The History of Knysna – Belvidere, Portland & the village of Newhaven:
The next major player to settle in Knysna was Captain Thomas Henry Duthie, late of the 72 Highlanders, who married Caroline Rex and, in 1834, bought the farm Uitzicht from his father-in-law George Rex, which had been re-named Belvidere by Rex, located on the west side of the Knysna Estuary. Here, in 1848, Duthie built a stone farmhouse and raised a family. He was also the driving force behind the building of the little Norman style sandstone church at Belvidere, the Holy Trinity Church, which was consecrated in 1855.
The original Duthie home is today the focal point of the Belvidere Manor Hotel.
George Rex died in 1839 and in accordance with the terms of his will his properties were put up for sale. By 1840 Thomas Henry Duthie had bought further farms, namely Westford and Portland, out of the George Rex Estate.
In 1842 the Englishman Henry Barrington, 12th son of George, the 5th Viscount Barrington, arrived in the Cape and came to Knysna. Here he purchased the Portland farm from Thomas Henry Duthie and built a stone farm house, styled on the manor houses of England, which was, unfortunately, completely destroyed by the Great Forest Fire of 1869.
Undaunted, he rebuilt the home which still stands today, called Portland Manor.
As was the case with Thomas Duthie, Barrington also imported skilled labour from England to help in the running of the farm and the building works.
Selling the Melhoutkraal farm turned out to be a lengthy affair.
The Rex family resolved to retain the southern portion of the original Melkhoutkraal farm known today as Hunter’s Home and Woodbourne (which includes New Place/ Rexford), with some of the Rex family members pooling their inheritance and with financial assistance from Thomas Duthie bought this portion out of George Rex’s estate.
In 1844 Lt. Col. John Sutherland, an officer of the British Indian Army bought the northern section of Melkhoutkraal, out of the George Rex Estate, during a visit to Knysna on furlough from India to the Cape. He died two years later but his eldest son, also a John, proceeded with the establishment of the village of Newhaven on this property, which was surveyed by William Hopley and laid down in 1845.
John Sutherland then offered the erven for sale.
History of Knysna article by Philip Caveney.
Read Part 3.