Jameson (1853-1917) was born in Edinburgh and
trained as a surgeon at University College Hospital
in London. After qualifying his health deteriorated
and in 1878 and he went out to South Africa and
settled down in practice at
South Africa Jameson rapidly acquired a great
reputation as a medical man, numbering the Transvaal
president Paul Kruger, the Matabele King Lobengula
Kumalo, and the diamond mining entrepreneur
among his patients and associates.
In 1888 his influence with Lobengula was
successfully exerted to induce the Matabele chief to
grant concessions to
Cecil Rhodes' emissary, John Moffat, which bound him "to alienate no part of his
territory without the High Commissioner's prior
Using a translator, who is said to have
explained hazy and incorrect details, Lobengula
agreed to the "Rudd Concession" which allowed
British mining and colonisation of lands between the
Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. In exchange,
agreed that the British would pay Lobengula �100 a
month, together with 1,000 rifles, 10,000 rounds of
ammunition, and a riverboat.
Cecil Rhodes used this agreement to
found a chartered company, the British South Africa
Company ("The Company") in 1889. "The
Company" had powers that included the right to
annexe and administer land, raise its own police
force and to establish settlements within its own
boundaries. The territory was called Rhodesia.
In May 1890
Cecil Rhodes was elected Prime Minister
of the Cape Colony. Shortly afterwards, he
dispatched Jameson to Bulawayo, with
orders to build a road through Matabeleland
(Ndebeleland). Jameson abandoned his medical
practice to lead the pioneer expedition.
From this time his fortunes were bound
closely with Rhodes' schemes in the north.
pioneers were sent in support, forts were
built in Shona territory (Mashonaland), and the Union Jack
raised in Fort Salisbury on 12
September 1890. In 1891 Jameson became
administrator of the new Southern Rhodesia
territory (now Zimbabwe).
In November 1891 Lobengula granted
Eduard Lippert, a German businessman, farming
rights in Ndebele territory. The British
government arrested Lippert and his new land
was receded to "The Company".
Between 1893 and 1894 war broke out between
Britain and the Matabele (Ndebele). Although
the colonialists had
just 1,100 men against 18,000 Matabele, their
superior arms gave them the advantage.
Lobengula decided to flee with his tribe,
burning Bulawayo to the ground behind him.
He died shortly after of smallpox and the
Ndebele eventually succumbed to British
At the end of 1894 "Dr. Jim" (as Jameson
was familiarly called) returned to England
and was feted on all sides; returning to
southern Africa in the spring of 1895 with
Since the finding of gold in the
Witwatersrand in 1884, the Boers had resented the influx
of uitlanders (foreigners) that had entered
the Transvaal Republic to work the mines.
The Kruger government put
pressure on the mining companies in the form
of taxes and controlling the supply of dynamite,
to the frustration of
and other mine owners.
In 1895 the Reform Movement, led by mine owners
in the Transvaal Republic and secretly supported
by Cecil Rhodes,
plotted to overthrow the Transvaal government.
A raid was launched on 29 December
1895, when Jameson led a band of 600 British
armed men across the border from Mafikeng in Bechuanaland in an illegal attempt to
support the rebellious Uitlanders.
however, had been too hasty. Communication
was poor and plans were botched when all
telegraph lines were not cut as planned. Consequently, the Boers received
warning of the attack, and Jameson was
forced to surrender at Doornkop on 2 January 1896.
Jameson and his officers were sent to
Pretoria, and, after a short delay, during
which time sections of the Boer populace
clamoured for the execution of Jameson,
President Kruger handed them over to the
British government for punishment following
the on the surrender of Johannesburg on 7
In an interview with
granddaughter, Diana Barnato Walker, in 2003,
she recalls. "There is a lovely photograph somewhere
with Barney sitting with Oom Paul Kruger on
the stoep of his house in Pretoria, with Oom
Paul in a very tall top hat. It was Barney
who negotiated with Oom Paul to get all his
pals out after the Jameson Raid."
Rhodes acknowledged his complicity in
the infamous Jameson Raid, and was forced by
the British government to resign as Prime
Minister of the Cape Colony on 6 January
1896 (British Prime Minister Chamberlain was
also implicated but not proven).
Jameson raiders were tried in London under
the Foreign Enlistment Act in May 1896, and
Dr. Jameson was sentenced to fifteen months'
imprisonment at Holloway. He served a year
in prison but was then released on account
of ill health and later pardoned.
He retained the affections of the white
population of Rhodesia, and subsequently
returned there in an unofficial capacity. He
was the constant companion of
on his journeys up to the end of his life,
and when Rhodes died in May 1902 Jameson was
one of the executors of his will.
In 1903 Jameson was the leader of the
Progressive Party in the Cape Colony,
winning the general election in 1904.
Jameson was prime minister of the Cape
Colony until 1908. He attended the Colonial
Conference held in London in 1907 and in
September that year the Cape parliament was
dissolved for new elections which he lost in
In 1908 he was chosen one of the
delegates from Cape Colony to the
inter-colonial convention for the closer
union of the South African states, and he
took a prominent part in settling the terms
on which union was effected in 1909.
Union of South Africa came into being on 31
May 1910, resulting in the consolidation of
the Boer-run Transvaal Republic, the Orange
Free State (renamed the Orange River Colony
in 1900 during the Anglo-Boer war) and the
British Cape Colony and Natal Colony, under
one system of government.
It was at Jameson's suggestion that the
Orange River Colony should be renamed the
Orange Free State Province.
Jameson served as the leader of the
Unionist Party from its founding in 1910
until 1912. He was created a baronet in 1911
and returned to England in 1912.
Rudyard Kipling, his
famous poem "If..." was written in
celebration of Leander Starr Jameson's
personal qualities at overcoming the
difficulties of the Jameson Raid, for which
he largely took the blame.
Jameson is buried at Malindidzimu Hill
or "View of the World", alongside
This granite hill in south-west Zimbabwe, 25
miles south of Bulawayo, was designated by
as the resting place for those who served
Great Britain well in Africa.