Harry (Henry ) Motton proved himself to be an all round sportsman achieving success in a variety of sports throughout his life. As a successful Rifleman he won 3 King’s Prizes in Australia and travelled to Bisley on two occasions.
Harry was born in Westbury, Tasmania in 1862 to parents Walter William Motton and Ann Kezia (Nancy) Lyall. The Motton’s were said to be a prominent horse training/racing family of that time which led Harry to success as a teenage jockey.
In 1890, Queensland, Harry married Jane Leonard going on to raise a family of 4 children.
- Frederica “Dora” May 1895-1979
- Harry Irwin 1892-1969 (Harry Jnr also became a prominent rifleman with Parramatta Rifle Club)
- Trevor Leonard 1901-1977
- Ella Leonard 1891-1981
At age 13, Harry won the 1876 Australian, Hobart and Launceston Cups on a 15 year old horse named Strop owned by Mr William Field. In the same year he rode Bella, also owned by Field in the Melbourne Cup. He was also second in the 1877 Launceston Cup on Bella.
Following in the family’ interest in horses, Harry’s brother Walter was also a successful jockey.
Harry says the most sensational incident of his career was in a Hobart Cup event. He was riding Strop, and Tom Hales the famous jockey was mounted on Southern Cross. In a neck-to-neck finish, Harry’s stirrup leather broke, and only for Hales gripping him by the jacket and hoisting him into the saddle again, he would have fallen between the two horses. This little trifle did not prevent him riding a desperate finish with Hales, who afterwards was heard to remark that he considered it rather ‘tough’ for the boy to try and beat him after his having probably saved the lad’s life.
At some point, probably in the early to mid 1880’s, Harry moved to Queensland and became a Motor Driver at the gold mines near Charters Towers.
We see other members of Harry’s family in Charters Towers with his brother Tim mentioned in an article as the proprietor of the Jungle Shooting Gallery. Tim was also a Rifleman and in another article from 19178i] in regards to a shoot by the Charters Towers Club it gives a tongue in cheek: “The absence of Tim Motton was noticed, and on inquiry it was elicited that he is on a big game hunt in the Jungle behind Cooktown, accompanied by Joe Jackson. It is understood their main objective is to secure further animals for the Jungle shooting gallery, a “native cum goose” being Tim’s principal desire. which, together with a bunyip, would be an acquisition”.
Australian Rules Football
By1886 Harry was playing Australian Rules for Charters Towers against Millchester, which was located on the southern outskirts of Charters Towers.
“Trezise all through was playing a splendid game and on the ball being thrown in he marked it nicely and passed it on to Harry Motton who gave a good kick towards the Millchester goal, where it was again marked by Trezise, who, amidst great excitement, kicked the first goal”.
In 1893 we see Harry becoming involved in trying to start a new team playing Australian Rules Football in Charters Towers with an article inviting interested parties to meet at the Earl’s White Horse Hotel.
In cricket Harry Motton played for the Charters Towers team where is said to have been a handy bat and top wicket keeper where he was compared to Jack Blackham, a Victorian who played in the first Test Match of 1877 at Melbourne. Harry was also Captain of the Charters Towers Cricket team.
Cycling became a popular pastime and after engine driving in the mines Harry set up and ran the Charters Towers Cycle Works in Lower Mosman Street where he assembled and sold high wheeler cycles from BSA components as well as rifle accessories. Later, Harry had businesses in Brisbane and Sydney. Motty’s Cycle Works was established in Townsville and Ayr although it is uncertain of Harry’s part in these, however the “Motty Cycle” is mentioned as the product. It is not possible to trace the beginnings of the nickname “Motty” but Harry seems to have inherited it prior to 1899 when he was trading in bicycles in Charters Towers.
