Skip to main content

Late nineteenth-century globalization: London and Lomagundi perspectives on mining speculation in southern Africa, 1894–1904

  • Ian Phimister (a1)

In southern Africa the portal of globalization opened by finance capital towards the end of the nineteenth century frequently turned on mining speculation. A particularly notorious case was that of the Ayrshire mine in Southern Rhodesia's Lomagundi district. Touted in its heyday as the richest gold prospect in the entire southern half of the continent, the Ayrshire's corporate existence was characterized by company-mongering and market manipulation in the City of London. Few of these concerns immediately impinged on indigenous interests. As interaction between the global and the local was sporadic and contingent, local politics of dynastic accommodation only gradually gave way to global dynamics of dispossession and accumulation.

Hide All

1 See, variously, Harvey, Charles and Press, Jon, ‘The City and international mining, 1870–1914’, Business History, 32, 3, 1990, pp. 99–102; McCarty, John W., ‘British investment in overseas mining, 1880–1914’, PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 1961, pp. 3–6; Van Helten, Jean Jacques, ‘Mining, share manias and speculation: British investments in overseas mining, 1880–1913’, in Jean-Jacques Van Helten and Youssef Cassis, eds., Capitalism in a mature economy: financial institutions, capital exports and British industry, 1870–1939, Aldershot: Edward Elgar Publishing, 1990, pp. 160–163; and Davis, Lance E. and Huttenback, Robert A., Mammon and the pursuit of empire: the political economy of British imperialism, 1860–1912, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986, pp. 53–68. Certain of the issues discussed here are taken up in Phimister, Ian and Mouat, Jeremy, ‘Mining, engineers and risk management: British overseas investment, 1894–1914’, South African Historical Journal, 49, 1, 2003, pp. 1–26.

2 Van Helten, , ‘Mining’, p. 167; Dumett, Raymond E., ed., Mining tycoons in the age of empire, 1870–1945: entrepreneurship, high finance, politics and territorial expansion, Farnham: Ashgate, 2008, pp. 23–24. More broadly, see Kynaston, David, The City of London, volume 2: golden years 1890–1914, London: Chatto and Windus, 1995; Michie, Ranald, The London Stock Exchange: a history, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

3 McCarty, , ‘British investment’, p. 251.

4 Cassis, Youssef, Capitals of capital: a history of international financial centres, 1780–2005, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

5 Sir William Harcourt, 8 May 1896, House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, 4th series, vol. 40, col. 889.

6 Rhodesia Herald, 14 September 1898.

7 Galbraith, John S., Crown and charter: the early years of the British South Africa Company, London: University of California Press, 1974, pp. 126–127.

8 Osterhammel, Jürgen and Petersson, Niels P., Globalization: a short history, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005, pp. 21–22.

9 See especially, Summers, Roger, Ancient mining in Rhodesia, Salisbury, Rhodesia: Trustees of the National Museums of Rhodesia, 1969; Phimister, Ian, ‘Precolonial gold mining in Southern Zambesia: a reassessment’, African Social Research, 21, 1976, pp. 1–30.

10 Beach, David N., War and politics in Zimbabwe 1840–1900, Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press, 1986; Beach, David N., Mapondera: heroism and history in northern Zimbabwe 1840–1904, Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press, 1989.

11 Palley, Claire, The constitutional history and law of Southern Rhodesia 1888–1965, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966, p. 38.

12 Fitzpatrick, J. Percy, Through Mashonaland with pick and pen, Johannesburg: Argus, 1892, p. 91; Stagman, J. G., ‘The geology of the country around Sinoia and Banket Lomagundi District’, Southern Rhodesia Geological Survey Bulletin No. 49, Salisbury, Rhodesia: The Government Printer, 1961, p. 62; and Black, Colin, The legend of Lomagundi, Salisbury, Rhodesia: North-Western Development Association, 1976, p. 12.

13 Rhodes House, Oxford (henceforth RH), MSS Afr. S228, C10/1, J. H. Hammond to C. J. Rhodes, 27 October 1894.

14 Chalmers, J. A. and Hatch, F. H., ‘Notes on the geology of Mashonaland and Matabeleland’, Geological Magazine (Decade IV), 2, 1895, p. 202; Goldmann, Charles S., South African mines; their position, results and developments: together with an account of diamond, land, finance, and kindred concerns. Volume II: miscellaneous companies, London: E. Wilson & Co., 1895–6, pp. 81–82.

