Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Smyth, Leicester

SMYTH, Sir LEICESTER (1829–1891), general, born on 25 Oct. 1829, was seventh son of Richard William Penn Curzon, afterwards Curzon-Howe, first Earl Howe, by his first wife, Harriet, daughter of Robert, sixth earl of Cardigan. He was educated at Eton, and obtained a commission as second lieutenant in the rifle brigade on 29 Nov. 1845. He joined the reserve battalion at Quebec in 1846; became lieutenant on 12 Nov. 1847; returned to England, and went out with the first battalion to the Cape in January 1852. He served in the Kaffir war of that year, and greatly distinguished himself in the action of Berea on 20 Dec. He commanded one of two companies which mounted almost inaccessible heights under fire, and drove a large force of Basutos before them. He was highly praised in despatches by Sir G. Cathcart, and received the medal.

On 23 Feb. 1854 he was appointed aide-de-camp to Lord Raglan, accompanied him to Turkey and the Crimea, and was present at Alma and Inkerman, and throughout the siege of Sebastopol [see Somerset, Fitzroy James Henry]. He was assistant military secretary from 7 Oct. 1854 to 11 Nov. 1855, first under Lord Raglan, and afterwards under General Simpson. He became captain in his corps on 22 Dec. 1854, was made brevet major on 17 July 1855, and brevet lieutenant-colonel from 8 Sept., having taken home the despatches announcing the fall of Sebastopol. He continued to serve in the Crimea as aide-de-camp to General Codrington to 30 June 1856. He received the Crimean medal with three clasps, the Sardinian and Turkish medals, the legion of honour (fifth class), and the Medjidie (fifth class).

Smyth was assistant military secretary in the Ionian Islands from 23 Nov. 1856 to 23 Aug. 1861. He then rejoined the 1st battalion of the rifle brigade, in which he had become major on 30 April, and served with it at Malta and Gibraltar till 4 Aug. 1865, when he went on half-pay. He had become colonel in the army on 9 Feb. 1861. On 12 Feb. 1866 he married Alicia Maria, eldest daughter and heiress of Robert Smyth, J.P. of Drumcree, co. Westmeath, and in the following November he took the surname of Smyth. He was made C.B. on 13 May 1867. He was military secretary at headquarters in Ireland from 1 July 1865 to 30 June 1870, and deputy quartermaster-general there from 17 July 1872 to 26 Feb. 1874.

On 7 Feb. 1874 he became major-general (being afterwards antedated to 6 March 1868), and on 13 Feb. 1878 lieutenant-general. He had the command of the troops in the western district from 2 April 1877 to 31 March 1880, and at the Cape from 10 Nov. 1880 to 9 Nov. 1885. During part of this time (in 1882–3) he administered the government and acted as high commissioner for South Africa. He was made K.C.M.G. on 1 Feb. 1884, and K.C.B. on 16 Jan. 1886. He was given a reward for distinguished service on 1 April 1885, and promoted general on 18 July in that year. He held the command of the troops in the southern district from 1 May 1889 to 25 Sept. 1890, when he was appointed governor of Gibraltar. But after a few months there he returned to England on sick leave, and died in London on 27 Jan. 1891, leaving no issue. He was buried at Gopsall, Warwickshire.

[Times, 29 Jan. 1891; art. by Sir William Henry Cope in Rifle Brigade Chronicle for 1890; Lodge's Peerage.]

E. M. L.