Kate Bint's Autograph Album
Sydney George Smith (1879 – 1943)
was a New Zealand politician of the Liberal Party and then
the National Party, and a cabinet minister.
He was Minister of Education in the Liberal-Reform coalition
Government of New Zealand from 1934 to 1935, and was also
Minister of Labour.
He represented the Taranaki electorate from 1918 to 1925. At the
1918 contest, Sydney Smith was an Independent Labour candidate
and in 1922 a Liberal Labour candidate. In 1925 he stood
unsuccessfully for New Plymouth, but in 1928 he was successful,
and he returned to Parliament until he was defeated in 1938 by
Labour candidate Frederick Frost.
He was a son of the Taranaki Member
of Parliament Edward Metcalf Smith. He worked in the New
Zealand Railways for 20 years, and for 13 years held office in
the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants
Edward Metcalf Smith was born on
the 10 January 1839. His birthplace is now believed to have been
in Fenny Compton Warwickshire, rather than Cradley or Bradley as
had been previously suggested.
He is also believed to have been the son of Charles METCALF,
Agricultural Labourer, and his wife Maria Joiner, rather than
Charles William Smith, a monumental sculptor, who it is now
believed was a relative of the family.
All the family stories agree that EMS was brought up by an
aunt after having been orphaned (no official adoptions at that
time) - just haven't pinned her/them down yet , but have tracked
down a William Smith Sculptor, also listed as Marble and Stone
Mason in Birmingham at around the 1850- 1860's who might be
related in some way to the stories about Lichfield Cathedral
work, and maybe the family.
In one census he is in Cregor or Creagor St which some of
the Metcalfs or was it Halls (William John Hall, EMS uncle) were
He began work in the local iron industry and several years later
became apprentice gunsmith at the Royal Small Arms factories of
London and Enfield and then at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
On qualifying, Edward Smith was
appointed garrison armourer to the New Zealand field forces. He
arrived in Auckland on the African in 1861. There, on 24
December that year, he married 15-year-old Mary Ann Golding,
born March 1846, the daughter of Nicholas Golding, an army
African', of Shaw Saville's escort lines, sailed from Gravesend
on the 31st January 1861, for Auckland direct and arrived in
early June. She took a large qnantity of powder and other
military stores; five officers, and a company of men of the
commissariat and hospital corps, with their wives and families;
Two of the officers had sailed in the ship to join the 67th
regiment then serving in New Zealand.
In 1860 about the time of the
outbreak of the first of the later Maori Wars, the strength of
the British forces was down to approximately a thousand men.
These troops, consisting of the 65th Regiment and detachments of
artillery and engineers, were scattered in five different
stations, at Auckland, Wellington, Napier, Wanganui, and New
By the end of 1865, the Imperial
forces in the colony totalled about 10,000 men, consisting of
the 12th, 14th, 18th, 40th, 43rd, 50th, 57th, 65th, 68th, and
70th Regiments, two batteries of Field Artillery, and Royal
Engineers and Military Train.
Smith went back to England in 1864 but returned soon after to live in
Taranaki with his wife and her family. He established a
gun-smithing business in Devon Street, New Plymouth, and also
accepted the position of armourer to the Taranaki Militia and
Taranaki Rifle Volunteers. After several years he took up a
similar post in the Defence Department at Wellington.
Edward Smith's association with the
steel industry in his early years stimulated his long-term quest
to found a viable iron industry using Taranaki ironsand; he was
nicknamed 'Ironsand' as a consequence. In 1868 he and his
partners, Decimus Atkinson and John Perry, announced an
experimental process for smelting ironsand. Smith continued
refining the process during his years with the Defence
Department in Wellington, but in 1873 he resigned his position
to return to Taranaki.
There he founded his major venture, the
Titanic Iron and Steel Company; the company's smelter was built
at Te Henui, New Plymouth, in the mid 1870s. However, the
translation from experimentation to commercial viability was
never fully achieved - the process was too costly for there to
be a profit - and the company was wound up in 1881.
Nevertheless, Smith continued his boosting of the industry and
became involved as a consultant in a smelting venture at
Onehunga, Auckland, in 1892. In 1896 and again in 1901 he went
to Britain in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain support for
further research and development.
Smith entered politics in the 1880s. He unsuccessfully contested
the New Plymouth electorate for the Liberals in 1884 and in
1887, and was finally returned as MHR for Taranaki in 1890. He
held this seat, except for the 1896--99 term, until his death in
1907. Smith was remembered for his unconventional attire -
frock-coat, wide waistcoat, large buttonhole and tam-o'-shanter
(when out of doors) - and his habit of concluding speeches with
comic lines of verse, sometimes of his own composition.
Edward Smith died on 19 April 1907 as the result of injuries
received after he fell from a railway carriage in New Plymouth.
He was survived by seven sons and three daughters. His wife Mary
Ann died in New Plymouth on 31 August 1923. Their son, Sydney
George Smith, had by then become MP for Taranaki.
Photo of Edward Metcalf Smith's Family
Back Row: Samuel James, William Joseph, Elizabeth Jane, John
Middle Row: Anna Maria, EMS and Daisy, MaryAnn and
Herbert, Edward Nicholas, Emma Sarah
Front Row: Thomas Percy, Leonard
Lichfield, Sydney George
Lorna Hazel Smith
Lorna became a WAAF in 1940, at the age of 17. She was drawn to
the air force because of her father's flying contacts. Sydney
George Smith, Minister of Education in the mid-1930s, was a
friend of famous aviator Charles Kingsford Smith.
