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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

New Zealand Militia

New Zealand Militia.

Under this heading the New Zealand Army List gives the names of all officers holding commissions in the militia of the Colony. The Active List contains the names of all those who are in charge of the colonial forces, and of others who would be liable to be called out in case of necessity. The Unattached List, which is a very long one, is made up of those who have served their country and retired on their laurels, but who would be liable to be called on to assist, in the event of the officers on the active list being insufficient for an emergency. The active list is composed as follows:—one major-general, two colonels, sixteen lieutenant-colonels, twenty-eight majors, fourteen captains, and four lieutenants; and on the unattached list there are 112 captains, seventy-eight lieutenants, seventy-four ensigns, and ten sub-lieutenants.

Active List.

Colonel Francis John Fox, whose career is given on page 178 as Military Adviser to the Government, was lately Major of the Royal Artillery. He was appointed Colonel on the 2nd of May, 1892.

Lieut-Colonel Thomas McDonnell, N.Z.C., one of the brave defenders of New Zealand, was born in the Phillipine Islands, Straits of Bernadino, His father, a county Antrim man, was a commander in the Royal Navy, and an old friend of Lord Derby, who took a great interest in New Zealand. Captain McDonnell had been to the Colony as early as 1828, and in 1841 settled in New Zealand, having selected a piece of land in Hokianga, which he succeeded in transforming into a lovely spot. Lord Derby obtained permission for him to take what he wanted from the celebrated gardens at Kew to New Zealand. Lieut-Colonel McDonnell was educated privately in New Zealand, and in 1853 visited the Australian goldfields, remaining only two years. On returning he was appointed to the Civil Service by Colonel Wynyard, and lived in Hawkes Bay, and subsequently in Coromandel. At the time of the murders of Traggett and Hope in Taranaki, the subject of this notice was transferred from the civil to the military service. His first commission, which was dated August, 1863, was as sub-inspector of the New Zealand Defence Force in Auckland under Colonel Nixon, and was conferred on him by Sir George Grey. The gallant gentleman page 328 Lieut-Colonel Thomas McDonnell served at Mauku, Queen's Redoubt, Burt's Farm and Drury in the “flying column,” and was for some time on duty in the Waikato. He volunteered to reconnoitre the enemy's position at Paparata, in the Waikato, and, accompanied by Major Von Tempsky, who had volunteered to go with him, returned entirely successful, for which he received special thanks, and was also thanked in “General Orders” by General Cameron, commanding the forces. He was present at the taking of Hangiachia, in February, 1864, when Colonel Nixon was killed. Sub-Inspector McDonnell was made captain shortly afterwards, and went to Maketu, Bay of Plenty, to take charge of the Arawa contingent. He returned to Auckland, the Government believing the war to be over, and was appointed acting R.M. at Cambridge, Waikato. This position he held five months, and soon after was promoted to the rank of brevet-major and appointed to the command of a native contingent at Wanganui. He assisted in directing operations against Wereroa Pah, which was subsequently captured. Afterwards he went to the relief of Pipiriki. Lieut-Colonel McDonnell was sent to Opotiki to punish the murderers of the Rev. Mr. Volkner. Afterwards he served on the West Coast under General Sir Trevor Chute and saw a good deal of fighting. He was under fire more than forty times. He was wounded four times in the leg, forehead, ankle and hand. Some of these wounds have been more or less troublesome till the present day. In April, 1867, he was made Lieut-Colonel, subsequently resigning three times, but the Government declined to accept his resignation. Colonel McDonnell was appointed to take command of the Forces against the arch-rebel Te Kooti, and maintains that a civil position was on this occasion promised by Ministers; but though he was successful at Taupo and elsewhere in the expedition against Te Kooti, and notwithstanding the brilliant services rendered in restoring peace, for which he was repeatedly thanked by the Government, the promise remains unfulfilled. Generals Sir Duncan Cameron and Sir Trevor Chute and others repeatedly recommended Lieut-Colonel McDonnell for the New Zealand Cross for conspicuous valour, and urged his right to it on several occasions, till, at length, in 1886, this officer was decorated with it by His Excellency Sir William Jervois at Government House, Wellington. A full account of the colonel's career appears in Gudgeon's “Deienders of New Zealand.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Hume late of the 2nd Battalion of Royal Highlanders, who was appointed on the 7th of June, 1888, is referred to on page 144 as Commissioner of Police and Inspector of Prisons.

Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Newall, whose career is given as the officer commanding the Wellington. District, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel on the 18th of January, 1891.

Major William Bazire Messenger, who is referred to elsewhere as the officer in charge of the Garrison Artillery in Wellington, became major on the 10th of December, 1885.

