Thomas Smith (barrister)

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Sir Thomas Broun Smith, QC, FBA, FRSE DCL LLD (3 December 1915 – 15 October 1988) was a lawyer, soldier and academic.

Queens Counsel jurist appointed by letters patent

A Queen's Counsel, or King's Counsel during the reign of a king, is an eminent lawyer who is appointed by the monarch to be one of "Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law." The term is recognised as an honorific. The position exists in some Commonwealth jurisdictions around the world, but other Commonwealth countries have either abolished the position, or re-named it to eliminate monarchical connotations, such as "Senior Counsel" or "Senior Advocate". Queen's Counsel is an office, conferred by the Crown, that is recognised by courts. Members have the privilege of sitting within the bar of court.

Royal Society of Edinburgh academy of sciences

The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland's national academy of science and letters. It is a registered charity, operating on a wholly independent and non-party-political basis and providing public benefit throughout Scotland. It was established in 1783. As of 2017, it has more than 1,660 Fellows.



Smith was the son of John Smith, DL, JP, of Glasgow and his wife, Agnes Smith. He was educated at Glasgow High School and Sedbergh School in Yorkshire.

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as "Glaswegians" or "Weegies". It is the fourth most visited city in the UK. Glasgow is also known for the Glasgow patter, a distinct dialect of the Scots language that is noted for being difficult to understand by those from outside the city.

Sedbergh School co-educational boarding school in Sedbergh, Cumbria, England

Sedbergh School is a co-educational independent boarding school in the town of Sedbergh in Cumbria, in North West England. It comprises a junior school for children aged 4 to 13 and the main school. It was established in 1525.

Yorkshire historic county of Northern England

Yorkshire, formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

Smith studied Law at Christ Church, Oxford, (MA 1937, Boulter exhibitioner, Eldon Scholar). He was called to the English Bar by Gray's Inn in 1938.

Christ Church, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford in England

Christ Church is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ Church is a joint foundation of the college and the cathedral of the Oxford diocese, which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.

A Master of Arts is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.

Barristers in England and Wales

Barristers in England and Wales are one of the two main categories of lawyer in England and Wales, the other being solicitors. Barristers have traditionally had the role of handling cases for representation in court, both defence and prosecution.

He served in the Gordon Highlanders and Royal Artillery from 1939 to 1946, being wounded in Italy, and was mentioned in dispatches. He reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Smith was attached to the Foreign Office in 1946-1947.

Gordon Highlanders

The Gordon Highlanders was a line infantry regiment of the British Army that existed for 113 years, from 1881 until 1994, when it was amalgamated with the Queen's Own Highlanders to form the Highlanders.

Royal Artillery artillery arm of the British Army

The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and five Army Reserve regiments.

A member of the armed forces mentioned in dispatches is one whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command, in which his or her gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy is described.

He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland in 1947. He obtained a DCL (Oxon) in 1956 and a LL.D from the University of Edinburgh in 1980. He was awarded an honorary doctorate (LLD) at the University of Cape Town.

Faculty of Advocates independent body of lawyers

The Faculty of Advocates is an independent body of lawyers who have been admitted to practise as advocates before the courts of Scotland, especially the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary. The Faculty of Advocates is a constituent part of the College of Justice and is based in Edinburgh.

Scotland country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Doctor of Civil Law university conferred law degree or awarded honorary doctorate

Doctor of Civil Law is a degree offered by some universities, such as the University of Oxford, instead of the more common Doctor of Laws (LLD) degrees.

In 1977 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers were John Cameron, Lord Cameron, Lord Balerno, George Murray Burnett and Anthony Elliot Ritchie and Sir Thomas Malcolm Knox. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1981. [1]

John Cameron, Lord Cameron, KT, DSC, PRSE, FBA was a Scottish judge and President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 1973 to 1976.

Alick Buchanan-Smith, Baron Balerno England politician

Brigadier Alick Drummond Buchanan-Smith, Baron Balerno, CBE, FRSE JP, DL was a British soldier and prominent geneticist.

Prof George Murray Burnett FRSE FRSA FRIC LLD (1921–1980) was a Scottish mathematician and chemist. He served as both Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University from 1974 until 1980. He is largely remembered for his work on polymer reactions.

He died in Edinburgh on 15 October 1988.


In 1940 he married Ann Dorothea Tindall. They had three children, a son who died in 1962 and two daughters, one of whom died in 1976.

His brother was Sir Robert Courtney Smith.

Academic career

In 1949 he became Professor of Scots Law at the University of Aberdeen and was Dean of the Faculty of Law 1950-1953 and 1956-1958. In 1956 he became a Queen's Counsel. From 1958 to 1968 he was Professor of Civil Law at the University of Edinburgh and from 1968 to 1972 Professor of Scots Law. He was a part-time member of the Scottish Law Commission 1965-1972 and full-time 1972-1980. In 1980 he became the General Editor of the Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopedia. Professor Smith was Visiting Professor at Tulane University (Louisiana) 1958 and at Harvard Law School 1962-1963 and he was Tagore Professor, Calcutta, 1977. He was United Kingdom representative to committees of experts at the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) and the Council of Europe. He has been described as one of the most influential, interesting and controversial figures in the development of modern Scots law. [2]

Published works

Smith published a large number of works on legal subjects. Among those were:


  1. Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN   0 902 198 84 X.
  2. Smith, T.B.; A Mixed Legal System in Transition. T.B. Smith and the Progress of Scots Law, Edinburgh University Press, 2005

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