Major General Otway Francis Smithers

Author: Doug Larsen and Brian Sylvester
Date published: 01/09/2018
© The Morning Post: Harts Army List of 1888: London Gazette: Reading Mercury: Berkshire Chronicle: Newbury Weekly News: Mrs Pattison

Click to enlarge
Death Certificate
©General Register Office
Death Certificate
Click to enlarge
1881 Census
©Census and Electoral Rolls
1881 Census
Click to enlarge
Obverse of medal similar to that issued to Major-General O F Smithers
Obverse of medal similar to that issued to Major-General O F Smithers
Click to enlarge
reverse of amedal similar to that issued to Major-General O F Smithers
reverse of amedal similar to that issued to Major-General O F Smithers
Click to enlarge
copy of photograph from 'The History of Freemasonry in Hyderabad (Deccan)’
©'The History of Freemasonry in Hyderabad (Deccan)’, by J.D.B. Gribble (1910),
copy of photograph from 'The History of Freemasonry in Hyderabad (Deccan)’
Click to enlarge

©copy of photograph from 'The History of Freemasonry in Hyderabad (Deccan)’



"HIRSCH - SMITHERS - On the 17th inst., at St. Saviour’s Haverstock-hill, by the Rev. S. Russell Davies M.A., late vicar of St. Stephen’s, Lewisham, brother-in-law of the bride, assisted by the Rev. - Herklots, M.A., vicar of St. Saviour’s, Sabina, daughter of J.F. Hirsch, Esq., of The Manor Hall, St. John’s-wood park, to Otway Francies Smithers, major in the Madras Staff Corps.  No cards.”

From THE MORNING POST, Thursday 19th February, 1874.



Being a History of the 2nd Battalion, Madras Pioneers

Lieutenant-Colonel H.F. MURLAND.

"SMITHERS, Otway Francis:— Ensign, 20th January 1850: Captain, 11th October 1861.

This officer arrived at Madras on the 2nd March 1850, and was attached for duty to the 15th N.I.
He was posted to the 4th in January 1851, and in 1853 proceeded to Europe on sick leave.
On 15th November, 1853, he was posted to the newly-raised 3rd Madras European Regiment at Bellary.
The next reference to him which I can trace, is 1865, when he was attached to the 4th for duty from 1st November.
In 1868, he was officiating Quartermaster of the regiment.
In 1878, he was serving in the 14th N.I., as a Lieutenant-Colonel."

* From: Hart’s Army List of 1888:-

Page 611:  Major Generals Retired on Full or Retired Pay or on a Pension.

SMITHERS, Otway Francis (718) Lt. Col.
Madras Staff Corps. Cornet, 2nd Lieut. or Ensign -  20 Jan. 50
Lieut. -  16 July 55
Captain -  20 Jan. 62
Major -  20 Jan. 70
Lieut.Colonel -  20 Jan. 76
Colonel -  20 Jan. 81
Major General -   4 July 84

Page 655:  General Officers Retired on Full or Retired Pay or on a Pension - War Services.

Major General O.F. Smithers was employed on field service in the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories in suppression of the Indian mutiny from 6th February 1858; present at the affairs of Jeegungh, Kobraiu, battle of Banda, and surrender of Kirwee (Medal with Clasp).

* The Banda and Kirwee Prize Money was the subject of a long case in the British Admiralty Court during the 1860s. See:-

* From THE LONDON GAZETTE, July 11, 1884

To be Major-General

Lieutenant-Colonel and Brevet Colonel Otway Francies Smithers, of the Madras Staff Corps.

Dated 4th July, 1884.


The Indian Mutiny Medal was a campaign medal approved in 1858, for issue to officers and men of British and Indian units who served in operations in suppression of the Indian Mutiny. 

On 5th November, 1991, the following appeared as Lot 61 in the sale of Dix Noonan Web: Medals, 16 Bolton St., Piccadilly, London W1J 8BQ …

"INDIAN MUTINY 1857-58, 1 clasp, Central India (Lieut. O.F. Smithers, 3rd Madrs. Eurpn. Regt.) with silver ribbon brooch, dark toned, extremely fine."

The Footnote contains his service, as shown above, plus “Smithers saw no further war service and retired with the rank of Major-General on 4th July, 1884.”

The Hammer Price was £250.


