Smith’s personal connection to the colony’s beginnings contributed to his interest in the subject. Samuel Smith’s great-grandfather, Richard Smith, along with his two sons, John and Daniel, signed the “Concessions and Agreements of the Proprietors and People of West Jersey” as original proprietors in 1677. His grandfather, Samuel Smith, the elder, did not join his brothers and father in the New World until 1694 when he moved from Yorkshire, England to the colony. Our author’s father, Richard Smith, along with being a member of the Assembly of West Jersey for twenty years, was a merchant for the West India Company, and was very successful in Burlington and Philadelphia. It seems that politics was in the blood of the Smith family because, in addition to the titles held by his ancestors, his brother, Richard was a member of the Continental Congress, and his son Joseph was the last Royal Treasurer of the Province before the colonies gained independence.
Samuel Smith, our author, was born December 13, 1720 to Richard Smith and Abigail Raper. He spent a few years as a young man in Philadelphia working as a merchant alongside his father. He married Jane Kirkbride November 13, 1741, and together they had four children: Joseph, Abigail, Sarah, and Richard.