Landscapes of the Scottish Dead: Headstones and Identity in Colonial Tasmania


Leigh Straw

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communications and Arts




Straw, L. S. (2012). Landscapes of the Scottish Dead: Headstones and Identity in Colonial Tasmania. Journal of Australian Colonial History, 14(2012), 89-106. Available here


In October 1803, the small group of British officials, convicts and settlers who arrived in southern Van Diemen's Land (VDL) to establish a settlement, included a Scotsman, Robert Littlejohn from Montrose. He was granted land and established a property that he named Montrose Farm (now a suburb of greater Hobart). A year later, another Scot, Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson, also from Montrose, left Sydney to establish a northern settlement at Port Dalrymple, traveling with his Scottish wife, Elizabeth. Littlejohn and the Patersons were the first of many Scots who arrived in VDL between 1803-1863 as free settlers. While the Patersons and others who formed part of the colonial elite can be easily traced in the archives, the lives and careers of less prominent settlers such as Littlejohn remains obscured. Even less is known about colonists such as George and Margaret Stewart, who did not found settlements or take up early land grants. However, they, like many other Scottish settlers, left their mark on the Tasmanian landscape. At Kirklands Cemetery in the Northern Midlands region of Tasmania, the Stewarts are buried together beneath a black, marble and granite headstone, declaring that they 'CAME FROM SCOTLAND / IN THE VESSEL ANDROMEDA / IN THE YEAR 1823'. A headstone inscription of this type was an important and public communication of identity, and proved popular among Scots in VDL. Today, those that survive can be interpreted as a vital historical record, illuminating important features of individual lives and identity.

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