Fred Smith, a British chemist, was the son of William Smith and his wife Eliza. In Britain he became a Fellow of the Chemical Society, a member of the Society of the Chemical Industry, and an associate member of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy. He came to South Africa in or before 1896, settled in Johannesburg and for years worked as an assayer to the Salisbury and Jubilee Gold Mining Company. In September 1896 he became a member of the South African Association of Engineers and Architects (renamed the South African Association of Engineers in 1898). In November 1897 he read a paper before its members on "The manufacture of explosives", describing how nitro-glycerine is made and its use in manufacturing products such as dynamite and blasting gelatine. The paper was published in the association's Proceedings (1897-1898, Vol. 4, pp. 89-97). In March 1898 he became an associate member of the Chemical and Metallurgical Society of South Africa (renamed the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa in 1902).
After the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) Smith became a foundation member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science in 1902 and served on its committee for Section A (which included chemistry) for 1903/4. In 1904 he resigned from his post and in July 1905 died of illness. He was married, but had no children.