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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

The Xema Fiasco

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Xema Fiasco is an article published in The Leeds Mercury on 9 october 1906.

Arthur Conan Doyle was one of the shareholders of The Xema Expedition.

The Xema Fiasco

The Leeds Mercury
(9 october 1906, p. 5)

Vessel to be Brought Home.

Shareholders and the Cape Government.

An interesting sequel to the society treasure hunt was announced by Sir Alexander Muir-Mackenzie, the chairman of the Collis Diamond Syndicate, to the aristocratic shareholders who assembled at the Charing Cross Hotel yesterday afternoon to consider the action of the Cape Government in refusing to allow the Xema expedition to prospect on Diamond Island.

Mr. Collis said numerous letters regretting inability to attend had been received. He read only one, from Sir A. Conan Doyle, who said he was prepared to join any movement to test the legality of the Cape Government's despotic action. 'The share he had in the venture was a small one, but the question of a British ship being warned off a British island was of great importance.

The Chairman said that last week Mr. Griffiths, their mining expert, was offered privately for himself, at Capetown, the option of some diamondiferous farms near an approved diamond mine at Kimberley when the decision of the Cape Government with regard to the expedition was made known. He understood that a syndicate was to be formed.

Another surprise was sprung upon the meeting when it was announced that the syndicate might also have very valuable copper assets in German territory.


With regard to the action of the Cape Government the Chairman maintained that the licences which they obtained under the Precious Stones Act of 1899 fully entitled the expedition to prospect on Diamond Island.

The exact words which Dr. Jameson used to the deputation, according to the Chairman, were, "If arrangements are made to pay the Government a reasonable indemnity I pledge my word that my Government will permit you to prospect on your objective island."

Dealing with the financial aspect, the Chairman said the total subscribed capital, including £618 contributed by Mr Kenyon Collis, was £10,493. Of that £10,249 hail been expended. With the amount in hand, calls unpaid, the estimated value of the mining gear, and the allowance for stores on the Xema, they had £765; but to meet all liabilities in full they had to find approximately another £600. This shortage was due to the unforeseen intervention of the Cape Government authorities.

Shareholders displayed the greatest interest, in the position of the affairs, and good humouredly plied the directors with numerous questions.

In the course of the discussion, the Chairman admitted that the whole thing was a bit of a gamble, but as regards their legal position in connection with the prohibition, it was unassailable.

Many suggestions were put forward by the shareholders, but all were in favour of seeing the matter through.

Eventually a series of resolutions was adopted, by which the shareholders expressed strong approval of the action of the directors in attempting to land on the island.

It was decided that the Xema should be brought home, to reduce expenses ; but that some of the syndicate's officials should remain in South Africa to art immediately upon the necessary permission being obtained from the Cape Government. An offer of Mr. Collis of a thousand vendors' shares, to place the syndicate in a sound position, was accepted.

Counsel's advice will be taken as to the rights of the syndicate against the Cape Government, and if favourable the capital is to be increased.