Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Smart, Thomas Christie (1816–1896)

by Peter Bolger

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Thomas Christie Smart (1816-1896), surgeon, was born in Scotland. Educated at the High School, Edinburgh, in 1842 he qualified through the Extra Academical School of Medicine and became a licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons. He arrived in Melbourne as medical officer on an emigrant ship, and was appointed assistant surgeon to the convict probation station at Fingal, Van Diemen's Land, in 1842. In 1849 he was made a justice of the peace. Kindly and capable he served the Convict Department on various rural stations, including Maria Island, until control passed to the colonial authorities in 1856; he then entered private practice in Hobart Town.

Smart was medical officer to the Queen's Asylum for destitute children at New Town in 1862-64 and surgeon to the Volunteer Force, City Guards, in 1860-68. An honorary medical officer for the General Hospital, Hobart, from 1860, in 1875 he became F.R.C.S., Edinburgh. He gained the approval of the Royal College of Surgeons for the formation of a preparatory medical school in the care of the honoraries. During the 1870s he secured several Scottish-trained sisters, selected by his brother Andrew, to instruct the local trainee nurses and he championed them in the face of resistance to their professionalism. Elected chairman of the hospital's board of management and visiting committee in 1879, he designed modern buildings for it and improved its efficiency. A member of the Court of Medical Examiners for the colony from 1864 he became president in 1884. In 1878-84 he was on the board of commissioners for the Cascades Hospital for the Insane. He was chairman of the official visitors to the hospitals for the insane in 1886-87, a medical officer to the Hospital for Insane, Hobart, in 1892-93 and, in 1895-96, was medical officer for the Charitable Institutions for Males and Females, New Town, and also government medical officer.

Smart had been an alderman of Hobart in 1868-69 and its mayor in 1870. In 1880 he was a commissioner for Tasmania at the Melbourne exhibition. Elected to the Legislative Council in 1881, he was a minister without portfolio in the Giblin ministry in 1882-84. In 1886 he resigned from the council to reorganize the management and conditions of the Hospital for the Insane, New Norfolk.

Interested in cultural affairs, Smart was a trenchant and popular lecturer, and a trustee of the Tasmanian Public Library in 1871-73 and 1879-94. He had been a founding member of the Tasmanian Club in 1861. An enthusiastic amateur investor, he was on the committee of the Main Line Railway Association in 1864; a director of the Alliance Quartz Crushing Co. Ltd in 1867, he was chairman of directors of the Eldon Ranges Gold Prospecting Co.

On 20 March 1844 at Avoca Smart had married Agnes McGowan, a governess; they had no children. Aged 80, he died of syncope on 26 March 1896 and was buried in Cornelian Bay cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • F. C. Green, The Tasmanian Club, 1861-1961 (Hob, 1961)
  • Votes and Proceedings (House of Assembly, Tasmania), 1867 (38), 1887 (94)
  • Examiner (Launceston), 27 Mar 1896
  • Mercury (Hobart), 27 Mar 1896
  • E. Innes, ‘Reminiscences of Thomas Christie Smart’, Tasmanian Mail, 2 May 1896
  • J. B. Walker diary, 25 June 1884 (University of Tasmania Archives)
  • T. C. Smart file (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • CSO 22/49/110, 50/17/20-22/25.

Citation details

Peter Bolger, 'Smart, Thomas Christie (1816–1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/smart-thomas-christie-4595/text7553, published in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 25 July 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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