Luke Alfred Smith – from England to India to Canada


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The grand niece of Naomi Isabelle Smith Tutt (whose photograph I found a while ago), has been looking for details of her great grandfather’s life in England for some time. Naomi’s father was Luke Alfred Smith, apparently born abt 1833 in Hevingham (near Aylsham), Norfolk. His life in England before 1851 is a complete mystery. Here’s what is known about him so far:

Luke Smith Discharge Paper

Luke Smith signed up at Norwich on 31 May 1851 to serve with the 52nd Regiment of Foot. He was 17 yrs 8 mos old. According to the discharge document above, he was present in the actions of the Sealkote [Sialkot] Mutineers on the Banks of the Ravi River 12 Jul 1857, at the Seige of Delhi from 14 Aug 1857 and was in the East Indies for eight years. Luke was discharged 12 Jun 1862 after serving for 10 years 294 days.

According to his obituary, Luke was born in London (which conflicts with his military discharge papers) and he went back to England after being discharged from the 52nd Regiment of Foot. By 1874, though, he was in York (now Toronto), Canada, getting married to Mary Cook Hammond Bott Palmer.

Smith Palmer marriage

Mary had been previously married in England and her daughter, Emma, appears with Luke & Mary on the 1881 Canada census (St Stephens Ward, Toronto City), along with her half siblings [Naomi] Isabel, Alfred and [Mary] Louise.

Luke Smith 1881 Canada census

[Luke appears alternately as Luke Alfred, Luke or Alfred on documents that have been found for him. For consistency, I'll refer to him as 'Luke'.]

Luke can be traced in Toronto on Canada census documents and city directories until his death from pneumonia and a fractured femur 7 Jul 1919.

Luke Alfred Smith death regn

Luke Alfred Smith and his wife Mary are buried at Toronto’s Prospect Cemetery.

Luke’s great granddaughter is most interested in finding out more about his life in England. Despite extensive searches for his birth/baptism in Norfolk (his apparent birthplace as noted on his military discharge document), nothing has been found. Searches have also been conducted on the parents’ names which appear when he married Mary Cook Hammond Bott Palmer in 1874 in Toronto … John D Smith and Isabella. Again, we’ve come up empty. Family stories indicate that Isabella’s maiden name was de Coutrey/de Gudrie/de Guthrie. She was apparently a Spanish woman, high born, whose family disowned her when she married “a common English soldier” and that she died young. Luke was then apparently raised by a stepmother who beat him with a frying pan so he ran away from home and joined the army.

If you’ve come across Luke Alfred Smith in your research or have a family connection, please get in touch.


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