Sir Gerard Smith

Lt Colonel Sir Gerard Smith 1839-1920

Gerard Smith was born on December 12th 1839, the son of Martin T Smith and his wife Louisa (nee Ridley). His father was a politician, banker and a Director of the East India Company. He was educated at Eton and joined the Scots Fusilier Regiment serving in Canada in 1863-4, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

A photograph of him taken around this time shows him to be bald with a beHe became High Sheriff of Hull in 1880. Between 1883 and 1885 he was the Liberal M P for High Wycombe before joining the Unionists and unsuccessfully standing for other seats in 1885.

The family are recorded at Tranby Lodge, Hessle in 1882, when he was a JP and Deputy Lieutenant, and at Tranby Hall (which he had renamed), Hessle in the 1891 census, living there with six servants.

From 1895 to 1900 Smith was the Governor General of Western Australia and was awarded a KCMG. Here his duties were mostly social and ceremonial. He returned from Australia and lived in Egham, Surrey becoming a Groom in Waiting to Queen Victoria. His return from Australia came after he was sued in the Supreme Court after a hotel he was involved in went into liquidation. He seems to have alienated sections of the Western Australian population whilst being well liked by others and he was invited to return home in 1900.

In 1871 (4th May) Gerard married Isabella Chatelaine Hamilton and they had five children; two sons and three daughters. Three years later he retired from the army and joined the family banking firm Samuel Smith, Bros & Co as a partner, which had opened in Hull in 1784.

Gerard Smith became a leading business figure in Hull and was one of the main promoters of the Hull Barnsley and West Riding Junction Dock Railway Co. He was the Chairman of the company and became a popular figure with songs being written about him as he said that “the promised land of commerce lay within easy reach”. As Chairman of the Railway Company he cut the first sod on 15th January 1881 and declared the Railway open on 16th July 1885.