South African diamond magnate.
Cecil John Rhodes (b. 5 July 1853, currently age 19) is an English-born businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa. Rhodes was born in 1853 in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. He was the fifth son of the Reverend Francis William Rhodes, a Church of England vicar who prided himself on never having preached a sermon longer than 10 minutes, and his wife Louisa Peacock Rhodes. Cecil has many siblings, including Francis William Rhodes, an army officer. A sickly, asthmatic teenager, he was taken out of grammar school and sent to Natal, South Africa because his family thought the hot, dry climate there would improve his health. There, he was to help his brother Herbert on his cotton farm.
After a brief stay with the Surveyor-General of Natal, Dr. P.C. Sutherland, in Pietermaritzburg, Rhodes took an interest in agriculture and joined his brother Herbert on his cotton farm in the Umkomaas valley in Natal. In the colony, he established the Rhodes Fruit Farms4 in the Stellenbosch district. In October 1871, Rhodes left the colony for the diamond fields of Kimberley. Financed by N M Rothschild & Sons, Rhodes achieved a virtual monopoly in the diamond mining industry, Rothschild also profiting on the yield from the future exploitation.
He supervised the working of his brother’s claim and speculated on his behalf. Among his associates in the early days were John X. Merriman and Charles Rudd, who later became his partner in the De Beers Mining Company and Niger Oil Company. After he first came to Africa, Rhodes supported himself with money lent by his aunt Sophia.
Rhodes attended the Bishop’s Stortford Grammar School. In 1873, Rhodes plans to leave his farm field in the care of his business partner, Rudd, and sail back to England to complete his studies. He has been admitted to Oriel College, Oxford.
While attending Oriel College, Rhodes became a Freemason. Although his initial view of it was not approving, he continued to be a Freemason until his death in 1902. The failures of the Freemasons, in his mind, later caused him to envisage his own secret society with the goal of bringing the entire world under British rule.
Whilst at Oxford, Rhodes continued to prosper in Kimberley. Before his departure for Oxford, he and C.D. Rudd had moved from the Kimberley mine to invest in the more costly claims of what was known as old De Beers (Vooruitzicht) which owed its name to Johannes Nicolaas de Beer and his brother, Diederik Arnoldus de Beer, who were occupants of the farm, which with the entire Griqualand West Region belonged to the Voortrekker great-great-grandfather of Claudine Fourie-Grosvenor.
He had allowed various Afrikaner families including the De Beers to reside on the land after he had purchased the entire Region from the Modder River via the Vet River up to the Vaal River from Mr. David Danser, a Koranna Chief in the area, in 1839. This included the Diamond Fields and later named Kimberley too. Rhodes and his associates, who had proceeded North from the Cape to forcibly take the land, hastily paid these two brothers a sum of money after writing out a certificate supposedly stating that the farm belonged to the brothers.