Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth - Encyclopedia

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SIR WARINGTON WILKINSON SMYTH (1817-1890), British geologist, was born at Naples on the 26th of August 1817, his father, Admiral W. H. Smyth (1788-1865), being at the time engaged in the Admiralty Survey of the Mediterranean. He was educated at Westminster and Bedford schools, and afterwards at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1839. Having gained a travelling scholarship he spent more than four years in Europe, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, paying great attention to mineralogy and mining, examining coalfields, metalliferous mines and salt-works, and making acquaintance with many distinguished geologists and mineralogists. On his return to England in 1844 he was appointed mining geologist on the Geological Survey, and in 1851 lecturer at the School of Mines, a post which he held until 1881 when he relinquished the chair of mineralogy but continued as professor of mining. In later years he became chief mineral inspector to the Office of Woods and Forests, and also to the Duchy of Cornwall. He was elected F.R.S. in 1858. He became president of the Geological Society of London in 1866-1868, and in 1879 he was chairman of a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into accidents in mines, the work in connexion with which continued until 1886. He contributed sundry papers to the Memoirs of the Geological Survey, the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society and the Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall. He was author also of A Year with the Turks (1854), and of A Treatise on Coal and Coal-mining (1867). He was knighted in 1887. He died in London on the 19th of June 1890, and was buried at St Erth, not far from his country home at Marazion in Cornwall.

A portrait and some reminiscences of W. W. Smyth will be found in the Memoir of Sir A. C. Ramsay (1895), by Sir A. Geikie.

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