Smith, Robert Vernon (DNB00)

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SMITH (afterwards Vernon), ROBERT VERNON, Baron Lyveden (1800–1873), who was the nephew of Sydney Smith [q. v.], the witty canon of St. Paul's, was the only surviving son of Robert Percy Smith (‘Bobus’ Smith) [q. v.] He was born on 23 Feb. 1800, and, having spent several years at Eton, matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 2 Feb. 1819, graduating B.A. (second class in classics) 1822, and the same year became a student of the Inner Temple, but was never called to the bar. Smith married, on 15 July 1823, Emma Mary, daughter of John, second earl of Upper Ossory, and, being attracted by a political career, was chosen at a by-election for Tralee in June 1829, and re-elected the following year. On the accession of the whigs to power under Earl Grey, he accepted office as a junior lord of the treasury in November 1830, and discharged its duties until the fall of Melbourne's first administration in November 1834. In Melbourne's second ministry he was joint secretary to the board of control for the affairs of India, April 1835 to September 1839, and under-secretary of state for war and the colonies from that date till September 1841, being sworn a member of the privy council on 21 Aug. 1841. When Lord John Russell formed his first ministry in 1846, he did not apportion any office to Smith, who, however, joined his government as secretary-at-war during the last three weeks of its existence, 6 to 28 Feb. 1852. Under Lord Palmerston he was president of the board of control, with a seat in the cabinet from February 1855 to March 1858, during the eventful period of the Indian mutiny. At the general election of 1831 he was elected M.P. for Northampton, for which he was afterwards re-elected ten times (at every election except one at the head of the poll), but vacated his seat on being raised to the peerage as Baron Lyveden on 28 June 1859. By royal license on 14 July following he received permission to use the surname of Vernon only instead of Smith, and to bear the arms of Vernon quarterly in the first quarter with his paternal arms, his issue having previously been similarly authorised by royal license on 5 Aug. 1845. Lyveden, who was for many years a metropolitan commissioner in lunacy (established pursuant to 2 and 3 Will. IV, c. 107), had his country seat at Farming Woods, near Thrapstone, Northamptonshire, of which county he was a deputy lieutenant. He was created a G.C.B. on 13 July 1872, and died on 10 Nov. 1873.

Lyveden edited in 1848 ‘Horace Walpole's Letters to the Countess of Ossory,’ and in 1850 the ‘Early Writings’ of his father. His speech in proposing the second reading of the Church Rates Abolition Bill in the House of Lords was printed in 1860.

[Official Return of Members of Parliament; Foster's Peerage; Alison's Autobiography; Foster's Alumni Oxon.]

W. R. W.