Lady Frere was founded in 1879, named after the wife of Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of the Cape at that time.

It is recorded that during the Campaign of 1880 and only a year after Lady Frere was founded the township was attacked on the 2nd November by impis under chiefs Siqungatie and Stokwe.

During the encounter with Col. A.G. Wavell met up with Stokwe and his men in the Indewe river valley, some eleven days later Stokwe was severely wounded and died that same day. He was buried by his followers, the grave site is to this day kept secret by the tribe.

The first plot for the new town was sold in 1881. John James Kelly born in Newbridge, Ireland in 1850,  living in the area he was responsible for infusing the vital breath of life into a town that could have died at its birth.

Glen Grey is a former name for the area around Lady Frere, east of Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It gave its name to the Glen Grey Act, a 1894 act of the parliament of the Cape Colony, which established a system of individual (rather than communal) land tenure, and created a labour tax to force Xhosa men into employment on commercial farms or in industry. The act was so named because, although it was later extended to a larger area, it initially applied only in the Glen Grey district.

The Glen Grey district became part of the Transkei, within which it was named Cacadu district (not to be confused with the current Cacadu District Municipality, which is further to the west) and is now the magisterial district of Lady Frere. It is part of the Western Thembuland traditional kingdom. Lady Frere became a municipality in 1900.

In the 1940’s there were two hotels in Lady Frere,  known as the ‘top’ and the ‘bottom’ hotel which had the correct name of Commercial Hotel.  Free Press in 1922 stated that there were a total of eight hotels in that district at that time.

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