In 1487 Bartolomeu Dias, a Portuguese navigator sailed out of Belém Harbour, Lisbon Portugal, down the Tagus River and headed for the African Coast. In 1488, after passing the dangerous Tsitsikamma coastline, he anchored in a bay which he named “Golfo dos Pastores”, which is Portuguese for Bay of the Shepherds.
Manuel de Mesquita Perestrelo, a Portuguese navigator and cartographer, was commissioned to chart the coast of Africa. In 1575 when his fleet anchored in the bay already named Golfo dos Pastores by Dias, he renamed the bay St. Francis Bay, in honour of the patron saint of sailors. This bay stretches from Cape Receife in the east to Cape St. Francis in the west.
Although Portuguese navigators discovered the St. Francis Bay area in those early years, not much happened until Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape in 1652 and set up trading posts. The route to the Eastern Cape via the Langkloof opened up and that is when big game hunters, adventurers, discoverers, fortune seekers, and later Trek Boers, started to venture inland.
In 1744 Marthinus van Staaden, a Trek Boer, acquired grazing rights on the farm Kabeljouws just a few kilometres east of the land on which Jeffreys Bay stands today. He then moved further eastwards across the Gamtoos River and the now famous Van Stadens River is said to be named after him.
The farm Roode Krans situated close to Misgunst (today Misgund) was awarded to Hermanus Gersten during 1782. Later it was owned by the van Onselens.
Also during August 1782, a French adventurer named Francois le Vaillant arrived at the Gamtoos River.
The farm on the Kabeljouws River named Misgunst (now Misgund) was awarded to Solomon Marais in 1784. This once quaint farmstead has for many years been owned by the Ferreiras and the du Plessis. It was totally gutted by the runaway fires that occurred in the St. Francis Bay region in October 2005.
1803 was a very busy year for the authorities in the St. Francis Bay region as no less than three farms were allocated: The first, Kabeljouws, was granted to Hester Kritzinger, a widow. This farm was situated on the eastern side of the Kabeljouws River and was later subdivided into the following farms: Kabeljouws Siding, Die Erf, Sonop, Kabeljouws River, Klipheuwel, Meulplaas, Akkerboom and Rina’s Rus. The other two were Plaatjies Drift and Diep Rivier which went to Johannes and Theodorus Potgieter.
The farm Noorsekloof was granted to Catherine Human during 1817. She was the widow of Petrus Johannes Human. This farm was later owned by Jan Ferreira and his family who sold to Dr A D Keet in 1926. He, in turn, sold to the Trust Bank and Wavecrest made its appearance.
The farm Papiesfontein was owned by Jurie Johannes Human.
Plettenberg Bay is a long, long way away from the Kabeljouws River, but in 1825 having to undertake the journey on horse back was no problem for Anthonie Michiel Ferreira born on the farm Kabeljouws on the 17th August 1802. Anthonie went to Plettenberg Bay to visit his girl friend Maria Johanna Albertina Meeding.
They went on to have eleven children after being married in George by Dominee Ballot on the 4th November 1827. Their children were born between 1829 and 1850.
Anthonie Michiel Ferreira built the farmstead Langhuis (now Klipheuwel) in late 1827. Today, 182 years later, the house still stands as a monument to his wife Maria Johanna Albertina Ferreira born Meeding.
In 1844 the farm Mentors Kraal was owned by Jan Frederik and Johannes Tobias Jurgens.
Martin Beresford settled in the Eastern Cape and noted that the Gamtoos River had to be crossed at the mouth which could only be done at low tide. He realised that a ferry would facilitate the crossing and set up a prefabricated house on the banks of the river and began operating the Gamtoos Ferry.
An advert appeared in the Eastern Province Herald on Wednesday, May 7, 1845 informing the public that owing to the fact that J T Jurgens had disposed of his farm “Klein Zeekoe River” he was now offering his stock, oxwagons, horse wagon, scotch car, farm implements as well as household furniture for sale.
Joseph Avent Jeffery erects a wood and iron warehouse which is recorded as being the first place of business to open on the shore near what is today known as Jeffreys Bay. When they arrived there were already coloured fishermen living off the sea. These men were employed to fish from boats and played a huge role in helping this trade grow over many years into what it is today.
M G Human and Co. bought the farm Klein Zeekoe Rivier. On the 21st January 1852, they made an historic decision: forty erven situated on the coast on their farm Klein Zeekoe Rivier (now Jeffreys Bay) were put up for sale.
The surveyor was Robert Pinchin and the auctioneer W S G Metlerkamp. Thus investment in land became a reality and the Village of Jeffreys Bay evolved.
Joseph Avent Jeffery bought the first four plots 1, 2, 9 & 10 for £79.0.0. He erected a double storey, which was later named the “White House”, on plot no 10.
Another trader, innkeeper and artisan, George Pell, won the tender for repairs and extensions for £1 550.0.0 which had to be done to Government buildings in Humansdorp.
The Village of Jeffreys Bay was run by a Trustee System.
This is recorded as being the year of the Great Fire in the St. Francis Bay Area.
A son, William, was born to George and Jane Pell. He was to play a significant role in the future of Jeffreys Bay.
Rev. William Arthur, a missionary with the Congregational Church, opened the first coloured school on 26th January 1891 which had 20 pupils. The school later closed and moved into the existing Pellsrus Primary School in 1969 with Mr Billy Jenneker as the Headmaster. Today the Principal is Mr R Plaatjies and the school has 30 teachers and 1160 learners.
The first postal service between Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp comes into effect.
Charles Papenfus builds the Beach Hotel (today Seashells Apartments).
The first Railroad linking Jeffreys Bay and Port Elizabeth came into effect but the line ended on the eastern bank of the Kabeljouws River.
J W and Sarah Regnart built the Jeffreys Bay Hotel (today Savoy Hotel). The same trade has been carried out in these premises for over 100 years.
The village of Jeffreys Bay was run by a Local Board as it had only 15 names on the voters roll.
The inauguration date of the Jeffreys Bay Primary School was 1st January 1919. The first Head was Miss J E C Buys and the first school building was erected in 1924 at a cost of £164.15.6.
Voting took place on the 27th February 1926, and the three Members of the first Local Council were elected: Ella Francis Hartley; Florence Francisca Newton; and Richard Chandos Thomas (Chairman). Charles Alfred Brereton was appointed secretary and was paid £10.0.0 per month.
The Council of Jeffreys Bay was officially declared a Village Management Board on the 1st October 1930. The Board members were J J de Jager, J Maguire, J Mellville, H B Swart, J N Swart, and J Rielly.
The first resident Doctor, Dr. M Herholdt, with his wife Wilhelmina and daughters Joan and Mattie, settled in Jeffreys Bay.
On the 3rd January 1968, Jeffreys Bay became a Municipality. Seven men were elected to serve on Jeffreys Bay’s first Municipal Council from 1968. They were: Mr P A du Preez (retired farmer), Mr C F Greef (first Mayor), Mr P H Potgieter (general dealer) (temporary Mayor until the first meeting was held), M M J Rautenbach (a Humansdorp Garage Owner), Mr J Taylor (Sandown Private Hotel), Mr P Vermaak (retired farmer) and Mr W Wasserman (general dealer). The first acting Mayor was Councillor P H Potgieter.
The most important decision which had to be made at the first meeting was the election of the first Mayor. Councillor C J Greef was appointed.
History was made when the first Coloured Councillor, Mr R Dennis, was appointed Mayor of Jeffreys Bay.
The Municipalities of seven towns in the St. Francis Bay Region merged and became known as Kouga Municipality.