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Scottish emigration to Australia

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Scottish emigration to Australia

"The links between Scotland and Australia stretch back to the first British expedition of the Endeavour under command of Lieutenant James Cook who was himself the son of a Scottish ploughman. Cook navigated and charted the east coast of Australia, making first landfall at Botany Bay on 29 April 1770. His discoveries and reports by Cook's expedition would lead to British settlement of the continent, and during the voyage Cook also named two groups of Pacific islands in honour of Scotland: New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. The first European to die on Australian soil was a Scot; Forbey Sutherland from Orkney, an able seaman died on 30 April 1770 of consumption and was the first to be buried on the colony by Captain Cook, who named Sutherland Point at Botany Bay in his honour.

The first Scottish settlers arrived in Australia with the First Fleet in 1788, including three of the first six Governors of New South Wales John Hunter, Lachlan Macquarie (often referred to as the father of Australia) and Thomas Brisbane. The majority of Scots arriving in the early colonial period were convicts: 8,207 Scottish convicts, of the total 150,000 transported to Australia, made up about 5% of the convict population. The Scottish courts were unwilling to punish crimes deemed to be lesser offences in Scots Law by deportation to Australia. Scottish law was considered more humane for lesser offences than the English and Irish legal systems.

From 1793-1795, a group of political prisoners later called the 'Scottish Martyrs', were transported to the colonies. They were not all Scots, but had been tried in Scotland. Their plight as victims of oppression was widely reported and the subsequent escape of one of them, Thomas Muir, in 1796 caused a sensation and inspired the poetry of Robert Burns. The majority of immigrants, 'free settlers', in the late 18th century were Lowlanders from prominent wealthy families. Engineers like Andrew McDougall and John Bowman arrived with experience in building corn mills, while others were drawn to Australia by the prospects of trade. William Douglas Campbell, Robert Campbell, Charles Hook, Alexander Berry Laird of the Shoalhaven, were some of the first merchants drawn to the colonies."

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  • Scottish Settlement in Northern Territory