Major George Vance Shannon, New Zealand Militia, was born in Ulster, Ireland, about three miles from the town of Antrim, on the 17th of August, 1842. His family were very old settlers in that district, as may be gathered from the fact that he was one of the eighth generation born in the family residence in the freehold lands which have been in their possession for over two hundred years. Mr. Shannon married Emily, the eldest daughter of Lieut. Thomas Hewitt, R.N., of Sydney Lodge, County Wicklow, and arrived in the Colony in 1865, the pioneer of a large family now principally settled in the Rangitikei district. For nine years he was in business in Nelson, and in 1874 entered into partnership with Mr. J. S. M. Thompson, establishing the wholesale soft goods and manufacturing firm of Messrs. Thompson, Shannon and Co., Panama Street, Wellington, having branches in Christchurch, Napier, and Auckland. In 1887 the partnership was dissolved, when he removed with his family to “The Totaras” estate, which he had purchased from the Manchester Corporation in 1877. In Wellington, by his energy and at considerable personal expense, he raised the Wellington Rifles, which, during the six years of his command, was considered one of the smartest companies in the district. When the Government decided to form the volunteers into battalions, Capt. Shannon being the second senior officer, passed the Field Officer's examination, receiving his Major's certificate, the examining board being Lieut-Col. Baillie and Sir Arthur Douglas, Bart. On the 26th of May, 1886, he received his commission as Major in the New Zealand Militia from His Excellency the Governor, Sir William Jervois. On the 1st of July, 1887, he received his commission as Major in the 1st Battalion, Wellington Rifles. At present he is senior Major on the staff of the Wellington district. He always took an active part in public matters. For many years he commanded the Wellington Fire Salvage Brigade. On retiring in 1882 he was banquetted by a large number of citizens at the Royal Oak Hotel, Sir Patrick Buckley taking the chair, and presenting him on behalf of numerous friends with a silver trumpet bearing a suitable inscription. Major Shannon's name has been on the Commission of the Peace for the Colony since 1878. He was appointed a member of the Government Insurance Board in 1884. For many years he was chairman of the Terrace School Committee, and a member of the Wellington Education Board. Perhaps the most important public work in which he has been engaged was in the construction of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway. On the 30th of September, 1880, at a public meeting, he was elected one of the first page 329 committee of fifteen appointed to report on the practicability of the railway. When the company was formed he was elected one of the directors, John Plimmer, W. H. Levin, and G. V. Shannon, being the first to agree to each take 2000 five pound shares. Messrs. Plimmer and James Wallace soon after induced others to follow their example. In 1884 Major Shannon visited England, after a residence of nearly twenty years in New Zealand, and represented the Wellington directors on the London Board (Sir Penrose Julian, Sir Edward Stafford, and the Hon. Mr. Mundelia.) While thus engaged in forwarding the interests of the company, one of the most important Major George Vance Shannon towns on the line was surveyed and called “Shannon” by the directors in recognition of his services. He was vice-chairman of the company during his seven years directorship, and resigned in 1887 on leaving Wellington to settle in the Rangitikei. A man of his well-known energy and business ability was not long destined to enjoy arcadian pleasures and pursuits. Within a year of his retirement from business he received a telegram from Sir Harry Atkinson, then Premier, desiring to know if he would assist the Government in the classification of the tariff of 1888, which had just been passed. With this request he complied, and during his ten days stay in Wellington on this mission the Premier offered him an appointment as adviser to the Customs on mercantile matters and inspector of invoices and merchandise. An agreement was entered into with the Government and he commenced his duties on the 1st of November, 1888. This appointment he still holds. In the session of 1889 Sir Harry Atkinson stated in the House that the “Customs Expert” had saved to the revenue no less a sum than £5000 during the seven months of his appointment. Major Shannon, though a comparatively young man, has a family of nine children and seven grandchildren, His sons manage his sheep run. The eldest, Mr. Graham Shannon, has for the last six years been a member of the Kiwitea County Council, and is also a Justice of the Peace for the Colony.

Major Sir Arthur Percy Douglas, Bart., who was formerly lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and is referred to as Under-Secretary for Defence on page178, was gazetted to the rank of major on the 24th of August, 1887.

