Lady Elizabeth Smith was twice the Mayoress of the City of Adelaide (married to the Mayor), from 1879-1882 and 1886-1888.

Early Life

Elizabeth Spicer was born in 1846, the second child of Edward, a well-known Adelaide merchant, and Elizabeth née Hosken. Her mother had arrived in the colony in January 1838; followed by her father eight months later. The couple wed in 1842.

Young Elizabeth married Edwin Thomas Smith on 11 November 1869. She was Edwin's second wife, his first, Florence, died in 1862. Elizabeth became stepmother to Edwin’s eleven-year-old son, Horace Edwin, and nine-year-old daughter, Florence Ida. But the marriage did not result in any children of her own.


Elizabeth and Edwin were active Congregationalists, and practised at the Clayton Church in Norwood.

Edwin was Mayor of Kensington and Norwood from 1867-1870 and again from 1871-1873. He served three terms as Mayor of Adelaide: from 1879-1882, 1886-1887 and in 1888. From 1871-1893 he also represented the seat of East Torrens in the House of Assembly, and later held a seat in the state Legislative Council. Edwin was a very popular mayor, and did much to improve the city.

Elizabeth also proved a worthy mayoress and the couple were well known for their philanthropy. For his public service to the colony, Edwin was appointed KCMG in 1888.

On 27 October 1888, the South Australian Weekly Chronicle reported on Lady Smith’s ‘fancy dress ball’:

A further instance of the splendid hospitality of the Mayor and Mayoress of Adelaide was given on Thursday evening, when Lady Smith entertained several hundred guests at a juvenile fancy dress ball in the Town Hall … It must be particularly gratifying to Sir Edwin and Lady Smith to find their public entertainments so much appreciated.

Since 1878, the couple had lived at The Acacias, a magnificent property on the corner of Portrush and Kensington roads, Marryatville. The house was extended to incorporate a banqueting hall where, according to The Advertiser, ‘their lavish hospitality has been enjoyed by many hundreds of citizens from all walks of life’.

Personal Note

Elizabeth died at home in 1911. Two years earlier she had met with an accident in which she had been thrown from a buggy, and from which she reportedly never fully recovered.

Edwin died on Christmas Day in 1919, after which their property became Loreto Convent, and later, Loreto College.

Elizabeth and Edwin are both buried in the Clayton Church Cemetery.

By Cheryl Williss, HerStory Project

The HerStory project came about to recognise and celebrate the lives and the achievements of Women’s work in South Australia and was initiated in 2015 on the 175th anniversary of the City of Adelaide, by Genevieve Theseira-Haese, Lady Mayoress of Adelaide. The stories collected offer a unique perspective of Adelaide and South Australia that form a different history to what is often heard. This community built initiative is supported by the City of Adelaide and the History Trust of South Australia.

Add media

Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 7723/1, Public Domain

Courtesy of/Photographer:HerStory Project
Add story