Fremantle Stuff > people > Thomas Hobbes Scott (1783-1860)

Thomas Hobbes Scott

Thomas Hobbes Scott was the first ordained minister in the Swan River Colony, tho he was only here by accident.

On his return voyage to England in H.M.S. Success the ship struck a reef off Fremantle in November [1829] and Scott was marooned at the new Swan River settlement. For the first two months he was the only ordained minister at Perth. With help from settlers and particularly the garrison, he built a temporary church, where he held the colony's first Christmas service and the first Holy Communion. When the colonial chaplain, John Wittenoom, arrived Scott gave him brotherly assistance and unofficial advice, and won such popular regard that the village of Kelmscott was named after his birthplace. He sailed for England in the William by way of Batavia, where in November 1830 he opened an English chapel. Ross Border, ADB.

The service conducted on the Success after it was nearly wrecked was the first conducted in Western Australia (on about 30 November 1829, the running-aground being on 28 November). The first on land was probably the one Scott conducted for about 100 people at Government House on Sunday 6 December 1829, when he baptised seven babies. Two weeks later he conducted morning prayers at Fremantle, Sunday 20 December 1829.

The first church (in Perth), known as the 'rush church' because the walls were filled in with bulrushes, was instigated by Scott, designed by Henry Reveley, begun 16 December 1829 on the corner of what are now Hay and Irwin Streets, on land set aside there by Frederick Irwin, and first used for the Xmas service that year.

Scott also officiated at the first four burials in the East Perth Cemetery, John Mitchell of the 63rd being the very first, on 6 January 1820, Mitchell having died of dropsy (œdema [swelling] - a symptom as opposed to the underlying cause itself) on 5 January. And the first wedding: between James Knight, a clerk, and a servant named Mary Ann Smith, 18 January.

His last religious duty was a funeral on 17 February, as Rev. J.B. Wittenoom had arrived on 30 January. However, he continued to conduct baptisms and funerals and Clarence and on Garden Island.

References and Links

ADB entry by Ross Border

Errington, Steve 2016, 'Thomas Hobbes Scott: Western Australia’s first clergyman', Early Days.


Garry Gillard | New: 13 June, 2018 | Now: 4 July, 2019