Major-General Otway Francis Smithers

Author: Doug Larsen and Brian Sylvester
Date published: 09/01/2018
© Harts Army List of 1888: London Gazette:

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 medal similar to that issued to Major-General O F Smithers
Reverse of medal similar to that issued to Major-General O F Smithers
Click to enlarge
1881 census
1881 census




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.”


Sources:as above

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