15 Among many others, see Johnstone, Frederick A., Class, race and gold: a study of class relations and racial discrimination in South Africa, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976.

16 National Archives of Zimbabwe, Harare (henceforth NAZ), ML 3/1/1, Mining Commissioner, Lomagundi District, report for July 1894.

17 NAZ, ML 3/1/1, Mining Commissioner, Lomagundi District, report for August 1894.

18 NAZ, ML 3/1/1, Mining Commissioner, Lomagundi District, report for September 1894. See also NAZ, A2/1/6, P. Inskipp, Secretary to Administrator, to Lo Magundis, Native Commissioner, 3 December 1894; Thomson, Harry Craufuird, Rhodesia and its government, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1898, pp. 234235.

19 NAZ, CT 1/15/6, Mining Commissioner, Lomagundi District, to Acting Administrator, Salisbury, 14 August 1894. See also NAZ, ML 2/2/1, Mining Commissioner, Lomagundi District, to Registrar of Mines, Salisbury, 18 January 1896.

20 Tangye, Harold Lincoln, In new South Africa: travels in the Transvaal and Rhodesia, London: Horace Cox, 1900, pp. 381–382.

21 NAZ, N1/1/5, A. J. Jameson to D. L. MacGlashan, 30 May 1896.

22 Apart from Kubicek, Robert V., Economic imperialism in theory and practice: the case of South African gold mining finance 1886–1914, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1979, this crucial dimension of the early history of the southern African gold-mining industry has not been explored. In contrast, the contemporaneous ‘Westralian’ boom and bust is analysed in Lougheed, Alan L., ‘The London Stock Exchange boom in Kalgoorlie shares, 1895–1901’, Australian Economic History Review, 35, 1995, pp. 83–102. See also McCarty, John W., ‘British investment in Western Australian gold mining, 1894–1914’, University Studies in History, 4, 1, 1961–62, pp. 7–23; Bastin, John, ‘The West Australian gold fields, 1892–1900: the investors and their grievances’, Historical Studies: Australia and New Zealand, 23, 1954, pp. 282–289.

23 Rhodesia Herald, 6 April 1894.

24 Ibid., 20 July 1894.

25 Mining Journal, 16 May 1908.

26 J. Y. F. Blake, ‘Golden Rhodesia: a revelation’, National Review, 27, August 1897, p. 846. See also P. F. Hone, Southern Rhodesia, London: George Bell and Sons, 1909, p. 245.

27 Knight, Edward F., Rhodesia of to-day: a description of the present condition and the prospects of Mashonaland & Matabeleland, London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1895, pp. 94–95.

28 BSA Company, Fourth Annual General Meeting 18 January 1895, London: British South Africa Company, 1895, p. 10.

29 The Statist, 20 July 1895.

30 African Review, 28 December 1895.

31 The Statist, 21 September 1895.

32 Rhodesia Herald, 5 February 1896.

33 African Review, 25 January 1896.

34 Ibid., 26 December 1896.

35 Hyatt, Stanley P., Off the main track, London: T. W. Laurie, 1911, p. 114.

36 BSA Company, The '96 Rebellions, reprint of The British South Africa Company reports on the native disturbances in Rhodesia, 1896–97, Bulawayo: Books of Rhodesia, 1975, p. 101.

37 African Review, 29 September 1900. See also Gregory, J. W., ‘The mining fields of Southern Rhodesia in 1905’, Transactions of the Institution of Mining Engineers, 31, 1906, p. 6; Alderton, E. A., With the mounted infantry and the Mashonaland field force 1896, London: Methuen, 1898, pp. 229–232.

38 Ranger, Terence, Revolt in Southern Rhodesia: a study in African resistance, London: Heinemann, 1967, p. 269.

39 Beach, David N., ‘An innocent woman, unjustly accused? Charwe, medium of the Nehanda Mhondoro spirit and the 1896–97 central Shona rising in Zimbabwe’, History in Africa, 25, 1998, pp. 32–33.

40 Ibid., pp. 37–8.

41 NAZ, S 2953, Queen vs. Nianda, Gutsa, Zindoga and Wata, 2 March 1898. See especially, Wood, R. H., ‘The 1898 criminal sessions’, Heritage of Zimbabwe, 8, 1986, pp. 47–58.

