Voortrekkers laid out this picturesque country town in the 1850s...using the neat grid system first employed at Pietermaritzburg. Centre of an early magisterial district and therefore a seat of power - albeit a lesser one - Greytown played 'Little Elephant' - in Zulu cultural reference - to Pietermaritzburg's 'Place of the Elephant'.
Many political analysts believe that the modern Liberation Struggle for a democratic South Africa began in the Greytown district almost a century ago with the Bambatha Rebellion. Named after a local chief and instigator, this 1906 uprising against white authority was the culmination of political and economic grievances. Unrest spread throughout the area, forcing white residents to shelter in the town hall, and the British to dispatch a relief column of 170 armed police. On the night of 4 April 1906, Bambatha and 150 warriors ambushed the colonial force, killing four and putting the remainder to flight. The rebellious leader headed north into Zululand, but was pursued and killed two months later with 25 co- conspirators deported to the island of St Helena. Ironically, the Greytown district was also birthplace of Boer leader and first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa - General Louis Botha - who held office from 1910 to 1919.