Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sgt. James Turton of the Avondale Rifles

While including James Turton's story in my post on Avondale's Rifle Volunteers, I wondered if the James Turton described by the Observer as a wife-beater was the same Sergeant Turton who seemed to be, even if aloofly, admired by the volunteer forces. Confirmation came today, via his obituary published in the Auckland Star on 7 May 1903, that they are indeed one and the same.

"Sergeant James Turton, whose burial took place to-day, was originally a member of the Coldstream Guards, and after getting his discharge from that famous corps, gave up professional soldiering, and came to the colony several decades ago. He was for many years a contractor on the East Coast [Poverty Bay, so I've found, at Whataupoko, where one of his wives, Margaret, left him, he commanded the J Battery of artillery volunteers, and he went bankrupt in July 1889, according to the Poverty Bay Herald], and coming afterwards to Auckland joined the Avondale Rifles in 1895.

"When that corps dissolved, he still clung to the amateur profession of arms, and became a sergeant in the Gordon Rifles, which position he held till his death. He was accorded all the honours of war with a military funeral, and the cortege included a strong party of Gordons and numerous representatives of other associated corps. The procession started from Mr. McIvor's undertaker's shop in Karangahape-road, and went out to the Avondale Cemetery [Rosebank Road], where the ceremony of interment was performed by the Rev. W. H. Wilson. The late sergeant was well-respected amongst his fellows, and was one of the best-known figures in local volunteering circles."

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