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Times (London)
4 March 1921


Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Smith, K.C.B., died in Edinburgh on Wednesday, aged 85. He will be best remembered as Commissioner for Police in the City of London, to which position he was promoted in 1890, having been Chief Superintendent of that police force from 1885. He resigned the Commissionership in 1901.

Born on December 15, 1835, Smith was very much a "son of the manse," his father, grandfather, great grandfather, and great great grandfather having all been ministers of the Church of Scotland. His grandfather was minister of the parish of Galston, in Ayrshire, and was well known to Burns. Burns mentioned Dr. Smith in his poem "The Holy Fair," apparently intending it as a compliment. Dr. Smith thought it otherwise. Burns, highly indignant at being misunderstood, replied vigorously in "The Kirk's Alarm," and the two never became reconciled. In 1910 Sir Henry published his reminiscences under the title of "From Constable to Commissioner." In it he mentioned that he was a cousin once removed of Robert Louis Stevenson. but did not add much to our knowledge of him.

Smith was educated at the Edinburgh Academy, the head of which was the Rev. John Hannah, who, when Smith's time came to leave, told him that he thought too much of himself. He was intended for a business career, and qualified as an accountant. During the 16 years he spent with the City of London police Sir Henry came in touch with a number of murder mysteries and trials of famous criminals, which he dealt with in his book in an informal and colloquial manner. None of these absorbed him more than the problem of the Jack the Ripper murders, although only one was committed within the City boundaries. He put nearly one third of the City police into plain clothes in his efforts to solve the mystery. He was created a Companion of the Bath in 1896, receiving a Knight Commandership of the same Order the following year - his first intimation of this latter honour being when he read the news in The Times. He was very fond of shooting and deer stalking.

The funeral will take place at 2.30 today in the Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh.

Related pages:
  Henry Smith
       Dissertations: A Mystery Play : Police Opinions on Jack the Ripper 
       Message Boards: Henry Smith 
       Police Officials: Henry Smith 
       Ripper Media: From Constable to Commissioner 
       Ripper Media: From Constable to Commissioner: Chapter 16 
       Ripper Media: Police Work From Within