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William Henry Smith

William Henry Smith (1792-1865) was an English businessman, who took over the newsagent's business of his father, Henry Walton Smith, in The Strand, London, in 1812, and expanded it greatly. It was one of the first firms to take advantage of the railway boom of the early 19th century.

William Henry Smith (1825-1891) was the son of the above, and joined his father in the business in 1846. As a result of his involvement, the business became a household name (W H Smith), and the practice of selling books and newspapers at railway stations began. He became a Conservative member of parliament in 1868 and rose through the government ranks to become First Lord of the Admiralty in 1877 (an appointment which gave rise to the character of Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta, HMS Pinafore) and Secretary of State for War. At the time of his death he was Leader of the House of Commons and First Lord of the Treasury.