Robert Jameson

1832 – 1908

Robert Jameson

Robert Jameson was born in Scotland in 1832 at Kilmarnok. As a youth, he had to accompany his father’s regiment. He stayed for 8 years in Gibraltar and after that for 4 years in Canada. His parents had chosen a military career for him. However, he changed his mind and eventually he landed in Durban in 1856. A few years later he started his own company, manufacturing condiments, preserves etc. which employed a large amount of labour, turning out goods which were known throughout South Africa and which were even exported to Canada and Australia. Jameson’s Jam, the business was started in his private house.

In 1868, he first evinced interest in arboriculture. As a Councillor, he suggested tree planting in the streets of Durban. In addition, several parks even up until today bear testimony to his forethought and contributions. In 1877, first watering-carts were put on main streets at his suggestion, and in 1880, he was nominated for mayor, but, as he resided outside of Borough, he was ruled ineligible. As the Chairman of the sanitary Committee for more than 20 years, Robert Jameson worked most strenuously for the improvement of conditions in Durban. He has been associated with the Town Council for over 30 years, mainly as a Councillor, and as a Mayor from 1895 to 1897. Since 1895, he also served a representative from Durban Co. on the Legislative Council. For a period of 10 years, he served as an officer in the Durban Mounted Rifles and was awarded a Zulu War Medal.

First plant sent to Kew by John Medley Woods, collected by Robert JamesonFirst plant sent to Kew by John Medley Woods, collected by Robert Jameson

In 1867 he became a member of the Natal Botanical Garden Committee and contributed packets of seeds to the garden from time to time.

When news of the rich gold strike at Moodies near Barberton reached Durban in 1884, Jameson and a Mr. Penningsfield formed the Moodies Gold Mining and Exploration Company and trekked to the new goldfields. Robert Jameson evidently returned to Durban shortly afterwards, taking with him plants of a Gerberas, which grew in profusion near the diggings, as a contribution to the Botanical Garden. John Medley Wood, curator of the Garden since 1882, sent plants to Kew in 1888 and one survived to be figured in Bot.Mag.t.7087, 1 November 1889. Harry Bolus had collected the same species during a visit to Barberton in October 1886 and suggested to J.T Hooker that it should be called Gerbera jamesonii.

Also read Jameson’s “Rought Notes of a Trip to the Transvaal Goldfields” (opens in new window).

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