Australian Dictionary of Biography

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James Scott (?–1796)

by G. D. Richardson

This article was published:

James Scott (d.1796), sergeant of marines, was a member of the marine detachment in the First Fleet, and arrived in New South Wales as one of three sergeants in the Prince of Wales. He had had little formal education but was already an experienced and competent non-commissioned officer when the fleet sailed. On 26 October 1786 he had married Jane Boxell at St Mary's Church, Portsea, now a suburb of Portsmouth, both being of that parish. A daughter, Elizabeth, was born in the Prince of Wales in Rio de Janeiro on 29 August 1787 and a son, William Boxell, in Sydney on 4 June 1790.

Scott and his family embarked in H.M.S. Gorgon in Sydney on 31 October 1791. They sailed for England on 18 December and all survived the voyage despite the illness and deaths on board. Scott was discharged at Spithead on 21 June 1792 and from next October until March 1796 he served as a squad sergeant or second squad sergeant on shore at Portsmouth at £20 a year. He died towards the end of March 1796 and was buried at Portsmouth on 2 April.

Scott is chiefly notable because of his diary, which covers the period from May 1787 to May 1792, and is one of the few surviving contemporary accounts of the first settlement of Australia by a member of his class. It was published in Sydney in 1963 under the title Remarks on a Passage to Botany Bay, 1787-1792. His life both as a marine and as a family man was otherwise undistinguished and blameless. He was a loyal member of his corps conscientiously performing the duties of his rank, commanding the quarter guard, assisting in a routine inspection of the powder in the magazine, or searching for a marine lost in the bush. Whether in this or in keeping pigs and poultry in Sydney he was sober and industrious, interested in the novelty of his experiences but lacking either in imagination or in the ability to reveal it in his diary.

Citation details

G. D. Richardson, 'Scott, James (?–1796)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 23 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

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