Printer, Entrepreneur, Town Councillor & Mayor
Updated: 14 October 2009
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Amelius Vincent was born in Portsea (England) in March 1830 and came to East London from Simonstown in 1875.
He established an aerated water business known as Walters and Vincent on the Market Square and later founded the business Vincent & Company, printers and stationers, which launched the Frontier Standard in January 1890.
He became a Justice of the Peace for the District and a Government Sworn Appraiser.
Vincent became a municipal commissioner in December 1876 when he took over the seat on the West Bank which had been vacated by Frederick Bompas. Because he had property on both sides of the river, however, he was able to stand for Ward 2 during the elections of February 1877 and served that constituency for the duration of the second Triennial Council.
Because John Gately had chosen not to stand for another term of office, Vincent was voted as Chairman to the Municipal Board for 1877, a position he held for only nine months when he vacated the chair so as to go on long leave.
He continued to serve as councillor, with only occasional absences, until his retirement in February 1890.
Vincent was one of the more controversial figures in the Council. His term as Chairman in 1877 was full of drama as the Municipal Board became racked with dissension over the West Bank's proposal to split East London into two municipalities.
It was initially a tentative proposal but Vincent bullied the West Bank members into making it, probably as a ruse to put a counter-proposal which would move the Municipal Offices from the West Bank to the East Bank and so serve his own business interests better.
The West Banker's responded by a walk-out and followed it up by mass-resignation. The problem was only resolved when Vincent resigned as Chairman, and Gately returned to Council and took over the leadership.
In February 1888 Vincent became involved in a another dispute when Councillor William Lance accused him of having vested interests in a Grahamstown company which had been awarded a municipal contract. He resigned his seat even though the Council accepted his explanations. He was re-elected the following February but retired at the end of his term in 1890.
Apart from being Chairman of the Municipal Board in 1877, Vincent was elected for two terms as Mayor in 1885 and 1886.
He became Mayor in 1887 as well but his seat fell vacant while he was away from the Colony on long-leave. Gustav Wetzlar was elected mayor in his place but resigned immediately Vincent returned so that the latter could resume the chair.
Vincent also became associated with the Cambridge Village Management Board where he became its first Chairman in 1881 and remained in the chair for several years. The suburb of Vincent, originally a part of the Municipality of Cambridge, was subsequently named after him.
He died on 24 September 1901 after a long illness. He was then 71 years of age.
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