Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Scott, Daniel (1800–1865)

by P. J. Coles

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Daniel Scott (1800-1865), harbourmaster, was born in Liverpool, England, the son of Daniel Scott and his wife Janet, née Campbell. His father was a flagmaker for the navy and merchant service. As a boy Daniel ran away to sea and at 21 was captain of a small cargo ship that plied between the Gold Coast and the West Indies. On one voyage he rescued three men adrift in an open boat and was commended by the Royal Humane Society.

On 5 August 1829 he arrived in the Calista at Fremantle, where he was appointed deputy-harbourmaster and pilot at a salary of £100. He soon found time for commercial ventures. At Fremantle he built his own jetty and used it for his lightering business. Several of his boats traded up and down the coast and his Mary Ann was commissioned by Governor (Sir) James Stirling to transport provisions from Garden Island to the early mainland settlement. Scott was largely responsible for having the first sea-going vessel built in the colony; its launching as the Lady Stirling in May 1836 was a gala occasion. He was also part-owner of the whaler Napoleon in the 1840s and commanded her on one whaling voyage in 1842. In Fremantle he was assigned several blocks which he developed in different ways. On one he built a well for watering ships, and on another a warehouse for wool and grain; it was later used as a convict prison.

With enormous energy Scott supported the pioneers who opened up the colony and he acquired land in several districts. However, he showed little desire to settle as a farmer and his chief interests were centred on Fremantle. An active leader in pressing for local government, he was elected the first chairman of the Fremantle Town Trust in January 1848 and held the position three times in the next ten years. He was also an honorary member of the local volunteer company and he strongly supported the local Church of England. His religious convictions had been strengthened by experience as a young sailor and he became a guarantor of the first church built in Fremantle.

In spite of all these time-consuming public and private activities Scott continued to give good service as harbourmaster, often using his own boats and equipment on government duty. Through injury to an arm he had difficulty with his pilot duties, and he resigned his official position in February 1851. Free to devote all his time to commerce, he concentrated on the Geraldton area, urging the government to open the district for mining. In 1864 he formed the Geraldton Smelting and Mining Co., but it lapsed after his death at Fremantle on 20 February 1865.

Seven months after arrival in Western Australia Scott married Frances Harriet Davis; they had eight daughters and three sons. The eldest son, Daniel Henry, carried on his father's business.

Select Bibliography

  • J. K. Hitchcock, The History of Fremantle: The Front Gate of Australia, 1829-1929 (Fremantle, 1929)
  • P. U. Henn, genealogical notes (State Library of Western Australia).

Citation details

P. J. Coles, 'Scott, Daniel (1800–1865)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/scott-daniel-2638/text3661, published in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 22 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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