The History of Knysna – Knysna becomes a Seat of Magistracy:
By 1848 the population of, what was to become the village of Knysna, excluding the families of the gentleman farmers, viz. Rex, Duthie and Barrington, and their retainers, consisted of a tiny (white) population of only 10 adults and 5 children!
But the character of Knysna was soon to change.
In 1847 John Sutherland built a stone school building and by 1855 there were 55 school children attending class.
The building of the school was closely followed by the construction of the little stone Anglican St. George’s Church (1848-1851), consecrated in 1855. The first minister in Knysna was the Rev. Dr. William Andrews and now, at last, the Knysna folk no longer had to travel the arduous journey to George to have their children christened in the Dutch Reformed Church there.
The first Dutch Reformed Church in Knysna was built in 1851.
Knysna was at this time a Field-Cornetcy of the District of Plettenberg Bay in the Magisterial Division of George, but in 1858 Knysna was declared the seat of magistracy of a separate Magisterial Division; bounded in the west by the Swart River, east by the boundaries of the new Magisterial Division of Humansdorp, north by the Outeniqua Mountains and south by the Indian Ocean. As a result of this the old stone Gaol building in Main Street was built – initially to house the convicts working on the roads in Knysna under Thomas Bain, later the Prince Alfred’s Pass through the Outeniqua Mountains. James Fichat, the first Resident Magistrate and Civil Commissioner, was appointed to administer justice and a District Surgeon was sent to Knysna.
Knysna now became the new commercial centre for this area and merchants set up trading enterprises and more hotels and boarding houses were established. Magistrate Fichat started a Public Reading Room, the forerunner of the 1893 stone-built public library.
By 1865, the brothers Pieter and Johannes Metelerkamp were living in Knysna, having arrived from the Eastern Cape.
History of Knysna article by Philip Caveney.
Read Part 4.