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John Mark Frederick Smith

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General Sir John Mark Frederick Smith (1790-1874), K.H., R.E., F.R.S.,

1790 Born in London[1]

Served in the army for many years, having an extensive military career

1840 Appointed inspector-general of railways; examined and reported on the London and Birmingham Railway and other principal railways before they were opened to the public.

1841 Smith, with Professor Barlow, made a report to the Treasury on railway communication between London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. Smith resigned the appointment of inspector-general at the end of 1841

1841 Associate of the Inst Civil Engineers

1842 Director of the royal engineer establishment at Chatham.

1845 With Professors Airy and Barlow, appointed as the commission to inquire whether future parliamentary railway bills should provide for a uniform gauge, and whether existing railways should also adopt this gauge.

1846 Appointed commissioner to report on the various railway projects which proposed to locate a terminus in the London area.

1851 He was moved from Chatham to be commanding royal engineer of the southern district, with headquarters at Portsmouth.

1852 Smith was elected Conservative MP for Chatham, but in March 1853 was unseated on petition.

1855 Appointed to the command of the Royal Engineers at Aldershot.

1856 Appointed public examiner and inspector of the Military College of the East India Company at Addiscombe.

1858 A member of the royal commission on harbours of refuge

1874 Died. [2]


1875 Obituary [3]

GENERAL SIR JOHN MARK FREDERIC SMITH: K.H., R.E., F.R.S., the son of the late Major-General Sir J. F. Sigismund Smith, K.C,H., R.A., and grand-nephew of Field Marshal Baron Von Kalkrreicht, Commander-in-Chief of the Prussian Army, was born at the Manor House, Paddington (then the only house there), on the 11th of January, 1790.

He entered the Army as second lieutenant of the Royal Engineers, on the 11th of December, 1805; and, after passing through the various grades, finally became General on the 3rd of August, 1863, and was the senior Colonel Commandant of the corps of Royal Engineers. He thus held commissions from four sovereigns. He served in Sicily from 1807-12.

In 1809 he was at the siege of Ischia and the capture of that island, and of Procida, in the Bay of Naples. He was also at the capture of Zante and Cephalonia.

In 1810, in the action before the investment of the fortress of Santa Maura, he was deputy assistant quartermaster- general, and at the siege and capture of the fortress he served as an officer of Royal Engineers.

He was Inspector-General of Railways till November 1841; and in that capacity he examined and reported on the London and Birmingham, and the other principal railways before they were opened to the public; besides being on several occasions a Royal Commissioner on railways, harbours, &c.

In 1845 he was Chairman of the Commission to Inquire into the Gauge of Railways, and, in 1846, one of the Commissioners appointed to investigate the various projects for establishing railway termini within or in the immediate vicinity of the metropolis.

In 1841 he made a report, in conjunction with the late Professor Barlow, to the Lords of the Treasury, respecting railway communication between London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.

He was the commanding Engineer of the London district in 1830-1, during which period he made frequent reports for the information of his late Majesty William IV.; he commanded the Royal Engineers at Portsmouth in 1831, and afterwards at Chatham and Aldershot.

He was M.P. for Chatham, in the Conservative interest, from 1852-3, and again from 1857-65; was the author of a translation of Marshal Marmont’s work on the “Turkish Empire,” with military and political notes ; and was appointed, in March 1834, Gentleman Usher of the Privy Chamber, which office he held to the time of his death.

He was widely known and greatly respected, having been in the Army just sixty-nine years, and connected with the Court for more than forty years.

Sir Frederic Smith was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 23rd of February, 1841.

He died on the 20th of November, 1874, at his residence in Pembridge Villas, Notting Hill, and was buried at the Kensal Green Cemetery.


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