Mr Charles Henry James Smith was born in early 1867 in St Giles, London, England; his birth was registered in that district in the first quarter of the year.
He was the son of Charles Henry Smith and Maria Lloyd (b. 10 June 1839 in Horsham, Sussex, daughter of carrier James Lloyd and his wife Jemima). Little is known of his father's background; he was a gunner in the Royal Artillery and was the son of coach-smith John Smith. He and Maria Lloyd were married in Woolwich Parish Church on 17 October 1861.
Charles had two elder sisters, Fanny Maria (b. 15 September 1862) and Anne Sarah (b. 28 September 1864) who had both been born in Woolwich.
Charles first appears on the 1871 census living with his by-then widowed mother and his sisters at 38 New Compton Street in St Giles, London; four-year-old Charles had not yet started school whilst his mother had taken to needlework to provide for her family; what had become of his father is not certain.
Between then and the next census taken in 1881 his mother had also passed away, but when is not clear. His sisters were listed on that census residing at 54 Broad Street in Westminster, Fanny working as a mantle maker and Anne as a shoe trimmer. Charles, however, is nowhere to be found and his movements over the following years are obscure.
Charles was married in St Anne's Church Soho, Westminster on 19 September 1892 to Agnes Emily Goddard (b. 1870), a native of Worplesdon, Surrey and daughter of agricultural labourer William Goddard and the former Annie Smith.
The life of Charles and his wife Agnes after this are difficult to ascertain; whether they had children of their own is not clear but family relate that they adopted two boys. The family reportedly lived in impoverished circumstances and present-day family relate a tale that, sometime prior to 1912, Charles had applied for a job on a liner with the White Star line and had to go to Southampton to be interviewed for the job. Such was the family's poverty that he walked there from London. On the return-leg home, having got a job as a kitchen porter on the liner, he called in to see his brother-in-law John and his wife Ellen. They felt sorry for him and gave him the train fare home so that he wouldn't have to walk the rest of the way.
When he signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Smith gave his address as 35 Grove Street, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Philadelphia and as a kitchen porter he received monthly wages of £3, 10s. As per family lore, when some of his family came down to Southampton to see him off they were shown around the ship by Charles the night before Titanic sailed. As he was a kitchen porter, they were given a glimpse of the expanse of the pantries and galleys, where they saw magnificent cakes lined up in rows waiting to be served to the passengers when the ship sailed.
Charles Smith died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
What became of his widow Agnes and their family after the disaster is not certain.