Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

John Scott

Hunter Valley Medical Practitioner

John Scott was the third son of Dr. James Scott, R.N., of Haslar, Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals and Fleets.


He arrived in the colony in 1849 and established a medical practice in High Street, Maitland in the early 1850's.

In October 1852 he announced that he was relinquishing his business due to ill health. James Douglas was to take over the practice.


John Scott moved to Newcastle which had long been regarded as a restorative location for those suffering ill health. By 1854 he had returned to Maitland and was once again treating patients.

Extraordinary Case

In 1863 John Scott became embroiled in a legal battle after a medical certificate issued by him caused Robert Melville to be unjustly incarcerated in the Parramatta Asylum........

The Melville Lunacy Case - The most extraordinary case which ever occupied the civil side of the Supreme Court in this colony has recently been brought to a close after a lengthened trial of twelve days. It was an action for libel, brought by one John Scott, a surgeon residing in Maitland, against the proprietors of this journal. The libel declared upon consisted of a letter, written by a man named Robert Melville, at the time a confine in the Asylum at Parramatta for convict and incurable lunatics, with certain editorial comments thereon the publication of which had already served to excite considerable attention to the case, so that when it came before the public in the shape of a civil action it was naturally the very greatest interest should have been exhibited in its progress....continue reading in the Empire 21 December 1863

John Scott was denigrated in the press. Afterwards he sued the Empire newspaper that had revealed the circumstances. He lost the case in February 1864 - Scott v. the Empire - The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893) Tue 16 Feb 1864 .


He decided to leave the colony and departed for London on the Walter Hood in April 1864.

Before his departure, the following tribute was given at a meeting of the Lodge of Oddfellows of Maitland.....

On Monday evening the President Lodge of Odd-fellows, assembled at the lodge room, at Mr. Brackenreg's inn, West Maitland, presented Dr. Scott, who had for a period of ten years occupied the position of surgeon to the lodge, with a testimonial of respect and esteem. There was a good attendance. Mr. W. Stanbridge, the president, occupied the chair. The presentation was made by Brother A, Wilkinson-, P.G.M., who, before reading the address, said -' Mr. President and Brethren- It is my pleasing duty this evening, on behalf of the members of this lodge, to present Brother Dr. John Scott, previous to his departure from amongst us, with this parting address and testimonial.

Ever since the opening of the lodge in 1854 till now some of the older members can bear testimony to the indefatigable exertions of Dr. Scott, not only in the faithful discharge of his duties as surgeon, but as a member also. We are indebted to him, as a trustee, for his watchful supervision over our funds ; to him, in a great measure, we owe our present prosperity. It is due to him and a few others who have worked well together that we ore placed on the same footing in these colonies as the English friendly societies are-in being enabled to invest in one account our savings in the Savings Bank, and not as formerly, when our savings amounted to £100, to appoint fresh trustees.

Dr. Scott has always been distinguished, in all his transactions with our members, for his philanthropy ; his ear has always been opened to listen to our grievances, and in every case and under all circumstances he has shown by his action that he has had the interest and welfare of this lodge at heart, and it will be gratifying to him when far away to know that there are some who appreciate his character, both as a townsman and a member of our order ; and I hope that Dr. Scott will again revisit Australia with re-newed health and prosperity, and that we may again welcome him into our society, of which he was so good a member


John Scott died in Sydney in January 1869. His wife Sarah Georgina died the following April [2]

Notes and Links

1). John Scott was a brother in law of Beresford Nixon Hudson who died at Newcastle in 1863. He was a witness at the inquest into Hudson's death. The Newcastle Chronicle and Hunter River District News (NSW : 1859 - 1866) Sat 21 Feb 1863

2). Marriage of Joseph, the only son of the late Dr. John Scott, to Harriett McFarland - The Argus. 12 November 1869.


[1] Maitland Mercury 21 January 1864

[2] Sydney Morning Herald 26 May 1869