Harry was himself successful in cycle races. In February 1889 he is reported from the Boxing Day race meeting held: “results of the Charters Towers Invincible Cycling Club’s second annual race meeting held on Boxing Day, in which H. Motton, a well-known Tasmanian, competed with great success. The first day he carried his colours to victory in the Ten Miles Championship, beating Harry McDonald, the great Queensland flyer, and on the second day he appropriated the One and Five Miles Championship races, the Obstacle Race, and got second place in the Three Miles Handicap in which he conceded the winner (Campbell) a start of 280 yards. Writing of this race the Herald says: “This race was a great event Campbell riding beautifully, but what win be, said- of our grandest .rider Motton, he simply out Horodod Herod, but the start was too much. The time was 9min 47sec.
Motton, who has proved himself such a flyer on the wheels, will be remembered by our sporting fraternity as the successful, rider of Mr William Field’s racehorse Strop, in the: last two cups (Launceston and; Hobart) that he won in 1876. He took to the wheels about two and a half years ago, when he was elected captain of the Invincible Cycling Club which office he has held ever since. At the above sports the attendance was two thousand five hundred strong, which shows that considerable interest is taken in cycling as Charters Towers is not a very large town”. In 1901 we find Harry mentioned in the administration of cycling as a Committee Member for the League of North Queensland Wheelmen.
There are many references to Harry Motton’s shooting career on https://trove.nla.gov.au/ other than those included in this document.
The Charters Towers Rifle Club was formed in 1885 and practiced at a range near Plant’s Hill. Harry does not appear in the earlier newspaper reports of Club members shooting however another article suggests Harry joined the club in 1886 aged around 24 years.
We first find Harry in November 1888 appearing in a prize list for the Charters Towers Rifle Club. He fired in a Pool Target Match where 6 pence per shot was collected from which 90% of the funds raised were divided amongst the competitors by bulls-eyes scored. The distance was “about 180 yards with a 4 inch bulls-eye”. Harry scored just the 1 bulls-eye.
An article giving a broad description of Harry’s shooting career is shown below.
Old Northern Rifleman’s Skill
North Queensland has produced many good riflemen over the years, among whom one might recall “Billy” Soden, who went to Bisley in 1903; H. P. Armstrong, who also went from Townsville to try his skill at the same place; Harry Elliott, J. R. Thompson, Roger Fisher and others; but pride of place must be given to Harry Motton, today a resident of Sydney. It was on December 19, 1906, that Lieut. Colonel Oldershaw sent a card addressed: “Mr. Harry Motton, Champion Rifle Shot, Charters Towers, Queensland.” On the other side was: “Good luck for 1907. Hope to see you at Bisley in July. Glad to see you are still shooting so well.”
At that time the selection of a team to represent the Commonwealth at the Bisley competition was near at hand, and the fine performance of Motton made him a strong claimant for a position in the team. Although a recognised shot, he was not selected in the team, and for the second time made the trip to Bisley at his own expense. In the trial shoots of the Australians in England Motton’s score was ahead of any Australian but he did not shoot in the team. Lieutenant Colonel Oldershaw, the manager of the team, had long recognised the genius of Motton when on the firing mound, and he expressed the view that Motton’s services were more valuable to the team as a coach than a competitor, even if he were to make top score. He coached the team which brought back the Kolapore Cup to Australia, while his successes there placed him as a knight of the trigger. Harry also coached the team in the “Palma” shoot, was appointed adjutant, and received a medal and a silver cup. He then shot in the McKinnon Cup team, and made the third highest score. Motton’s first visit to Bisley, how-ever, was in 1903. He was invited to Melbourne to shoot for a place in the team for Bisley, and was twelfth on the list for Australia. He was not selected, but decided to make the trip, paying his own expenses. He established an Australian record, being higher up in the coveted King’s than any Australian had ever been. On his return trip to Australia he visited Canada, shooting at a big Ottawa gathering. He got into the dollars in nearly every event, the principal of which was rapid firing. At Bisley he was seldom top dog amongst the Australians in individual matches, but the evenness of his form always placed him in a good position in the aggregates.
