Family from Forfar 1
When taken to England his fiancé
rode horseback to join him, and she was the daughter of a wealthy
family from (I think) Edinburgh.
John was their second son, as David Jr. had been born in 1796. Military records show that Woolwich was a transit point for British troops prior to and during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). A company muster for the company commanded by Lieut. Colonel Henry T. Thompson, 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Artillery dated January 1800 indicates that David Scott, a gunner was paid £1-19-4¾ and on April 1800, £1-18-1½. The April muster also reveals that David Scott along with half the company were transferred to "O'Brien's detachment".
The records for David Scott's
compatriots in Thompson's
company follow their travels aboard the Indefatigible from
Splithead on the Hampshire coast
in May, mustering in Minorca in July, Gibraltar Bay in September,
Tetuan Bay in
and Malta in December.What caused the
transfer of David Scott,
from a company headed to active duty in the
Mediterranean is unknown, but it
must have been a welcomed transfer for the family with the
eminent birth of a child on June 29, 1800.
Wives and families travelled with soldiers to their
postings at that time, which may provide a clue to the transfer as a
regulation by the War Office in 1799 established a limit for the number
of families allowed to accompany a regiment abroad.
The order stated: "the lawful wives of soldiers are permitted to embark in the proportion
of Six to One Hundred Men, including Non-commissioned Officers." This
regulation varied as some regiments viewed the government's restriction
to six for regiments going on active service and that for garrisons or
foreign stations, where active duty was different than a war zone, the restriction did
Possibly this was the reason
the family were assigned a garrison placement on the
other side of the Atlantic ocean, in Halifax, Nova Scotia instead of
active service in the Mediterranean.
David continued to muster with his fellow gunners in Capt. Lucius O'Brien Company through 1800 and 1801 but the first of May 1801 a series of transfers occur that will transport the family to a new continent. The first transfer occurs on May 1st when he is recorded as "from Adjutant's Detachment," the second is his transfer effective "1st July 1801 to Lt. Col. Robinson's Co." This company was stationed in Saint John, New Brunswick, and very soon after this we learn that "Gunner David Scott to Halifax" and that this transfer was effective 1st of Sept 1801 when he officially transferred to Capt. Wright's Co. stationed in Halifax, NS.
The family travelled to Nova Scotia in 1801 from Woolwich, possibly arriving first in Saint John, NB but clearly being in Halifax by Sept 1st. Separate married quarters did not exist at the Halifax Citadel when they arrived, thus the entire family likely followed the normal pattern for military families and lived in the barracks along with the men. This Halifax company soon changed command with Major Daniel Gahan taking command from Capt. Wright. David Scott's name continues on the Muster Roll of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Artillery in Gahan's Company in Halifax during the 1802-1803 period.
Halifax, Nova Scotia,
established by the
British in 1749 had steadily grown into a strategic
military centre in British North America. Located
Atlantic coast, Halifax housed both land forces and a major naval
presence. Prince Edward, who history knew as the Duke of Kent while he served as commander-in-chief of the forces in British North America had transformed Halifax while he was stationed there.
"The prince took a stern view of drunkenness and gambling and even, according to contemporaries, made an inexorable stand against what he considered the loose morals of society at large. It was his custom to parade the Halifax garrison every morning at five and to attend in person. The continuing severity of his punishments for breaches of military conduct made him unpopular. At the same time, however, his actions were punctuated by conspicuous acts of humanity to the troops."
Prince Edward's stay in Halifax was cut short due to ill health and he left in August 1800, a year before David Scott's arrival.
History remembers him best as the father of Queen Victoria. Meanwhile back in Halifax records show
the baptism of a third child for the Scott family. They indicate:
Ann Scott, daughter of David Scott in St. Matthew's Presbyterian Church
on April 3, 1803.
While the arrival of a new family member may have been a time of celebration, sadly that joy was short-lived; military records show that four months later, the life of the family would change forever. While on duty one Sunday, David met an untimely death on August 14th 1803. The Headquarters Book indicates:
"In Compassion to Sarah Scott whose Husband David Scott was Barbarously Murdered on Sunday last while in the execution of his duty as Sergt- Commanding the Royal Artillery Barrack Guard, The Lieut-General takes upon himself to grant to her a free Ration of Provisions dailey and a quarter to each of her three children, until opportunity offers to send her to Woolwich".Family tradition has maintained that the murderer was a drunken soldier who was caught and eventually hung in chains for the crime. As a garrison town filled with taverns catering to the many single soldiers stationed in Halifax, the rowdy nature of the area frequented by off-duty soldiers had become notorious. The Halifax court marshal records indicate that deserters were sentenced to 800 or 1000 lashings and that desertion was not uncommon. Possibly Sergeant David Scott, as a symbol of authority was caught in some conflict with a soldier returning to barracks from the many drinking establishments that surrounded Citadel Hill. Although the exact details of the murder are limited and the punishment unknown, the family tradition remains that the guilty party was a soldier - drunk at the time - who was hung in chains. A punishment practised in England, gibbeting (known as “hanging in chains”) was officially mandated by the 1752 Murder Act, which required bodies of convicted murderers to be either publicly dissected or gibbeted. In Britain between 1752 and 1832, 134 men were hung in chains. It was formally abolished in 1834. Nova Scotia which had a history of dealing with piracy the practice was actively in use as a way of both preventing desertion and piracy. Dan Conlin a retired curator of marine history indicates that:
Sergeant David Scott was buried, likely with a military funeral, as it was on the
grounds of Fort Massey, on land that was once a fortified garrison in Halifax and
now a military cemetery which has retained the same name. Fort
Cemetery is maintained by Veterans Affairs Canada, and their
indicate that David Scott was 28 years of age when he died. Records of
1893 indicate that some graves
were realigned and that some had wooden markers including David's at
time. Unmarked for many years, the
Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to install a veteran's
headstone to mark Sgr. David Scott's grave, in
2001 replacing the wooden marker had disappeared with age. His story remains unique as one of the few British soldiers to have died
in the line of duty defending the Halifax Citadel - a fortress that has
never been attacked by enemy forces. The Citadel remains at the heart of the city and noon time cannon reminds residents of the role it played.
Widowed with their three
children - David Jr., John,
and Sarah Ann - Sarah Jean survived in Nova Scotia, although
the commanding officer, who wrote her name both as Sara and Sarah,
in the headquarters book, indicated that she was scheduled to soon be returned to
Woolwich, England. How she managed
to survive in her new homeland, as a widow and mother of three is unknown as few
of her life in Nova Scotia have been discovered. We know that St. Matthew's Presbyterian, where her young daughter had just been baptized, and where in
1826 her granddaughter Margaret Scott (daughter of David Jr
and his wife Theodora Wheeler) was
baptized, was actively involved in assisting families in
need. The census of 1838 indicates
that her other son, John Scott, who is listed as a "Trader" had three adults living in his
Nova Scotia household. He was widowed himself and had not remarried at that time. It is possible that in later life she lived with John and his wife and moved to Boston around
1849, when he, twice widowed by then, had relocated with the
majority of his children, to open a carriage factory. She is remembered
in the family lore as having a connection to her grandchildren and it is
possible that she lived with them.
It was her grandson John Adams Scott who told of his memories of his grandmother to younger ears who relayed them in writing in the 1950's.
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