K n y s n a
K n y s n a

History of Knysna


The original inhabitants of the area, the Khoikhoi or Khoi, were a historical division of the Khoisan ethnic group, the native people of southwestern Africa, closely related to the Bushmen (or San, as the Khoikhoi called them). They had lived in southern Africa since the 5th century AD.

However there are theories that Knysna's history (and certainly that of nearby coastal areas) can be traced back even further, as indicated in historian Christopher Blyth's comments "In the Beginning".

Prior to that, and confirmed by a recent find of an ancient tooth (which experts have estimated to be about 120 - 140 million years old), there were dinosaurs in the area.

Knysna's documented "modern" history is generally acknowledged to start in 1770 with the arrival of the first colonial settlers.
The Timeline briefly lists some of the main events in the history of Knysna from that date onwards. The list of entries should not be classified as definitive and more will be added as further information is found.

Many people have written articles and books about Knysna's history, and more detailed information can be found by reading the material listed on the References page, as well as by visiting Knysna's museums (see Knysna Activities).

Sometimes we have found differing information about a person or event, and in general we have opted for that from local historians Margaret Parkes, Vicky Williams, Malcolm Fraser and Winifred Tapson. We are also grateful to Philip Caveney (current Chair of the Knysna Historical Society) for his input.

For more recent events that could be included in future historical notes check out the Latest News page.

Knysna and the Knysna Estuary, through The Heads to the Indian Ocean. View from Westhill Luxury Guest House.
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