Harry Motton first attracted outside attention at a rifle meeting held in Brisbane in 1901, when he tied with S. Thorn for the Port Curtis match, and won the shoot-off. He again tied with six others in the ‘Merchants’ and won the shoot-off. It was on his shooting at this meeting that he was selected as a member of the Queensland team to go to Adelaide for the Commonwealth match. At the Randwick meeting in 1903 he was 13th in the “King’s” and 16th in the Longfield Aggregate. The following year, in the Melbourne meeting, he was 12th in the “King’s” and 13th, in the “Syme Aggregate.” At the Randwick meeting in 1905 Harry Motton created a sensation by tieing with Edwards in the “King’s.” Edwards was recognised as the New South Wales champion, and riflemen could not see him beaten. The shoot-off was from the 1000 yards range, no sighters. Motton’s first shot was a miss and Edwards first scored a bull, 5; Motton’s next, 3, Edwards 3. This left Motton to get a bull to make it necessary for Edwards to fire a third shot. Motton brought up the bull’s eye disc. Edwards was then faced with having only to hit the target to win the coveted title. His shot was greeted by a red flag, and they were again a tie. The order was now shot for shot. Motton fired and scored a bull, while Edwards’ shot was a centre at 4 o. clock. Motton also come second in the Champion Aggregate.
Going on to the Melbourne meeting he got into the “King’s” Final 40 for the final stage, and was third in the “Syme Aggregate.” Shooting in the Commonwealth Match, for Queensland, he was third top score. In the 1906 Brisbane meeting he was sixth in the “King’s.” after getting a bull on the wrong target, and he won the “Moreton” Match after an exciting finish with Alex Ferguson and others. He won another shoot-off in the “Merchants’ Prize.” against Alex Ferguson, H. Hicks (N.S.W.), Raymond and Boyd. Motton scored nothing but bulls in the match and shoot-off. He won the final match at 700 yards with 48 out of a possible 50. On his home range at Charters Towers he was always well among the money. Despite this, he would find time to assist a friend with advice when sought. After the 1906 Bisley meeting Motton again come home via America, and on reaching Sydney was impressed with the possibility of opening a branch in Sydney. It was then that the advertisements describing the “Motty” barrel were seen by riflemen, and its popularity was soon apparent. With the opening of the branch he secured from Charters Towers a reliable assistant in “Billy” Porritt, who was a fair rifle shot, leaving his Towers business in charge of Mr. Charles Johnsey, another consistent rifle shot at the N.Q. Rifle Association meetings. The business started in “The Avenue,” under the Sydney Railway Station, grew rapidly, and rifle shooting was often forsaken for business demands by Motton. In 1910 he was selected to go to Perth with the New South Wales team for the Commonwealth Teams Match. He was well in the money, and tied for the 12th badge in the King’s. It was in the same year that he was shooting particularly well at the Victorian Association Annual Meeting. It was at that meeting that he recorded the possible, with eight central bulls at the 500 yards range.
Harry does appear to participate in the administration of most of the sports that he undertook. In 1903 we also find him in a position of Councillor of the North Queensland Rifle Association.
The Championship was held in the basement of the Sydney Town Hall.
In 1918 Harry travelled to Tasmania to participate in the Tasmanian Rifle Association championships where Harry won the Championship Gold Medal and is noted as representing Randwick Rifle Club. “Among the competitors was the Chief Justice (Sir Herbert Nicholls), who was also a prize winner. The championship gold medal was won by H. Motton, of the Randwick Rifle Club (N.S.W.). He made a total of 260 points”.
Australian King’s Prizes
In 1904 Harry Motton shot in the North Queensland Kings coming second to Clubmate Thompson.
KING’S PRIZE IN NORTH QUEENSLAND.
BRISBANE, Friday. — The King’s prize at the North Queensland Rifle Association’s meeting was won by Thompson (Charters Towers), who scored 183 points. Motton (181 points) was second, and Matthews (180 points) third.
