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UPDATED: 17/08/2021

17 August 1872, The New Rush’s first church opens on Newton (Dutch/Hertzog) Square.
17 August 1908, Famous SA journalist RW Murray (pictured) dies at 10 Park Lane aged 89 years.
17 August 1936, Head Constable James Shee DCM dies in Kimberley Hospital after a fall from his horse.

RW Murray – Founding Editor of Cape Argus and The Star

Richard William Murray was born in London England in 1819 and came to Cape Town in 1854 as the Editor of the “Cape Monitor”.


Richard William Murray

In this capacity he attended and reported on the Cape Parliamentary sessions, this resulting in a later publication entitled “Pen and Ink Sketches in Parliament” (1864). From this time onwards, he used the pen name “Limner”, the word meaning a person who paints or draws, and a person who describes or depicts in words.

He acquired a reputation for enormous personal and political bias, predominantly against any form of local government and was one of the leading journalist attackers of the Christoffel Brand and of Saul Solomon, both Cape parliamentarians.

Together with Bryan Darnell he founded the “Cape Argus” newspaper, the first publication hitting the streets on 3 January 1857. Murray was not popular with the Cape public, being anti responsible government and he left the Argus in 1862 to become Editor and founder of the “Great Eastern” newspaper in the eastern Cape. In 1865 he represented Cradock in the Cape Parliament, a short lived career as he left in 1866 for Cape Town to edit the “Standard and Mail” newspaper. (The “Great Eastern” became the “Eastern Star” and later “The Star” newspaper when it relocated to Johannesburg, making Murray the founding editor of the two biggest daily English newspapers in South Africa).

He then left for the diamond fields, some sources stating 1866 and others 1867, and became the founding Editor of the “Diamond News” at Pniel, certainly in existence by 1870. In September 1871 the newspaper moved its location to Dutoitspan, this after all four of the four historic diamond mines had been discovered.

Murray then became Editor of the “Diamond Times” newspaper in 1884, owned by Woolf Joel (nephew of Barney Barnato) which was established as a pro-Barnato newspaper used to attack Barnato’s opponents including Cecil Rhodes.
He returned to Cape Town for a few years but went back to Kimberley where he became a regular contributor to the various newspapers in existence.

He wrote a further two books – “Diamond Fields Keepsake” in 1873 and “South African Reminiscences” in 1894.

He was married to Letitia (who died in 1886), the union producing three children: Richard William Junior, Charles H, and Frank Murray.

Murray died at 10 Park Lane, Kimberley on 17 August 1908 and is buried in the Gladstone cemetery.

UPDATED: 17/08/2020

17 August 1872, The New Rush’s first church opens on Newton (Dutch/Hertzog) Square.
17 August 1908, Famous SA journalist RW Murray dies at 10 Park Lane aged 89 years.
17 August 1936, Head Constable James Shee DCM dies in Kimberley Hospital after a fall from his horse.


Decorated war hero and the 1936 South African Show jumping champion Head Constable James Shee died tragically in Kimberley after a show jumping accident at the Kamfersdam Police Remount Camp on Sunday 16 August 1936 when, while practising, his horse crashed into a jump throwing him and breaking his neck.

Afraid to move him as he was in a coma, the ambulance was called and he was taken to the Kimberley Hospital where he died the following day, Monday 17 August, without regaining consciousness.

James Shee came to South Africa in November 1899 with the 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry to fight in the Anglo-Boer War, his regiment seeing action at Colenso, Vaal Krantz, Monte Cristo and Pieter’s Hill during the relief of Ladysmith. The Regiment fought in South Africa until peace on 31 May 1902.

Colour Sergeant Shee was mentioned in despatches by General Redvers Buller VC for his bravery at the battle of Vaal Krantz 5-7 February 1900, and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

The battle of Vaal Krantz was General Buller’s third attempt to relieve Ladysmith, when he crossed the Tugela River a few miles east of Spionkop and attacked the Boers who were holding a ridge of kopjes. Despite the Durham Light Infantry and two other regiments capturing the southern section of the hill, the British army under Buller was repulsed by the Boers and forced to withdraw over the Tugela River.

When the Anglo-Boer War ended, like so many other British soldiers, he decided to stay on in South Africa and joined the Kimberley Urban Police and later the South African Police. During the Great War 1914 – 1918 he was one of 100 specially chosen men to be General Louis Botha’s Bodyguard and he served in the German SWA Campaign of 1914-15. He returned from that campaign to eventually become Head Constable in charge of the Kamfersdam Remount Camp, a position from which he should have retired on pension in 1931, but he stayed on after a request to do so.

