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Smith, Charles (1713-1777) (DNB00)

SMITH, CHARLES (1713–1777), writer on the corn trade, born at Stepney in 1713, was the son of Charles Smith, a mill-owner of Croydon, Surrey, by his wife Anne, daughter of James Marrener of Fange, Essex, a naval captain in the service of the East India Company. Charles was educated at the grammar school of Ratcliff, Middlesex, entered his father's business, realised a fortune, married and settled at Stratford in Essex, and became a county magistrate. From an early period Smith devoted much attention to the subject of the corn trade and to the laws regulating it. The scarcity of 1757 turned public attention to the subject, and a strong feeling arose against the farmers and dealers of corn, whose avarice was considered to have caused it. In consequence, in the following year, Smith published ‘A Short Essay on the Corn-trade and Cornlaws,’ in which he demonstrated that, in a country largely dependent on home supplies, variations in price were the natural outcome of good or bad seasons. This treatise was followed in 1759 by ‘Considerations on the Laws relating to the Import and Export of Corn,’ and by ‘A Collection of Papers relative to the Price, Exportation, and Importation of Corn.’ These papers, which were republished with notes in 1804 by George Chalmers under the title of ‘Tracts on the Corn Trade,’ show an intimate acquaintance with the subject, and are written with much clearness and ability. They earned the praise of Adam Smith, and are valuable from the light they throw on the English corn trade in the eighteenth century. Smith was killed by a fall from his horse on 8 Feb. 1777. He married, in 1748, Judith, eldest daughter of Isaac Lefevre, son of a Huguenot refugee. By her he had two children: Charles Smith of Suttons, near Ongar in Essex, M.P. for Westbury in Wiltshire in 1802, and a daughter.

[Memoir by George Chalmers, prefixed to Tracts on the Corn Trade; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict. 1816; Georgian Era, iv. 465; m'Culloch's Literature of Political Economy, p. 68; Smith's Wealth of Nations, 1839, p. 224.]

E. I. C.