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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Smith, James (Tas)

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Smith, James, was born at George Town, on the river Tamar, Northern Tasmania, on July 1st, 1827. For some years he followed the business of engineer and miller with Mr. Guillan, of Launceston, but this occupation did not suit his adventurous spirit, and on the discovery of gold in Australia he threw up his employment, and went to the diggings. In 1853 he returned to Tasmania, and settled on the river Forth on the north coast. Thenceforward he became an ardent searcher for minerals, his zeal for mineralogy earning for him the sobriquet of "Philosopher Smith," by which name he was long well known in Northern Tasmania. In 1859 he discovered gold in the river Forth, and silver on the beach at the Penguin in 1861. Still continuing his search for minerals, he worked his way alone through the dense scrub and forest to Mount Bischoff, where on Dec. 4th, 1871, he discovered the enormous tin deposit since become so famous. He took up two eighty-acre sections on the Mount, which are now worked by the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Company, having proved to be the richest tin mine in the world. Mr. Smith's discovery was of the greatest importance to his native colony, not only from its intrinsic value, but also from the great impetus it gave to the mining industry, opening the way for the great development of mineral wealth in the west of Tasmania. In recognition of his services, the Parliament of Tasmania in 1879 voted him a life pension of £200 per annum. Mr. Smith was induced in 1886 to offer himself as a candidate for the Legislative Council. He was elected without opposition for the Mersey district, but, finding politics uncongenial, he resigned his seat in 1888. He resides at Westwood, Hamilton-on-Forth.