SMITH, George Robert (1793-1869), of Woodside Cottage, Croydon, Surr.
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Family and Educationb. 2 May 1793, 1st s. of George Smith* and Frances Mary, da. of Sir John Parker Mosley, 1st bt., of Ancoats, Lancs. and Rolleston, Staffs. educ. Eton c.1808. m. 4 May 1818, Jane, da. of John Maberly*, 2s. suc. fa. 1836. d. 23 Feb. 1869.
Sheriff, Surr. 1852-3
Treas. E. and W. India Dock Co. 1842-65.
Smith was one of six members of his family returned at the general election of 1831, when he succeeded to his father’s seat for the pocket borough of Midhurst. Like most of his relatives he supported Lord Grey’s ministry, though he did not join Brooks’s Club until 1840. He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and steadily for its details, its passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831. He voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and for its details. Most sources agree that it was he who rose with ‘considerable diffidence’, 23 Feb. 1832, to defend the transfer of Midhurst from schedule A to B. He accepted that the existence of nomination boroughs was ‘against the letter and the spirit of the constitution’, but maintained that the extended franchise would ‘completely and irrevocably destroy’ his family’s interest at Midhurst and make it ‘as independent as any borough in the country’. He divided for the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar., Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May, and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May. He voted with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July, relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., and the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. 1832.
The sacrifice of most of his family’s borough interests to the cause of reform left Smith without a seat at the general election of 1832. He inherited the Selsdon Park estate in Surrey from his father in 1836.1 The following year he unsuccessfully contested Buckinghamshire, declaring that he was ‘still strongly and sincerely attached’ to ‘liberal’ principles. In 1838 the succession to the peerage of his cousin, Robert John Smith*, created a vacancy for him at Chipping Wycombe, but his second stint in the Commons ended in 1841, apparently owing to political differences with his increasingly conservative cousin.2 He was a director of his family’s banking concern at Derby for six years from 1837, and was admitted to the board of their London firm in 1850. He died in February 1869, when a fellow banker and lifelong friend, Samuel Jones Loyd*, Lord Overstone, paid tribute to his ‘gentle and amiable character’.3