S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Robinson, Mr H A (cartography)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

H.A. Robinson assisted T. Doms in 1872 in compiling a map of a portion of land awarded to the Griqua chief Nicolaas Waterboer by the government of the Cape Colony. During the early eighteen-eighties he had moved to the Orange Free State (now the Free State), where he was chief clerk in the office of the surveyor-general. He compiled a general map of the territory, Kaart van den Oranjevrijstaat voor het gebruik der scholen (Map of the Orange Free State for use in schools), that was published in Bloemfontein in September 1882. This wall map, on a scale of 14 miles to the inch (c. 1:887 000), was the first official map of the territory and showed mainly towns and infrastructure. However, it included population figures based on the census of 31 March 1880, as well as three geological sections from the Vaal River to Harrismith, Mt aux Sources, and Thaba Nchu respectively. The map was not accurate, as no comprehensive trigonometric survey of the territory had yet been carried out. However, it was an improvement on the 1879 supplement of the 1876 map of southern Africa by the surveyor-general of the Cape Colony, A. de Smidt*. A smaller version of the map, on a scale of 40 miles to the inch (c. 1:2 534 000) was compiled in 1884.

At the time when the map was published John C. Fleck* had recently been appointed surveyor-general of the Orange Free State, succeeding G.F. Stegmann*, who had left for medical treatment in England in June 1881. After the territory was occupied by British forces in 1900, during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), Robinson served in the administration of the newly founded Orange River Colony until at least 1902.

List of sources:
Liebenberg, E.C. Die topografiese kartering van Suid-Afrika, 1879-1972: 'n Histories-geografiese ontleding. MA-verhandeling in Geografie, Universiteit van Suid-Afrika, 1973.

Liebenberg, E. From Barrow to Jeppe - the development of 19th century cartography in South Africa. In E. Liebenberg (ed.), Proceedings of the symposium on the history of cartography of Africa... (pp. 103-119). Pretoria: International Cartographic Association, 2003.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). . Documents relating to Robinson, H.A.

Compiled by: C. Plug