About James Rose-Innes
Rt. Hon. Sir James ROSE INNES, P.C.; KC.M.G., M.P., LL.B, Q.C.
was born on 8 Jan 1855 Grahamstown, Albany, Cape of Good Hope. He was educated in
1874 B.A. University of the Cape of Good Hope.
In 1875 he was Native Affairs Department at Cape Town. He was educated in 1877 LL.B. Between 1890 and 1893 he was M.P. - Minister in Cecil John Rhodes's first Ministry. In 1900 he was Attorney-General for the Cape.
He died on 16 Jan 1942 Kenilworth, Cape Town, Cape Province, South Africa. He was Banker. He was Chief Justice of the Transvaal.
Notes from the file of Paul Tanner-Tremaine:
"Sir James Rose-Innes, Selected Correspondence (1884 - 1902)" edited by Harrison M.. Wright, PhD. Department of History Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, USA published by the Van Riebeeck Society, Cape Town in 1972 Second Series No. 3.
This is a footnote about his name.
"The descendants of the first James Rose-Innes (1799 - 1873) but never seemed to agree as to whether the family surname should be styled Innes, Rose Innes or Rose-Innes. The confusion arises from family complications in Scotland in the late 18th Century. Different members of the family currently use different forms. The subject of this volume always used James Rose Innes (never James R. Innes) where he spelled his name out. He took 'Rose' to be a given name although apparently it had been applied to all his grandfather's children and grandchildren. When referring to him by surname only most contemporaries used Innes; and shortly after his knighthood his wife adopted Lady Innes over Lady Rose Innes, as he deemed correct.
The genealogy in 'Burke's Landed Gentry'. 17th ed. London 1952 p 1352, supports him as to the correctness of this form. Therefore in
this volume his surname is assumed to be Innes. (But because Innes' brother Richard preferred Rose Innes or Rose-Innes - as do his descendants, Rose Innes is, somewhat inconsistently, used when referring to him)" Page 2.
"Innes was born on 8 January 1855 in Grahamstown. His father, also named James Rose Innes (1824 - 1906) and later to become the Cape Under Secretary for Native Affairs, was then secretary to the Lieutenant-Governor of the Cape. His grandfather, the first James Rose Inness (1799 -1873) had come to South Africa in 1822 to help organise the educational system of the Cape and had ultimately become its first Superintendent-general of education. Innes' mother, born Mary Ann Fleischer (1836-1914) who was the daughter of a successful farmer from the Eastern Cape. Her great grandfather was Robert Hart, founder in the early nineteenth century of Somerset East.(Throughout his life Innes combined pride in his British descent with a claim that he was as South African as the Afrikaaners)
In 1856 Innes' father became Magistrate at Riversdale. In 1863 he was sent in this capacity to Uitenhage in 1867 to Bedford as Resident Magistrate and Civil Commissioner, in 1871to Somerset East and in 1873 to King William's Town. His growing family followed
him. Young Innes consequently attended a variety of schools, all heavily imbued with the Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed religious principles that made up such a large part of the educational policies of his grandfather. There was no formal higher education in South
Africa at the time; the University of Cape of Good Hope was founded in 1873 but as an examining and degree-granting body only. Preparing as best he could, Innes passed his examinations for a B.A. in 1874 and for an LL.B in 1877. Having in the meantime to
support himself, he worked briefly in a bank and, after 1875, in the Native Affairs Department in Cape Town.
Innes decided to settle in Cape Town, was admitted to the Cape bar in February 1878, and took up legal practice. He rapidly became successful. His practice, his reputation and his financial independence grew. On the 18th October 1881 he married Jessie Dods Pringle, the youngest daughter of William Dods Pringle, a well known 1820 Settler and a half-brother of Thomas Pringle, the poet. Innes had known Jessie Pringle from childhood through close family connections (his great aunt having been her father's firs wife) and he had spent many of his school vacations at 'Lynedoch' sometimes spelled Lyndoch) the Pringle farm in the Bedford District. the marriage survived until Innes' death over sixty years later and was unusually close.
There was one child, Dorothy, born on the 25th February 1884.
Two days before Dorothy Rose Innes' birth her father was elected as a member of the Cape House of Assembly for Victoria East, a political division situated on the Eastern Frontier with a mixed constituency of Afrikaner, English-speaking and African voters.
During the eighteen years of active political life between those dates (February 1884 - February 1902) he was involved in one way or another in most of the important issues of Cape and, indeed, of South African politics. Innes was no ordinary politician. His qualities of intellect and character were exceptional. Contemporaries acknowledged him as a man of pre-eminent fairness, honesty and sense of justice. His moral purpose was transparent; his integrity was unquestioned; his powers of analysis and debate and his capacity for work was impressive; he was calm and moderate in his habits, in his speech, and in his judgements. Political opponents expressed their admiration for him as enthusiastically as did his friends.