At that time, Kingsford Smith was
doing his pioneering flights around New Plymouth in his plane,
the Southern Cross, and Lorna's dad was offered free rides. "He
was too scared, so he sent his children instead, which of course
we adored," Lorna says.
Later, her father discovered what he
was missing. "He said if he had known flying was like that we
wouldn't have had those trips." see ..
LORNA SMITH'S STORY
Harry Allman Smith
Youngest brother, Flight Lieutenant
Harry Smith, piloted bombers in Africa and later flew with the
Chindits dropping supplies over the Burma line. A Chindit was
the name given to a member of the Allied forces behind the
Japanese lines in Burma from 1943-45.
Raymond Sydney Smith
Her elder brother, Major Ray Smith, was in charge of B Company
in the 26th Battalion, which took part in the Battle of Sangro
"He was killed on Christmas Eve Day, 1943," Lorna says. "He was
shot through the back of the head by a sniper. I understand it
was at a little place called Castel Frantano."
Lorna relates that her brother's batman (attendant) rescued his
body from no-man's land. "He was given a proper burial in Italy,
but when the (New Zealand) War Graves Commission collected
bodies from here, there and everywhere, his grave could not be
found. So his name has been added to the names at Cassino."
|THE 1920 ROYAL TOUR BY THE
PRINCE OF WALES
was extremely popular; crowds flocked to see him. In 29 days, he
visited at least 42 places, from Auckland to Invercargill,
shaking hands, inspecting troops, visiting soldiers’ hospitals,
attending school children parades, speaking and listening at
formal welcomes and farewells, watching sports events, waving
from railway carriages, dancing at balls, and much more.
All through his visit he was writing
long letters back to his lover in London, Mrs Freda Dudley Ward.
He had met her in 1918, and was besotted. The long expedition
away from her was very painful to him and the letters are full
of expressions of how much he misses her.
particular interest to New Zealand are his detailed descriptions
of the places he visited, the duties he performed, and the
people he met. There were some things he liked, but generally he
had an extremely miserable time. In one letter he wrote ‘It is a
rotten way of seeing a fine country… Returned soldiers &
shrieking crowds & school children are all I shall remember from
my visit my beloved, though I might add drunkinos as half the
men are overflowing with scotch at most of the places I’ve been
Governor General Lord Liverpool
…the Liverpools are the absolute
limit beloved one; he is too hopelessly pompous & impossible
for words while she is so shy that she hardly ever utters &
I've given up even trying to make conversation!! (25 April,
Todays stunts altho terribly
boring and irritating would anyway have been a little
interesting if it had'nt poured in sheets till 3.00pm. I had
to go through long and tedious Maori ceremonies at both the
native villages & had to submit to being made to look the
most hopeless B.F dolled up in mats & other things while
inane Maories danced & made weird noises at me!! Some of the
Maori women sang and danced quite nicely tho they spoilt
their stunt by revolting me by kissing my hand when I shook
hands with them all. (28 April, Rotorua)
The Imperial Hotel, Wanganui
Such a pompous address my
beloved but its really a miserable hole; no electric light &
the hotel boilers elected to burst before dinner so no baths
& a very nasty dinner!! But we are all rather peeved tonight
as we have had a desperately trying day…. I'm frozen as
there's no heating in my room & I'm sitting huddled up in an
overcoat! (4 May, Wanganui)
Smith with the Prince of Wales
Dances and New Zealand woman
We have just returned from the
most priceless funny party that one could imagine, there
wasn't a single woman who had the least idea how to dance &
the squeejee band and the floor and everything tho we stuck
it out like heroes until the supper & tried to lug those
wads of ham faced women around altho we were all feeling
very weary and thoroughly peeved. But perhaps its unkind to
talk about these poor peoples gallant efforts to entertain
us in this way but we've been suffering under these ghastly
sordid entertainments for over a fortnight now!! (11 May,
The welcoming crowds
‘…a most marvelous welcome here
in the capital of the Dominion the crowds were so dense that
I had to stand up in the car the whole way!!… for once I was
gratified and felt quite the cheap hero!!… we managed to
keep fairly cheery despite never one hour free from returned
soldiers and school children!! Christ how cadets, boy scouts
and school children and their cheers and “God saves” and
“God blesses” get on my nerves… ‘(5 May, Wellington)
The West Coast
‘It hasn’t all been easy this
week on the W. coast as its very bolshie altho there were no
incidents!! A few of the returned soldiers leaders were
rather truculent sweetheart (tho. not the men themselves) &
we had to be very tactful as of course the most important
item of the trip are the returned men & all would be over if
I got wrong with them! Then the mayor of Christchurch is an
absolute wrong un…. But then he’s a socialist “of the
people, by the people, for the people” & worst of all he
started talking politics and was most offensive.’ (14 May
‘Christ! how I loathe and despise my
bloody family…But if H.M thinks he is going to alter me by
insulting you he’s making just about the biggest mistake of his
silly useless life; all he has done is infuriate me and make me
despise him…’ (22 May, Lyttleton)
I think maybe the UK was
better off with him gone and George VI & Elizabeth in charge
of the throne. Stephanie
I agree - He would have
made a lousy King. Tom
See Stephanie's Family
Corrections and Criticisms all very welcome!