Posted by: kbenoy | October 19, 2011

The Life of Lawley Taverner Smith

Lawley Taverner Smith was the son of Benjamin Smith and Elizabeth Taverner Smith (maiden name unknown) both orginally from Birmingham. He was the second of four children and was born on 2 September 1854 and baptised on 5 October 1854 at St James Church Wolverhampton. The 1861 census shows the family were living in Darlington Street, Wolverhampton with Benjamin Smith listed as an Accountant. A decade later the family were still living in Darlington Street, this time the full address is given as number 59. Benjamin is listed as a Public Accountant and his eldest son Archer is said to be an accountant’s clerk so he may have been working at the family firm. Lawley Taverner is listed as a Scholar and records show he attended Wolverhampton Grammar School and later set up the Lawley Taverner Smith Scholarship for Classics in recognition of the benefits he gained from his time at the school. There is a stained glass window at the school that shows the coat of arms of some of the benefactors including Lawley T. Smith.   

On 4 June 1877 Benjamin Smith died at his home, Belle Vue House, Merridale Lane and was buried at Merridale Cemetery. By 1881, his widow Elizabeth was living as head of the household with her sons Archer (solicitor), Lawley and Horace (accountants). In 1890, Horace left the accountants and moved to Hong Kong. Lawley Taverner Smith continued to run the firm with partner Mein Wilkie until his retirement in 1915.

By 1891, Lawley was the last son to remain at home with his mother at Belle Vue House, Merridale Lane although a niece is mentioned on the census called Florence Porter, occupation book keeper. She may have worked at the accountants but there are no records to prove this. Elizabeth died in August 1893 and was also buried at Merridale Cemetery.

The death of his mother seems to have been a significant point in Lawley’s life as he married Anne Eliza Banks at Portsea Island, Hampshire the same year and also commissioned a house by the architect John Weller called Danesmoor in Tettenhall, built by H. Willcock and Co.

Plan of Danesmoor, Tettenhall, 1935

This property was built before South Staffordshire Golf Club took over the surrounding the land for their new golf club in 1908. This move may have been helped by good links between Lawley Taverner Smith and Mein Wilkie, who had been a partner at the accountants for many years and was also the Honorary Treasurer of the golf club.

Lawley and his wife Anne lived at Danesmoor in Tettenhall for the rest of their lives. Lawley Taverner Smith died aged 80 while on holiday in Torquay in 1934. His wife predeceased him and they were buried together at St Michael and All Angels, Tettenhall where Lawley had been a church warden. After his death the property was sold by auction on Wednesday 23 January 1935. A description of Danesmoor can be seen in the sale catalogue above and is available for viewing as part of the recently catalogued Nock and Joseland collection under reference D-NAJ/F/35 at Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies.

During his life, Lawley was involved with the Hospital Sunday Committee, The Royal Hospital, the Women’s Hospital, the Eye Infirmary and the Royal Orphanage. He was also a supporter of the Wolverhampton, Dudley and Districts Institution for the Blind and a co-opted governor of Wolverhampton Grammar School. He was Honorary Treasurer of the West Wolverhampton Conservative and Unionist Association and a trustee of the Wolverhampton Conservative Club.

Lawley was also noted for his voluntary service to the South Staffordshire Discharged Prisoners Aid Society, where he audited the books each month. He was also a supporter of the Wolverhampton Literary and Scientific Society and served on their committee for over 40 years.

Lawley Taverner Smith used the skills gained through his career as an accountant to help many local societies. His working life at Smith, Son & Wilkie was just a small part of what he achievements throughout his life. He was noted for his quiet service and the vicar at his funeral stated “He was a just man”.



  1. I found this article toady and it has been a great help with adding information to my family tree. Elizabeth Taverner Smith’s maiden name was Lawley. Her sister Ann was my 3 X Great Grandmother.

  2. That is very interesting! I’m pleased you have found some useful information. The records in this collection are available for viewing at Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies. If you have any questions about this part of your family, please get in touch. You can email me at

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