Sir Harry Smith 1847 - 1852

Governor of the Cape of Good Hope (1847-1852).

Harry Smith was the common name of Henry George Wakelyn Smith, 1st Baronet of Aliwal. He was born in 1787 at Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire (England), and was the son of a surgeon.

Sir Harry Smith: 28 June 1787-12 October 1860

In 1805 he joined the army and served in South America in 1806. He fought in the Peninsular War (1808 - 1814) in the south of France.

Juana Maria de Los Dolores de León

During Peninsular War (1808 - 1814), in 1812, Harry Smith was approached by a Spanish lady and her 14 year old sister, requesting protection from becoming spoils of war. The lady's property had been destroyed in a battle. The 14 year old was Juana Maria de Los Dolores de León, until then in a convent, and she married the 35 year old Harry a few days later.

She travelled with Harry throughout the rest of the war, and was much liked by the soldiers. She apparently travelled with the baggage, and slept in the open.

Juana Maria de Los Dolores de León (1798- )

United States

After the the Peninsular War Harry Smith volunteered for service in the United States. He was involved with the battle of Bladensburg (24 August 1814), and saw the burning of the capitol at Washington.

Battle of Waterloo

He returned to Europe and was brigade major at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Cape of Good Hope

From 1828 he served in the Cape of Good Hope and was commanding British troops during the Xhosa Wars of 1834-1836.

He was liberal for his era and when he was appointed Governor of the Province of Queen Adelaide he wished to Europeanise the indigenous Xhosa people. The ministry in London reversed his policy. Because of this liberal view, he was removed from his position. The British policy then introduced by Lord Glenelg lead to the Dutch farmers on the borders moving away (the Great Trek, or Great Move) into the interior away from British rule.


Harry Smith then became deputy-adjutant-general of the British forces in India. On 28 January 1846 his forces won a batttle with the Sikhs Aliwal.

Governor of the Cape Colony

In 1847 he became Governor and high commissioner of the Cape Colony.

On 29 August 1848 he fought at the Battle of Boomplaats.

In 1852 he was recalled to England.


The town Harrismith (in the Free State) was named after Sir Harry Smith, Aliwal North (in the Eastern Cape) was named after his battle at Aliwal in India. Smithfield in the Free State was also named after him.

The towns Ladysmith (in Kwazulu-Natal) and Ladismith (Western Cape) were named after his wife.


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