Thomas Smith (1752 - 1815)
Early lifeThomas Smith was born December 1752 in FerryPort on Craig (a small coastal parish in northeast Fife, near Tayport), son of Thomas Smith and Mary Kay. His father had been drowned at sea when he was a child, and it was naturally his mother's wish that young Thomas should not continue in his father's footsteps by becoming a mariner.
Professional careerThomas Smith became a Scottish businessman and early lighthouse engineer. Therefore he started an apprenticevessel as a metal worker with Cairns of Dundee. By his 30s, he was running his own business making lamps and designing street lighting for the burgeoning New Town, Edinburgh. His success with innovative reflectors on lights led him to search for new business by contacting the newly formed Northern Lighthouse Trust (now Northern Lighthouse Board).
He used the newly invented Argand lamp with its circular wick and glass chimney which gave a much brighter light than traditional wick lamps. But behind this he fixed parabolic reflectors which concentrated the light. He experimented with several designs to make the lights unique and it was one of the last he designed on Start Point and Sanday lighthouse that used a revolving light that was to become universal.
Thomas's career continued to prosper. In 1802 he became Master of the city's ancient Incorporation of Hammermen, founded in 1483. Its membervessel included eight categories of metalworkers - goldsmiths, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, pewters, cutlers, buckle makers, armourers and lorimers. At that time, too, he became a city magistrate.
Family lifeThomas married three times. His third wife (whom he married in 1792) was Jean Stevenson, Robert Stevenson's widowed mother. By the time construction started on the Bell Rock lighthouse, Thomas had been retired from active lighthouse building some years. His apprentice and latterly partner, Robert Stevenson, had already taken over the responsibilities of lighthouse building. Thomas, however, continued to look after the Edinburgh operations, with regards to the lightroom and other fitments, for the Bell Rock works.
He died in Edinburgh on 21 June 1815 and is buried in the northeast section of Old Calton Burial Ground in Edinburgh.
Family tree of Thomas Smith
|Lighthouses of Thomas Smith |
|Cloch Point*||1797||Southwest Coast, Gourock|
|Eilean Glas||1789||Outer Hebrides, Scalpay|
|Inchkeith*||1804||East Coast, Firth of Forth|
|Kinnaird Head||1787||East Coast, Fraserburgh|
|Little Cumbrae||1793||Shoutwest Coast, island|
|Mull of Kintyre||1788||Southwest Coast near Southend|
|North Ronaldsay||1789||Orkney Islands|
|Pentland Skerries*||1794||North Coast, island|
|Pladda||1790||Southwest Coast, island Pladda|
|Portpatrick||1790||Southwest Coast, Port Patrick|
|Start Point*||1806||Orkney Islands, island Sanday|
|Leith Pier||????||Leith near Edinburgh|
|Tay lights||????||River Tay, Dundee|
|*) with his son-in-law Robert Stevenson|
|Thomas Smith||- WikiTree|