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.

Sir Cecil Clementi Smith

Cecil Clementi Smith.jpg
13th Governor of the Straits Settlements
In office
17 October 1887 – 30 August 1893
Preceded bySir Frederick Weld
Succeeded byWilliam Edward Maxwell (acting)
Sir Charles Bullen Hugh Mitchell
4th Colonial Secretary of Straits Settlements
In office
3 September 1878 – 17 November 1885
Preceded bySir John Douglas
Succeeded bySir John Frederick Dickson
Personal details
Born(1840-12-23)December 23, 1840
London, England, United Kingdom
DiedFebruary 6, 1916(1916-02-06) (aged 75)
Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Teresa Alice Newcomen (m. 1869–1916)
  • Beatrice Smith (daughter)
  • Eustace Smith (son)
MotherCecilia Susanna Clementi
FatherJohn Smith
RelativesCecil Clementi (nephew)
EducationMaster of Arts
Alma materSt Paul's School
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
OccupationColonial Administrator

Sir Cecil Clementi Smith GCMG PC (23 December 1840 – 6 February 1916),[1] was a British colonial administrator.


The son of an Essex rector, John Smith, and his wife Cecilia Susanna Clementi (daughter of Muzio Clementi), Cecil Clementi Smith received his education at St Paul's School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[2] 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.[1] He was also the Colonial Treasurer of Hong Kong.

Civil Service[edit]

A bust of Clementi Smith in Victoria Concert Hall

On 3 September 1878,[3] Clementi Smith took office in Singapore as a Colonial Secretary in the Straits Settlements, and understudied Governor Frederick Weld. His knowledge of Chinese culture and competence in the language proved useful as he was able to communicate effectively with leaders of the growing Chinese community.

Smith became 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.[1]

In 1887 he was appointed Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner to Malaya till 1893. A popular governor, the local Chinese community petitioned for a continuation of his appointment when he left Singapore in 1893.[1][4][5][6][7]

Subsequently, 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 Shanghai in 1909.[citation needed]


Clementi Smith married Teresa Alice Newcomen in 1869, they had two children, Beatrice (born c. 1872) and Eustace (born c. 1879, and later a lieutenant colonel). Clementi Smith died in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England, in 6 February 1916, aged 75.[8] His nephew was Sir Cecil Clementi who also served as Governor of the Straits Settlements and in other administrative positions in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Clementi Smith as caricatured in Vanity Fair, January 1892


  1. ^ a b c d Vernon Cornelius (2011), Cecil Clementi Smith, Singapore Infopedia, National Library Board, archived from the original on 26 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Smith, Cecil Clementi (SMT859CC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ "No. 24622". The London Gazette. 6 September 1878. p. 5037.
  4. ^ "Farewell public banquet to H.E. the governor". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. 24 August 1893. p. 2.
  5. ^ "The farewell banquet to H.E. the Governor". The Straits Times. 24 August 1893. p. 2.
  6. ^ "The farewell banquet to H.E. the Governor". The Straits Times. 24 August 1893. p. 3.
  7. ^ "His Excellency Sir Cecil Clementi Smith". The Straits Times. 30 August 1893. p. 3.
  8. ^ "Sir Clementi Smith dead". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. 9 February 1916. p. 6..

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Weld
Governor of the Straits Settlements
Succeeded by
William Edward Maxwell (acting)
Sir Charles Bullen Hugh Mitchell