The district of George was originally part of the district of Swellendam, and was proclaimed a separate district on 23 April 1811. Over the next 66 years various portions of its territory were separated to form new divisions at Mossel Bay in 1848, Knysna in 1856, Oudtshoorn in 1858, and Uniondale in 1879. Originally the region had been covered by extensive indigenous forests, but during colonial times these were heavily depleted through indiscriminate logging. It also provided excellent pasturage, and the rearing of cattle and horses was widespread.

After the 1880s this was supplemented by ostrich farming. The Montagu Pass, which linked the coastal belt to the interior of the division, was opened to traffic in 1847.

The following census figures are available for the division:

1827 census: 7,036 residents, including the military

1865 census: 10,658 residents, of whom 3,197 were literate

1875 census: 11,813 residents, of whom 3,844 were literate

1891 census: 10,086 residents, of whom 3,780 were literate

1904 census: 12,667 residents, of whom 5,716 were literate

-33° 53' 38.4", 22° 24' 7.2"