John Morrogh (1849 – 4 October 1901) was an Irish businessman and politician.
According to his obituary in the Diamond Fields Advertiser he came to South Africa in the late 1860s, and was “…actively associated with the early working of the Kimberley diamond mines…There, by industry and foresight, he amassed a considerable fortune…”
He was elected a member of the De Beers Mining Board in October 1880, having been proposed by B.B. Bowley and seconded by T. Rhodes. This Board – there was one for each of the four mines in Kimberley – made the rules and bye-laws concerning mining operations on the mine itself and has nothing to do with the De Beers Mining Company itself. Indeed, most big companies had their representatives on the Board. In the elections for the Mining Board he received 150 votes in 1880 and in fact in 1881 received the highest amount with 171 votes.
He was one of seven founding directors of the De Beers Central Diamond Mining Company on 26 February 1881, which was registered on 24 March that same year. Apart from Morrogh, the other six were Barney Barnato, WM Smith, John Murray, T O’Malley, H Abrahams and J Astleford. (Note: Amalgamations of claims in the mines were only allowed from late 1876 early 1877 as claims were collapsing causing death etc, and companies from late 1879 early 1880). The individual claims of the seven named would have made up the Company’s claims, so Morrogh certainly owned his own claims at that stage.
He was the Manager of the DBCDM Company in 1881, which, apart from working their own claims, was also working the claims of the owners registered as Kennedy, Murray and Leo, very rich claims next to Baxter’s Gully.
On 5 June 1883 this company merged with the De Beers Mining Company, after negotiations beginning in May 1883, the DBCDMC having 10 claims and 50 square feet. A sum of £76 000 in fully paid up scrip (shares) was paid to the Directors by the De Beers Mining Company. John Morrogh was the only Director taken on to the Board of the De Beers Mining Company, a position he kept until amalgamation and the formation of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited.
The Frere Diamond Mining Company in the De Beers Mine was formed on 11 April 1881 and registered on 5 May 1881. This Company amalgamated with the De Beers Mining Company of Rhodes, Graham and Rudd on 22 April 1884. Three of the Board Directors were John Birbeck (Chairman), Morrogh and Barney Barnato. The Frere DMC owned 12 shares and 8 square feet upon amalgamation.
At this time there were 18 companies and 16 private holdings in the De Beers Mine, employing approximately 260 white and 1800 black workers. The total claims numbered 622 over some 13.72 acres.
John Morrogh lived at De Beers Terrace, Old de Beers mining area, now De Beers suburb, in 1882, but by 1884 was living in Merriman Road, also of the De Beers suburb.
As a Director then, of the De Beers Mining Company from 1883 until 1888, and an original Director of De Beers Consolidated Mines from 1888/89 until his death in 1901, he was intimately involved with Cecil Rhodes, Alfred Beit and Barney Barnato and all the workings of the diamond industry. As a co-Director of the DBCDMC and of the Frere DMC he knew Barney Barnato better than he knew Rhodes at the time.
What is not generally known is that for the year 1886 Morrogh, apart from his directorship, was the General Manager of the De Beers Mining Company. It appears to have been temporary as the famous GM of De Beers, the American Gardner Williams, was appointed as General Manager in 1887, and before him was Robert English 1881 to 1885. Morrogh’s position as General Manager says that he had detailed knowledge of the workings of a diamond mine and of mining itself. He would also have had good business acumen as well as understanding of conditions and people.
In 1888 he returned to Cork, Ireland, and in 1889 was elected as an MP in the House of Commons. This seat he kept until 1893.
At the Annual General Meeting of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited of 1902 it was recorded: “Your Directors deeply regret to announce the death of Mr John Morrogh, who for many years was a Director of this Company. The vacancy caused by Mr Morrogh’s death has been filled by the appointment of Mr Solomon B. Joel.”
Pictured in 1890 are De Beers directors and management. Seated, left to right: John Morrogh, Francis Oats, B I Barnato, Charles E Nind, Woolf Joel. Standing: William H Craven (Secretary), Gardner F Williams (General Manager), and Ludwig Breitmeyer.
Related Social Media Discussion
Richard Jones Was this early Barnato company really called “de beers central diamond mining company”? I always thought it was “Kimberley central diamond mining company”
Steve Lunderstedt Barney had several companies, this one was in the De Beers Mine. The KCDMC was in the Kimberley Mine. He also had shares in most of the mining companies in all the mines.