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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]



The Palmerston North Rifles, known as C Company of No. 2 Battalion, Wellington (West Coast) Rifle Volunteers, was founded in the year 1879, with the late Mr. G. M. Snelson as its first captain. The late Mr. James Carroll was afterwards elected captain, and commanded the corps until 1891, when he was succeeded by Captain Hall, who, in his turn, was succeeded by Captain John Mounsey in 1898. In 1881 the Palmerston North Rifles were represented at Parihaka, under Sergeant James Carroll, and during the South African Boer war many members of the corps served in the war. The corps holds a high place in markmanship and military drill, and has a membership of sixty. Rifle practice is held on the Government range, and the corps takes part in all inter-corps shooting contests.

Captain John Mounsey, of the Palmerston North Rifles, first joined the corps as a private in 1893, and in the following year was made corporal. In 1895 he was elected sergeant, and soon afterwards rose to his present rank. He has always taken a keen interest in local volunteering, was the promoter, in 1904, of the Manawatu Rifle Association, of which he is now secretary, and is chairman and secretary of the Drill Hall and Range Trustees. Mr. Mounsey was born at Grange-over-Sands, North Lancashire, England, page 667 in September, 1871, and in the year 1883 came to New Zealand. For eighteen years he was employed as a general store assistant successively in Onehunga, Whangaroa, North Auckland, and Palmerston North. In the year 1901 he started business on his own account as an auctioneer and commission agent in the Square, the premises being removed in 1902 to a site at the corner of Rangitikei Street and Queen Street. Two auction sales are held weekly, also private sales, and three persons are employed. Mr. Mounsey takes a keen interest in the public and social matters of the town and district, and is a member of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association and the Jockey Club.

The Manawatu Mounted Rifles, the A. Squadron of No. 3 Battalion of the Wellington (Manawatu) Mounted Rifle Volunteers, was established in the year 1891. For the first few years the corps was in a very uncertain position, but since Captain Peach has been appointed to the command it has been an enthusiastic and well-trained corps. There is a full membership, and frequent shooting practices are held.

Captain Peach, Commanding Officer of the Manawatu Mounted Rifles, was born at Melrose, Scotland, in July, 1870, and is the eldest son of Mr. Benjamin Neave Peach, a distinguished geologist, for many years on the staff of the Scotch Geological Survey. He was educated at the Edinburgh High School and the University, and graduated M.B., C.M., in the year 1895. After practising for a few years in England he came to New Zealand, and in 1900 settled in Palmerston North. Dr. Peach is honorary surgeon to the Football Club, a member of the Bowling and Polo Clubs, and the Agricultural and Pastoral Association.

The Palmerston North Guards, the G. Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Wellington (West Coast) Rifle Volunteers, was founded in the year 1900 with a membership of seventy, and Captain F. S. Goldingham was elected to the command. Captain A. Morgan, Captain A. V. Merriman, and Captain Beale were successively in command until the election of Captain R. McMurray, in the year 1905. Twelve of its members went to the front during the South African Boer war. The present membership is about seventy. Shooting practices are regularly held, and the corps takes part in all the local shooting and military contests.

Captain Robert McMurray, Commanding Officer of the Palmerston North Guards, first joined the volunteers as a member of the Nelson College Cadets in 1890. In the year 1892 he joined the Manchester Rifles in Feilding, and five years later removed to Palmerston North, where in the following year he joined the Palmerston North Rifles as a private, and rose to the position of sergeant. In the year 1905 he resigned from the Rifles, shortly afterwards was elected lieutenant to the Guards, and a few months later was elected captain. Mr. McMurray was born near Reefton, in February, 1875, was educated at the Nelson College, and brought up to farming pursuits near Feilding. He afterwards spent twelve months with Messrs. Horseley and Harris, of Wanganui, and in 1898 started business on his own account as a grain, produce, and general merchant in Palmerston North. The business is domiciled in a fine two-storeyed brick building at the corner of Main Street and George Street. The firm, known as McMurray and Company, Ltd., do a large business in coal, produce, machinery, building materials, etc., and employ eight persons. Mr. McMurray is a member of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association, a Past Chief Ruler in the Order of Rechabites, and Worshipful Master of the Orange Lodge. He takes a very active interest in all out-door sports, having represented his district in football, cricket, and hockey representative matches. He has also won the Champion Belt and Challenge Cup of the Palmerston Guards. Mr. McMurray is married, and has two sons and four daughters.

The Linton Rifle Club was formed in the year 1900, chief among its promoters being Mr. Hugh Akers, with Captain George Craw first in command. The present membership is fifteen, and the corps takes a leading place among the rifle clubs of the North Island. Frequent shooting practices are held on the rifle range at Linton, and also on the Government range at Hokowhitu. In the New Zealand championship teams' match at Trentham, in 1907, the club scored seventh place, and in the same year they won Mr. Grear's valuable shield against some of the best teams in the Dominion. In other contests the club has also done capital shooting.

Captain George Craw, of the Linton Rifle Club, was born in the year 1866, at Papanui, Christchurch, where he was educated at the public school. He then went to Little Akaloa, Banks' Peninsula, where he assisted on his father's farm, and afterwards bought a property in the upper part of the bay, which is known as Chorlton. Mr. Craw subsequently sold the farm, and bought his present property at Linton. He is a member of the New Zealand Flax-millers' Association. In the year 1889 Mr. Craw married Miss Elizabeth Hunter, of Chorlton, and has two sons and three daughters.

Mr. Hugh Akers, the founder of the Linton Rifle Club, is an enthusiastic supporter of rifle shooting and the cadet movement. He was born in June, 1877, in Linton, and is the eldest son of Mr. William Akers, proprietor of the Riversdale sheep run. He was educated at the Campbell Street school, and at Mr. Kenneth Wilson's High School, Palmerston North. He then assisted his father until 1907, when he leased the sheep run on his own account, and in conjunction with it conducts another fine sheep run at Ashhurst. These two areas comprise about 8,000 acres, and carry 15,000 sheep and 1,000 head of cattle. The shearing sheds are fitted up with Wolseley machines, driven by a Hornsby oil engine.