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Randlord is a term used to denote the entrepreneurs who controlled the diamond and gold mining industries in South Africa in its pioneer phase from the 1870s up to World War I.

A small number of European adventurers and financiers, largely of the same generation, gained control of the diamond mining industry at Kimberley, Northern Cape. They set up an infrastructure of financing and industrial consolidation which they then applied to exploit the discoveries of gold from 1886 in Transvaal at Witwatersrand — the "Rand". Many of the Randlords received baronetcies from Queen Victoria in recognition of their contributions.


Notable Randlords

  • Sir George Albu, 1st Bt (1857–1935)
  • Leopold Albu (1861–1938)
  • Sir Abe Bailey (1864–1940)
  • Barney Barnato (1852–1897)
  • Sir Alfred Beit (1853–1906)
  • Sir Otto Beit, 1st Bt (1865–1930)
  • Hermann Ludwig Eckstein (1847–1893)
  • Friedrich Gustav Jonathan Eckstein (1857–1930)
  • Sir George Herbert Farrar (1859–1915)
  • Adolf Goerz (1857-1900)
  • John Hays Hammond (1855–1936)
  • Sir David Harris (1852-1942)
  • Solomon Joel (1865–1931)
  • Woolf Joel (1863–1898)
  • John Dale Lace (1859-1937)
  • Isaac Lewis (1849–1927)
  • Samuel Marks (1843–1920)
  • Sir Carl Meyer
  • Maximilian Michaelis (1852–1932)
  • Sigismund Neumann (1857–1916)
  • Sir Lionel Phillips, 1st Bt (1855–1936)
  • Jules Porgès (1838–1921)
  • Cecil John Rhodes (1853–1902)
  • Sir Joseph Benjamin Robinson, 1st Bt (1840–1929)
  • Charles Ernest Rube (1852–1914)
  • Charles Dunell Rudd (1844–1916)
  • Jim B Taylor
  • Sir Julius Wernher, 1st Bt (1850–1912)

Political involvement

See Jameson Raid.

Industrial legacy

As the first generation of Randlords died or retired, the next generation concentrated on the process of consolidation and corporatization, developing the mining companies into integrated quoted companies. Cecil Rodes's first round of diamond mine consolidation with De Beers Consolidated Mines was continued by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer (1880–1957) best represents this phase, with his strengthening of the market power of De Beers and his development from 1917 of the giant Anglo American mining company (whose gold interests are now held by AngloGold Ashanti. Other Johannesburg mining houses formed the basis of other corporate mining giants which still exist. For example: Porgès and Eckstein's "Corner House" became Randgold; Rhodes's Consolidated Gold Fields became Gold Fields Limited; George and Leopold Albu's General Mining and Finance Corporation became Gencor; Barney Barnato's Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company or "Johnnies" became JCI Limited.

Philanthropy and cultural legacy

The Randlords came largely from humble backgrounds, and many used their fortunes to elevate their position in society. A significant number overcame the prejudices against nouveaux-riches and Jews to gain entry to the English "establishment" and received knighthoods.

Their architectural patronage has left a legacy across South Africa and England. In Johannesburg alone, structures such as the Randlord mansions on Parktown Ridge sprang up, many designed by Sir Herbert Baker. The Johannesburg Art Gallery in Joubert Park was championed by Florence Phillips, wife of Sir Lionel Phillips. Across the UK, many public collections and mansions bear witness to the wealth of the Randlords, including the Wernher Collection, formerly at Luton Hoo and now at Ranger's House.

Amongst many philanthropic ventures by Randlords, the Beit Trust established by Sir Alfred Beit built over 400 bridges in southern Africa;[1] the Rhodes Scholarships at the University of Oxford were endowed by Cecil Rhodes.

Other uses

Randlord may also be used loosely as a term for any wealthy South African businessman. The phrase gained extra meaning when the currency of South Africa was renamed the rand in 1961.

See also

  • History of the Jews in South Africa
  • Joel family
  • (De Beers)
  • List of diamond mines
  • Woolf Barnato


  • Maryna Fraser, ‘Randlords (act. 1880s–1914)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, Oct 2006 accessed 7 Oct 2006

Further reading

  • Michael Stevenson – Art & Aspirations, the Randlords of South Africa and their Collections
  • Geoffrey Wheatcroft – The Randlords: The Men Who Made South Africa (Weidenfeld, 1985) ISBN 0-297-78437-4


  1. ^ Beit Trust

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Randlord". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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