William Smith was born in Liverpool on 30 December 1816 and died at his residence Lennox Lea in Currie, Midlothian on 28 May 1896. He was apprenticed to a bookseller at the age of thirteen, served seven years, and then worked another seven years as a clerk in a newspaper office. He entered the insurance business in 1845 and remained in it until his retirement in 1892, as a Director of the English and Scottish Law Life Assurance. In 1846 he helped to found the Edinburgh Philosophical Association, and during the 1840s he translated numerous works by the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte. In 1872 he received the honorary degree of LL.D. in recognition of his intellectual achievements, which were all the more remarkable for not being the product of a university education or an academic career.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.