At the same time Innes was not, perhaps, as effective in politics as he might have been. He did not have a driving political instinct or political push. His personal and intellectual strengths tended to provide political weaknesses. His detachment, his habit of looking at
all sides of every question and of judging cases on their merits, made him appear occasionally indecisive. His aims and ambitions had to operate within the constraints of an extremely high, almost inflexible, code of personal behaviour. He was reluctant to
compromise on political issues even when he perceived that such a compromise might actually further the pursuit of his high-minded goals.
He did not enjoy the rough and tumble of party politics. Although frequently invited or urged to take positions of power he drew back from the kinds of commitments that were involved from the limitations that would necessarily be placed upon his freedom of action, from the threats to his moral integrity that might arise. As a result, although he served as Attorney-General in two cabinets and was the leader of the parliamentary opposition for almost a year, he was, given his exceptional capabilities and character, a politician for of promise than of fulfillment, more of reputation than of power. Only as a judge were all his qualities to be fully realised. As the following correspondence indicates Innes was, nonetheless, in no way
suffocated by his own rectitude. His manner was easy and outgoing; he had a sense of humour that was droll if not witty and a mind that was perceptive if not unusually imaginative. He was not, admittedly, as was his close friend John X. Merriman, a brilliant
correspondent. 'You know I am a very bad letter writer' he once wrote, 'I can't talk on paper, I can't let my thoughts flow through my pen as I can through my tongue; the consequence is that I never end a letter without feeling that I have not said half of the things I intended to say'. But he underestimated his abilities in this respect. His letters are reflections of his personality: clear, straightforward, moderate , unpretentious and honest".
Information from the Van Riebeeck Society website:
Sir James Rose Innes (1855 - 1942) was one of South Africa's leading jurists. This volume deals with Rose Innes's political career, initially as a member of Cecil John Rhodes's first ministry in 1890 - 1893. The political divisions caused by the Jameson Raid forced Rose Innes reluctantly into the loyalist camp. In 1900 he returned to cabinet as attorney-general for the Cape and subsequently was appointed Chief Justice of the Transvaal. Rose Innes was noteworthy as a politician for his sensitive insights into the plight of the country and for his integrity and moderation, qualities which emerge in his letters.
Information from the Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa - Rosenthal (1961).
ROSE-INNESS, Sir James:(I have not corrected the mistake in his name) Chief Justice of the Union of South Africa.
Born in Grahamstown in January 1855 he was educated at Gill College, Somerset East and passed his legal examinations at the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1877. The following year he was admitted to the Bar and, combining practice with journalism, soon became well known. Entering the Cape Parliament in 1884 as a member for Victoria East, he was elected for the Cape Division in 1888. He took silk in 1889 and became Attorney-General in Cecil
Rhodes' ministry in 1890. Three years later he resigned in order to become President of the Political Association and held a watching brief on behalf of the Imerial Government during the trial of the Reform prisoners in the Transvaal, which position he held until Union.
Upon the founding of the Appellate Division in 1910 he became Senior Puisne Judge and, upon the death of Lord de Villiers in 1914, Chief Justice. He retired in 1927 and died in 1942.
Apart from his legal eminence he was known as a strong Liberal and negrophile in politicts.
Information from 'South African Who's Who' Social and Business 1933 in the possession of Glynis Millett-Clay 26th October 2007:
ROSE INNES, Rt. Hon. Sir James, P.C, K.C., K.C.M.G.
Barrister and Politician; ex-Chief Justice of the Union of South Africa, late Leader of the Opposition in the Cape House of Assembly; born Grahamstown, 8th January 1855; a son of J. Rose Innes CMGl, and nephew by marriage of Sir Gordon Sprigg ex Premier of Cape Colon;y married 1881 Jessi, youngest daughter of the late W.D. Pringle of Bedford. Educated Bedford, Gill College, Somerset East; Cape University Entered Cape Parliament
1884 as a member for Victoria East; returned for Cape Division 1888, Q.C. 1889, Attorney-General of Rhodes Ministry 1890; resigned 1893. President of the Political Association; wasretained by High Commissioner during trial of Reform prisoners in
Transvaal to watch for British Government; Attorney-General Cape Colonly 1900-1901;
Member of Pretoria Club, Pretoria.
Address: Cape Town
Rt. Hon. Sir James ROSE INNES, P.C.; KC.M.G., M.P., LL.B, Q.C. and Jessie Dods PRINGLE were married on 18 Oct 1881 in 'Lyndock' Glen Lyndon, Bedford District, Cape of Good Hope.
Rt. Hon. Sir James Rose-Innes, P.C.; K.C.M.G, M.P, LL.B, Q.C.'s Timeline
January 8, 1855
Grahamstown, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
October 18, 1881
Bedford District, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
February 25, 1884
January 16, 1942