Joe Smith – Pitman, Pugilist, Poacher

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-19-37-33Steve Smith and I have been conversing these last few evenings. Steve told me, “I visited Blantyre many times to see my Aunt Mary , Uncle Willie and regularly went to Niaroo to visit my Uncle Hughie along with my Dad James Smith.

Joe Smith, (the father of John, Hugh, Joe, William, James, Terence, Daniel, Annie, Margaret, Mary, Cathy as well as two other children named Margaret and Mary who died as children), lived at Niaroo until his death in 1970.

Joe was a well known bare knuckle boxer who wrote an interesting book called ‘Pitman Pugilist Poacher’ which tells the story of the early years of his life and his experiences working down the pit as well as his many fights in the boxing ring.”

Steve has kindly shown me the covers of his grandfathers transcribed book, which Steve has through his own effort, made available.

Steve added, “My Grandfather Joe Smith was born in 1887, sometime during the late 1930s I think,he wrote a story telling of his life up until he married in 1908. I have the original copy of the book and over the years had thought about getting some copies made in case it went missing, I did send a copy many years ago to a cousin but I suspect she lost it.

In any event I have finally got around to getting the book put together along with some press cuttings and photographs and a number off copies professionally printed. I will be sending some of them off to members of my family in Australia and Canada however Joe and his wife Annie had a large number of children spread over a period of 18 years who themselves had children and they are scattered over the UK and abroad and we have either had no contact or lost touch with them.

I have heard over the years that on at least two occasions, once in the UK and Australia comments have been read on websites from people looking for a copy of a book named ‘Pitman, Pugilist, Poacher’, I can only assume they are from family descended from Joe.

Would it be possible that you could put reference to the book on your website and hopefully it will be seen by descendants of Joe who would be interested in receiving a copy of the book. I have attached a copy of the front and back covers of the book as well as a page which has the names and dates of birth and death of Joe, Annie and all the children”

I have now referenced this interesting book here on the website. If you’re a member of the Smith family, or interested in this book, Steve can be contacted at

On social media:

Jane Johnstone Very interesting
Margaret Brown Burns My dad’s cousin May Callaghan was married to Hugh Smith she was also my godmother
The Blantyre Project I suspect this is a very big family now with many connections abroad.


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  1. Hello Paul,Thanks for publicising the book by Joe Smith on your website. I have been contacted by individuals in Scotland,England,Canada and Australia who all wanted copies of the book. Some are cousins, others are people just interested in reading the story. I was happy to get the book proof read and printed and have not asked for any payments for either the book or the postal charges as my main goal was to distribute the book to as many extended family members as possible because i suspect most of them would not have been aware of Joes early years and boxing background,hoping they would find delight in this book. The book has not been altered in any way to preserve the accuracy.

    Thanks again Steve Smith

    1. Thank you Steve. Good to hear from you again. I’m sure Smith family members all over the world appreciate you transcribing this story. I hope you recently received my package i sent with my own books. No need to explain, i know you were not selling the book, only making it available for family. Cheers. Paul.

  2. Hi Paul
    I have not seen Steven since 1988 and I will ask him . At first I was
    not sure that he was my cousin as I never knew him as Steve only as Steven.
    However, my grandfather”s book was first published in 1966.
    Steven may not know this and some of his information is not accurate. Steven came back from Australia when he was young.
    Mum, my brother and I lived with my grandfather after my Dad
    died young , at age 39. I was only five and my brother three. Even
    before thisDad died Mum travelled every day to Morris Crescent from Cambuslang to care for my Grandfather. Mum moved us to
    Live in Blantyre with my Grandfather in 1960. My Grandfather
    was eighty when he decided to live at Niaroo he wanted to
    continue to write , and also wrote poetry.
    Thanks for your response.

  3. I would be interested to know how my cousin Steven acquired
    My grandfather’s book as I typed most of it while I was at school some
    Forty six years ago.
    I would be grateful to have Bill Sim contact me by
    My e mail address.
    Thank you


    1. Hi Janis – This site most certainly has nothing to do with Bill Sim. I distance myself from that individual for trying to pass off my research & content as his own at frequent intervals. God forbid anybody ever thinks Blantyre’s archives are connected to Sim. That individual runs his own wee site harvested from others, but i’m not sure he still runs it and dont think it has been updated for a couple of years. I’m sorry, i don’t know how Steven acquired your grandfathers book, but know he certainly typed it out in his spare time for the purposes of all the family having a copy. You would be best asking him direct how he got it since thats entirely a family matter. All the best, Paul.

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