William Smith, born around 1775 in Blyth, Northumberland, was the British captain that discovered the South Shetland Islands, an archipelago near Antarctica.
In 1819, while sailing cargo on Williams from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, he sailed further south round Cape Horn in an attempt of catching the right winds. On 19th February 1819 he spotted the new land at 62° West but did not land on it. The naval authorities did not believe his discovery, but on subsequent trip on 16th October he landed on the largest of the islands. He named the island King George Island and the archipelago South Shetland Islands in honour of Shetland Islands north of his home town. At the begining of the following year, 1820, he guided Edward Bransfield with HMS Andromanche to confirm the discovery.