S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science




Freer, Mr George William (veterinary science)

Born: 27 April 1873, Place not known.
Died: 21 March 1935, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

George William Freer qualified as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS) in December 1894 and came to the Cape Colony from England in January 1897 on a temporary appointment to assist in the battle against rinderpest. After a brief time at Robert Koch's* research station in Kimberley he was sent on rinderpest duty to Vryburg, Barkley West, Steynsburg (where he assisted Dr A. Edington* to test glycerinated bile inoculation), Middelburg, and Port Elizabeth, all during the same year.

From 1898 Freer was stationed at Uitenhage, where he carried out unsuccessful experiments to destroy ticks. A paper by him on "The tick plague", read before the Uitenhage Farmers' Association, was published in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope (Vol. 13, pp. 256-260) in 1898. During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) much of his time was spent at Port Elizabeth, where he inspected all remounts entering the port. He remained at Uitenhage for about 14 years. In 1909 he published a paper on "Ephemeral fever or three days' sickness in cattle" in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope (Vol. 35(2), pp. 145-147), and the next year one on "Ephemeral fever" in the Veterinary Journal, reporting that the same animal could suffer up to four attacks of the disease.

Freer was a foundation member of the Cape of Good Hope Veterinary Medical Society in 1905 and served on its management committee from 1905 to 1907 and again from 1908 to 1912. Later he became a member of the South African Veterinary Medical Association.

After acting as senior veterinary officer in German South West Africa (now Namibia), the Free State and Natal, Freer was promoted to senior veterinary officer of the Transkei, with headquarters at Umtata, in April 1916. Here he waged a fairly successful battle against East Coast Fever for many years. After the incorporation of the Transkei into the Eastern Cape his headquarters was moved to East London in January 1928. He retired in April 1933. Being of a very genial disposition, Freer was popular wherever he was stationed. He was a very able administrator and had a remarkable sense of humour. He had never been ill, but died suddenly from heart failure two years after his retirement, leaving a widow and one son.


List of sources:
Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope, 1898, Vol. 13; 1909, Vol. 35: papers by Freer.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Colonial Bacteriological Institute, 1897.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Colonial Veterinary Surgeon, 1897-1902, 1905-1907.

Curson, H.H. The veterinary profession in South Africa... Journal of the South African Veterinary Medical Association, 1931, Vol. 2(2), pp. 95-101.

Diesel, A.M. The early veterinarians of the Cape. Journal of the South African Veterinary Medical Association, 1953, Vol. 24(4), pp. 191-196.

Henning, M.W. Animal diseases in South Africa (Vol. 2, pp. 490-496). Central News Agency (SA), 1932.

Journal of the South African Veterinary Medical Association, 1927, Vol. 1(1), pp. 84-85: List of members.

Obituary: George William Freer. Journal of the South African Veterinary Medical Association, 1935, Vol. 6, p. 195.

Posthumus, P.J. An index of veterinarians in South Africa (4th ed., 2 vols). Pietermaritzburg: P.J. Posthumus, 1982.

Union of South Africa. Public service list, 1914.


Compiled by: C. Plug


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