Fonds SMIH - Papers of Sir Henry Babington Smith

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Papers of Sir Henry Babington Smith


  • 1833-1942 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

95 boxes

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Henry Babington Smith was born on 29 January 1863, the fifth surviving son of Archibald Smith, a mathematician, and Susan Emma Parker, daughter of Mary Babington and Sir James Parker. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took a BA in 1886 with first classes in parts I and II of the Classical Tripos, and was elected a Fellow of the College in 1889.

On leaving Trinity, Smith embarked on a distinguished career as a civil servant. He held a number of posts, principally of a financial nature, which involved service overseas in India, South Africa, Turkey, and, briefly, the USA, besides a spell at home in the Treasury. He became administrator in the National Bank of Turkey in 1909, was Chairman of the Indian Currency and Finance Commission in the 1920s and a Director of the Bank of England in 1920 He also spent some years in the General Post Office and later chaired several important tribunals and Royal commissions. He was awarded the KCB in 1908.

During the early part of his career, Smith acted as private secretary to the 9th Earl of Elgin, then Viceroy of India. In 1898 he married Elgin's daughter, Lady Elisabeth Bruce. He died in 1923.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

This archive was donated by Mr Bernard Babington Smith and Mrs Elisabeth Lloyd Jones, Sir Henry Babington Smith's son and daughter, in 1976, arriving in two separate deposits. Two dissertations by Sir Henry Babington Smith, now SMIH/3/21-22, were added by Bernard Babington Smith in 1989.

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Scope and content

The archive contains school and University papers 1871-1905, diaries 1881-94, Education Department and Treasury papers 1883-93. Papers relating to India 1891-1904, the Natal finance 1899-1900, the Ottoman public debt 1893-09, the General Post office 1903-09, the National Bank of Turkey 1903-17, the Royal Commission on the Civil Service 1912-15, wartime finance and trade 1915-21, the Indian Exchange and Currency Committee 1914-20 and the Railways Amalgamation Tribunal 1921-23. Correspondence 1873-1923. Papers of Lady Elisabeth Mary Babington Smith 1894-1935. Bruce family correspondence 1861-1938.

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System of arrangement

The archive has been arranged reasonably logically according to functions and aspects of Babington Smith's life; however, references given to each document reflect a box-listing style.

There are three main sections: personal career (SMIH/1-12); official career (SMIH/13-43); and correspondence (SMIH/44-95), comprising correspondence of both Henry and Elisabeth Babington Smith, as well as a small quantity of other material.

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  • Ancient Greek
  • English
  • French
  • Latin
  • Italian

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