In 1789, Smith became a scholar of New College, Oxford; he received a fellowship after two years' residence, took his degree in 1792 and obtained his Master of Arts degree in 1796. He planned to read for the bar, but his father disagreed and he was reluctantly compelled to take holy orders. He was ordained at Oxford in 1796 and became curate of the village of Netheravon, near Amesbury in Salisbury Plain. Smith did much for the inhabitants; providing the means for the rudiments of education and thus making better things possible. The squire of the parish, Michael Hicks-Beach, invited the new curate to dine and thrilled to find such a man there engaged him as tutor to his eldest son. It was arranged that they should go to the University of Jena in Germany, but war prevented them and "in stress of politics" said Smith, "we put into Edinburgh" in 1798. While his pupil attended lectures, Smith studied moral philosophy under Dugald Stewart as well as medicine and chemistry. He also preached in the Episcopal chapel, attracting large audiences.