James Smith (c. 1645 – 1731) was a Scottish architect, who pioneered the Palladian style in Scotland. He was described by Colen Campbell, in his Vitruvius Britannicus (1715-1725), as "the most experienced architect of that kingdom".
Born in Tarbat, Ross, Smith was the son of James Smith (d. 1684-5), a mason, who became a burgess of Forres, Moray, in 1659. Smith initially trained as a priest, and went to Italy as a young man, possibly to enter the Catholic priesthood. A James Smith of Morayshire attended the Scots College, Rome from 1671-75, although it is not known if this is the same person. He had certainly travelled abroad, however, and was well-educated, with a knowledge of Latin.
By December 1677, Smith was in touch with Sir William Bruce, the most prominent architect of the time in Scotland, and the designer of the rebuilt Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh. Here, Smith served as a mason, under the direction of the master mason Robert Mylne. By December 1679 he was married to Mylne's daughter Janet, when he was made a burgess of Edinburgh in right of his father-in-law. He was admitted to the Incorporation of St Mary's Chapel, the guild of masons and wrights in Edinburgh, in 1680.