Otway Smithers was initiated into St. John’s Lodge No. 434 which meets to this day in Secunderabad, Hyderabad, India, on 1st June 1863, taking his 2nd and 3rd degrees on 6th July and 3rd August, respectively. He was listed as a ‘Captain, 3rd Europeans’.
In 'The History of Freemasonry in Hyderabad (Deccan)’, by J.D.B. Gribble (1910), we learn he was made worshipful master of the lodge on 25th June, 1866, but later - in 1871 - he was ‘ordered away’.
The on-linebook includes his photograph (a little overdressed!) but sadly of a very poor quality.
From his obituary (see below), we learn 'He had held high rank as a Freemason during his residence in India, and although not a member of either of the Newbury Lodges, he had on one or two occasions attended the installation meetings.'


The following is from “NEWBURY ROAD BY ROAD” by R.B. Tubb, reproduced here with his kind permission.

Under “Mount Close” (a cul-de-sac off Priory Road) we learn from the 1891 census …

“The Mount …. the occupants were Major-General Otway Smithers (retired) and his wife Sara, their four children (Hester, Harry, Leonard and Lilian), Emily Hirsch (sister-in-law) and two servants.

“Major-General Smithers had served in India, three of his children having been born there.”



DEATH OF MAJOR-GENERAL SMITHERS. —We deeply regret announce the decease of Major-General Smithers, which occurred on Wednesday at his residence, the Mount, Newtown-road, after a brief but severe illness.

The deceased gentleman, who had resided in Newbury for some years, and was held in high esteem by a wide circle of friends, had devoted his leisure in promoting the interests of many of our local institutions. In politics he was a staunch Conservative, and officiated as Ruling Councillor of the Falkland Habitation of the Primrose League until its amalgamation with the Newbury Habitation. He evinced great interest in Church work in St. John's district, as well in the Newbury District Hospital, the Grammar School, the University Extension lectures, and the like.

He had for some years taken an active part in the local management of the business of the National Deposit Friendly Society, and was Vice-Chairman of the Berks and Hants Branch Committee of that Institution, as well as being member of the General Committee.

He had held high rank as a Freemason during his residence in India, and although not member of either of the Newbury Lodges, he had on one or two occasions attended the installation meetings.

The gallant officer was second son of the late Dr. Smithers, of Greenwich, and having obtained a commission in the 108th Regiment, served through the Indian Mutiny with distinction, and gained the medal and clasp. Later on he held a command in the Madras Presidency.

Latterly he had been in somewhat impaired health, but no serious consequences were apprehended, and last week he was as active and apparently well as usual. Unfortunately, however, he was poorly on Saturday, but still able to attend service at St. John's Church on Sunday. The symptoms became more serious Monday, and, despite medical skill, succumbed on Wednesday.

The intelligence of his death caused deep regret, and much sympathy with his widow and family has been expressed. His decease is a distinct loss to the town. The funeral will take place the Cemetery this (Saturday) afternoon at three o'clock.

READING MERCURY  Saturday 02 April 1892

DEATH OF MAJOR-GENERAL SMITHERS.—We deeply regret to announce after an illness of but a few days, the death of this gentleman, who resided at the Mount. The ultimate cause of death was peritonitis.

The deceased, in his military career, passed through the campaign of the Indian Mutiny, and wore the honours of that memorial time.

The general has resided at Newbury for several years, and took more than ordinary interest in local institutions. He was in his sixty-fourth year, and was the second son of the late Dr Smithers of Greenwich. The funeral takes place this day (Saturday)

BERKSHIRE CHRONICLE  Saturday 02 April 1892


* THE FUNERAL OF MAJOR GENERAL SMITHERS, whose decease we announced in our last issue, took place on Saturdayafternoon in Newbury Cemetery. Prior to interment, the body was taken into St. John's Church, where the deceased was a sidesman. The mournful cortege was met at the by the Vicar (Rev. R. Dunn), who proceeded up the aisle reading the opening sentences of the burial service. Psalm XC was chanted by the choir, and the Vicar read the lesson, followed by the singing of the hymn "Days and moments quickly flying", and whilst the coffin, which was covered with beautiful wreaths and crosses, was being removed, the organist played the Dead March in Saul

The procession was then re-formed and slowly wended its way to the Cemetery, where the remainder of the service was read. On the coffin was a brass plate with the following inscription:- 
Born May 16, 1829 
Died March 30 1892 

