Daniel Scott (harbourmaster)

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Daniel Scott
Captain daniel scott large.jpg
Died20 February 1865

Daniel Scott (1800 – 20 February 1865) was a Western Australian harbour-master. Originally from Liverpool, England, he move to the newly established Swan River Colony in 1829. Scott was the first chair of the Fremantle Town Trust in 1848. In addition to his civic and harbour duties, he was involved with launching a number of enterprises in early Western Australia, including the first whaling business, the first ship builders (he built the first large ship from local timber), and a lead mining business.


Scott was born in Liverpool to Janet (née Campbell) the second wife of Daniel Scott, a flag maker. The son went away to sea and was mentioned by the Royal Humane Society after rescuing three men in a boat.[1]


He built up experience on ships journeying to the Gold Coast and the West Indies, enabling him to gain employment as a deputy harbour-master in Fremantle in 1829. This was the same year that Captain Charles Fremantle arrived with the first settlers and James Stirling, the first Governor.[2] Scott was given a grant of 4,000 acres on the Swan River by the British government instead of any pay or pension owing.[3] Seven months after his arrival on the Calista Scott married Frances Harriet Davis.[1]

Scott was employed at a hundred pounds a year but he set forth with acts of his own enterprise. Scott soon had a number of boats transporting goods from his own jetty. The activity seems to have been approved of as Captain Sir James Stirling RN, the Governor of Western Australia was one of his customers.[1] This approval was outdone by general acclaim when Scott went into the shipbuilding business. In May 1836 Scott's first seagoing ship was launched at King George Sound. A gala was organised to celebrate the launching of the Lady Stirling which was the first large ship built from local timber. Lady Ellen Stirling was not available and the ship was launched by the wife of Lieutenant Roe.[4]

The Round House prison in the late 19th century showing the tunnel built by the prisoners


In 1837, Scott made substantial investment in the Fremantle Whaling Company, which established a whaling station at Bathers Beach at the entrance to Fremantle Harbour. His co-investors included the Fremantle merchant John Bateman.[5] Scott's Fremantle Whaling Company paid for a tunnel to be dug under the Round House prison by the prisoners.[6] This tunnel went beneath the prison and linked Bathers Beach to the High Street in Fremantle.[7]

Scott rented this station in the 1840s for whaling. He was the captain of a whaler Napoleon when it set out in 1842. This ship was owned by Scott and a syndicate in Liverpool. Napoleon left Australia for England in 1844. Scott was lucky to find a replacement when another barque called the Merope was driven ashore and it and all her whaling equipment were sold to Scott. The Merope did set out whaling but the business does not appear to have been driven hard.[8]

The whaling company ceased trading in 1850.[8]

Civil responsibility and convicts[edit]

Scott decided to build a warehouse and to dig a well. With a well and warehouse he could act as a ship's victualler but the waterfront warehouse was invaluable when the first 75 convicts arrived in Fremantle on 1 June 1850.[9] The convicts that had arrived on the Scindian used Scott's warehouse as their only home until Captain Henderson and the convicts had constructed their own convict establishment.[10] Convicts would continue to arrive in Fremantle until 1868. Scott negotiated a rental of the wool warehouse for five years at £250 a year, although it was agreed that improvements could be made in lieu of rent up to a value of £1000.[11]

The first church opened on 4 August 1843.

Scott was a leading light in Fremantle where he became the first chair of the town's Town Trust in 1848. He was a keen supporter of the Church of England and underwrote the building of the first church,[1] St John's Anglican Church, in 1843.[12]


In 1851 he resigned his position as harbour-master, a position he still held despite all of his commercial and municipal responsibilities. He was noted for using his own boats on colonial business but an injury to his arm made him relinquish this task and "retire". By 1864 he had formed the Geraldton Mining and Smelting Company to mine lead, but his own death a year later meant that the company did not thrive. Scott died in Fremantle on 20 February 1865.[1]


Plaque on St Georges Terrace

Daniel and Frances had eleven children. Scott's eldest son Daniel Henry Scott led his father's other enterprises after his death.[1] Scott and his daughter occupy two of the graves featured in Fremantle Cemetery's Historical Walk Trail.[13]

As part of the WAY '79 celebrations in 1979, 150 plaques were laid along St Georges Terrace in Perth, each commemorating an important Western Australian. Scott was chosen to be associated with the year 1850,[14] the year that he made his warehouse available to house convicts.

The land where Scott's first warehouse became a temporary prison for convicts is now the location of the Esplanade Hotel.[11] The restaurant there is called The Harbour Master after Daniel Scott.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f P. J. Coles. "Scott, Daniel (1800–1865)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  2. ^ Fremantle Time Line, Fremantle City Library. Retrieved August 2013
  3. ^ Kimberly, W.B. (1897). History of West Australia. p. Chapter 6.
  4. ^ Kimberly, W.B. (1897). History of West Australia. p. Chapter 12.
  5. ^ G. C. Bolton, "Bateman, John (1789–1855)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bateman-john-1750/text1943. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  6. ^ McIlroy, Jack (1986). "Bathers Bay Whaling Station, Fremantle, Wester Australia" (PDF). Australian Historical Archaeology. 4: 45. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  7. ^ McIlroy, Jack (1986). "Bathers Bay Whaling Station, Fremantle, Wester Australia" (PDF). Australian Historical Archaeology. 4. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  8. ^ a b Gibbs, Martin (2010). The shore whalers of Western Australia : historical archaeology of a maritime frontier. University of Sydney, N.S.W.: Sydney University Press. pp. 15, 22, 42, 127. ISBN 1920899626.
  9. ^ Behind Bars Archived 20 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Jen Hamilton, Construction in Focus. Retrieved August 2013,
  10. ^ The Convict Era Archived 1 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Fremantle Prison. Retrieved 15 August 2013
  11. ^ a b Kimberly, W.B. (1897). History of West Australia. p. Chapter 15.
  12. ^ Lewis, Richard (27 November 1996). "St John's Anglican Church, Fremantle, given interim heritage listing". Ministerial Media Statements. Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Founders and Felons". Metropolitan Cemeteries Board. Archived from the original on 12 April 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  14. ^ St George's Terrace Commemorative Plaques 1829–1989 (PDF), City of Perth, June 2003, retrieved 31 August 2013
  15. ^ The Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle Archived 13 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 23 August 2013