Thomas Robson

Last updated

The Very Revd Thomas Claude Robson was the first Anglican Dean of Kimberley, and Rector of St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley, South Africa.

St Cyprians Cathedral, Kimberley Church in Kimberley, South Africa

The Cathedral Church of St Cyprian the Martyr, Kimberley, is the seat of the Bishop of the Kimberley and Kuruman, Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The building was dedicated in 1908, becoming a Cathedral when the Synod of Bishops mandated formation of the new Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in October 1911. The first Bishop, the Rt Revd Wilfrid Gore Browne, was enthroned there on 30 June 1912.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.


Background and prospects at St Cyprian’s in 1905

Canon Robson came to St Cyprian’s Church in 1905, a Parish still worshiping in a wood and iron church in Jones Street, Kimberley, a structure imported as a prefabricated kit from England in 1879. Grand plans for a new church had been proposed in a public meeting in 1901, but little progress had been made towards their realisation. Archdeacon William Arthur Holbech, who had been Rector at the time, had gone on to become Dean of Bloemfontein. Robson’s predecessor, Archdeacon H.A. Douglas-Hamilton, was appointed in 1903, encountering an impatient faction within the congregation who additionally were at odds with the Archdeacon’s churchmanship – specifically with respect to liturgical practices. This faction removed itself from the parish, building its own brick church of St John the Evangelist in Woodley Street – a parish of decidedly low church persuasion. Prospects for the new rector could hardly have seemed less auspicious.

Robson’s achievement

And yet Thomas Claude Robson, presiding over the parish for very nearly three decades, would oversee perhaps the greatest transformation in the history of St Cyprian’s: the design of a cathedral; the completion of the first two major phases of this long-term project; and the building up of a mother church for a new and vast diocese. St Cyprian’s would no longer simply be a parish church. A newspaper feature in 1923, on ‘Men in the Public Eye’, pronounced: “He is the Dean of Kimberley and Kimberley loves its Dean.”

Milestones of Robson’s Kimberley career

Pietermaritzburg Place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1838 and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its Zulu name umGungundlovu is the name used for the district municipality. Pietermaritzburg is popularly called Maritzburg in English and Zulu alike, and often informally abbreviated to PMB. It is a regionally important industrial hub, producing aluminium, timber and dairy products, as well as the main economic hub of Umgungundlovu District Municipality. The public sector is a major employer in the city due to the local, district and provincial governments being located here. It is home to many schools and tertiary education institutions, including a campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It had a population of 228,549 in 1991; the current population is estimated at over 600,000 residents and has one of the largest populations of Indian South Africans in South Africa.

Wilfrid Gore Browne was an Anglican bishop, the first Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman from 1912 to 1928. He was described as a saintly bishop with "a keen sense of humour" and "a winning courtesy."

The building up of the Cathedral as a unifying symbol of the diocese was part of Robson’s vision: he believed, as he put it in the Cathedral News in 1916, that “if the Cathedral suffers the whole Diocese suffers, but if the Cathedral prospers the whole Diocese prospers.”

Foundation Stone rock at the heart of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

The Foundation Stone is the name of the rock at the centre of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It is also known as the Pierced Stone because it has a small hole on the southeastern corner that enters a cavern beneath the rock, known as the Well of Souls. There is a difference of opinion in classical Jewish sources as to whether this was the location of the Holy of Holies or of the Outer Altar. According to those that hold it was the site of the Holy of Holies, that would make this the holiest site in Judaism.

Sanctuary sacred place

A sanctuary, in its original meaning, is a sacred place, such as a shrine. By the use of such places as a haven, by extension the term has come to be used for any place of safety. This secondary use can be categorized into human sanctuary, a safe place for humans, such as a political sanctuary; and non-human sanctuary, such as an animal or plant sanctuary.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Related Research Articles

The Diocese of Natal is in the region of Natal, South Africa, the diocese has its northern boundary at the Tugela River. The episcopal leader of the diocese is the bishop of Natal.

The Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman is a diocese in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and encompasses the area around Kimberley and Kuruman and overlaps the Northern Cape Province and North West Province of South Africa. It is presided over by the Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman, currently Ossie Swartz. The seat of the Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman is at St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley. There have so far been 12 bishops of the See, though one of these served for two different periods of time.

Oswald Peter Patrick Swartz is a South African Anglican bishop. He is the twelfth and current Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman.

