(d. 1809) of Vicars Hill, Lymington, Hampshire, formerly a Jamaica planter, who distributed by will (proved 16 Nov. 1809) a part of a large fortune among his many nephews and nieces of the Breton family. He owned at his death 'slaves and stock' in Jamaica.
At eight the boy went to a private preparatory school at Monkton Farleigh, near Bath, and from 1836 to 1841 was a colleger at Eton. He boarded in the house of Edward Coleridge, whose nephew John Duke, afterwards Lord Coleridge, was a life-long friend. Henry Fitzmaurice Hallam, son of the historian, was another close companion at school. Goldwin abstained from games and was reckoned reserved and solitary. According to his own account he did not work hard. He only studied classics and chiefly Latin composition. Proceeding to Oxford, he matriculated at Christ Church on 26 May 1841, and benefited little, he said in after life, by the tuition of William Lin wood [q. v.]. Next year he was elected demy of Magdalen College, where Martin Routh [q. v.] was president. At Magdalen there were few undergraduates besides the thirty demies. Among these John Conington was the 'star,' and Goldwin was his chief satellite. Roundell Palmer, recently elected a fellow, showed him kindly attention, and their affectionate relations continued through later years. For Magdalen College he always cherished a warm regard. Although he attended Buckland's lectures on geology, his main energies were absorbed by the classics, for which he showed unusual aptitude. He read privately with Richard Congreve [q. V. Suppl. I], and made a record as a winner of classical prizes in the university. The Hertford scholarship fell to him in 1842, and the Ireland in 1845, together with the chancellor's Latin verse prize for a poem on 'Numa Pompilius,' the Latinity of which his friend Conington highly commended. In the same year, too, he won a first class in literæ humaniores, and graduated B.A., proceeding M.A. in 1848. In 1846 he carried off the chancellor's prize for the Latin essay on 'The Position of Women in Ancient Greece,' and in 1847 the chancellor's prize for the Enghsh essay on 'The Political and Social Benefits of the Reformation in England.' Thus three years running he recited prize compositions at the encaenia in the Sheldonian theatre. Meanwhile he had contributed Latin verse to the 'Anthologia Oxoniensis' of 1846, some of which was reproduced in the 'Nova Anthologia Oxoniensis' (ed. A. D. Godley and Robinson Ellis, 1899). Although Smith shone in the society of congenial undergraduates, he was (he wrote) 'unoratoric' and he did not join in the union debates (E. H. Coleridge's Lord Coleridge, 1904). His views on religious and political questions were from the first pronouncedly liberal. While he admired Newman's style, he was impatient of the Oxford movement and was scornful of all clerical influences. He characterised the pending religious controversy as 'barren.'
When Queen's College, with what was then rare liberality, threw open a fellowship to general competition. Smith's candidature failed, owing as he thought to his anti-clerical views (cf. Meyrick's Memories of Oxford, 1905, whose accuracy Smith disputed). In 1846 however he was elected Stowell law professor of University College ; and his career was intimately associated with that college till 1867. But for his first four years there he resided intermittently. With a view to making the law his profession, he had entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn on 2 Nov. 1842, and after taking his degree spent most of his time in London. He saw much of Roundell Palmer, and through his Eton friends came to know Henry Hallam and Sir John Taylor Coleridge. He went on circuit as judge's marshal with the latter, and afterwards with Sir James Parke and Sir Edward Vaughan Williams. But although he was duly called to the bar on 11 June 1850, the law proved uncongenial. He would rather (he wrote to his friend Roundell Palmer) seek fame through ' a decent index to Shakespeare than the chancellorship.' The autumn of 1847 was devoted to a foreign tour with Conington and other Oxford friends. Conington and he were contemplating an elaborate joint edition of Virgil, on which a Uttle later they set seriously to work. Some progress was made with the Eclogues and the Georgics. But the task was ultimately accomplished by Conington alone, who in dedicating the first volume to Smith in 1858 generously acknowledged his initial co-operation. The tour of 1847 extended to France, Italy, Switzerland, and Tirol, and Goldwin visited Guizot at Val Richer. His faith in liberal principles was confirmed by his social experience in London, where his Eton master introduced him to the duke of Newcastle, and he came to know the leading Peelites. But he hoped for progress without revolution, and in 1848 he acted as a special constable during the Chartist scare.