John Gaspard Gubbins

Title Collector and Farmer
Other Names
Date of Birth 1877-00-00
Date of Death 1935-00-00

Updated 15 Oct 2016

Born 1877,   died 1935. Gubbins was educated at Cambridge University and came out to South Africa in 1902 to practise as a lawyer. He was soon attracted by the lure of mining and with his sister Bertha Tufnell, he bought a number of farms in the Ottoshoop district of the former western Transvaal. He developed these farms and found a very rich fluorspar mine, a mineral which commanded a good price on the American market at the time. 
He became very interested in the history of  the Zeerust/Marico (Madikwe) region and in the wider history of South Africa. This led him to collect numerous books on the history of South Africa, and to write several articles on the history of the early Madikwe. The discovery of the ruins of Livingstone's mission station at Mabotsa (later declared a national monument) and the discovery of the grave of the missionary's wife Mrs Wilson, is attributed to him.    

He donated his unique Africana book collection to the University of the Witwatersrand and the Johannesburg Public Library.  Unfortunately a fire in the library in 1931 destroyed many of these valuable books. Undaunted, Gubbins continued to travel and collect more valuable books and research materials, which he donated to the collection. He was eventually appointed director of the museum at the Johannesburg City Council library. He was also awarded an honoury Doctorate in Literature by the University of the Witwatersrand.
 Gubbins was also a progressive farmer in the region, one of the "yeoman farmers" whom Lord Milner encouraged to farm in the Transvaal, to revive agriculture after the South African War. He experimented with the production of sheep, and pioneered irrigation in the western Transvaal. Together with his sister Bertha they imported Oxford Down rams into South Africa, which they cross bred with other lambs. Gubbins was also well informed about subjects connected with pasture and the cultivation of grasses suited to the Transvaal

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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