Monday, 20 October 2008

Robert Scott VC

Robert Scott VC (June 4, 1874 - 21 February 1961) was born at Charles Lane according to his birth certificate. And the earlier part of his life he lived at several different addresses which obviously included Charles Lane, and Haverlock Terrace (Grane Road area) and also probably at No.14 Peel Street (the street that leads off from the Roebuck pub). From the age of 10 until he enlisted in 1894 he worked in a local Haslingden cotton mill.

Here is some interesting information recently found in a old newspaper:

"During his visit to Northern Ireland, the Prince of Wales, on Thursday, received Quarter-Master Sergeant Robert Scott, Haslingden's V.C. "Bob" Scott, as he has always been known in his native town, was among the 300 holders of the Victoria Cross who were entertained to a dinner over which the Prince presided in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords, in November, 1929, and with him on that occasion was Private James Pitts, of Blackburn, who on January 6th 1900, was Scott's heroic companion in the defence of Caesar's camp at Ladysmith.  On that day sixteen men of the Manchester Regiment held a position without any officer to guide or direct them for 15 hours without food or water.  When the roll call was called after the enemy had been beaten back, fourteen were found to have been killed.  The two survivors were Scott, who was shot through the ear, and Pitts, who was unscathed.  Scott was 28 years of age when in October, 1902, he came home to Haslingden, and was received by the Mayor (Mr. G.A. Smith), Town Council, Volunteers, Ambulance Corps, bands of music and crowds of people.

The V.C. was one of the five sons -- there were also three daughters -- of Mr. James Scott, of Haslingden, cotton operative.  As a boy he attended Haslingden Parish Church day school, and for two or three years before joining the army he attended the New Jerusalem Sunday School.  A first a weaver there, he had been in the warehouse at Flash Mill four or five years in 1895 when he joined the 1st Manchester Regiment, in which course he had been precided by his elder brother James, wo rose to Major and in 1919 received the O.B.E.  Robert Scott retired from the army in 1902, held for a time a good position with the Westinghouse people at Trafford Park; rejoined his regiment in December, 1904, and became acting schoolmaster and orderly clerk; served on the East Coast during the last war, and in 1919 received the Distinguished Service Medal.  About twelve years ago he went to Northern Ireland to take a position with the R.I.C. For some time he has been living in retirement at Kilkeel, Co. Down, with his wife and two daughters.  He married Miss Alice Grimshaw of Haslingden, sister to Mrs. E. Shipstone of Regent Street, and so he is uncle to Miss Beatrice Shipstone, teacher of dancing.  (Thanks to Jackie Ramsbottom for this newspaper cutting - added 1st August 2015)

He was Haslingden's only recipient of the Victoria Cross - the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

He was a private in the 1st Battalion in the Manchester Regiment, during the Second Boer War.

On 6th January 1900 during an attack on Caesar's Camp, Natal, South Africa, sixteen men of "D" Company were defending one of the slopes of the hill. The defenders were under heavy fire all day, the majority being killed and their positions occupied by the enemy. At last only Private Scott and one other man James Pitts remained. They held their post for fifteen hours without food or water, all the time exchanging deadly fire with the enemy, until relief troops had retaken the lost ground and pushed the enemy off the hill. During this prolonged attack he did receive injuries.

 Possesses the Queen's and King's medal with many clasps, including almost the first and the last Elandslaagte and Belfast. The officer under whom he served during the great attack on the town was Lieutenant R. Hunt-Grubbe, and the Victoria Cross was pinned on his breast by Lord Kitchener on June 8, 1902, at Pretoria

He recovered from his wound and was then Orderly Room Sergeant at Ashton Barracks during the Great War. He left the service in 1923 and went to live in County Down, Ireland, where he joined the police force. He served with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and was employed with the civil service until his retirement. He died at Downpatrick, County Down, on 22 February 1961 and is buried in Christchurch Cemetary, Kilkeel, C.Down.

(Jackie Ramsbottom 4th Dec 2017 added)

Although the "Blue Commemorative Plaque" which is in situ at 14 Peel Street states that 
ROBERT SCOTT V.C. was born here, THAT IS NOT THE CASE"  Please read on:

Robert was actually born nearby in Charles Lane (number unknown) as shown on his birth certificate printed here.

This is a copy of the actual birth certificate for Robert Scott
(Click over certificate to enlarge)
I queried it long ago and have always felt worried that the information offered on this blue commemorative plaque in regard to "Born Here" could not be right! because at the back of my mind I was of the understanding that the actual houses on Peel Street had not been built at the time of Robert's birth.  His father was living there in 1901 and he (Robert Scott) was probably there when he signed up to go into war, but in previous census returns he was living at 24 Sunnybank Street in 1891, Cobb Castle also in 1881 and his parents were at Holme Wood Cottage in 1871.

With regards to Peel Street it is thought that the odd numbers were built by 1891 and the even numbers by 1901. The Scott family had left No.14 by 1911 and were back on Sunnybank Street. Here below is the census from 1911 which shows the family names of the persons actually living at 14 Peel Street.

Click over to enlarge
This is the 1911 Census Return for the family that lived at No.14 Peel Street at that time, so it's
clear the Scott family had left this address previous to 1911.

I have been able to confirm that Robert was baptised in 1876 whilst he was then living at Havelock Terrace just off Grane Road.  (Opposite to the small business park which was previously Snow King).

Robert's baptism certificate showing he lived at Havelock Terrace at that time (June 7th 1874)
I want to also thank Sharon Gallagher who is currently helping me with my ongoing quest to try and establish in more detail the 14 Peel Street saga.  Although not being born at this address it is clear that Robert must have spent some time there and it would be lovely if we can find out more. I will report back when we have go further information. Jackie


His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Museum of the Manchester Regiment (Ashton-Under-Lyne) This information about Robert Scott was sourced from various articles found on the Internet.... l: is a photo which was done in Haslingden and r: is from a cigarette card No.83 in the James Taddy series of VC Heroes. IN HONOUR OF THE RETURN OF VC SCOTT OF HASLINGDEN. --- Tune: "Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching". Sound the trumpets, beat the drums, For a man of honour comes ; Light a fire upon old Cribden's lofty top.. Then across the festive board, Let us all with one accord, Send around the toast and never let it stop. CHORUS: Shout boys, shout, the news so glorious, Haslingden the proud V.C. has got; et ud dance and let us sing, Let the Hills around us ring; With the praises of our hero Robert Scott.


A photo of Bette Jo Scott and some members of the Riley Family at the IDL Club (Click over photo to enlarge)
Bette Jo Scott is the Grandaughter of Joseph Scott (1861) who was the elder brother of Robert Scott (Haslingden's only VC) and Joseph was a early settler to the USA.  Bette Jo lives in Manchester, New Hampshire USA. Her father also called Joseph Scott was involved with politics in the USA and helped the campaign for the late John F. Kennedy in the area of New Hampshire. Bette Jo is seen here with her Riley relations.

Photo: Kindly contributed by John Bedford and uploaded here on 11th April 2016