Archibald Levin Smith

Sir A. L. Smith.

Sir Archibald Levin Smith (26 August 1836  20 October 1901) was a British judge and a rower who competed at Henley and in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.


Smith was the son of Francis Smith, J.P. of Salt Hill, Chichester and his wife Mary Ann Levin. He was baptised at New Fishbourne, West Sussex[1] although he had some Jewish ancestry.[2] He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.[3] He suffered from the pituitary disorder, acromegaly, which caused him to grow to nearly 7 feet (2.1 m) tall.[4] Athletic as well as tall, he rowed for Cambridge in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in the 1857, 1858 and 1859 races.[5] Oxford won in 1857 and Cambridge in 1858. In 1858 he was in the winning crews at Henley Royal Regatta in the Grand Challenge Cup with the C.U.B.C. and in the Visitors Challenge Cup and the Wyfold Challenge Cup with First Trinity Boat Club.

In the 1859 Boat Race "the race was rowed in a gale of wind, and the Cambridge boat filled and sank between Barnes Bridge and the finish.... Smith alone of the Cambridge oarsmen could not swim, and sat stolidly rowing until, when the water was up to his neck, he was rescued." In later years he regularly bet a new hat on the Boat Race with W.B. Woodgate "on principle and from patriotism to his flag, even when public favour and market odds might seem to be dead against the hopes of his own club."[6]

Smith was admitted at the Inner Temple on 27 May 1856 and was called to the Bar on 17 November 1860. He was engaged on the Home Circuit and became Judge of the High Court of Justice (Queen's Bench Division) in 1883. He was then knighted and became an honorary bencher. In 1892 he became Lord Justice of Appeal, in which capacity he ruled on Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co. On 24 October 1900 became Master of the Rolls, a position he held for almost a year until his resignation a few days before his death.

Smith was a keen amateur cricketer and a member of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) for whom he played in two first-class matches 1861 to 1864. He was a right-handed batsman who scored 16 runs with a highest score of 7.[7]

He was appointed Chairman of the Historical Manuscript Commission in March 1901.[8]

Family and death

He married, in 1867, Isobel Fletcher, daughter of John Charles Fletcher, of Dale Park, Sussex, and had sons Archibald and Geoffrey and daughters. Smith lived at Salt Hill, Chichester, and 40 Cadogan Place, London.

Lady Smith drowned in the River Spey in August 1901, during a visit to the estate of their son-in-law J. W. H. Grant, in Aberlour, Morayshire.[9] Sir Archibald fell ill and also died in Aberlour less than two months later, on 20 October 1901, at the age of 65.[10] He is buried in the churchyard at Knockando.[11]



  1. Fishbourne Parish Registers
  3. "Smith, Archibald Levin (SMT854AL)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  5. Walter Bradford Woodgate Boating 1888
  6. W.B. Woodgate Reminiscences of an Old Sportsman p. 255
  7. Archibald Levin Smith at CricketArchive
  8. The London Gazette: no. 27295. p. 1937. 19 March 1901.
  9. "Obituary - Lady Smith". The Times (36545). London. 28 August 1901. p. 7.
  10. "Death of Sir A. L. Smith". The Times (36592). London. 22 October 1901. p. 5.

See also

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Legal offices
Preceded by
Lord Alverstone
Master of the Rolls
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Collins
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