George Rex, born 29 August 1765, was a British-born entrepreneur who spent most of his adult life in the Cape Colony. He established the town of Knysna in the Western Cape and played a large role in its development. Rex filled a number of positions in the Cape Colony before settling on the farm Melkhoutkraal, in Knysna.

George Rex was the eldest child of John Rex and Sarah Creasey. His brothers and sisters were Sarah Rex (who only lived two years), John Rex, Sarah Rex (born 3 years after her sister bearing the same name) and Elizabeth Rex.

George Rex was articled for seven years to one of the Procurators General of the Court of Arches in 1780 when aged 14, and admitted a Notary Public by the Faculty Office in 1786 when 21.

He was-

  1. a Supernumerary at Doctors' Commons in 1787
  2. appointed as Marshal and Sergeant-at-Mace of the newly created Vice-Admiralty Court at the Cape of Good Hope in 1797
  3. Registrar of Courts Martial in 1797–1801
  4. Advocate for the Crown in 1798
  5. Marshal of the Vice-Admiralty Court in 1800-1802, and
  6. Postmaster of Plettenberg Bay in 1815–1820

He purchased-

  • four slaves in 1799
  • the homestead Schoonder Zigt
  • Table Valley, Cape Town, in 1800, and asked permission to sell gunpowder taken from a prize of war, in 1801
  • Melkhout Kraal, Knysna in 1805 and had 33 slaved on this farm
  • Sandkraal, Welbedacht
  • Jackals Kraal, Portland in 1817, and
  • Uitzigt in 1830

In 1802 the Vice-Admiralty Court closed and he signed the Oath of Submission to the Batavian Republic in 1803.

In 1804 he sold Schoonder Zigt.

George Rex was part-owner of the ship Young Phoenix and became a timber exporter and trader. George Rex held game-shooting licences as well as a licence for 400 woodcutters. He quickly became a man of influence.

After he built the yacht Knysna in 1831 he regularly entertained at his estate distinguished visitors from overseas such as Lord Charles Somerset, Christian Ferdinand Friedrich Krauss, Jules Verreaux and Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester.

In his will George Rex said that he had not submitted himself to the matrimonial laws of the Colony, but he had four children by a former slave, Johanna Rosina van der Caap, and then nine children by one of her daughters, Carolina Margaretha Ungerer.

Rex died on 3 April 1839, and was buried in Lower Old Place in Knysna.

Interesting to know is that Mabel Malherbe was one of his descendants.

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