Sir Abraham Bailey, 1st Baronet, KCMG (6 November 1864, Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa – 10 August 1940, Muizenberg, South Africa), known as Abe Bailey, was a South African diamond tycoon, politician, financier and cricketer.
Married in 1860 in South Africa, Thomas and Ann Bailey had four children, Mary, Abraham, Susannah and Alice, before Ann Bailey's premature death in 1872, when young Abe was only seven years old. Bailey's mother, Ann Drummond McEwan, was Scottish by birth while his father, Thomas Bailey, was from Yorkshire. Abe Bailey was sent to England to be educated, first at Keighley and later at Clewer House.
After the outbreak of the Second Boer War in October 1899, a corps of imperial volunteers from London was formed in late December 1899. The corps included infantry, mounted infantry and artillery divisions and was authorized with the name City of London Imperial Volunteers. It proceeded to South Africa in January 1900, returned in October the same year, and was disbanded in December 1900. Bailey was appointed a lieutenant of the mounted infantry division on 3 January 1900, with the temporary rank of Lieutenant in the Army.
Via his business interests and his ties to Cecil John Rhodes, Abe Bailey acquired substantial mining and land properties in the former Rhodesia. By the 1930s he was one of the world's wealthiest men. Appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1911, he was created Baronet in 1919, one of a number of "Randlords" knighted for their services to the British Empire.
Bailey played three first-class matches for Transvaal. He played an important role in 1912 Triangular Tournament. He first proposed the idea on a trip to England in 1907, stating: "Inter-rivalry within the Empire cannot fail to draw together in closer friendly interest all those many thousands of our kinsmen who regard cricket as our national sport, while secondly it would probably give a direct stimulus to amateurism."
It was immediately embraced by MCC, who were then lords of all they surveyed, and 1909 was the first year designated for it. But the administrators could not agree and by the time 1912 was alighted on, world cricket was in conflict. But infighting and a poor performance from the South African team ensured that the idea of a tri-nation tournament remained a one-off occurrence.
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These interests, as much as his aspirations to the titles and the lifestyle of the English landed gentry were influential in the formation of his personal art collection. This collection was mostly displayed in his London home and moved for safe-keeping to the north of England during the Second World War (1939–1945). On his death in 1940 the terms of his will placed his collection under the protection of a special trust established in his name and bequeathed it to the South African nation. Bailey was one of the very few South African Randlords to leave a bequest of this nature to South Africa.
At his specific recommendation, this collection was placed under the curatorship of the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, where it first went on display in 1947. Numbering over 400 items, including paintings, prints and drawings, the "Sir Abe Bailey Bequest" is the largest bequest held at the South African National Gallery to this day. It also constitutes one of the largest collections of British sporting art held by any public art museum in the world. The "Sir Abe Bailey Trust" is actively involved in its maintenance, and conservation work on the collection.
Abe Bailey Travel Bursary
Under the terms of his will annual travel bursaries are awarded to outstanding university students and young academics (less than 25 years old) to travel to the UK to widen their experience.
First wife/children by first marriage
- Hon. Caroline Mary Paddon (d. 23 March 1902)
- Cecil Marguerite Bailey (8 June 1895 – 29 June 1962); married Dr William F Christie.
- Sir John Milner Bailey, 2nd Bt. (15 June 1900 East Grinstead – 13 February 1946 Cape Town, South Africa); married, firstly, Diana Churchill (1909–1963) (eldest daughter of Sir Winston Churchill and Clementine Ogilvy Hozier) on 12 December 1932 (divorced in 1935); married, secondly, Muriel Mullins on 18 October 1939 (divorced in 1945); married, lastly, Stella Mary Chiappini on 4 May 1945.
Second wife/children by second marriage
- Hon. Mary Westenra (1 December 1890 – 29 July 1960), daughter of Derrick Warner William Westenra, 5th Lord Rossmore, of Rossmore Castle, County Monaghan. Mary Westenra Bailey was the greatest British female aviator of her time, who "personally guided a plane from England to the nether tip of South Africa and back" (Time, 28 January 1930). In January 1930 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) and was styled as Dame Mary Bailey.
- Mittie Mary Starr Bailey (1 August 1913 – 10 April 1961); married Robin Grant Lawson, son of Sir John Grant Lawson, 1st Bt. on 23 May 1934 (divorced in 1935); married, secondly, to William Frederick Lloyd on December 1935 (divorced in 1947); married, lastly, George Edward Frederick Rogers in 1947 (divorced in 1958).
- Sir Derrick Thomas Louis Bailey, 3rd Bt. (b. 15 August 1918 – 19 June 2009); married, firstly, Katharine Nancy Darling on 18 July 1946 (divorced before 1980); married, secondly, Mrs Jean Roscoe (maiden name unknown) in 1980 (divorced in 1990).
- Ann Hester Zia Bailey (b. 15 August 1918); married, firstly, Pierce Nicholas Netterville Synnott (divorced).
- James Richard Abe Bailey (b. 23 October 1919); married, firstly, Gillian Mary Parker in 1958 (divorced in 1963); married, thirdly, Barbara Louise Epstein on 16 April 1964.
- Noreen Helen Rosemary Bailey (b. 27 July 1921); married, firstly, W/Cmdr. Peter Anker Simmons on 27 January 1941; married, secondly, Count Peter Christian Raben-Levetzau, son of Count Siegfried Raben-Levetzau on 8 August 1947 (divorced in 1951).
- "FinestHour" (PDF). Journal of the Churchill Center and Societies, Summer 2005. Archived from the original (pdf) on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
- Abe Bailey biography
- "No. 27157". The London Gazette. 26 January 1900. p. 516.
- "No. 28452". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 January 1911. p. 3.
- "No. 31255". The London Gazette. 28 March 1919. p. 4008.
- "Abe Bailey"..
- Brenkley, Stephen (27 May 2012). "Experiment fails to stand the test of time". The Independent. London, UK.
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