The Huxley Building.
Original home of the Royal School of Mines

Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth

SIR WARINGTON WILKINSON SMYTH, (1817-1890), British geologist, was born at Naples on the 26th of August 1817, his father, Admiral W. H. Smyth (1788-1865), being at the time engaged in the Admiralty Survey of the Mediterranean. He was educated at Westminster and Bedford schools, and afterwards at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1839. Having gained a travelling scholarship he spent more than four years in Europe, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, paying great attention to mineralogy and mining, examining coalfields, metalliferous mines and salt-works, and making acquaintance with many distinguished geologists and mineralogists. On his return to England in 1844 he was appointed mining geologist in the Geological Survey, and in 1851 lecturer at the School of Mines, a post which he held until 1881 when he relinquished the chair of mineralogy but continued as professor of mining. In later years he became chief mineral inspector to the Office of Woods and Forests, and also to the Duchy of Cornwall. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (F.R.S.). in 1858. He became president of the Geological Society of London in 1866-1868, and in 1879 he was chairman of a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into accidents in mines, the work in connection with which continued until 1886. He contributed sundry papers to the Memoirs of the Geological Survey, the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society and the Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall. He was author also of  “A Year with the Turks” (1854), and of  “A Treatise on Coal and Coal-Mining” (1867). He was knighted in 1887. He died in London on the 19th of June 1890, and was buried at St Erth, not far from his country home at Marazion in Cornwall.

A portrait and some reminiscences of W. W. Smyth will be found in the “Memoir of Sir A. C. Ramsay” (1895), by Sir A. Geikie.

From the 11th Edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910-1911

Adapted from: "Descendant Report for Benjamin Smyth" prepared by Robin Baden Clay (11th July 2002):

Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth was born 26 Aug 1817 in Naples and died 19 Jun 1890 at age 72. He received his MA at Cambridge where he was in the winning Boat Race crew in 1839. Smyth went on to study geology in Germany; spent year in Turkey in 1844; was lecturer and then Professor of Mineralogy at the Royal School of Mines. He later became Inspector of Crown Minerals and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).

His spouse was Anna Maria Antonia Storey-Maskelyne. They were married in 1864 for 26 years. She was the daughter of Anthony Mervyn Storey-Maskelyne, MA, FRS, JP, DL Brecon of Basset Down, Wiltshire by Margaret, only daughter of Nevil Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, DD, FRS.

Brothers 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):

  1. Elizabeth Smyth (1816-1820?).

  2. 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.

  3. Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900). Astronomer Royal of Scotland.

  4. Elizabeth Anne Smyth (1819-1821?)

  5. Jane Phoebe Smyth (1821-1842).

  6. Henrietta Grace Smyth (1824-1914). Mother of Robert Baden-Powell.

  7. 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.

  8. Josephine B. Smyth (1826-1847).

  9. 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.

  10. Caroline Mary Smyth (1834-1859).

  11. Georgiana Rosetta Smyth (1835-1923).

  A Year with the Turks (1854). Having gained a traveling scholarship, W. W. Smyth spent more than four years in Europe, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt. His travels through the Ottoman Empire provide fascinating insights into the Turks at the time of the "Eastern Question" in Europe and some years before the Crimean War with Russia. Preface and Chapter I.
  Full text of A Year with the Turks (1854). From Google Books.
    Full text of "A Treatise on Coal and Coal Mining" (London, 1867) by Warington Wilkerson Smyth, M.A., F.R.S., President of the Geologic Society, CHief Inspector of the Mines of the Crown and of the Duchy of Cornwall. From Google Books.
  The Royal School of Mines — 150 Years of Excellence. Written by the current Dean of the School, this articles celebrates an important anniversary. The portrait to the left is that of T. H. Huxley, first Dean of the RSM and a major figure in Victorian scientific circles. He was a significant proponent of theories of Charles Darwin.
  Sir Warington Wilkinson 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.
B-P’s Mother: Henrietta Grace Baden-Powell, 1824-1914. Links to Admiral W. H. Smyth (B-P’s grandfather) and other members of the Smyth family including: Charles Piazzi Smyth, Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth, H. Warington Smyth, General Sir Nevill Maskelyne Smyth and Nevil Maskelyne.
  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.
  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, 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 Khartoum.
  Nevil Maskelyne, Fifth Astronomer Royal was grandfather to B-P’s Uncle Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth, brother of Henrietta Grace Smyth Baden-Powell.
Sir Henry Augustus Smyth 
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.
  Baden-Powell Family History. A series of links based on the research of Robin Baden Clay, a grandson of Baden-Powell. They are 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 as well as to the genealogy of the Smyth and Warington families.
  Baden-Powell Home Page

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