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History is on your doorstep

Leander Jameson was Cecil John Rhodes’ right hand.

Jameson Park between Heidelberg and Nigel has a place in our history.

The park is believed to be named after Dr Leander Starr Jameson.

Jameson was born on February 9, 1853 in Stranraer, Wigtownshire, Scotland. His parents were Robert William Jameson and Christian Pringle.

He completed his schooling at Goldophin in Hammersmith (London, England). He studied to become a medical doctor at the University College Hospital in London.

After his studies, Jameson was made resident medical officer at the University College Hospital.

Due to health issues and being overworked, Jameson immigrated to South Africa. Initially he settled down in Kimberley where he had a doctor’s practice.One of his patients was the President of Transvaal, Paul Kruger and the Ndebele/ Matabele King, Lobengula.

He also made a connection with Cecil John Rhodes while stationed in Kimberley.

Jameson used his relationship with Lobengula to influence the granting of the concessions to Rhodes’ agents in 1888.

Dr Leander Starr Jameson.

That led to the formation of the British South African Company (BSAC). Jameson abandoned his medical profession when the BSAC-occupied Mashonaland where he joined the Pioneer Expedition of 1890. Together with FC Selous and AR Colquhoun they travelled to Mashonaland to establish a new country.

The country, now Zimbabwe, was then called Southern Rhodesia.

Between September 1890 and October 1893, Jameson was the chief magistrate of the BSAC after replacing Colquhoun.

Jameson was also a central figure in the 1893 First Matabele War and involved in the events that led to the massacre of the Shangani Patrol.

Rhodes was the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony at the time and in control of the BSAC. Rhodes’ aim was to bring South Africa under British domination and discouraged foreign investors in the Transvaal to resist Afrikaner domination and wanted to overthrow the government in the Transvaal.

Cecil John Rhodes.

While being an administrator in Rhodesia, Jameson was commissioned by Rhodes to lead a mounted force into the Transvaal and lead an uprising against the Afrikaners. When no uprising took place, Jameson launched the Jameson Raid in December 1895.

Superior forces from the Boers forced Jameson and his men to surrender on January 2, 1896.

The surrendered prisoners were sent to London for a trial. Jameson took responsibility for the raid and did not implicate Rhodes in the planning of the raid.

Jameson was sentenced to 15 months in jail but only served four months. Jameson returned to South Africa in 1900.

After the death of Rhodes in 1902, Jameson took over the leadership of the Progressive Party.

In 1904, Jameson became the 10th Prime Minister of the Cape Colony and stayed in office from February 22, 1904 to February 2, 1908.

He died on November 26, 1917 in Hyde Park, London. In 1920, he was reburied at Matopos Hill, Rhodesia.

Reference: South African History Online.

A drawing of the Jameson Raid.

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