Frank Rhodes (British Army officer)

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Frank Rhodes
Col. f.w.rhodes.jpg
Col. F. W. Rhodes
Birth name Francis William Rhodes
Nickname(s) Frank
Born 9 April 1850 (1850-04-09)
Saint Michaels, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England
Died 21 September 1905 (1905-09-22) (aged 55)
Groot Schuur, Cape Colony
Place of burial Dalham Church, Newmarket
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1873–1896; 1899–1903
Rank Colonel
Unit 1st Royal Dragoons
Relations Cecil Rhodes
Other work

Colonel Francis William Rhodes, CB, DSO (9 April 1850 – 21 September 1905), better known as "Frank", is perhaps the best known member of the Rhodes family after his brother Cecil. Trained as a soldier from his youth, he participated in a considerable amount of conflict in different parts of the world. After graduating from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he joined the 1st Royal Dragoons in 1873 and served the British Army for 23 years. He participated in the Sudan Campaign, accompanied the Nile Expedition to Khartoum in the abortive effort to relieve General Charles George Gordon, and was present at the battles of El Teb and Tamai. At the Battle of Abu Klea, he distinguished himself when he had several horses shot from under him in the course of the engagement. He was awarded several medals and clasps, including the Distinguished Service Order.

Rhodes filled various staff appointments. From 1890–93, he served as military secretary to Lord Harris while he was Governor of Bombay, and in 1893 he was chief of staff on Sir Gerald Herbert Portal's mission to Uganda. Rhodes also served for a brief period as Administrator of Mashonaland and as the appointed military member of the council of four in the government of Matabeleland under Leander Starr Jameson.

The Jameson Raid was perhaps the most trying event in Rhodes's career. He was a leading member of the Reform Committee (Transvaal), in Johannesburg, attempting to liberalise the government of Transvaal Republic President Paul Kruger on behalf of the Uitlander population living in Transvaal. Following the Jameson Raid in November 1895, the members of the Reform Committee were charged with high treason. Rhodes, John Hays Hammond, Douglas Gilfillan and other leaders of the Committee were sentenced to death in April 1896. This was later commuted to 15 years’ imprisonment, and in June 1896, all members of the Committee were released on payment of a heavy fine. As a punishment for his support of Jameson the British Army placed Rhodes on the retired list and barred him from active involvement in army business. After his release from jail, he immediately joined his brother Cecil and the British South Africa Company in the Second Matabele War.

In 1898 he joined Field Marshal Earl Kitchener’s Nile expedition as war correspondent for The Times. At the Battle of Omdurman on 2 September he was shot and severely wounded in the right arm. For his services during that campaign he was restored to the army active list. During the Second Boer War, Rhodes continued to work as a war correspondent. He was trapped for the duration in the Siege of Ladysmith and participated in the relief of Mafeking.

In 1899, he was sued by a man named Burrows for falsely representing the purpose of the raid and therefore convincing him to participate in the raid, wherein he lost a leg. His suit for £3000 in damages was successful.[1]

With the death of his brother Cecil in 1902, Frank took possession of Dalham Hall, and erected a hall in the village in Cecil's memory.[2][3] After retiring from the Army in 1903, he served as managing director of the African Trans-Continental Telegraph Company until his death in 1905 in Groot Schuur, Cape Colony.


  1. ^ Burrows v. Rhodes and Jameson, [1899] 1 Q B 816 [1]
  2. ^ "Will of Mr. Cecil Rhodes". The New York Times. 13 April 1902. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  3. ^ "Dalham Village Hall Commemoration Plaque by Colonel Frank Rhodes". 
  • Cecil Rhodes: A Study of a Career, by Howard Hensman, William Backwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London (1911)
  • The truth about the Jameson raid, by John Hays Hammond (1918)
Political offices
Preceded by
Magistrate of Mashonaland
Succeeded by
Patrick William Forbes
Preceded by
Matabeleland Council of Four
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Reform Committee (Transvaal)
1895-early 1896
Succeeded by
None – Banned