42 Beach, ‘An innocent woman’, pp. 33, 41.

43 Rhodesia Herald, 30 March 1898.

44 Mabson, Richard Rous, Rhodesian companies, London: The Statist, 1899, p. 56.

45 Rhodesia Herald, 10 November 1897.

46 African Review, 2 January 1897.

47 Guillaume Daudin, Matthias Morys, and Kevin H. O'Rourke, ‘Globalization, 1870–1914’ , in Stephen Broadberry and Kevin O'Rourke, eds., The Cambridge economic history of modern Europe. Volume 2: 1870 to the present, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 11.

48 Rhodesia, 7 January 1899.

49 For a preliminary sketch of the Ayrshire mine's financial history, expanded and revised in what follows, see Phimister, Ian, ‘Speculation and exploitation: the Southern Rhodesian mining industry in the company era’, Zambezia, 30, 2003, pp. 178189.

50 NAZ, LO4/1/2, report of Claims Inspector, Lomagundi, for year ending 31 March 1898.

51 The Statist, 27 July 1895.

52 Financial Times, 15 December 1899.

53 NAZ N9/3/3, Native Commissioner, Lomagundi, quarterly report for period ending 30 September 1900.

54 See, for example, Financial News, 1 January 1901.

55 NAZ, N3/22/8, ‘Native names of mines’, n.d.

56 van Onselen, Charles, Chibaro: African mine labour in Southern Rhodesia 1900–1933, London: Pluto Press, 1976, p. 236.

57 African Review, 29 September 1900.

58 Financial News, 1 January 1901.

59 Rhodesia, 15 April 1899. For Sauer's bland memoirs, see Hans Sauer, Ex Africa, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1937.

60 NAZ, A1/5/3, H. Wilson Fox to W. Milton, 15 March 1901. Both articles appeared in the Financial News, for which see Dilwyn Porter, ‘“A trusted guide to the investing public”: Harry Marks and the Financial News 1884–1916’, Business History, 28, 1986, pp. 1–17.

61 NAZ, A1/5/3, Wilson Fox to Milton, 8 March 1901. See also Ian Phimister, An economic and social history of Zimbabwe 1890–1948: capital accumulation and class struggle, London: Longman, 1988, p. 22.

62 RH, MSS Afr. S228, C19, Wilson Fox to Rhodes, 15 March 1901; Financial News, 28 November 1902.

63 African Review, 8 June 1901.

64 RH, MSS Afr. S228, C19, Wilson Fox to Rhodes, 15 March 1901.

65 NAZ, A11/2/16/6, Secretary, Lomagunda Development Company Ltd, to the Secretary, BSA Company Ltd, 4 April 1901; reply of same date. See also NAZ, M3/3/5, ‘Memorandum of Agreement … between the Lomagunda Development Company … of the first part; The British South Africa Company … of the second part; and the Ayrshire Gold Mine and Lomagunda Railway Company Limited … of the third part’.

66 NAZ, A11/2/16/6, ‘Prospectus of Ayrshire Gold Mine and Lomagunda Railway Company Ltd, March 1901’.

67 RH, MSS Afr. S228, C19, Wilson Fox to Rhodes, 23 March 1901.

68 Curle, James Herbert, The gold mines of the world, London: Waterlow & Sons, 1902, p. 115. Curle was for many years The Economist's mining correspondent.

69 African Review, 4 May 1901.

70 Financial Times, 16 April 1902.

71 Warhurst, Philip, ‘A troubled frontier: north-eastern Mashonaland, 1898–1906’, African Affairs, 77, 1978, pp. 215–219.

72 Ibid., p. 216.

73 What follows is drawn from Ian Phimister, ‘Mapondera, Kadungure (c.1840s–1904)’, in Henry Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, vol. 36, pp. 586–7.

74 Beach, Mapondera, pp. 27, 29.

75 Ibid., pp. 31–2, 33.

76 Gilbert, Sharrad H., Rhodesia and after: being the story of the 17th and 18th battalions of Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa, London: Simpkin Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1901, p. 99. See the map facing p. 13 for the route taken by the Imperial Yeomanry to Mapondera's land.

77 Ibid., p. 100.

78 Beach, , Mapondera, p. 32.

79 Ibid., p. 49.

80 Ibid., pp. 39–47. For Portuguese–Shona encounters, see, variously, David N. Beach, ‘The origins of Mozambique and Zimbabwe: Paiva de Andrada, the Companhia de Mocambique and African diplomacy 1881–1891’, unpublished, 1992; published as ‘As origens de Mocambique e Zimbabwe: Paiva de Andrada, a Companhia de Mocambique e a diplomacia Africana 1881–1891’, Arquivo, 13, 1993, pp. 5–80; Axelson, Eric, Portugal and the scramble for Africa, Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1967; Isaacman, Allen, The tradition of resistance in Mozambique: anti-colonial activity in the Zambezi Valley 1850–1921, London: Heinemann, 1976.

