William Henry Smith (1792–1865)

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William Henry Smith (7 July 1792 – 28 July 1865) was a British entrepreneur whose business was about both newsagents and book shops. He was born in Little Thurlow, Suffolk, but ran his business in London, where he died. The family business evolved into the chain W H Smith.


Born the son of Henry Walton Smith and Anna Eastaugh, William Henry Smith was brought up by his mother following the death of his father when he was only a few weeks old. His parents established a news vendor in Little Grosvenor Street, London, the precursor of W H Smith in 1792.[1]

In 1812, following the death of Zaccheus Coates, a business associate of his mother, he went into the family business in partnership with his mother and his brother. In 1816 his mother died and the business was equally divided between the two brothers. William proved the more capable businessman of the two brothers, and the firm became known as W H Smith.[2] After his father's death, the business was valued at £1,280 (about ~72185 in 2012, adjusted by inflation).

In 1846, he admitted his son as a partner, and the firm became W H Smith & Son.[3]

He is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.[4]


In 1817, William Henry married Mary Ann Cooper, a rigorous practitioner of Wesley's Protestantism: they married at St George's, Hanover Square and eventually they had eight children: seven girls, and one boy, who was also named William Henry Smith.


  1. ^ History 1792-1900
  2. ^ WH Smith: History
  3. ^ "The First WH Smith Railway Bookstall - Research and Read Books, Journals, Articles at Questia Online Library". Questia.com. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  4. ^ Paths of Glory. Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery. 1997. p. 91. 


  • First With The News: The History of WH.Smith, 1792-1972. By Charles Wilson. WHS, 1985.