George Smith (1833–1919)

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George Smith CIE FRGS LLD (1833–1919) was a 19th Scottish historian and geographer who spent his working life in India. He was father to a family of eminent figures.


South Learmonth Gardens, Edinburgh (10 at red door)
The grave of George Smith LLD, Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh

He was born in Leith on 28 April 1833 the son of Adam Smith (1809-1837) and his wife Isabella Anderson. His father died while he was a young child.[1]

He was educated at the High School in Edinburgh then studied at Edinburgh University graduating around 1850.

In 1855 he moved to Calcutta, in India, to act as the first Principal of the Doveton College, a boys' school in Madras. In 1856, aged only 23, he became a Fellow of the University of Calcutta and also began to operate as their Examiner. From 1857 he was Editor of the "Calcutta Review". From 1860 he was the official Indian correspondent for The Times newspaper in Britain.[2]

By the 1870s he had returned to Scotland and was living at Scagrore House in Seafield, east of Leith. He was then editor of the journal, "Friends of India".[3]

From 1878 he was Secretary of the United Free Church of Scotland. In 1879 he became Vice President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society

He died at home, 10 South Learmonth Gardens[4] in the west of Edinburgh on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1919. He is buried with his wives on the western path of Grange Cemetery in south Edinburgh. The grave lies on the edge of the north-west section.


  • The Life of John Wilson (1878)
  • The Life of Alexander Duff (1879)
  • Fifty Years of Foreign Missions (1880)
  • The Geography of British India: Political and Physical (1882)
  • A Student's Geography of India (1882)
  • A Short History of Christian Missions (1884)
  • The Life of William Carey (1885)
  • A Modern Apostle: Alexander N Somerville (1890)
  • Henry Martyn Saint and Scholar (1891)
  • The Conversion of India from Pantaenus to the Present Time (1893)
  • Bishop Heber Poet and Chief Missionary to the East (1895)
  • Twelve Indian Statesmen (1897)
  • Twelve Pioneer Missionaries (1900)


In 1855 he married Janet Colquhoun Adam (1832-1888).

Their children included the Very Rev Sir George Adam Smith, Sir James Dunlop Smith, Rev Hunter Smith and Charles Aitchison Smith. His daughter Ann Gertrude Smith, married Sir Montagu Sherard Dawes Butler and they were parents to Rab Butler.[5]

Following his wife's death he married a second time in 1890 to Mary Agnes MacKintosh (1849-1921).

He lost three grandsons in the First World War: George Buchanan Smith, Robert Dunlop Smith and Charles Hamilton Sorley.[6]


  1. ^!0:156598+2-2-0-1-0
  2. ^ The History of British India: A Chronology, by J F Riddick
  3. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1871
  4. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1911
  5. ^!0:156598+2-2-0-1-0
  6. ^ Grave inscription, Grange Cemetery