81 NAZ, T2/2/16, ‘Parleying held on the Kopje with rebels and their remarks’, 26 September 1901.

82 Rhodesia Journal, 12 August 1909.

83 Gregory, ‘Mining fields’, pp. 81–5; ‘The Ayrshire mine’, Chamber of Mines Journal, October 1978, p. 29.

84 African Review, 28 December 1895 and 17 October 1896.

85 Stagman, , ‘Geology’, p. 63.

86 Rhodesia Herald, 15 November 1902. See also NAZ, LO4/1/11, The Secretary, Rhodesia Exploration & Development Company Ltd., to Mining Commissioner, Salisbury, 16 April 1902.

87 Rhodesia Herald, 18 October 1902. For Marks, see my interview with R. Hutchings, Bindura, 10 April 1990 (transcript in the author's possession; original interview deposited with the National Archives of Zimbabwe). For Silver, see van Onselen, Charles, The fox and the flies: the world of Joseph Silver, racketeer and psychopath, London: Jonathan Cape Ltd, 2007.

88 NAZ, A1/5/3, Wilson Fox to Milton, 24 December 1901.

89 NAZ, A1/5/4, Wilson Fox to Milton, 1 February 1902.

90 African Review, 4 January 1902.

91 Stagman, , ‘Geology’, p. 62.

92 ‘The Ayrshire mine’, p. 28. See also Tanser, George H., A sequence of time: the story of Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1900–1914, Salisbury, Rhodesia: Pioneer Head, 1974, p. 94.

93 Thomson, , Rhodesia and its government, 48.

94 The Critic, 6 December 1902.

95 NAZ, A11/2/18/7, Sir Lewis Michell to Secretary, BSA Company, 2 November 1903.

96 African Review, 25 April 1903.

97 Sunday Times, 12 June 1904.

98 African Review, 21 May 1904.

99 South African Mines, Commerce and Industry, 27 August 1904.

100 Paragraph based on Gregory, ‘Mining fields’; ‘The Ayrshire mine’; and Stagman, ‘Geology’, passim. See also ‘Sidelights on Rhodesian gold mining’, Rhodesian Mining Journal, April 1935.

101 Rhodesian Times, 5 May 1904. See also Bulawayo Chronicle, 21 May 1904; Rhodesia Herald, 12 May 1904.

102 The Critic, 3 December 1904.

103 The Economist, 17 December 1904.

104 NAZ, LO4/1/11, H. Newman Smith to Mining Commissioner, Salisbury, 7 April 1902.

105 NAZ, LO4/1/11, Assistant Native Commissioner, North Mazoe, July 1902.

106 Beach, Mapondera, pp. 54, 55.

107 Hyatt, , Off the main track, pp. 117118.

108 Daudin, Morys, and O'Rourke, ‘Globalization’, p. 6.

109 Osterhammel and Petersson, Globalization, pp. 86–7.

110 The Economist, 23 December 1905.

111 The literature is voluminous, but see especially Hopkins, A. G., ed., Globalization in world history, London: W.W. Norton, 2002; Hopkins, A. G., ed., Global history: interactions between the universal and the local, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; Magee, Gary B. and Thompson, Andrew S., Empire and globalisation: networks of people, goods and capital in the British world, c.1850–1914, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010; Osterhammel and Petersson, Globalization; Hanley, Keith and Kucich, Greg, eds., Nineteenth-century worlds: global formations past and present, Abingdon: Routledge, 2008; and Daudin, Morys, and O'Rourke, ‘Globalization’, pp. 5–29.

112 Goodman, Bryna and David S. G. Goodman, eds., Twentieth-century colonialism and China: localities, the everyday, and the world, London: Routledge, 2012, p. 15.

113 Middell, Matthias and Naumann, Katja, ‘Global history and the spatial turn: from the impact of area studies to the study of critical junctures of globalization’, Journal of Global History, 5, 2010, pp. 162, 161.

114 Ibid., p. 167.

115 A. G. Hopkins, ‘Introduction: interactions between the universal and the local’, in Hopkins, Global history, p. 6.

116 William H. McNeill, ‘Afterword: world history and globalization’, in Hopkins, Global history, p. 290.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Global History
  • ISSN: 1740-0228
  • EISSN: 1740-0236
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-global-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed