- SMITH, Sir Francis Villeneuve (1819-1909)
- premier and chief justice of Tasmaniaeldest son of Francis Smith, a London merchant and his wife, a daughter of Jean Villeneuve, was born on 13 February 1819 (Dict. Nat. Biog.). He was educated at London university and graduated B.A. in 1840, having taken a first prize in international law and a second in equity. He was called to the bar of the Middle Temple in May 1842, was admitted to the Tasmanian bar in 1844, and in 1848 was appointed solicitor-general for Tasmania. He was nominated to the legislative council in 1851, became attorney-general in 1854, and a member of the executive council in 1855. One of the few men of the time opposed to the granting of responsible government, he was nevertheless elected as a representative of Hobart to the first house of assembly in September 1856. He was attorney-general in the W. T. N. Champ (q.v.) ministry from 1 November 1856 to 26 February 1857 and in the W. P. Weston (q.v.) ministry from 25 April to 12 May 1857. He then formed a ministry with himself as premier and attorney-general which lasted nearly three and a half years until 1 November 1860, when he was made a puisne judge of the supreme court. During this ministry scholarships were established and the land laws were liberalized. Smith had shown ability as an administrator and his translation to the bench was a loss to the legislature. At the beginning of 1870 he succeeded Sir Valentine Fleming (q.v.) as chief justice, and held this position with distinction until he retired on a pension in 1885 and returned to England. He occasionally while chief justice administered the government. He died in England on 17 January 1909. He married in 1851 Sarah, daughter of the Rev. George Giles. He was knighted in 1862.The Mercury, Hobart, 20 January 1909; The Examiner, Launceston, 20 January 1909; J. Fenton, A History of Tasmania; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.
Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. Angus and Robertson. 1949.
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