The mourners were:- Messrs Bernard, Harry, and Leonard Smithers (sons), Mr F.O. Smithers, (brother), Mr. A. Hirsch (brother-in-law), Messrs. Collier and Alfred Smithers (nephews), and Mr. Russell Davies (nephew). The Misses Smithers were present in the church during the funeral service. Amongst those present in church and at the graveside were:- Sir Alexander Arbuthnot, K.C.S.I., Admiral Herbert, Sir Francis Scott, the Rector of Newbury (Rev. E.I. Gardiner), Rev. W. Pheasant, Rev. J. Atkins, Rev., John Pate, the Mayor of Newbury (Mr Councillor A. Jackson), General Maunsell, Captain Wood, Mr. R. Birch, Mr Brice Bunny, Mr. Alderman Absalom, Mr. A.C. Bazett, Mr. J. Morrison, Mr. Hopson, Mr G.J. Cosburn (representing the National Deposit Friendly Society),Mr. F. Everett, Mr. J. Hiscock, Mr. W. Hawkes, Mr. Walter Church, Mr. W. Cordrey, and many others.
The following sent wreaths:- The Widow, five children, Sir Francis and Lady Scott, Rev. R Dunn, Mrs. Vandeleur, Mr. F. Smithers (London), Mrs Atkins, Miss Constance Hirsch, Oscar and Mabel Hirsch, Miss Hirsch (London), Mr. A F. Hirsch (London), Miss Austin, Mrs. Wood, Mr. Morrison, Mrs. Corey (London), Mrs. Bailey (London), Mr. and Mrs. Bingham, Mrs. Hicks, Mr. and Mrs. William Holding, Miss Lawson (Ealing), Mr. and Mrs. F. Everett, Mr. J. Gilbert, &c.
The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. George Wintle, of Northbrook Street. 

At the close of Sunday evening's service at St. John's Church, the organist (Mr. J.W. Vickers) played the Dead March in Saul, the congregation remaining standing.


* THE LATE MAJOR-GENERAL SMITHERS. —The funeral of this lamented gentleman took place the cemetery on Saturday. The first portion of the service was said at the parish church of St John, where the deceased attended. The service was choral, and the vicar the Rev R. Dunn officiated. The hymn “Days and moments quickly flying” was sung.

The breast plate of the coffin contained the following inscription, “Otway Francis Smithers, born May 16th 1829 ; died March 30th 1892.” The coffin was covered with lovely wreaths, received from the widow, five children, Sir Francis and Lady Scott, Rev R. Dunn, Mrs Vandeleur, Mr F. Smithers, (London), Mrs Russell Davies (London), Miss Caw (Liverpool), Mrs Atkins, Miss Constance Hirsch, Oscar and Mabel Hirsch. Miss Hirsch (London) A. F. Hirsch (London) Miss Austin, Mrs Wood, Morrison, Mrs Corey (London), Mrs Bailey (London) Mr and Mrs Bingham. Mrs Hicks, and Mrs W. Holding, Miss Lawson (Ealing), Mr and Mrs F. Everett, Mr J. Gilbert, &c.

The mourners were Messrs Barnard, Harry, and Leonard Smithers, sons, Mr F. O. Smithers, brother, Mr Hirsch, brother-in-law, Messrs Collins and Wilfred Smithers, nephews, and Russell Davies, nephew. There were also a large number of the friends of the deceased in the Church. At the grave the service was concluded by the vicar.

Mr. Wintle conducted the funeral arrangements.

On Sunday last, reference was made to the death of the deceased, and in the evening the Dead March in Saul was played as the concluding voluntary.



Mrs. Patterson - page 66. Location Ch 6 (D)
Inscription: “ILMO / Major General / Otway Francis SMITHERS / born 16th. May 1829, died 30th. March 1892.
O.F. Smithers was born on 16th May, 1829 at Greenwich to parents WILLIAM COLLIER SMITHERS and AMELIA.
He married SARA SABINA MARGUERITA ANNA HIRSCH (1849 - 1939 ), born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands: she died in Kensington 19/1/1939.
And they list children as: HARRY OTWAY HIRSCH SMITHERS ( 1878 - 1941 ), died 5/9/1941 at Arlesford, Hants.: and LILIAN SABINA HIRSCH SMITHERS ( 1881 - ? ).


Sources:as copyright details, also 'The History of Freemasonry in Hyderabad (Deccan)’, by J.D.B. Gribble (1910

Website designed and maintained by Paul Thompson on behalf of the Friends of Newtown Road Cemetery.

Administrator Login