Catherine Wilson, Alexander Scott and Martha Presnell

Catherine Wilson was born on 24 June 1829 in Corstorphine, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, the daughter of David Wilson and Jane or Jean Crawford.1

Birth Registration of Catherine Wilson
Birth Registration of Catherine Wilson
General Records Office of Scotland

Catherine came to Tasmania on the Chatham, arriving in Launceston on 19 February 1855, sponsored by her uncle George Wilson.2

Catherine, a spinster aged 28, married Alexander Scott, a mason and builder on 20 January 1860 in Mount Seymour, Tasmania. The witnesses were James Johnston and Jane Crawford Byers.3 According to Margaret Rackham the couple had an un-named male child but no such an event has been found to date.

Marriage Registration of Alexander Scott and Catherine Wilson
Marriage Registration of Alexander Scott and Catherine Wilson
Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office

Calculated from his age stated at marriage, Alexander Scott was born in 1831. At some point prior to 1860 Alexander made his way to Tasmania, potentially sponsored by George Wilson, and he was commissioned to work on the new Free Church of Scotland in Oatlands which was destroyed in 1858 by a fierce storm. In May 1860 the new structure was formally opened and Alexander Scott was acknowledged as the stone mason.

[From an occasional Correspondent.]

The 6th instant having been fixed for the opening of the above sacred edifice, called "Campbell's Free Church," much interest prevailed in various parts of the district of Oatlands among a variety of classes, owing to the peculiar circumstances which gave rise to the erection of that structure. The foundation stone was laid about ten months since upon the same spot which presented a heap of ruins on the 6th of August, 1858, by reason of the fall of the former building, only then two years in existence. It may be interesting to many to read a short description of this new Church -which was completed on the 5th inst.

The contractor for the stone-work was Mr. Alexander Scott, of Oatlands.4

In November 1860 Alexander was reported to have purchased a lot from the sale of the Anstey Barton estate.

November 22nd, 1860.

The Township of Oatlands was all alive yesterday, in consequence of its being the day appointed for the sale by public auction of the magnificent estate of Anstey Barton. This extensive domain commences in close proximity to the township, and stretches over a tract of fertile country, to the extent of upwards of 20,000 acres, dotted here and there by well cultivated and thriving farms, which yield annually no inconsiderable supplies to the granaries of the colony, thanks to the untiring industry of an honest and hard-working body of tenant-yeomen, fostered and encouraged by the Anstey family. The hammer was exhibited between 1 and 2 o'clock in the capacious room attached to "McEwan's Hotel," by J. Brent, Esq., of the firm of Brent & Westbrook, and a numerous attendance of settlers presented themselves, amongst which much of the wealth of the district was visibly represented, either in propria persona, or by proxy. The general results of the sale are as follow :

Lot 1. 100 acres. Henry Coope, £5 per acre...
Lot 10. 80 do. Alexander Scott, £5 10s do...5

Catherine Scott, nee Wilson, died of apoplexy, or a stroke, on 23 April 1885 in Oatlands, Tasmania, Catherine was recorded as the wife of a farmer and the informant was E. Ellen, a friend of Oatlands.6

SCOTT. On April 23, 1885, at Spring Valley, Oatlands, Catherine, the beloved wife of Alexander Scott, in the 54th year of her age. Funeral will take place on SATURDAY NEXT, at 12 noon.7

Catherine was buried on 25 April 1885 in Oatlands, Tasmania.8 According to Margaret Rackham Alexander Scott remarried after Catherine’s death to Martha Presnell on 7 February 1886 in Campbell Town, Tasmania. If so he reported his age down to 48, making his birth year 1838, when he was at least seven years older, or at most up to 12 years older. He was recorded as a farmer and widower.9 Martha was born on 30 September 1863 in Oatlands, Tasmania, the daughter of William Thomas Presnell and Emily Hill.10

Marriage Registration of Alexander Scott and Martha Presnell
Marriage Registration of Alexander Scott and Martha Presnell
Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office

An Ancestry family tree has Alexander born as Alexander Dunkin (sometimes Durkin) Scott on 12 February 1826 to John Scott and Anne Chalmers in King Edward, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, but that same tree has him in Scotland in the 1861 census when he was known to be in Tasmania by that time.11 Alexander and Martha had the following children.







bn. 15 Sep 1886

Oatlands, TAS12


Beryl Jean

dd. 4 Jun 1935

Tea Tree, TAS



bn. 13 Jun 1888

Oatlands, TAS13


Isabella Annie

dd. 28 Aug 1976

Benalla, VIC


William Robert

bn. 29 Apr 1890

Oatlands, TAS14

Remained Single

dd. 29 Sep 1917




bn. 11 Jul 1892

Oatlands, TAS15


Rose Sarah

dd. 29 Sep 1978


Alexander Scott died on 21 June 1897 in Oatlands, Tasmania at the reported age of 71, making his birth year 1826. The cause of death was Prostatis Cystitis, registered by Dr. G. E. Butler. Alexander was recorded as a farmer.16

SCOTT. On Monday, June 21, 1897, at his late residence, "Spring Valley," Oatlands, and formerly of Dundee, Scotland, Alexander Scott, in the 68th year of his age, a colonist of over 40 years. Home papers please copy. He leaves a wife and five sons to mourn their loss.17

The report notes five sons but only four have been located. Another Ancestry tree has an additional son, Thomas Scott, born on 22 May 1882, and dying on 20 August 1973 in Mentone, Victoria.18 That makes his birth before the death of Catherine Scott, nee Wilson. A Thomas Clare was born on 22 May 1882 to William Clare and Martha Presnell.19 He died as Thomas Scott on 20 August 1973 in Mentone, Victoria.20 Perhaps this son of Martha’s assumed the Scott surname after they she married Alexander Scott? That seems a more likely scenario than Alexander committing infidelity.

Martha Scott, nee Presnell, the second wife of Alexander Scott, died on 20 May 1925 in Oatlands, Tasmania.21

SCOTT. On the 20th May, at Oatlands, Martha, the beloved wife of the late Alex. Scott, aged 62 years.

SCOTT. The funeral of the late Mrs. Martha Scott will take place at Oatlands at 2.30 on Friday, 22nd May.22

The fate of Alexander Scott’s second family will not be extensively covered here as technically they are not Wilson descendants. Suffice to say that two of the boys served in the first world war, William Robert and Charles, with William Robert Scott paying the ultimate sacrifice in Belgium in 1917.

News has been received that Lieutenant Will Scott made the supreme sacrifice on the Western front after three years service and received a commission for his good work. The deceased was a well known athlete on one occasion winning the ten mile cross country event. In a letter which his mother recently received Lieutenant Scott wrote “Very soon I shall leave for England on long furlough”. Unfortunately this was not to take place. Think of it, three years hard fighting while so many prefer to remain home. If those who refuse to enlist were only brave enough to take these long service men, Lieutenant Scott and many more might now be enjoying - not the furlough which came too late, but a well earned rest at home.23