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Obituary.

The announcement in another column of the decease of Mr John G. Smith, treasurer to the Southland Education Board, will take many people by surprise, for although he had reached a ripe age yet his wellknown figure was constantly to be seen at his post in the Education Board's office. About a month ago, however, he had to ask for leave of absence in consequence of feeling unwell, and during the past, fortnight he has been confined to his room. The cause of death was rather natural decay than disease. He suffered no pain, and his intelli otual faculties were bright and vigorous to the last. In conversation with his medical auviser and an intimate friend a day or two ago he wa.3 quoting from Burns *nd Hogg with a memory as perfect as that of either of his listeners.

Mr Smith was a native of Tweedside, and as a boy he made rapid progress at school and soon thoroughly mastered the Greek and Latin languages. To these he subsequently added a knowledge of French, German and Italian. He chose the profession of a teacher, and after occupying various responsible positions he was appointed to the headmastership of the parish school of Ednam in Scotland. This position he filled with the utmost success, and it was only on account of ill-health and at the earnest solicitation of a relative that he vacated it and came to New Zealand. He arrived in Invercargill in lSb'4, and although a " stranger in a strange land" (for those on whom he relied had left the town) he put a " stout heart to a stey brae,' 1 and successfully brought up a large family. His first public appointment iv this colony was to the mastership of the Longbush school. Here he enjoyed the pleasures of a rustic life to his heart's content. He next received the appointment of secretary to the Southland Education Board on the separation of this district from Otago when the Education Act of 1878 came into force. About six years ago, owing to the great increase of work, he resigned the secretaryship and had since performed the duties of treasurer to the Board. Mr Smith was not unknown in the literary world, having published a work on the Ancient Manners, Customs, and Amusements of the Scottish Borders, and in 1861 he published a volume of poetry which added to the author's reputation. He was a constant contributor to various periodicals in the Home Country and all the poetry which he wrote in the land of his adoption made its first appearance in the Otago Witness, where it was always welcomed by those from his native land. In 1851 Mr Smith married Miss Mary Waddell, eldest daughter of Mr James Waddell, of Oban. He is survived hy his wife and family, all of whom are giown up. Mr Smith rendered good service to the Southlaud Horticultural Society as a committeeman in bygone years, was often a contributor to its exhibitions and frequently fulfilled to the satisfaction of all the arduous duties of judge. The deceased gertlcman was to his intimate friends a link between the present and past generations. He remembered the Disruption of 1845 and the memorable clay when the ministers, headed by the Rev. Dr Chalmers, gave up their benefices for the sake of their principles, ami entered the Free Church of Scotland. At this time he was an elder of the Established Church at Ednam. Earlier than this event was the passing of the Reform Act of IS3-, which extended the franchise to many of Scotland's yeomanry and citizens. The registration of voters under tiiat Act created a good deal of excitement and interest, and strenuous efforts were made, both by Whig and Tory, to secure the enrolment of the names of those favourable to their respective parties. Mr Smith's name was one of the first enrolled, and he has often interested and amused his circle by recounting the incidents of the first election under that Act. He has now passed away at a ripe old age, leaving behind him, besides his immediate relatives, a large number of friends who sincerely regret his demise. He was a sterling friend, an unassuming educated gentleman, and indeed a grand old man.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ST18910319.2.16

Bibliographic details

Obituary., Southland Times, Issue 11688, 19 March 1891

Word Count
711

Obituary. Southland Times, Issue 11688, 19 March 1891

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