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James Rose Innes

James Rose Innes (1855 - 1942) was a South African judge, politician and cabinet minister. Rose Innes was born in Grahamstown and married Jessie Dods Pringle in 1881. During the Cape elections of 1884 he was a candidate for Victoria East, and partly through the backing he received from John Tengo Jabavu in canvassing Xhosa votes, he won the seat. Subsequently his brother, Richard Rose Innes, an attorney at King William’s Town, helped Jabavu to finance the establishment of the first Xhosa-language newspaper, Imvo Zabantsundu (‘Views of the People’), of which Jabavu was editor. Later Rose Innes became a Q.C. and in 1890 he was appointed attorney-general in the first Rhodes cabinet, but together with Merriman and Sauer he resigned in 1893 over the Logan contract scandal caused by James Sivewright. After the Jameson Raid, Innes was an official observer appointed by the British government to attend the 1896 trial of the members of the Reform Committee who were suspected of having instigated the Raid at the end of 1895. After the Raid, Innes increasingly allied himself with the so-called Progressive Party and eventually his views on the South African War estranged him from his erstwhile colleagues. Will Schreiner became Cape Prime Minister after the ‘fall’ of Rhodes in the wake of the Jameson Raid. On the resignation of the Schreiner ministry in June 1900, Innes then became attorney-general in the Sprigg cabinet, a post he held until 1902, and was knighted in 1901. In 1902 Innes became Chief Justice of the Transvaal, and after Union in 1910 he became a judge of appeal, and then in 1914 Chief Justice of the Union of South Africa. After his retirement in 1927 Innes, with others, founded the Non-Racial Franchise Association, which aimed to protect the Cape non-racial franchise and extend it to the rest of the country.

There are only two extant letters from Olive Schreiner to James Rose Innes. In part this may be because her letters to him were lost or destroyed, but might perhaps also be an indication that Schreiner did not think she could really change or influence Innes in the way that she attempted to do with Merriman, Smuts and Malan. One letter dates from 1895, invites Innes to visit her in Kimberley and urges him to devote his energies to liberal politics. The second letter, from May 1896, is a powerful ‘letter of conscience’ in which Schreiner exhorts Innes not to back Rhodes, warning him “If you waver now, it will be to you a life long regret.” In fact Innes did waver and his support for the Progressive Party, largely dominated by factions loyal to Rhodes, estranged him from many of his former colleagues and supporters.

For further information see:
James Rose Innes (1949) James Rose Innes Chief Justice of South Africa 1914-27: Autobiography Oxford: Oxford University Press
James Rose Innes (1972) Sir James Rose Innes Selected Correspondence, 1884-1902 (edited by Harrison M. Wright) Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Society
Phyllis Lewsen (2004) ‘Innes, Sir James Rose- (1855-1942)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press

Recipient Of Recipient Of
Collection National Library of South Africa, Cape Town: Special Collections at the NLSA provide one of the leading locations for archival papers across many periods, organisations a... Show/Hide Collection Letters

Mentioned In Mentioned In
Collection National Archives Depot, Pretoria: The National Archives Depot is Pretoria is a leading location for archival papers across a wide time-period, organisations an... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection Life and Letters: The two groups of letters here are ones which Cronwright-Schreiner included in large part in either The Life or The Letters a... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection National Library of South Africa, Cape Town: Special Collections at the NLSA provide one of the leading locations for archival papers across many periods, organisations a... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection University of Cape Town, Historical Manuscripts: Manuscripts & Archives at the University of Cape Town is a leading location for accessing archival papers across many per... Show/Hide Collection Letters
Collection National Library of South Africa SCCS Extracts: See Major Collections for details of the NLSA in Cape Town. The Extracts are precisely that, many hundreds of snippets mainly... Show/Hide Collection Letters

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