The Anglican Diocese of Harare is a diocese of the Church of the Province of Central Africa. The Anglican Diocese of Mashonaland was formed in 1891 and its first bishop was George Knight-Bruce. He was succeeded by William Gaul (1895–1907), formerly Rector of St Cyprian's Church in Kimberley, Northern Cape. Small in stature, Gaul styled himself “the smallest bishop with the largest Diocese in Christendom.” In 1915 the diocese became the Diocese of Southern Rhodesia until 1952 when it reverted to the Diocese of Mashonaland. The diocese was known as the Diocese of Harare and Mashonaland, until changing his name to Diocese of Harare. It has experienced great turbulence in recent times.

Kenneth Oram British bishop

Kenneth Cyril Oram AKC was an Anglican clergyman who served as Dean of Kimberley and of Grahamstown before his elevation to the episcopacy as Bishop of Grahamstown, 1974 to 1987.

St. Cyprian's Grammar School in Kimberley, South Africa, is a co-educational English-medium independent school for Grades R and 1-12, attached to St Cyprian's Cathedral. In its present form it opened to 83 students on 21 January 2009. St Cyprian's is one of the pilot schools within the Historic Schools Restoration Project initiated by Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane.

William Thomas Gaul (1850–1927) was Rector of All Saints Church, Du Toit's Pan, Kimberley, afterwards of St Cyprian's Church, Kimberley, Rural Dean of Griqualand West, and Archdeacon in what was still the Diocese of Bloemfontein, before being elected the second Bishop of Mashonaland, where he styled himself "the smallest bishop with the largest diocese in Christendom." He officiated at the funeral of Cecil John Rhodes and helped draft the Rhodes Trust Deed.

Charles Oswald Miles was an Anglican priest.

The Perseverance School, Kimberley, was founded as such in 1883 but might be seen as having arisen from the St Cyprian's Mission School dating back to the early 1870s. Until 1917 it was officially called St Cyprian’s (E.C.) Mission School, although known as Perseverance from 1884. For part of its history it was referred to in the plural as Perseverance Schools, after a teacher-training section was established; and latterly the name applied principally to the teacher training college, Perseverance College, in Barkly Road, Kimberley.

The Reverend Canon Robin Roy Snyman is a priest in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, who served as Dean of Kimberley and rector of St Cyprian’s Cathedral, and afterwards was Vice-Provost at the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Port Elizabeth. He was born at Waterval Boven, in what is now Mpumalanga in 1934.

Hugh Scott Chignell was Dean of Kimberley, South Africa, and Rector of St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley.

The Venerable Fr George Merwyn Lawson (1865–1945) served as archdeacon of Kuruman, 1913–1941, in the Anglican Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman, and as Director of Missions for Griqualand West from 1903 until his death.

Justus Mauritius Marcus was Regional Bishop of Saldanha Bay in the Diocese of Cape Town, 2002 to 2003, having served as Dean of Kimberley and Rector of St Cyprian's Cathedral from 1992 to 2002. He died from cancer, aged 48, on 1 December 2003. Marcus was predeceased by his first wife, Milly. His second wife and widow is Sarah Rowland Jones, a fellow priest who then fulfilled a research ministry in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa at the behest of two successive Archbishops of Cape Town before returning to Wales in late 2013.

Brian Victor Beck, an Anglican priest in South Africa, served as Dean of Kimberley from 2003 to 2010. He is an Honorary Canon of St Cyprian's Cathedral.

John Salt (bishop) Anglican bishop

John William Salt, OGS was a British Anglican bishop. He was the Bishop of St Helena from 1999 to 2011. He lived on the island of St Helena, which is situated in the South Atlantic.

Simon Mark Aiken is Dean of Benoni and rector of St Dunstan's Cathedral in the Diocese of the Highveld. He was previously the 12th Dean of Kimberley and rector of St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley, in the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in South Africa. Born in England in 1962, he went to South Africa in 2006, initially as subdean at Bloemfontein Cathedral.

Mphashane Reginald Leeuw is the 13th Dean of Kimberley and Rector of St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley, in the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in South Africa. Leeuw was born in Barkly West, Northern Cape, and served in several parishes in the diocese prior to his appointment as Dean.


    Anglican Church of Southern Africa titles
    Preceded by
    Dean of Kimberley
    1912 1934
    Succeeded by
    Hugh Scott Chignell