James Cameron Smail

Dr James Cameron Smail FRSE FRSGS PRSSA CBE LLD[1] (1880-1970) was a Scottish university Principal. Heriot Watt University library is named the Cameron Smail Library in his honour. He wrote extensively on printing and the history of printing.


He was born in 1886 the son of Adam Smail, a bookseller and stationer in Bruntsfield, living at 18 Spittal Street in Tollcross, Edinburgh.[2] He was privately educated at Daniel Stewart's College in Edinburgh. From 1902 until 1911 he was a school inspector in Ireland. In 1911 he appears to live at 31 Brighton Road in Rathmines on the outskirts of Dublin.[3] From 1911 to 1928 he worked for London County Council.

In 1928 he became Principal of Heriot-Watt College and started a major expansion programme.[4] In 1929 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers were Sir James Alfred Ewing, Richard Stanfield, Francis Gibson Baily and Alfred Archibald Boon. He was a regular attender of meetings.[5]

He retired in 1950. In 1951 he was made a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland.[6] He died on 26 April 1970.


In 1908 he married Louisa Florence Davidson. His daughter was Elizabeth Margaret Cameron Smail.[1]

Artistic recognitionEdit

His portrait by Mary Remington is held at Heriot-Watt University.[7]



  • Some Aspects of Education for the Printing Trade (1937)
  • Technical Education (1946)
  • Scottish Enterprise Printing (1947)
  • James Watt and the Heriot Watt College (1949)
  • Education and Training of Printers (1951)
  • Printing in Scotland 1507-1947 (1963)
  • The Phrenological Museum, Edinburgh (1963)


  1. ^ a b "Person Page". thepeerage.com. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  2. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1886-7
  3. ^ Children of the Rising, by Joe Duffy
  4. ^ "Heriot-Watt College". Heriot-Watt University. 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ London Gazette 7 August 1951
  7. ^ "James Cameron Smail (1880–1970), OBE, Principal of the Heriot-Watt College - Art UK". artuk.org. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  8. ^ "James Watt and the Heriot-Watt College : an address delivered to the Watt Club at Edinburgh on 29th January 1949 /". worldcat.org. Retrieved 31 July 2017.