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Former journalist known for historical work dies aged 76

Robert SmithA former regional journalist known for his work on historical preservation has died aged 76.

Tributes have been paid to Robert Smith, who began his career on the Burton Mail and later went on to become personal finance editor at The Guardian.

Robert, pictured, continued to write local history articles for the Mail.

He also spent 40 years as chairman of the Manorial Society of Great Britain, which promotes the study of English history and traditions – especially the monarchy, British parliamentary institutions and the preservation of manorial records.

Fellow society member David Adkins told the Mail: “Robert wrote many fascinating history articles on local history that featured in the Burton Mail .

“I met him when I joined the Manorial Society in 2006 at a reception in the House of Lords and we talked at length about Burton’s past – and its future.

“He remembered talks for a new bridge across the Trent – which eventually did happen of course – and told me about a grand piano in the old Burton Museum he once played.

“Robert made a huge contribution to history nationally and helped preserve the ancient manorial history of England. He was a great inspiration to me personally and someone of whom Burton should be justly proud.”

Robert studied history at the University of Nottingham, where he first developed an interest in feudal history and law, before joining the Mail.

In Robert’s memory, the Manorial Society is establishing The Robert Smith Memorial Scholarship, which will make an annual award to a student of manorial history.

The organisation’s current chiarman Stephen Johnson said: “Robert was a great friend and mentor to me, and I shall miss him terribly.

“Robert’s work was recognised by the late Queen Elizabeth II, who made him a member of the Order of St John.

“The Society continues to flourish in the 21st century and interest in manors has not abated.

“I will continue to manage the Society in the interests of its members, and as memorial to Robert’s life work.”

Robert died peacefully in his sleep on 22 July after a long illness.