Smith, William

honorific(s): Mr.
Birth: June 18, 1728 in New York, NY
Death: December 6, 1793 in Quebec, Canada

Yale College; New York Government


Yale (1745)






Lawyer and politician

  • New York, NY (from 1745 to 1783)
  • London, England (from 1783 to 1786)
  • Quebec, Canada (from 1786 to 1793-12-06)
Marital status

William Smith Junior married Janet Livingston, sister of his close friend William Livingston, in 1752. They had 11 children.


William Smith (Jr.) was the son of William Smith, the eminent New York lawyer. He graduated from Yale in 1745, and joined his father as a successful lawyer in New York City. He had little contact with Eleazar Wheelock until 1766, when he began lobbying for Wheelock to relocate Moor’s Indian Charity School to Albany, NY. Wheelock ultimately rejected Smith’s offer because the only tribes near to Albany were the Six Nations, who were spurning Wheelock’s advances, and because Wheelock considered the city too morally corrupt to play host to a religious institution. William Smith Jr. had an illustrious political career in New York and Canada. After his father retired from the Governor's Council in 1767, Smith Jr. filled his post. He tried to avoid becoming involved in party politics, but eventually supported the Loyalist side during the Revolution (after much reluctance to take any public stance), and, in 1780, he was made Chief Justice of New York. After the war, he launched a successful career as Chief Justice of Canada. He is noteworthy as one of the few American Loyalists to succeed politically after the Revolution.


Calhoon, Robert M. “Smith, William (1727-1793).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Online edition ed. Lawrence Goldman, May 2008. Accessed 2/8/2014. Chase, Frederick. A history of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire. 1891. Dartmouth College Library. A Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Papers of Eleazar Wheelock. Hanover: Dartmouth College Library, 1971. Upton, L. F. S. “Smith, William (1728-93).” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4. University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003. Accessed via 2/8/14.