In the October 1905 NSW Kings, Harry was shooting for Charters Towers. The Kings was a tie for first with Harry shooting against Corporal Stan Edwards.
“The tie in the first position of the Kings was shot off at 5 o clock, three shots at 1000 yards. H Motton of Charters Towers opened with a miss then he got a magpie and a bull. Corporal S. Edwards of the Australian Rifles obtained a magpie and a bull but his third shot failed, each having eight points, shot for shot was reordered. Motton then notched a bull and Edwards responded with an inner and Motton thus secured the much-coveted honour”.
In the 1911, Harry notched his second NSW Kings win shooting for the Australian Rifles. By this time Harry was living in Sydney.
As the General (General Gordon) finished reading the letter, the strains of “See the Conquering Horo Comes,” were heard, and the 1st A.I Regiment Band, under W.O. Draper, appeared in the distance, heading a procession, of which the leading figure was Armorer-Sergeant H. Motton, borne shoulder high by his comrades of the Australian Rifle Regiment. Upon reaching the outskirts of the crowd the band wheeled to the right, and, as the crowd opened and the chair-borne Kings winner was halted in front of the general, who proceeded to hand him the big prize, the band struck up, “What’s the Matter with Father?” A roar of laughter was followed by the shout, “He’s all right,” and then the procession wheeled, and “Motty,” uplifted to the full height of his bearers’ upstretched arms, passed out of the ring amid further cheers.
In May of 1912 Harry returned to the North Queensland Kings coming away with his 3rd Kings Win.
“Private” Harry Motton is also noted as coaching the Australian team in the win of the Kolapore and to 3rd in the Palma.
In 1907 and Harry’s second visit to Bisley see him meeting with more success as did the Australian Team. He was 13th in the St George’s and came away with a Kings Badge in the Final. Team mate Lt W.C. (Wally) Addison won the Kings Prize.
Amongst other successes, Harry won the Stock Exchange Cup and the Daily Telegraph (after a shoot off) with 17th in the Graphic,
On the way to Bisley Harry visited Scotland shooting in Edinburgh (£13 and a badge) and Glasgow (£27 two badges, one the Gold[i] badge for the Grand Aggregate). Following the Kings at Bisley, Harry travelled to Canada to compete in the Palma Trophy in Vancouver. Australia finished 3rd in the match.
The team competed in Toronto and Ottawa on the way to Vancouver, Harry coming away with some Canadian dollars in prize money.
Harry Motton writes a number of letters to The Evening Telegraph of Charters Towers during both his 1903 and 1907 trips to Bisley. The links to these can be found in Appendices and offer a detailed insight into the trip through Motty’s eyes.
In 1914 Harry Motton is chosen as Emergency Reserve for the Bisley Team that included David McAlister and Fred Harrison.
In 1919 it was reported that there were plans to obtain Motton rifles for training of the Australian team riflemen at Bisley. The team for Bisley was made up of AIF volunteers still in the UK after WW1 awaiting their repatriation home. Motton mentions in 1907 that a number of the Australian Team were using “Motty Rifles”.
BISLEY RIFLE MATCH REGULATIONS
The Under Secretary (Mr D’Arcy Addison) stated yesterday that Captain Findlay had been appointed by the Agent-General to represent Tasmania on the Continent at the Nation’s Rifle Association in London. Captain Findley had already furnished a report as to the proposals regarding the Bisley shoot in which he stated that the program would include contests for the Kolapore, Empire and Mckinnon prizes. Peep sight shoots are to be cut out, and the number of rounds to be fired must be five or a multiple of five. All loading must be done with a clip, and magazines used, The Bisley match will be held in July Elimination tests are now being held among AIF men to pick out the best 50 shots who will then be placed in a camp offering special facilities, for practice. A number of long rifles with ordinary sights are being obtained of Mr Motton, of Australia. The entrance fees have been reduced from 25s to 10s The long ranges for the Kings Prize have been dispensed with for this year only
After retiring from Rifle Shooting Harry Motton took up Lawn Bowls, again with some success. He was a member of the City Bowls Club where he won the Hunters Hill Singles and was runner up in the City Championship. In 1936, Harry attended the Australian Bowling Championships in Swanbourne, Western Australia. We have no information of how he fared.
