Family from Forfar 1
[The] Progenitor of the Scott family . . . was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and was closely related to Sir Walter Scott. He was a strong athletic young man, and was engaged in teaching boxing etc., when the English were wanting men from Scotland in their army, so this young man was impressed into the English army. He was engaged to a young Scotch girl who lived near where he was from.
When taken to England his fiancé
rode horseback to join him, and she was the daughter of a
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
Splithead on the Hampshire coast
in May, mustering in Minorca in July, Gibraltar Bay in
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.
and families travelled with soldiers to their
postings at the time, which may provide a clue to the
regulation by the War Office in 1799 established a limit for
of families allowed to accompany a regiment abroad.
The order stated: "the lawful wives of
permitted to embark in the proportion
of Six to One Hundred Men, including Non-commissioned
regulation varied in practice as some regiments viewed the
to meaning six for regiments going on active service and
that for garrisons or
for foreign stations, where active duty was different than a
war zone, the restriction did
Possibly this was the reason
the family was assigned a garrison placement on
other side of the Atlantic, 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 by the first of May 1801 a series of transfers occur that would 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 to Capt. Wright's Company stationed in Halifax, NS.
Ships travelled on the route often and we know the family travelled to Nova Scotia in 1801 from Woolwich, possibly arriving first in Saint John, NB but clearly the were attached to the base 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 Captain 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
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
"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 the Scott family is growing and we
find church records which show
the baptism of a third child for the young couple. They
Sarah 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 on a 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 with a history of dealing with piracy, the practice was actively used to prevent both desertion and piracy. Dan Conlin a retired curator of marine history indicates that:
"The law required that the pirates be executed with their bodies displayed in public as a warning to other sailors. The body was covered in tar and hanged from chains in an iron cage called a gibbet. The Royal Navy used the same treatment on mutineers. Two pirates were hanged this way on George's Island in 1785. Another, Jordan the pirate, was hanged at Point Pleasant Park, near the Black Rock beach in 1809. At the same time, the Navy hanged six mutineers at Hangman's Beach on McNab's Island, just across the Harbour. Any ship entering Halifax Harbour in 1809 had to pass between hanging and rotting corpses."
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; the site has retained the name.
Cemetery is maintained by Veterans Affairs Canada, and their
indicate that David Scott was 28 years of age when he died.
1893 indicate that some graves
were realigned and that some had wooden markers including
time. Unmarked for many years, the
Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to install a veteran's
to mark Sgr. David Scott's grave in
2001 as replacement for the wooden marker which had
disappeared with age. His story remains unique as one of the
few British soldiers killed
in the line of duty defending the Halifax Citadel - a fortress
never been attacked by enemy forces. The Citadel remains at
the heart of the city and the noon cannon firing reminds
residents of the role it played.
Widowed with their three
children: David Jr., John,
and Sarah Ann, Jean survived in Nova Scotia, although
the commanding officer, who wrote her name Sara and Sarah
in the headquarters book, indicated that she was scheduled to
Woolwich, England. How she managed
to survive as a widow and mother of three is unknown as
of her life in Nova Scotia have not been found. We know that
St. Matthew's Presbyterian, where their daughter was baptized,
actively assisted needy families. In
1826 her granddaughter, Margaret Scott (daughter of
David Jr. and his wife Theodora Wheeler) was
baptized there as well. The
census of 1838 indicates
that her other son, John Scott, 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 she
remarried or lived with family members later when her children
were grown. Son John moved to Boston around by 1850; twice
widowed by then, he had relocated along with the
majority of his children, and operated a carriage factory.
Research is suggesting that possibly he married a widow there
Jean Dalgity Scott is remembered
in family lore as having a real connection to her
grandchildren and it is
possible that she lived with them at some point.
It was her grandson John Adams Scott
who told of his memories of his grandmother to younger ears,
who in old age relayed them in writing during the 1950's.
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