Captain Robert Chisenhall Hamerton, who was promoted to the captaincy on the 26th of October, 1864, and who for many years has occupied prominent official positions in the Colony, the last being that of Public Trustee, was born at the Hollins, near Burnley, Lancashire, England. He was partly educated at the gramma, school in his native town, and partly at the grammar school of Queen Elizabeth, Heath, Halifax, Yorkshire. In 1854 the family embarked on board the good ship “Cashmere,” Captain Pearson. Arriving in New Plymouth, Mr. Hamerton's father, an English solicitor by profession, purchased land in the Teranaki district, and on his father's farm he had his first colonial experience. During the native troubles in Taranaki he held commissions successively as ensign, lieutenant, and captain in the militia and volunteers, and was in several engagements, and holds the New Zealand War Medal. At the Waireka fight he was wounded in the knee. After the war he went into a merchant's office for a few months, when he entered the Civil Service as a clerk in the sub-Treasury. He soon obtained promotion, and for some time held the positions of Registrar of Deeds, Joint Stock Companies, Births, Deaths, and Marriages, and Deputy Commissioner of Stamps at New Plymouth. On the passing of the Land Transfer Act in 1870, the Government decided that none but solicitors should hold positions as District Land Registrars. Mr. Hamerton, not then having been admitted, was in March, 1871, transferred to the position of Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court at Wellington. He was appointed Secretary for Stamps, and Controller of Legacy Duties, on probation, in November, 1874, and the appointment was confirmed and gazetted in February or March, 1875. Besides performing the duties attaching to these important positions, he studied for the law, and having successfully passed the barrister's examinations, was admitted a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court in the year 1878. On the retirement of his predecessor, the late Mr. Jonas Woodward, in 1880, he was appointed Public Trustee, holding this office in conjunction with the Secretaryship of Stamps, until the appointment of the late Mr. Sperrey, the first property tax commissioner, to whom was transferred the direction of the Stamp Department in 1881. The high position of Public Trustee was held by him till August, 1891, when he retired on pension, secured by special Act of Parliament. Mr. Hamerton has taken great interest in Freemasonry, and was one of those who bore the burden and heat of the day in connection with the establishment of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand. As a prominent member of St. Mark's Church, he has shown great energy, and his services as churchwarden and vestryman respectively have been almost continuous for many years. He largely assisted in the procurement of the organ, erected in the church in 1879, at which he presided until the debt upon it was extinguished; and was associated with others in promoting the recent renovation and enlargement by Messrs. Fincham and Hobday, of Melbourne, which has eventuated so satisfactorily, Mr. Hamerton is the senior partner in the legal firm of Hamerton and Andrew, particulars of which are given elsewhere.

page 330
Captain R. C. Hamerton.

Captain R. C. Hamerton.

Captain John Coleman, a sketch of whose interesting life appears under “Permanent Militia,” was promoted to the captaincy on the 7th of April, 1880.

Captain Sam Cosgrave Anderson who is mentioned as quartermaster of the Permanent Militia, became captain on the 1st of January, 1882.

Captain William Henry Quick, whose history is referred to under the headings “Wellington Ex-Councillors” and “Legal,” was gazetted captain on the 2nd of October, 1885.

Captain John Falconer, is referred to as the officer in charge of the Wellington Torpedo Corps, and on page 178. The gallant gentleman was gazetted to the rank of captain on the 1st of September 1887.

Unattached List.

Captain William T. L. Travers, who is referred to under the headings “Legal” and “Ex-Members of the House of Representatives,” was gazetted captain on the 31st of March, 1869.

Captain the Hon. Sir Patrick Alphonsus Buckley, K.C.M.G., whose career is given under the heading “The Ministry,” became captain on the 19th of November, 1868.

Captain Houston Francis Logan, who is mentioned as an ex-councillor of Wellington Corporation, was gazetted captain on the 1st of December, 1868.

Captain the Hon. Robert Pharazyn is referred to as a Wellington member of the Legislative Council. He was appointed captain on the 2nd of December, 1868.

Captain Joe Dransfield, a sketch of whose career is given under “Ex-Mayors of Wellington,” became captain on the 3rd of December, 1868.

Captain Edward William Mills, J.P., whose important career is given under “Wellington Ironmongers” and “Ex-Councillors” of the City, was promoted to the captainey on the 4th of December, 1868.

Captain Charles Plummer Powles, who is referred to as a prominent accountant in Wellington, is on the Unattached List of New Zealand Militia, having been appointed on the 3rd of March, 1870.

Lieutenant the Hon. Charles John Johnston, particulars of whose career are given under the several headings “Wellington Members of the Legislative Council,” “Ex-Members of the House of Representatives,” “Ex-Mayors of the City,” and “Consuls,” was appointed lieutenant on the 19th of July, 1869.

Ensign Francis Sidey, who is referred to as an auctioneer, was appointed on the 20th of November, 1868.

Ensign Edward Thomas Gillon, who is referred to as the editor of the Evening Post in the section devoted to the Press, was gazetted on the 18th of February, 1869.

Surgeon the Hon. Morgan Stanislaus Grace, C.M.G., M.D., late staff-assistant surgeon of the 68th Foot, whose career is given under “Wellington Members of the Legislative Council” and “Medical,” was appointed on the 13th of February, 1866.

Assistant-Surgeon Julius Decimus Tripe, M.D., referred to elsewhere under “Medical,” was appointed on the 2nd of October, 1864.