Somerset East

A Picnic in Cradock, 1850

The Somerset East/Cradock area was a dangerous place in the mid-1850s ,yet this did not put locals off. They often set off to enjoy a day picnicking in the veld. And so it was that on one Saturday in February, 1853, a group of 50 youngsters accompanied by “ten gentlemen” gambolled off into the veld […]

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Karoo Captivates The Bishop

When Robert Grey, Bishop of Cape Town, set off for the northernmost reaches of the Colony, he was captivated by the Karoo. “There was no time for reading in the wagon,” writes Thelma Gutsche in The Bishop’s Lady. “The arid desert-like Karoo with its abrupt rocky kopjes, occasional mirages and stunted bushes sparsely mixed with […]

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Locusts, drought, and devastation in the Graaff-Reinet district

The Cape passed into British hands in September, 1795, yet, by 1797 when Lord McCartney, became governor, there was still scant interest in the hinterland. Their only concern was that the Cape’s meat supply came mainly from Graaff-Reinet and some lesser interior districts. In journals reporting on his journeys to the Eastern Frontier, William Somerville […]

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Somerset East : A Wild And Dangerous Place

The Karoo was still a wild place in the 1850s and news was not always reliable. On January 10, 1851, the people of Somerset East were relieved to hear that Bear Moorcroft and his son had not been murdered as they had previously been told. But sadly, they were told, by travellers reaching town that […]

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The Graaff-Reinet and Somerset East military units

Military historian Col Graham du Toit says, regarding the Graaff-Reinet and Somerset East military units: The unit referred to was the Graaff-Reinet and Beaufort Levy.  Formed in 1850, this unit was commanded by Captain Heathcote and consisted of 40 mounted men and 190 infantry. It served from 1850 to 1852 in the Eighth War on […]

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William Gill of Somerset East: Doctor and botanist

Way back in the mid-1700s, a medical doctor, William Gill, came to practice in Somerset East; he turned his attention to botany and in time a major Eastern Cape college was established in that town and named Gill College in his honour. © Rose’s Roundup, April 2012. To subscribe to Rose’s Roundup, contact Rose Willis […]

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