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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Smyth, Robert Brough

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Smyth, Robert Brough, A.M.I.C.E., F.L.S., F.G.S., geologist and mineralogist, was born at Carville, near Newcastle, Northumberland, in 1830. His father, the late Edward Smith, was a mining engineer of repute and grandson on the maternal side of the late Barnabas Brough, who, with his brother, William Brough, were eminent engineers in their day. He received his early education at Whickham, in the county of Durham, and subsequently turned his attention to the study of natural science, chemistry, and geology. Mr. Smyth commenced his working life as an assistant at the Derwent Iron Works, where he remained over five years, emigrating to Victoria in 1852. After some experience on the goldfields, he entered the Survey Department as draughtsman, under Captain (now Sir Andrew) Clarke, R.E. Subsequently Mr. Smyth acted for a brief period as chief draughtsman, and in 1854 was appointed to take charge of the meteorological observations. Whilst acting as Director of Observatories, Mr. Smyth was appointed in 1858 secretary to the Board of Science, a position which required him to take charge of the mining surveys of the colony. He was in 1860 appointed Secretary for Mines, and held office until the beginning of 1876, when, owing to the result of an inquiry into his treatment of his official subordinates, he resigned the several offices he held under Government. Whilst in the public service, Mr. Brough Smyth acted for some time as Chief Inspector of Mines, and reorganised the Geological Survey, of which he was Director until his retirement from official life. Mr. Smyth was the author of "The Prospector's Handbook," "Goldfields and Mineral Districts of Victoria," and "The Manners and Customs of the Aboriginal Natives of Australia," published at the expense of the Government of Victoria. Mr. Brough Smyth had a good deal to do with the disastrous "boom" in Indian gold mines. He died on Oct. 10th, 1889.