Saturday, 17 May 2014

William Lidderdale Hutton

William Lidderdale Hutton was born in Torquay, Devon, England on 18 August 1865. He was the son of William Forbes Hutton and Eleonora Mackillop and was the ninth of eleven children - the fourth born of six sons. When the 1871 census was taken William was living at Hill House, Leckhampton, with his mother and seven of his brothers and sisters. His father was in India serving as an officer in the Army but was about to leave India for Australia to join his eldest son, George, who arrived in Victoria in 1869.

On 6 May 1874, William and the members of his family who were not already in Australia arrived in Melbourne aboard the ship, Northumberland. Initially the family lived in Kew in a large house named Blytheswood. In 1871 William Forbes Hutton had purchased Cooring Yering at Lilydale and the family lived in Kew while a large house was built on the new property and farming on the property was established. William was eight when he arrived in Australia and would have attended school in Melbourne. The family officially moved to Cooring Yering in 1883 when William was 18. The boys would certainly have spent some of the time prior to this helping on the property. Among other skills he would certainly have learned to ride and work with horses.

In 1884 at Farrell's Hotel, Yarra Flats, a meeting was held to discuss the formation of a local cavalry corps. The Victorian Mounted Rifles were formed in 1885 but there were more applications to join than places available so there was need for a restructure in February 1891 as noted in the Camperdown Chronicle 14 February 1891:

VICTORIAN MOUNTED RIFLES. The following order in connexion with the Victorian Mounted Rifles has been issued from headquarters:—" The Governor-in-Council has been pleased to approve of the following -Formation of companies into battalions in the Victorian Rifles, A, C, D, E, and F Companies to be designated Ist Battalion Victorian Mounted Rifles, with head quarters at Melbourne; B, G, H, and I Companies to be designated 2nd Battalion Victorian Mounted Rifles, with headquarters at Ballarat."

A Lilydale attachment was subsequently organised as part of 'A' Company of the 1st Battalion. At a meeting on 24 April 1891 at the Lilydale Athenaeum Hall sixteen men signed up and by the end of May there were 48 members. Infantry drills were held on Tuesday and Friday evenings and by July the members had completed a course in musketry and later also compulsory drills at Williamstown.

As well as supplying their own horses, an example of what was expected of members of the Victorian Mounted Rifles is outlined in this notice in the Alexander and Yea Standard 24 April 1891:

We have been requested to notify those gentlemen who recently applied to be admitted members of the Victorian Mounted Rifles that they have been taken on the strength of the regiment, and should attend the drill of the local detachment on this day fortnight, by which time it is hoped uniforms will be ready for them. All efficient members of the local detachment of the Mounted Rifles are expected to attend parade this afternoon, when the   musketry course must be completed. Any member failing to attend will be struck off the strength of the regiment, and will not be taken on again, in addition to which each man failing to complete the musketry course entails a loss of £3 on the company. Every member is requested to bring with him all articles of kit belonging to Government in his possession, so that all losses may be made good and each man's equipment made perfect.  

It is probably not surprising, with the military background of their family, that William Hutton and his brother, Maurice, were among the early members of Victorian Mounted Rifles at Lilydale.  Twenty-five men from Lilydale were chosen to be part of the Victorian Mounted Rifles escort of the Governor, the Earl of Hopetoun, from Government House to the opening of Parliament on Tuesday 23 June. William and Maurice were part of the contingent. Anthony J McAleer in his book, The Shire of Lillydale and its military history suggests that the men were 'chosen for the uniformity of their horses rather than any special ability' (p18). Later in the year men from Lilydale were also included in the escort of the Governor to the Melbourne Cup.

By the mid 1890s membership in the Victorian Mountain Rifles in the Lilydale area dwindled but a recruitment drive in 1897, including a Military Ball in the Athenaeum Hall, proved to be effective in attracting new members.

During the Boer War 1899-1902 a number of men from Lilydale, including William Lidderdale Hutton, left with the Victorian Mountain Rifles contingent for South Africa.

According to Forces War Records, William L Hutton (service number 1551) was a Corporal in the 5th Contingent Victorian Mounted Rifles. The website Desert Column (Australian Lighthorse Studies Centre) provides a nominal roll of those in the 5th Contingent Victorian Mounted Rifles as well as an outline of the formation and their service. The 5th Mounted Rifles Contingent enrolled on 1 February 1901 and preference was given to single men who were members of a Victorian military force, who weighed less than 12 stone and were capable of passing riding, shooting and physical tests. The men enlisted for a period of 12 months unless the war ended sooner. Each man was provided with a full kit including a uniform in kharki cloth consisting of pants puttees, hat and f s (foreign service) jacket and cap, greatcoat and boots. Rifles and bayonets were issued when they arrived in Cape Town though they received their cartridge belts in Victoria. Horses and necessary saddlery were also provided.

The contingent departed from Melbourne on 15 February 1901 aboard the Orient. Two other ships, the Argus and the City of Lincoln, carried horses and supplies. The men disembarked at Port Elizabeth before travelling to Pretoria where they mobilized between 24 March and 4 April. The Australians in South Africa were under the command of the British officers so on 10 April they travelled to Middelburg to join General Beatson's column. Some days later at Leeuwfontein they captured a convoy of 21 wagons and 16 prisoners. On 11 May the Regiment was divided into two wings and were involved in various engagements many of which are recorded in The Official War Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa by Lieutenant Colonel P L Murray. The section relating to the 5th Contingent Victorian Mounted Rifles is available online as a pdf. 

On 11 March 1902 members of the 5th Contingent arrived back in Cape Town and on 27 March two companies embarked on the St Andrew - 6 officers and 153 men - for Melbourne, via Albany, arriving on 25 April 1902. The remainder of the 5th Contingent - 23 officers and 460 men - embarked on the Montrose  for Durban where they transferred to the Custodian arriving in Melbourne, via Albany, on 26 April.

Records relating to Australia's involvement in the Boer War can be found on the National Archives Australia website including a publication, The Boer War: Australia and the War in South Africa which is available as a book or viewed online.
The Australian War Memorial website includes the nominal roll for Pre First World War Conflicts, including the Boer War.
Forums that may be useful in researching the Boer War include Anglo Boer War forum and Victorian Wars forum.

Queen Victoria died during the Boer War on 22 January 1901. The Queen's South Africa Medal (QSA) ‎was awarded to military personnel who served in the Boer War in South Africa between 11 October 1899 and 31 May 1902. William would therefore have been eligible to receive this medal.

After returning from the Boer War William lived on properties in Western Australia for many years. The first property was Moorarrie Station, on the Upper Murchison River, which advertised for sale in the middle of 1902. The Australian electoral rolls confirm that he was living there in 1903. The property was back on the market in November 1905 when William relocated to Jelcobine Estate, another sheep station near Brookton. This property was sold in December 1911 when William and his wife, Violet - who he married on 7 March 1905 - moved back to Victoria. The electoral rolls in 1914 show that they were farming at Arcadia, near Shepparton. They later moved to 104 Drummond Street, Ballarat where William died on 17 June 1929. William's will, dated on the day he married Violet, left all his possessions to his wife. The personal estate was valued at £1906 2/6. The major part of the estate was a share in the deceased estate of his cousin, Georgina Hutton who died in 1928 and was the widow of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bruce Hutton.

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