Business – “Motty’s”
Harry Motton ran a business supplying Rifles, Shooting Accessories and Services. Later he was partnered with Fred Harrison and his son-in-law Stan Edwards both of whom were Armourers. Stan Edwards married Harry’s daughter Ella in 1919.
A brochure titled “Rifle Requisites – Edwards & Motton” with premises in Little Collins Street Melbourne can be found on the National Library of Australia site.
It gives us a view of the wide range of items that were offered including:
Rifles, new and used, Barrels and barrel fitting, Rifle repairs and re-bedding, vernier sights, foresights, cleaning equipment, Motty’s Gun Oil and Rifle Paste, swivels, hooks and slings, shooting coats, telescopes and stands, rifle rests, etc.
Motty also had a hut on the Anzac Rifle Range at Liverpool where he carried out business.
A link to https://www.milsurps.com/showthread.php?t=60454&daysprune=-1 gives a comment by a contributor named “muffet.2008”:
Harry Motton was a multiple Kings Winner, he originally had a Bicycle Repair Shop at Charters Towers, west of Townsville in the 1900’s.
A member of the Australian Team he cleaned up in Bisley in 1907. A proponent of adjustable sights, he took his first prototype to England that year and with the support of Westly Richard, pushed the NRA of GT, Britain to modify and allow their use, this came about in 1909.
At the end of 1907, Motty moved south to Sydney, where he was granted a shop lease on Anzac Rifle Range, then located at Liverpool.
He set up a lucrative Armourers business and subsequently became the armourer for the NSWRA.
Besides being a prolific sight maker, his business expanded into the supply of BSA sights and barrels, soon adapted to modifications and fitting of Lithgow barrels and was one of the first to shorten the LLE barrel down to the length we see today.
Although the NRAA eventually went with the Taylor Brothers modified barrels, Motty had his own line of barrels made by the fledgling South Australian Rifle Company which eventually morphed into Sportco.
Harry was well known and respected amongst the sporting fraternity, having also been a jockey, cricketer and all-round sportsman.
Stanley Edwards, another top gun of the time, married Harry’s daughter and Stan and Motty commenced the business Edwards & Motton, producing yet more rifle sights and shooting gear.
There are references to a “Motty Special Rifle” where no specific data could be found on its origins. One source suggests they were simply rifles accurized by Motty. Images of rifle actions and barrels stamped “Motty” are posted on the website of the Lee Enfield Association of Australia so a “Motty Rifle” clearly existed.
Motty also supported shooting by donating prizes such as cash and Rifles. “The Motton” featured at the NSW King’s Prize Meeting for many years.
Death of Harry Motton
Harry Motton died in July 1946 aged 84.
OBITUARY MR. HARRY MOTTON MELBOURNE
-One of the most versatile sportsmen in Australia, Mr. Harry Motton (“Motty”) died in Sydney last week, aged 84 years. Born in Westbury, Tasmania, in 1862, he was one of a well known racing family. When aged 10 years he became jockey riding Mr. Field’s horses. In 1876 he won the Launceston Cup on Strop, which was a few months older than the jockey. Later ha went to Charters Towers, and became a champion bicycle rider on the old high-wheeler. Taking up rifle shooting he had few equals either as a marksman or a coach. Representing Australia at Bisley, he was twice in the final 100 for the King’s Prize (1903-1907). At the 1907 Bisley matches, where Walter Addison (S.A.) won the King’s Prize, Motton won two important matches. In Scotland he won the Grand Aggregate of Scotland, and was second in the Edinburgh Championship. While a member of the Charters Towers Rifle Club he won the N.S.W. King’s Prize in 1905, and, serving with the Australian Rifles, he was again successful in 1911. In 1905 he was second in the N.S.W. championship, and in 1909 won the North Queensland King’s Prize. Two Tasmanian championships were also won by Motton. During his career as a marksman he competed in England, Scotland, Canada, U.S. and N.Z., as well as every state in the Commonwealth. In 1914 he won the N.S.W. small bore championship. After retiring from rifle shooting he won trophies at bowls, also a motor boat race from scratch. In 1909 he drove the first motor car into Cloncurry. He leaves a grown up family.
