Charles John Smith

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Charles John Smith

Also Known As: "Charlie"
Birthplace: Ireland
Death: September 16, 1958 (84-85)
Immediate Family:

Son of ? Smith and ? Smith
Husband of Lena Robina Truebody and Elizabeth Smith
Father of Private and Muriel Smith
Brother of Alfred Nicholas Smith

Occupation: Baker
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Charles John Smith

Charles Smith, (1873 - 1958) St. Helena’s last surviving Boer War prisoner He was captured by the British in South Africa and had been shipped along with the Boer general, Piet Cronje and 512 other captives to St Helena on the "Milwaukee". Liberated in 1903, but that, liking his insular prison, he had elected to stay there forever. He had married a native and for many years had run a bakery. Only once had he ventured into the outside world, and that was in 1912 when he travelled to Durban to see his ailing mother.

Perhaps the best known POW, who refused to return, not for political reasons, but because he took such a liking to the island and its peaceful way of life, was Charlie Smith. He was of Irish origin and presumably a member of the Irish Brigade. Being industrious and gifted with a keen sense of business, Smith soon found his feet and within a few years became a popular figure in the social life as well as in official circles. He attained the rank of Captain in the St. Helena Regiment, became a member of the Legislative Council, a prominent business man and a property owner. The present bakery was founded by Smith who, as a leading citizen of the island, became a prosperous man. The death of his wife seems to have driven him off the rails, and he lost interest in business matters and eventually all his possessions. He died in 1958, virtually a pauper.

From Robin Woodruff:

"According to a paper I have been given by the Son of Charles who resides in England. QUOTE Charles John Smith was born in 1875 and was a cousin of the famous Boer General Ben Viljoen..He was a young man of 24 when on 10th Oct 1899 he joined the army. His Father came from Greenwich, as suburb of London on the Thames. His Mother was a Miss Graaf from the Cape Colony and was a descendant of the French Huguenots. first the family lived in Pretoria where Charles was christened in the Dutch Reformed Church. Shortly after the discovery of gold Charles Father moved to live in Fordsberg, Johannesburg UNQUOTE Extract from an article which appeared in the local magazine "Die HUISGENOT" dated 4th Oct 1949. Written by Eric Rosenthal, Lecturer at the Wits University. This is an extract from a letter from Langley Smith to Stephen Smith dated 7th April 2004 and given to Robin A Woodruff on 15th August 2018, by hand during a visit to his home. My only other comment on this is that I have dates from records as follows; POW Roll Charles gave his age as 25 when captured on 21 Oct 1899. On first Marriage Certificate Age 30 on 7th Oct 1901 and on Second Marriage Certificate 60 on February 18th 1939.. Make of that what you will, he seemed to lose years each time a record was made so who knows!!! Best Wishes RAW."

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Charles John Smith's Timeline

September 16, 1958
Age 85
Saint Helena, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha