esse]. “The New Zealand Conference.” Australasian Record, March 11, 1912.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1904–1945.

Smith, W[illiam] J. “Sidney H. Amyes.” Australasian Record, April 15, 1935.

“The First Annual Announcement. . .” Union Conference Record, January 6, 1908.

“William James Smith.” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2019. Accessed February 11, 2020. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/find/name?search=1&gender=male&birth=Middlesex%2CEngland%2CUnitedKingdom%7C1865-1870%7C0&self=williamjames%7Csmith%7C0%7C0.

Notes

  1. “William James Smith,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2019, accessed February 11, 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/find/name?search=1&gender=male&birth=Middlesex%2CEngland%2CUnitedKingdom%7C1865-1870%7C0&self=williamjames%7Csmith%7C0%7C0; District of Canterbury, Certificate of Marriage 1555 (1888), Government of New Zealand Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, New Zealand.

  2. J[ohn] E. Fulton, “Eliza Smith,” Australasian Record, April 28, 1924, 6.

  3. W[illiam] J. Smith, “Sidney H. Amyes,” Australasian Record, April 15, 1935, 6.

  4. “Brother W. J. Smith, of Canterbury, N.Z. . . . ,” Union Conference Record, July 1, 1901, 15.

  5. Geo[rge] A. Irwin, “The N.Z. Camp Meeting,” Union Conference Record, January 1, 1902, 14.

  6. W[illiam] L. H. Baker, “Report of the New Zealand Conference,” Union Conference Record, March 15, 1903, 5, 6.

  7. “The First Annual Announcement . . . ,” Union Conference Record, January 6, 1908, 7.

  8. “New Zealand Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1910), 94.

  9. “Pukekura Training School,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1911), 154.

  10. J[esse] Pallant, “New Zealand Conference,” Australasian Record, March 20, 1911, 5, 6.

  11. J[esse] Pallant, “The New Zealand Conference,” Australasian Record, March 11, 1912, 5, 6.

  12. “West Australian Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1916), 137, 138, 172.

  13. E.g., “Sydney Sanitarium,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1918), 231.

  14. R[euben] E. Hare, “William James Smith,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, September 12, 1955, 7.

  15. Fulton, 6.

  16. District of Sydney, Certificate of Marriage 6107 (1925), Government of New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Sydney, New South Wales.

  17. A[rthur] J. Bath, “Ruby Isobel Smith,” South Pacific Record, September 20, 1986, 14, 15.

  18. E.g., “South Australian Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1930), 125.

  19. E.g., “New Zealand, South Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1938), 72.

  20. Hare, 7; “William James Smith,” District of Sydney, Death Certificate 18554 (1955), Government of New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Sydney, New South Wales.

  21. Bath, 14, 15.

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Hook, Milton. "Smith, William James (1867–1955)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9IBN.

Hook, Milton. "Smith, William James (1867–1955)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access January 28, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9IBN.

Hook, Milton (2021, April 28). Smith, William James (1867–1955). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 28, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9IBN.