Harry Motton Published Letters with NLA Trove Links
21 August 1903 – The Evening Telegraph – Harry Motton in Bisley
3 September 1903 – The Evening Telegraph Rifle Shooting at Bisley
15 September – The Evening Telegraph – Mr Harry Motton After Bisley
22 September 1903 – The Evening Telegraph – With Harry Motton After Bisley
23 July 1907 Townsville Daily Bulletin – Visit to Paris
12 August 1907 – The Evening Telegraph – Harry Motton in Scotland
3 September The Evening Telegraph – Rifle Shooting in Bisley
6 September 1907 The Evening Telegraph – Bullhousen Farm
17 September 1907 The Evening Telegraph – Harry Motton Letter, Birmingham
26 September 1907 The Evening Telegraph – Harry Motton in England, After the Shoot
23 October 1907 The Evening Telegraph – Crossing the Herring Pond
25 October 1907 The Evening Telegraph – Across the Continent
27 October 1907 The Evening Telegraph – American Experiences
20 November 1907 The Evening Telegraph – Harry Motton’s Run Over From America
6 December 1907 The Evening Telegraph – Motton in Tasmania
 From Queensland BDM https://www.familyhistory.bdm.qld.gov.au/
 Weekly Examiner (Launceston) 5 Feb 1876
 From Queensland BDM https://www.familyhistory.bdm.qld.gov.au/
 The Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser 10 Nov 1911
 The Referee 10 Sept 1936
 The Evening Telegraph (Charters Towers) 3 Dec 1917
 The Northern Miner 23 Aug 1886
 The Northern Miner 25 March 1893
 Saturday Evening Express 23 May 1931
 The Northern Miner 10 June 1899
 The Northern Miner 13 Nov 1930
 Townsville Daily Bulletin 17 Aug 1927
 The Colonist (Hobart) 9 Feb 1889
 The Northern Miner 4 July 1901
 The Northern Miner 5 Feb 1885
 The Northern Miner 20 Nov 1905
 The Northern Miner 10 Nov 1888.
 Australian Town and Country Journal 18 Oct 1911
 Townsville Daily Bulletin 30 April 1945
 The Evening Telegraph (Charters Towers) 24 April 1903
 Townsville Daily Bulletin 3 Oct 1912
 The Referee 7 Feb 1912
 The Sun (Sydney) 14 September 1912
 Weekly Times (Melbourne) 19 January 1918
 The Argus (Melbourne) 6 August 1904
 The Referee 25 Oct 1905
 The Daily Telegraph 16 October 1911
 The Referee 5 June 1912
 Goulburn Evening Penny Post 28 July 1903
 Western Star and Roma Advertiser 29 July 1903.
 The Evening Telegraph 12 Aug 1907
 The Sydney Morning Herald 20 July 1907
 The Mercury (Hobart) 8 May 1919
 100 years Ago – 1919 Diggers Rifle team – Bruce Scott
 Saturday Evening Express (Launceston) 23 May 1931
 The West Australian 22 April 1936.
 Link to “Gunboards” Community Notice Board Motty Thread. https://www.gunboards.com/threads/motty-special-rifle-w-mues-sight.40002/
 T Smalley received £25 from Harry Motton for “the position he obtained in the Kings (NSW) for using one of his barrels. Nepean Times 26 Oct 1912