S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Bailie, Alexander Cumming (geography)

Born: 15 April 1850, Place not known.
Died: June 1903, Place not known.

Alexander C. Bailie, son of Archibald Hope Bailie and his wife Jane Amelia, was a British agent, labour recruiter, and surveyor. In 1876 he was assistant to the Surveyor-General of Griqualand-West and on 23 June of that year was sent to Matabeleland to recruit labour for the diamond mines, map his route there, and report on the economic potential of the country along the way. Bailie travelled via Taung and eastern Botswana, reached Buluwayo on 5 December, and travelled back to Kimberley from 19 February to 16 April 1877 - a round trip of some 1400 km. He had recruited only 50 men. His "Report on the general features of the interior of South Africa, between Barkly [West] and Gubuluwayo; to accompany [a] map of the route" was published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1878 (Vol. 48, pp. 287-293), and reprinted as a pamphlet in London in 1879. At that time Bailie was still living in Kimberley.

Bailie married Mary Ellen ("Highlie") Barber (1853-1938), daughter of the naturalist Mary Elizabeth Barber*, with whom he had several children. In 1885 he requested several times to be employed as a magistrate or civil commissioner in the Cape civil service, but without success. He then moved to Johannesburg where he was a founding member of the Chamber of Mines in October 1887 and served on its first executive committee. He did some work as a land surveyor and was a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. In a letter to Sir Joseph Hooker* in 1888 his mother-in-law described him as "my son-in-law Mr. Alex. C. Bailie, FRGS, who is a great lover of flowers and a very fair botanist, and one of the leading men in this great new gold country".

List of sources:
Cohen, A. Mary Elizabeth Barber: South Africa's first lady natural historian. Archives of Natural History, 2000, Vol. 27, pp. 187-208.

Geni, at http://www.geni.com/people/Alexander-Bailie/6000000016523436721

Malherbe, D.F. du T. Family register of the South African nation (3rd ed.) Stellenbosch: Tegniek, 1966.

Mendelssohn, S. South African bibliography. London, 1910.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to A.C. Bailie.

Tabler, E.C. Pioneers of Rhodesia. Cape Town: Struik, 1966.

Compiled by: C. Plug