Barnet 'Barney' Barnato (Isaacs) (1851 - 1897) MP

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Nicknames: "Barnato", "Barnet Isaacs (birth name)"
Birthplace: 5 Ropers Buildings, Aldgate, London, England, United Kingdom
Death: Died in At sea, near Madeira
Cause of death: Suicide / Some say murder by his nephew Solly Barnato Joel
Occupation: Randlord
Managed by: Priscilla Taylor
Last Updated:

About Barnet 'Barney' Barnato (Isaacs)

Barney Barnato (21 February 1851 – 14 June 1897), born Barnet Isaacs, was a British Randlord, one of the entrepreneurs who gained control of diamond mining, and later gold mining, in South Africa from the 1870s.

Barney Barnato claimed he had the same birthday as Cecil Rhodes (5 July 1853). Most biographies give his date of birth as 5 July 1852. However, his birth certificate (supported by census data) shows he was born Barnet Isaacs in the City of London on 21 February 1851, the son of Isaac and Leah Isaacs. He was educated by Moses Angel at the Jews' Free School.

Barney married Fanny Christina. They had 3 children: Woolf "Babe" Barnato, Leah Primrose, Isaac Henry "Jack" Barnato.

Barney came from a poor family, his father was a seller of second hand clothing, and he left school at a very young age to help support the family. He and his brother Harry became entertainers, Harry doing magic tricks and Barney who had an outgoing personality and was a superb salesman, acrobatics.

His assumed name derived from his time in entertainment. He emigrated to South Africa on 16 July 1873.

Barney and his brother Harry formed the Barnato Diamond Mining Company and within 10 years he had become a millionaire, primarily buying worked-out diamond mines area and mining the abandoned 'blue ground' heaps. Barney was known as the "Diamond King", who together with Cecil Rhodes, founded the diamond giant De Beers.

In 1897 Barney and his family sailed for England. Somewhere near Madeira he was lost overboard and drowned. Traveling with him at the time of the fall overboard was Solly Joel, related in some way to Barney. Some months later Barney's nephew Woolf Joel was murdered and Solly Joel inherited the bulk of Barneys estate. He built, but never lived in, a vast house on the corner of Park Lane and Stanhope Gate in Mayfair, London, which was bought after his death by the banker Sir Edward Sassoon. Woolf Barnato, Barney's son, inherited at age of two, a multi million pound fortune left to him by his father. He became a pioneer racing driver in the 1920's, one of the so called Bentley Boys. Woolf Barnato's daughter Diana Barnato Walker died in 2008 at the age of 90. She was the first British woman to break the sound barrier.

Throughout his life, Barney never forgot his roots and provided funds for various Jewish Institutions in London, including his old school. Today there is a suburb and school named after him in Johannesburg, South Africa - Barnato Park. The mystery surrounding Barney's death remains just that.



Burial record:

First name(s) Last name Date of burial Section Row Plot #


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Barney Barnato's Timeline

February 21, 1851
London, England, United Kingdom
March 16, 1893
Age 42
June 7, 1894
Age 43
September 27, 1895
Age 44
London, England
June 14, 1897
Age 46
At sea, near Madeira
June 20, 1897
Age 46
London, Greater London, United Kingdom