Cecil Clementi Smith

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Not to be confused with Smith's nephew Sir Cecil Clementi, who also served as a colonial governor in Singapore.
"Straits Settlements"
Clementi-Smith as caricatured in Vanity Fair, January 1892

Rt Hon Sir Cecil Clementi-Smith G.C.M.G. (1840 – February 6, 1916), was a British colonial administrator.


Son of an Essex rector John Smith and his wife Ceceilia Susanna Clementi (d/o Muzio Clementi), Cecil Clementi-Smith received his education at St Paul's School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[1] In 1864 he began his civil service career as a cadet interpreter in Hong Kong, learning much about the Chinese culture and gradually became an accomplished scholar of the Chinese culture.

Civil Service[edit]

In 1878 he took office as a Colonial Secretary in the Straits Settlements (now Singapore), and understudied with then-Governor Frederick Weld. His knowledge of Chinese culture and competency in the language proved useful as he was able to communicate effectively with leaders of the growing Chinese community. He become known for his effective work in quelling Chinese secret societies in the Straits Settlements, such as those in Singapore which had been terrorising locals for decades. He also established the Queen's Scholarships in 1889 to fund bright Singaporean students to further their studies in top British universities.

Only in 1887 was he appointed Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner till 1893. Having been a popular governor, the local Chinese community petitioned for his continuation as governor when he left Singapore in 1893.

He was Lieutenant Governor of Ceylon, and the Master of the Mercers' Company in 1897.

He was president of the commission of Inquiry on the Trinidad riots in 1903 and was Chief British delegate to International Opium Conference at The Hague in 1909.


Cecil Clementi-Smith married Teresa Alice Newcomen in 1869, they had two children, Beatrice, b:c. 1872 & Lt-Colonel Eustace, b: c. 1879. Cecil Clementi-Smith died in Welwyn Garden City, aged 77. His nephew is Sir Cecil Clementi who also served in administrative positions in Hong Kong and Singapore.


Clementi Road (former Reformatory Road) and the neighbourhood of Clementi in western Singapore were named after him.


  1. ^ "Smith, Cecil Clementi (SMT859CC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  • Tate, D. J. M. (1988). A portrait gallery of nineteenth century Singapore. Singapore: Antiques of the Orient.
  • Turnbull, C. M. (1989). A History of Singapore: 1819-1988. Singapore: Oxford University Press.
  • 'Singapore days of old: A special commemorative history of Singapore'. Singapore Tatler 10th anniversary issue. Hong Kong: Illustrated Magazine.
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Weld
Governor of the Straits Settlements
Succeeded by
William Edward Maxwell (acting)
Sir Charles Bullen Hugh Mitchell