Collection S5 - James (Philosopher) Smith Collection

Index to S5

Identity area

Reference code



James (Philosopher) Smith Collection


  • 1875-1898 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

typescript copy diary , 1 microfilm, 1 folder of documents

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

James Smith (1827-1897) was born in George Town, son of John and Mary Ann (Grant) Smith. His father was shot when he was aged 5 and he was taken under the guardianship of John Guillan, a Launceston merchant and mill owner. After working in the mill, and then exploring the country west of the Tamar and prospecting for gold in Victoria, James Smith settled on land at the River Forth, and planted orchards. He discovered silver ore on Mt. Claud near Sheffield and, in December 1871, tin at Mount Bischoff and began mining in 1872 and in 1873 the Mt. Bischoff Tin Mining Company was formed. He then then returned to farming at "Westwood", Forth, and extended his property but continued to take an interest in mining and prospecting, having a laboratory built at his his home. He also took part in public affairs. He married Mary Jane (Pleas) in 1874 and had 6 chidren. He was widely known by the nickname "Philosopher" but the origin is not known. He read a lot and was a strict Christian and member of the Congregational Church, resigning from the Town Hall Committee over a proposal that a museum should be open on Sundays. For more information see

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Some original documents (diary & letters) held in the Archives Office of Tasmania.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Collection consists of copies of a diary, letters and official documents relating to James Smith.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open for research

Conditions governing reproduction

This material is made available for personal research and study purposes under the University of Tasmania Standard Copyright Licence. For any further use permission should be obtained from the copyright owners. For assistance please contact

When reusing this material, please cite the reference number and provide the following acknowledgement:
“Courtesy of the UTAS Library Special & Rare Collections”

Language of material

Script of material

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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Existence and location of originals

Original material held at the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office

Existence and location of copies

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Publication note

Held TAHO : Diary of James Smith NS234/1/1/1

Publication note

Haygarth, Nic (Nicholas Paul) 2003 , 'The "Father of Tasmania"? : measuring the legend of James "Philosopher" Smith', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

CE October 2018




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