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Paterson River history

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Walter Scott

[Wallalong], [Eskdale]

Walter Scott was an early settler, surgeon, public servant and magistrate in the lower Hunter Valley. His name does not appear in the somewhat elitist Australian Dictionary of Biography so it is timely to record here a brief summary of his contribution to colonial New South Wales and the Hunter Valley.

Walter Scott was born in October 1787 at Eskdale in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, about 75 kilometres south of Edinburgh. He was the youngest of five children and his father was an antimony miner who died when Walter was only four years old. After schooling in the local district Walter became an apprentice surgeon and probably practiced as a surgeon in his local district before enrolling as a medical student at Edinburgh University in about 1819, by which time he was aged 32. He completed his final training in 1821.

arrival of Walter Scott

Arrival in Sydney (Sydney Gazette, 13 Feb 1823 p2).

In 1822 'Mr Surgeon Walter Scott' embarked for New South Wales on the ship Regalia and arrived in Sydney in February 1823.[1] A few months after his arrival he was granted 600 acres of land on the Paterson River and he named his grant Wallalong. His land was bounded on the south and west by the Paterson River, on the north by John Galt Smith's Woodville and on the east by J McClymont's land.

land grants near Woodville

The orginal Wallalong grant (view in Google Earth)

In August 1823 Walter Scott became a NSW public servant when he was appointed as Assistant Storekeeper in the Commissariat Department in Sydney. The Commissary was the government depot responsible for obtaining, storing and distributing essential supplies such as food, clothing, tools and equipment to government establishments, convicts and the military.

In September 1824 he left Sydney on the Amity as the Commissariat Storekeeper in the expedition that sailed to Moreton Bay to establish a penal settlement there as a place of further punishment for convicts who re-offended in the Colony. Today's City of Brisbane began as that penal settlement. While at Moreton Bay, Walter Scott also performed the role of Surgeon to the settlement for the first eight months until relieved of the role by the arrival of Assistant Surgeon Henry Cowper. In October 1826 Scott returned to Sydney and served as Storekeeper in the Commissariat there.

Wallalong House

Wallalong House (Athel D'Ombrain Collection, University of Newcastle). According to the NSW Heritage Inventory, the original part of Wallalong House was constructed between 1839 and 1843 but other sources indicate the current house was constructed in 1862 or 1863. It is not listed under the NSW Heritage Act but is listed in a local government LEP in 2005.

In 1827 Walter Scott transferred to the Commissariat Store in Newcastle and in 1828 become the Clerk in charge. The 1828 Census of NSW records him as a clerk in the Commissary Newcastle and owner of 640 acres (his Wallalong grant, which turned out to be 600 acres after survey). He had cleared 40 acres, cultivated 28 acres and had a horse and 69 cattle. He employed a ticket-of-leave man and had one convict servant assigned to him.

In 1830 he transferred briefly to the Sydney Commissariat before resigning due to ill-health that same year. As a result of glowing references for his years of exemplary service to the Commissariat, he was granted an additional 640 acres of land near the Williams River north of Raymond Terrace and he named his grant Eskdale after his birthplace in Scotland.

Wallalong House

Wallalong House. (Paterson Historical Society). Sydney Living Museums has a spectacular online album of the house.

In 1836 he purchased an adjoining 720 acres and in 1840 a further 560 acres. This brought Eskdale to a total of 1,920 acres, including a frontage to the Williams River. Scott's estates were mainly worked by convicts and ex-convicts. According to the 1837 Convict Muster of NSW, Scott had 20 convicts assigned to him in the district at this time.


Eskdale's 1,920 acres as owned by Walter Scott, superimposed on a satellite image (Google Earth Pro).

Walter Scott never married. In 1843 his nephew, also called Walter Scott, emigrated from Scotland and became his uncle's manager at Wallalong and later his heir. Meanwhile, Walter Scott (the uncle) became active in political and civic affairs in the lower Hunter Valley. He was appointed a magistrate in 1844 [2] and it was about this time that he moved to live in Eskdale House.

Walter Scott's grave

Walter Scott's grave in what is now Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (photo courtesy of Kenneth Greenway, Friends of Tower Hamlet Cemetery Park).

death of Walter Scott

Maitland Mercury, 24 January 1855 p3.

Walter Scott returned in London in 1854 and lived in Stephney in London's East End. He died on 12 October 1854 at the height of a cholera epidemic and was buried on 16 October 1854 in the newly-opened Tower Hamlets Cemetery in Stephney.

Located near the London Docks, the cemetery was badly damaged in bombing raids in 1940 and 1941 and was closed in 1966. Following its closure, the cemetery was further damaged by vandalism. Fortunately it is now a park that is managed and cared for by the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (FOTHCP). Walter Scott's grave has survived (see photo) but it is in poor condition and FOTHCP are seeking funds for its restoration.

Back in New South Wales, Walter Scott (the nephew) inherited his uncle's Wallalong estate which he leased to tenant farmers. Paterson Historical Society has three maps that show the names of the tenant farmers on Wallalong in the 1840s, 1888 and 1913. In 1921 the estate was subdivided and put up for sale, except the Wallalong House block which was retained by the Scott family (until 1995?).

1921 subdivision of Wallalong

1921 poster for the subdivision and sale of Wallalong Estate. The house block was retained by the Scott family.


Most of the information for this page was sourced from the book:

Pearn, John. In the Capacity of a Surgeon. University of Queensland, 1988.


1. Sydney Gazette, 13 February 1823 p2.

2. Maitland Mercury, 13 January 1844 p3 (on-line).

See also

Australian Medical Pioneers Index.

Wallalong House function centre.

KMZ file for Google Earth showing Wallalong and Eskdale (requires Google Earth installed on your computer/device).

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