The horse he was riding at the time of the tragedy was the same horse he won the SA Championship in Port Elizabeth as well as the Rand Show earlier in 1936. An expert horseman, he was famed throughout the country for his horsemanship and as a familiar figure at all shows, winning most of the titles on offer.

His funeral and burial at the West End cemetery was one of the largest crowds of mourners ever seen in Kimberley, the cortege stretching well over a mile. Behind his coffin walked his favourite horse “Duke”.

South Africa lost an outstanding character with his death as he had a fine war record and a distinguished police career.

By a strange quirk of fate, both his father and brother died exactly the same way.

Aged 57 years, he left his wife Davina and six year-old son to mourn his passing.

UPDATED: 17/08/2017

17 August 1872, The New Rush’s first church opens on Newton (Dutch/Hertzog) Square.
17 August 1908, Famous SA journalist RW Murray (pictured) dies at 10 Park Lane aged 89 years.
17 August 1936, Head Constable James Shee DCM dies in Kimberley Hospital after a fall from his horse.


Richard William (“RW”) Murray Snr. (1819-1908) was a journalist, editor, newspaper proprietor and politician of the Cape Colony. He was a lifelong supporter of British imperial expansion, and used the name “Limner” in most of his writings.

Murray was born in London in 1819. In his youth, he worked for several newspapers in London, before he arrived in Cape Town in 1854 and immediately began work as editor of the reactionary Cape Monitor.

In this capacity, he attended and reported on the early sessions of the new Cape Parliament as one of two observer newspapers (the other being the liberal Commercial Advertiser and Mail). He quickly acquired a reputation for enormous personal and political bias, predominantly against any form of local government. In a strange turn of affairs, the editor of the competing Commercial Advertiser and Mail was also an elected MP in the parliament and Murray’s reporting on Fairbairn was notorious for its vitriol. He was also one of the leading journalistic attackers of the speaker Christoffel Brand and Saul Solomon. He compiled a large number of sketches and reminiscences that provide a large portion of the early history of the Cape Parliament.

He founded the Cape Argus, with Bryan Henry Darnell and Saul Solomon, in 1856. However he and Darnell swiftly became relatively unpopular, as their fiercely pro-imperialist political views antagonised the Cape public, who were predominantly supportive of “Responsible Government” and its leader John Molteno. Darnell and Murray therefore left the Cape Argus (in 1859 and 1862 respectively), with Saul Solomon taking over and bringing the paper into accord with public opinion and into a period of enormous growth.

The Eastern part of the Cape Colony was traditionally far more pro-imperialist in its politics, and the British Governor Philip Wodehouse moved there to garner support against the growing Responsible Government movement. He took Murray with him for media support, and Murray started the Great Eastern newspaper to support the pro-imperialist party accordingly.

He also briefly stood for the constituency of Cradock in 1865, in the Cape Parliament.

However, in the ensuing parliamentary sessions, Molteno’s Responsible Government party outmanoeuvred the Governor’s party and its Eastern Cape supporters, and the Government was forced to return to Cape Town. The Great Eastern also faltered and eventually was forced to close in September 1866.

In 1866 Murray returned to Cape Town, where he briefly edited the Standard and Mail. However he left for Griqualand West with the discovery of diamonds, and settled down in what became Kimberley. He had a great interest in mining, and the great diamond rush was at the time underway.
There, he edited the pro-British publication Diamond News, which he used to attempt to prevent a similar movement for self-government appearing in Griqualand West. In this aim, it was squarely opposed to the pre-existing Diamond Field paper of Alfred Aylward.

In 1884, the new Diamond Times newspaper opened, with Murray as editor. While officially owned by a “Woolf Joel”, the paper was in fact owned and directed by the diamond magnate Barney Barnato. It was therefore used for public attacks on Barnato’s opponents. This brought it into conflict with Cecil Rhodes, who was at the time taking over control of the diamond fields from Barnato.

He married Letitia Murray (d.1886) from Bristol, and they had three children (Richard William Murray Jnr., C. H. Murray and Frank Murray).

Murray Senior wrote three books:

Pen and Ink Sketches in Parliament
Diamond Fields Keepsake 
South African Reminiscences

(Mostly from Wikipedia).

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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