Smith married, first, in 1821, a daughter of Thomas Bell, esq., of Bristol (she died at their residence in Onslow Square, London, on 18 June 1849); and, secondly, in 1852, the eldest daughter of Thomas Croft, esq. There was no issue of either marriage.
[War Office Records; Despatches; Royal Engineers' Records; London Gazette; Napier's Hist. of the War in the Peninsula; Jones's Sieges in Spain; Porter's Hist. of the Corps of Royal Engineers; Conolly's Hist. of the Royal Sappers and Miners; Wrottesley's Life and Correspondence of Field Marshal John Burgoyne; Letters of Colonel Sir Augustus Simon Frazer during the Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns; Sperling's Letters of an Officer of the Corps of Royal Engineers from the British Army in Holland, Belgium, and France, to his Father from 1813 to 1816; Gent. Mag. 1812, 1815, 1858; Ann. Reg. 1858; Proc. Royal United Service Institution, 1835; Reminiscences of Capt. Gronow, formerly of the Grenadier Guards, &c., related by Himself, 1862.]
SMITH, CHARLES HAMILTON (1776–1859), soldier and writer on natural history, a descendant of a Flemish protestant family of good position called Smet, was born at Vrommen-hofen in East Flanders (then an Austrian province) on 26 Dec. 1776. At an early age he was sent to school at Richmond, Surrey, but on the outbreak of revolution in the Low Countries in 1787, returned to Flanders, and pursued his studies in the Austrian academy for artillery and engineers at Malines and at Louvain. After having served, under the patronage of Lord Moira, in the British forces as a volunteer in the 8th light dragoons, and as a cornet in Hompesch's hussars, he joined in December 1797 the 60th regiment of the British forces in the West Indies, and was for ten years brigade-major under Major-general Carmichael. In 1809 he was on recruiting service at Coventry, and soon afterwards was engaged as deputy quartermaster-general in the Walcheren expedition. He served with distinction in Holland and Brabant, capturing the fortress of Tholen, near Bergen-op-Zoom, with a handful of German auxiliaries. In January 1811 he was again at Coventry, and was then captain in the 6th regiment, but was called away from this position to active service, and the preface to his work on ancient costume is dated from ‘his majesty's ship Horatio, in the Ram-Pot, on the coast of Zeeland, 6 Dec. 1813.’ In March 1815 he furnished Lord Lynedoch with information as to the roads and towns in the forest of the Ardennes. He was sent in 1816 on a mission to the United States and Canada, and his scheme for the defence of Canada was printed by the government.
Smith retired on half-pay in 1820, and was never again actively employed. He received the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1830, and was also a knight of Hanover. On settling into private life he fixed his home at Plymouth, and devoted the rest of his life to studious labours. He began sketching before he was fifteen years old, and from that time was unwearied, whether he was voyaging down the coast of Africa or exploring the West Indies, in making drawings and in accumulating scientific data. History, zoology, and archæology were his favourite subjects of research. He left behind him twenty thick volumes of manuscript notes and thousands of his own watercolour drawings, which were always at the free disposal of a student. Many of his manuscripts, chiefly consisting of unpublished lectures and papers, are in the library of the Plymouth Institution. His library overflowed into every room of his house. Some account of his collections is given in the ‘Transactions of the Plymouth Institution’ (i. 255–88). A club of west-country artists and lovers of art was originated by Smith at Plymouth, and called ‘The Artists and Amateurs’ (Bentley, Miscellany, lxii. 197–8, 301). He frequently lectured at the Plymouth Athenæum, and he designed in 1837 the modern seal for the borough of Plymouth (Worth, Hist. of Plymouth, 1890, p. 197).
Smith was a pall-bearer at the funeral of the elder Charles Mathews, often gave information to Macready and the Keans on the proper costumes for the pieces they were about to bring on the stage, and supplied Sir Charles Barry with designs for the heraldic decorations of the houses of parliament. He used to be constantly with the Cuviers in Paris, and Sir Richard Owen was an intimate friend (Life of Owen, i. 182–4). Landor, during his visits to Charles Armitage Brown at Plymouth, became acquainted with Smith, whose daughters fell in love with the poet (Forster, Life of Landor, ii. 387–8; cf. Bath Chronicle, 30 Jan. 1890, p. 6). A very pleasant picture of Smith's family life is given in the ‘Seven Homes’ of Mrs. Rundle-Charles (pp. 100–5). Smith was elected F.R.S. in 1824 and F.L.S. in 1826.
After an active life he died at 40 Park Street, Plymouth, on 21 Sept. 1859, and was buried in the family vault at Pennycross. He married, in 1808, Mary Anne Mauger, daughter of Joseph Mauger (pronounced Major) of Guernsey. She died before 1841. Their issue was one son, Charles Hamilton Smith (a captain in the British army, who accepted a grant of land in Australia and died there), and four daughters, three of whom survived him; the eldest, Emma, who