his life, B-P kept up an extensive correspondence with
his mother. His letters, many illustrated with sketches
and drawings, provide one of the major sources about his
life and career.
Grace Baden-Powell was born Henrietta Grace Smyth in 1824
and died in 1914. Baden-Powell wrote of his mother’s
influence in Lessons from the Varsity of Life,
whole secret of my getting on lay with my mother. How
that wonderful woman managed to bring us all up, so
that none of us did badly; and how she did not kill
herself with the anxiety and strain I do not know and
cannot understand. Not only did she, though a poor
widow, feed, clothe and educate us, but she found
time to do other work in the world particularly as
one of the founders of the Girls’ High School
Movement, which has done so much for our womanhood
to-day. It was her influence that guided me through
life more than any precepts or discipline that I may
have learned at school.
K. Wade, B-P’s Confidential Secretary wrote in 27
Years with Baden-Powell, 1957:
September, just after I had joined him, the Chief’s
mother died. He felt her loss very deeply, for they
had been close comrades for fifty years.
wrote a characteristic note about this in The Scout,
using a personal experience, as he so often did, to
point a lesson.
Scouts know what it is to have a good mother, and
the more they like her the more they dread the
idea of losing her.
mother has done so much for you, in having had
all the pain and trouble of bringing you up as a
child—in health and in sickness, steadily
working to pull you through. She has taught you
and watched over you with anxious eyes. She has
given up all her time and love to you. When she
dies you feel it a terrible blow, the breaking of
a happy tie.
have just lost my mother, after fifty years of
loving comradeship, so I know what it means. She
had trained me as a boy; she had watched every
step of my work as a man. When I first had the
idea of starting Boy Scouts I was afraid that
there was not so much in it as I had thought,
until she spoke to me of it and showed that it
might do good to thousands of boys if I stuck to
it. So I did. But it was thanks to her that the
Scout movement started and went on.
Scouts seem to have thought of this on hearing of
her death, for I have had numbers of kind
messages of sympathy from them as well as a
beautiful design of flowers with the motto ‘Be
Prepared’ from the Boy Scouts’ Association. For
all these kindly tributes I offer my heartfelt
thanks. I only pray that those who have been so
good to me will, in their turn, find comfort when
the dark day comes of their own mother’s death.
is only one pain greater than that of losing your
mother, and that is for your mother to lose
you—I do not mean by death but by your own
it ever struck you what it means to your mother
if you turn out a wrong ‘un or a waster? She who
bore you as a baby, and brought you up. She who
taught you your first steps, your prayers, your
straight ideas, and was glad when you showed that
you could do things.
she saw you getting bigger and stronger and
growing clever she had hoped in her heart of
hearts that you were going to make a successful
career and to make a good name for
yourself—something to be proud of.
if you begin to loaf about and do not show grit
and keenness, if you become a slacker, her heart
grows cold with disappointment and
sorrow—though she may not show it; all her
loving work and expectation have been thrown
away, and the pain she suffers through seeing you
slide off into the wrong road is worse than if
she had seen you lost in death.
have not the power of preventing her losing you
by death, but you can save her from losing you in
this other way.
your career a success, whatever line you take up,
and you will rejoice her heart. Try not to
disappoint her but to make her happy in any way
that you can; you owe it to her; and when she
dies it will be your greatest comfort to think
that at any rate you did your best for her and
tried to be a credit to her whilst she lived.
never knew a really good manly fellow who was not
also a good son to his mother; and by acting up
to his mother’s expectations, many a man has
raised himself to the top of the tree.
From: Eileen K. Wade, 27 Years
with Baden-Powell, 1957
and Sisters of Henrietta Grace Smyth (Children of Admiral William Henry
Smyth and Eliza Anne "Annarella" Warington, Uncles and Aunts of Robert
Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell):
Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth (1817-1890). Geologist.
Lecturer at the Royal School of Mines, Married Anna Maria Antonia
Storey-Maskelyne. Father of Major-General Sir Nevill Maskelyne Smyth,
V.C. and H. Warington Smyth, author of Five Years in Siam.
Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900). Astronomer Royal of
Elizabeth Anne Smyth (1819-1821?)
