Scots Community


An 1860 example of the Scots influence in Tasmania (W.E. Crowther Library, SLT)

The Scots Community began to arrive in Tasmania from the 1820s, around the Clyde River and the northern Midlands, attracted by the land grant scheme which provided many with their first opportunity to own land. Some had a good education and military background and were well prepared to contribute to the colony. As an example, Alexander Reid is credited with introducing golf to Australia in about 1840, on his private links at Ratho, Bothwell.

Many tenant farmers migrated from Scotland during the Highland clearances. They were drawn to countries with temperate, mountainous land similar to their homeland Nova Scotia, New Zealand and Tasmania. Scots often had a strong sense of kinship, demonstrated by George Wilson of Mount Seymour, a Gaelic-speaking settler of 1832. At his expense he brought kinsmen from his home town and set them up on their own small farms. Scots also settled in Launceston and Hobart, often working in the professions. They and their descendants formed Caledonian societies and pipe bands, which continue.

Early records do not provide the number of Scots, but the 1864 census shows 10 percent of the population belonging to the Church of Scotland. By the 1850s Scottish Presbyterians had established substantial stone churches in their areas. Education was particularly important to the Scots. Early ministers usually had a good formal education. Many ministers ran small schools, which provided them with additional income and filled a need long before the government established schools. Scotch College, Launceston continued this tradition through the twentieth century to the present.

Further reading: K von Stieglitz, The history of Bothwell, Launceston, 1958; J Heyer, The Presbyterian pioneers of Van Diemen's Land, Hobart, 1935.

Colin Campbell