Richard Smith has had a career in university teaching, research and administration.
Having grown up in Sible Hedingham, a few miles from Clare, he graduated from University College London before completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge. Subsequently he spent a brief spell at the University of Chicago, thereafter working in the field of historical demography and based in history and geography departments in the UK, first at the University of Cambridge for 9 years, then at the University of Oxford for 11 years where he was Director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine and a fellow of All Souls College before returning to the University of Cambridge for the last 20 years as Director of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Head of the Department of Geography and a fellow of Downing College where he was vice-master for 6 years. He has had long experience in directing research projects in demography and writing research grant applications and administering large research grants and university departmental budgets. He has also been particularly interested in encouraging students from East Anglian state schools to secure places at the University of Cambridge. Although now formally retired, as emeritus Professor of Historical Geography and Demography, he currently holds a large research grant from the Wellcome Trust at the University of Cambridge, part of which through its public engagement programme, is concerned with developing numeracy skills in Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 in local secondary schools. He still directs the publishing programme in economic and social history of the British Academy, of which he has been a fellow for 24 years
Since moving to Clare in 2006 he has been actively involved with local institutions. He is a founding governor of Stour Valley Community School, chair of the Trustees of the Ancient House Museum and chair of the Clare Historical and Archeological Society. He is a vice-president of a local soccer club and a local cricket club, a trustee of the Isaac Newton Trust (Trinity College Cambridge) and has been a trustee of the Population Investigation Committee (London School of Economics) Romney Marsh Research Trust and the Marc Fitch Fund.