Jane Phoebe Smyth (1821-1842).
Henrietta Grace Smyth (1824-1914). Mother of Robert
General Sir Henry Augustus Smyth, K.C.M.G. (1825-1906).
Commandant of Woolwich, 1882; crushed Zulu rising, 1887; Governor of
Cape Colony, 1889 and of Malta, 1890. B-P served as his Military
Secretary in Natal and in Malta.
Josephine B. Smyth (1826-1847).
Ellen Philadelphia Smyth (1828-1881). Wife of Captain
Henry Toynbee. Meteorologist. F.R.A.S. Marine Superintendent of the
Meteorological Office, 1867-1888. Merchant Captain.
Caroline Mary Smyth (1834-1859).
Georgiana Rosetta Smyth (1835-1923).
||Henrietta Grace Smyth’s father,
Admiral William H. Smyth, rose through the
ranks of the Royal Navy to retire as an Admiral in 1863. He was a noted
hydrographer and astronomer and was Vice President of the Royal Society.
According to his great-grandson, his charts of the Mediterranean were
still in use in 1961. His Cycle of Celestial Objects remains a classical text
in the history of astronomy and was republished in 1986. The Sailor’s
Word-Book was is still in print (Conway Maritime Press, 1991) and
runs some 744 pages of definitions.
Charles Piazzi Smyth was
Henrietta Grace’s brother and hence Uncle to B-P. He was well known as
an astronomer (he was Astronomer Royal of Scotland) and was considered
an authority on the pyramids of Giza and was a pioneer in the field of
||Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth,
M.A., F.R.S. was a brother of Henrietta Grace Smyth Baden-Powell and Uncle to B-P. He
was Professor of Mining and Mineralogy at the Royal School of Mines,
President of the Geological Society of London in 1866-1868 and a Fellow
of the Royal Society. After
university, he spent more than four years in Europe, Asia Minor, Syria
and Egypt, paying great attention to mineralogy and mining. Among his
published works were A Year with the Turks (1854), and Treatise on Coal and Coal-Mining (1867). He was
knighted in 1887.
General Sir Henry Augustus Smyth, K.C.M.G.
(1825-1906) was Henrietta’s youngest brother and Uncle to B-P. He served as an
officer in the Royal Artillery rising to the rank of full general in 1891. He
was Commandant of of the Royal Artillery Institution at Woolwich, 1882. He was
responsible for crushing the Zulu rising in Natal in 1887; served as Governor of
Cape Colony, 1889 and of Malta, 1890. B-P served as his Military Secretary in
Natal and in Malta. He had a long and distinguished military and colonial career
as outlined in the short biographical essay written by his nephew and B-P’s
youngest brother Francis Smyth Baden-Powell.
||H. Warington Smyth, M.A,, LL.B., F.G.S.,
F.R.G.S., a son of Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth. He was Director of the Department of Mines in Siam, and later
Secretary of Mines and Industries in the Union of South Africa. He was the
author of several books, including: Five Years in Siam, Mast
and Sail in Europe and Asia, Sea Wake and Jungle Trail and
Chase and Chance in Indochina. He was B-P’s first cousin.
Sir Nevill Maskelyne Smyth,
a son of Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth and B-P’s
first cousin. He had a distinguished career in the army, rising to the
rank of Major-General. He won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of
Nevil Maskelyne, Fifth
Astronomer Royal was grandfather to B-P’s Uncle Sir Warington Wilkinson
Smyth, brother of Henrietta Grace Smyth Baden-Powell.
Baden-Powell Family History.
A series of links starting
the research of Robin Baden Clay, a grandson of Baden-Powell. These
focused on the genealogy of the Powell family. The author is extremely
grateful to Mr. Clay for sharing the results of his labors with the
Scouting community. Links are provided to pages for three of B-P’s
brothers: Baden, Warington and Sir George Baden-Powell, to members of
his extended family, and to the
genealogy of the Smyth and Warington families.
||Baden-Powell Home Page
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Please write to: Lewis P. Orans
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P. Orans, 2009
Last Modified: 6:50 PM on November 23, 2009