Born June 3, 1771, Sydney Smith was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, where he took a B.A. in 1792 and an M.A. in 1796. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1796 and became a curate in Nether Avon, near Amesbury. Moving to Edinburgh as a tutor, Smith published his first book of sermons and married Catharine Amelia Pybus.