Sir Joseph Benjamin Robinson - Encyclopedia

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SIR JOSEPH BENJAMIN ROBINSON (1845-), South African mine-owner, was born at Cradock, Cape Colony, in 1845. At the age of sixteen he started business as a general trader, wool-buyer and stock-breeder, but on the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1867 he hastened to the Vaal river district, where, by purchasing the stones from the natives and afterwards by buying diamond-bearing land, notably at Kimberley, he soon acquired a considerable fortune. He was mayor of Kimberley in 1880, and for four years was a representative of Griqualand West in the Cape parliament. On the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand district in 1886, Robinson purchased the Langlaagte and Randfontein estates. His views as to the westerly trend of the main gold-.bearing reef were entirely contrary to the bulk of South African opinion at the time, but events proved him to be correct, and the enormous appreciation in value of his various properties made him one of the richest men in South Africa. As a Rand capitalist he stood aloof from combinations with other gold-mining interests, and took no part in the Johannesburg reform movement, maintaining friendly relations with President Kruger. He claimed that it was as the result of his representations after the Jameson Raid that Kruger appointed the Industrial Commission of 1897, whose recommendations - had they been carried out - would have remedied some of the Uitlander grievances. In 1908 he was created a baronet.

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