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Sir Warington W. Smyth, F.R.S

Nature volume 42, page 205 | Download Citation



MINING has suffered an irreparable loss by the death of Sir Warington Smyth, which occurred suddenly at his house in Inverness Terrace on the 19th inst. He was the eldest son of Admiral W. H. Smyth, F.R.S., and was born at Naples 73 years ago. He was educated at Westminster and Bedford Schools and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he exhibited great skill as an oarsman, being one of the winning University crew on the Thames in 1839. In that year he graduated, and obtained a travelling fellowship which enabled him to devote more than four years to a journey through the chief mining districts of Europe, and thus to lay the foundation of that practical knowledge which subsequently made him the greatest British authority on mining matters. Continental travelling in 1839 was by no means the easy matter it is now, and his journey through the Harz, Saxony, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and Asia Minor, was not devoid of risk and adventure. As a result of his travels through the European and Asiatic dominions of the Sultan, he published in 1854 a work entitled “A Year with the Turks.” In subsequent years, he visited during his vaca tions the more important mines of France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Norway. His official career began in 1844, when he was appointed by Sir Henry De la Beche to a post on the Geological Survey, and while holding this position he explored and geologically mapped the metalliferous districts of Devon and Cornwall, North Wales, and Ireland, and the coal-fields of Lancashire and Yorkshire, North Staffordshire and Derbyshire. In 1845 he joined the Geological Society, and in 1866 was elected President of that body. For the last 17 years he has acted as foreign secretary, in which post his rare linguis tic powers proved of great service to the Society. On the foundation of the Royal School of Mines in 1851, he was appointed the first lecturer on mining and mineralogy. On the reorganization of the School in 1881, he gave up the Chair of Mineralogy, but acted as Professor of Mining until his death. He held the office of inspector of the mines in the Duchy of Cornwall, and in 1857 he was also appointed comptroller of all the mineral properties be longing to the Crown. It would be tedious to enumerate the long list of Royal Commissions and International Exhibitions with which Sir Warington was prominently associated. His report as Secretary of the Jury on the mining industry at the Exhibition of 1862 is a model of what such a work should be, and to his energy on the Council of the Inventions Exhibition of 1885 the success of the mining section was largely due.

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