Smythies was born in Colchester, educated at Felsted School and Trinity College, Cambridge, and ordained in 1869. His first post was a curacy in Great Marlow after which he was Vicar of Roath in Cardiff.
He was the fourth Bishop of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa, and was consecrated on 30 November 1883, serving as Bishop in Central Africa until that diocese was split (by his initiative) in 1892, and then of one of the parts, Zanzibar, until his death.
- "Trinity College, University of Cambridge". BBC Your Paintings. Archived from the original on 11 May 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
- "The Clergy List, Clerical Guide and Ecclesiastical Directory" London, Hamilton & Co 1889
- Genealogical web-site Archived 6 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "Smythies, Charles Allan (or Alan (SMTS863CA)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- The Times, Friday 11 May 1894; pg. 10; Issue 34261; col A Obituary: Bishop Smythies
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