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The building was named after Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere (29 March 1815 – 29 May 1884) who was a British colonial administrator. He had a successful career in India rising to become Governor of Bombay. However, as High Commissioner for Southern Africa, his attempt to impose a British confederation on the region led to the overthrow of the Cape's first elected government and to a string of regional wars, culminating in the invasion of Zululand and the First Boer War. He was recalled to London to face charges of misconduct and was officially censured for acting recklessly.