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Jean Dalgity and David Scott first
Robert Burns'
                Funeral Procession, Dumfries - 25th July 1796appear in written records with their marriage in 1795 at Forfar in the present county of Angus, is in eastern Scotland. Known by past generations as Forfarshire, Angus is located north of the River Tay and south of Aberdeenshire. At the time David Scott was married the records indicate that he was a "Soldier in the Angus Volunteers."  Family tradition had preserved the names of Jean Dalgity and David Scott, and by locating their marriage record, we were able to determine the region where they lived. Angus Volunteers Company of Fencible Men was formed on 27 February 1794 - and survived until 1799 under the command of Major John Fraser, when it was divided into two companies. Fencibles were home service regulars while volunteers typically were part-time local soldiers. Although David's company, the Angus Volunteers,
had volunteers in the name, experts indicate that this unit was clearly a fencible unit and thus home service regulars. The creation of this company in 1794 was a key part of efforts in Scotland to deal with possible invasion of the huge coastlines, when France declared war on Great Britain in 1793. The Fencible Army was solely for defensive duty, without a requirement for overseas duty. Prior efforts by London to remove any threat of armed uprisings in Scotland following the Jacobite Rising of 1715 and 1745 had produced the Disarming Act essentially disarmed the land and this clearly needed change in light of a possible French invasion.

We know that the Angus Volunteers were in attendance at the funeral of Scotland's much beloved poet Robert Burns in Dumfries on 25th July, 1796. As David Scott was a member at that time, it is likely that he was in attendance with his unit. Robert Burns was a Private in the Royal Dumfries Volunteers for the last year and a half of his life, as well as a national figure; it was out of respect for him as a fellow military patriot as well as public figure that the Angus Volunteers were on parade that day.

                    Burns' Funeral Procession, Dumfries - 25th July

Family stories passed through three generations and recorded in the 1940's, provide an oral tradition of this pre-1800 period for the family.

[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 wealthy family from (I think) Edinburgh.

Letter from Louise (Scott) Campbell (b 1861) to John Redford Scott (1909- 1958)

Records of the couple next appear in church and military documents in Woolwich, Kent which is now part of the Greater London area, down the River Thames near Greenwich. Woolwich has long housed various operations of the Royal Artillery. It was also a major artillery training centre. The records of the Scots Church of Woolwich, housed in the rectory of the church when I visited in 1973, show the congregation was made up of many military families, and that Scottish names were common in the records of 1800.  Located among the church records is the following reference:

John, son of David Scott, Gunner Royal Regt. of Artillery and of Jean his wife: was born June 29th and baptized July 13th 1800 - by Newton Blythe, minister at Sunderland Durham.

David Scott
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 former 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 October 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 the time, which may provide a clue to the transfer; 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 in practice as some regiments viewed the government's restriction 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 not apply. Possibly this was the reason the family was assigned a garrison placement on the other side of the Atlantic, in Halifax, Nova Scotia instead of active service in the Mediterranean.

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 on the 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 the Scott family is growing and we find church records which show the baptism of a third child for the young couple. They indicate:

 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 garrison grounds of Fort Massey, on land that was once a fortified garrison in Halifax and is now a military cemetery; the site has retained the name.  Fort Massey Cemetery is maintained by Veterans Affairs Canada, and their records 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 that 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 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 that has 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 return to Woolwich, England. How she managed to survive as a widow and mother of three is unknown as records 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 in 1853.

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.

Uncle John [John Adams Scott 1827-1903] told me often that his Grandmother Jane Delgeddie [Jean Dalgity] used to keep telling them of Sir Walter [Scott], that she read him Marmion and read him poems, and recite them with tears running down her cheeks. She must have longed for Scotland. 
- letter from Louise (Scott) Campbell (b 1861) to John Redford Scott (1909- 1958)


The introduction of the name Sarah for David Scott's widow is confusing but there is no doubt that this is the same individual who is married to David Scott and who faced this tragic crisis. Possibly like her daughter, Sarah Ann she may have had a full name of Sarah Jean and went by Jean. We know that at her marriage and the baptism of her son John she is recorded as Jean which family tradition confirms as her name. In later years the English version of the name (Jane) was also recorded as her name and remembered by family members. Traditionally Jean and Jane fully interchangeable in Scotland. [name reference

 A Family from Forfar - Chapter 2
A Family From Forfar - Index

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