Traditionally, the published paternal ancestry of the Prophet Joseph Smith begins with the story of a 12- or 13-year-old boy named Robert Smith. For example, “Robert Smith had sailed from England in 1638 at the height of the Puritan migration” (see "Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling," by Richard L. Bushman, page 14). The Prophet’s ancestral line on his father’s side ends with Robert Smith. Nothing is known about Robert’s parents, siblings or other relatives but many have believed he was from Kirton, Lincolnshire.
“Joseph Smith's last certain ancestor on the Smith paternal line, Robert Smith, was indentured to a man who had property in Kirton, Lincolnshire, England, the assumption was made that Robert Smith was also from Kirton” (see “DNA shows Joseph Smith was Irish,” by Michael De Groote, Deseret News, Aug. 8, 2008).
It has traditionally been thought that Robert Smith was born around 1626. He may have been baptized at the Saints Peter and Paul parish church in Kirton or, perhaps, one of several other churches in the area. Unfortunately, the information about him is not complete. Smith family researcher Elaine Nichols reported that the details associated with Robert Smith are “sketchy.” For one thing, she explained, there was more than one Robert Smith born and baptized in that area during that period. She urged caution in accepting the traditional date and place of the baptism of the Prophet’s ancestor from Lincolnshire (see “Corrections to Joseph Smith’s English Ancestry: The Parentage of Robert Smith of Boxford, Massachusetts” by E.C. Nichols, Utah Genealogical Journal, 1991, No. 19, pages 138-143).
Kirton is situated within the borough of Boston, Lincolnshire, from where Robert, it is believed, departed for America in 1638. He settled in Boxford Township near Topsfield, Massachusetts.