Jessie Rose Innes (nee Dods Pringle)
Jessie (or Jesse) Rose Innes nee Dods Pringle (1860 - 1943) was the wife of Sir James Rose Innes and a close friend of Olive Schreiner's. From the Albany Pringle 1820 settler family, she grew up in the Bedford area of the Eastern Cape, was educated at the Good Hope seminary in Cape Town and was one of the founders of the Victoria Nurses Institute. During the South African War she was a member of the Good Hope Red Cross Committee. Jessie married James Rose Innes in 1881 and they had one child, a daughter Dorothy born in 1884. Jessie Rose Innes was active in various charitable causes in both Pretoria and Cape Town, and also in the Women's Enfranchisement League. In 1914 she was elected chair of the Cape Town branch of the National Council for Women.
Schreiner's earliest letters to Jessie Rose Innes date from shortly after her return to South Africa at the end of 1889, and it seems that they had become friends during the early 1890s, with Schreiner's letters to Jessie warm and incr'asingly informal, signing off 'thine ever' at times. Nonetheless, there remains throughout the letters a sense of Jessie Rose Innes as rather 'grand' and remote, with Schreiner for example not wanting to invite her to stay when she is 'making do' in 'wo small rooms. While the contents of the letters is in many respects mainly quotidian, there are a number of interesting comments on the native question' and women's enfranchisement networks and activities in them. There are also some signs that Schreiner attempted to influence James Rose Innes politically through her letters to Jessie, for example in a letter of 16 January 1896 written in the aftermath of the Jameson Raid, where she writes, 'Give my love to Mr Innes & tell him there are many of us who will stand by him with head & heart, & pen, & word if he is standing on his own ground alone.' There seems to be a gap in Schreiner's letters to Jessie Rose Innes after she left South Africa in 1913, but they resume in 1920 with several letters from post-war London about the hardship and deprivation there, and then two letters written after Schreiner had returned to South Africa later on in 1920 which show her actively engaging in the 'native question', amongst other things.
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 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35830