Smith, Charles (1715?–1762), apothecary, topographer, and writer, was born in Co. Waterford. Details of his life remain obscure, but he was educated in medicine and worked as an apothecary in Lismore (1739–44) and Dungarvan, Co. Waterford (1744–60). He is remembered as a pioneer of Irish topography and local history. His first work, The antient and present state of the county of Down (1744), was produced in collaboration with Walter Harris and dedicated to Hans Sloane (qv), and was the first thorough history of an Irish county. The work was intended as the first of a series of such surveys and led to the foundation (14 April 1744) of the Physico-Historical Society in Dublin. Under the auspices of this body Smith proceeded to publish accounts of Co. Waterford (1746), Co. Cork (1750), and – after the society's demise – Co. Kerry (1756). Information was gathered by corresponding with local residents, and the books were marketed to an educated upper- and middle-class readership keen to improve their knowledge of the Irish countryside and economy. His work remains an invaluable source for Irish historians. In 1756 he was a founding member and first secretary of the Medico-Philosophical Society in Dublin. He died in Bristol in July 1762.
David Dickson, ‘A description of the county of Cork, c.1741’, Cork Hist. Soc. Jn., lxxvi (1971), 152–5; G. L. H. Davies, ‘The making of Irish geography, iv: the Physico-Historical Society of Dublin, 1744–1752’, Irish Geography, xii (1979), 92–8; J. H. Andrews, Plantation acres: an historical study of the Irish land surveyor and his maps (1985), 338; Cork Hist. Soc. Jn., xci (1986), 1–3; Patrick C. Power, History of Waterford city and county (1990), 327–8; Henry F. Morris, ‘The “principal inhabitants” of County Waterford in 1746’, William Nolan and Thomas P. Power (ed.), Waterford: history and society (1992), 309–30; Raymond Gillespie, ‘The social world of County Down in the seventeenth century’, Lindsay Proudfoot (ed.), Down: history and society (1997), 141