Capt John Spotswood
Captain John Spotswood - born Ireland 1785 - died Tasmania 1859

Prepared by Peter Brown and Joan Brown (nee Spotswood) 17 March 2000 and revised September 2020

John Spotswood was commissioned as an ensign in the 84th Regiment of Foot (stationed in Bombay) on 1 Jan 1807. He was shown as present in Capt Archibald Campbell's company from 25 Feb 1807 and then in Capt John Carter's company from 25 Jun 1807. He may have been with the party which took the island of Mauritius from the French in 1810. (In India the 84th had several duty stations.) From a letter which John's mother, Alicia, wrote to a Major James Armstrong in 1810, we learn John had gone out to India, and had been appointed to the 84th Foot by the Commander, Lord Lake. Alicia had written to have an administrative mix-up with John's Christian name sorted out. (The staff in India had reported him as being William Spotswood.) Subsequently his promotion to lieutenant was effective 13 Apr 1808 (without purchase)(rank in Regt 17 May 1810). He purchased his captaincy 16 Mar 1820. He was placed on half-pay 25 Oct 1821, and appointed to the 98th Foot on 8 Apr 1825. The monthly Army Lists for 1825/26 show he was detached from the 98th- likely he was serving in Ireland, given the birth of Frederick in Kinsale, and a letter he wrote from Tralee in 1827. Then in 1827 he arranged to sell his commission, retiring 3 Jan 1828 to take advantage of resettlement being offered (Horse Guards General Order 434, 8 Jun 1826) to officers to migrate to Van Diemen's Land. With this in mind he had written a letter from Tralee Barracks dated 16 Dec 1827 to Robert Hay Esq Under-Secretary to the Colonial Department Downing Street, London enquiring about these arrangements, saying he intended retiring from the service.

A second letter on 20 Feb 1828 from Patrick Street Cork Ireland requested a letter of authority enabling him to take possession of his grant of land on arrival in the colony of Van Diemen's Land.

In Bombay in 1808 John Spotswood had married Elizabeth Waddington. Elizabeth was the adopted daughter of Major General Stafford W.S. Waddington of the Army of the East India Company. Although we have searched extensively through the records in the PRO Kew, London, the British Library India and Oriental Collection, and the National Army Museum, we have been unable to find any reference to Elizabeth prior to the announcement of her marriage in the Bombay Courier of March 5, 1808. We did however find many references to General Waddington and his children, including General Waddington's will.

On 30 Apr 1828, John and Elizabeth, boarded the British ship "Coronet" at Cork, Ireland bound for Van Diemen's Land (now, the State of Tasmania, Australia). With them were their children John Stewart, Christopher, Alicia, Catherine, George, James, Jane Elizabeth and Frederick. The last of these, Frederick died at Rio de Janeiro 10 Jul 1828. The ship arrived in Hobart on 6 Oct 1828.

Capt John was granted 2,560 acres in 1830 and a further 400 acres in 1840. Elizabeth gave birth to another son, Frederick, in 1829.

Elizabeth died in 1832 (probably TB). Nine years later Captain John married Mary Giles Crocker who bore two children, Mary Anne and Walter Stewart.

"The Journal of Charles O'Hara Booth" edited by Dora Heard has some references to the Spotswood family at East Bay Neck, Colaba. Booth was a commandant at Port Arthur.

Captain John Spotswood died July 29 1859 aged 74 years at New Town. He was buried in the Wesleyan Burial Ground, Hill Street West Hobart. The cemetery is now part of a residential area.

Captain John Spotswood is commemorated by the Dunbabin family of Dunalley who have owned since the 1890s the land granted to him. The Dunbabins have named one of the wines, Captain Spotswood Pinot Noir, produced in their family winery, Bangor Vineyard.

All of the children of John Spotswood and Elizabeth Waddington except Jane Elizabeth settled in Tasmania and, as it was then, New South Wales. Jane married a Melbourne draper, John Jones, and in the 1850s they returned to the British Isles. Jane's son John Edmund Jones wrote up the family history in the The Spotswood Pedigree and we have included some information regarding the Jones family in that link.

We have been able to confirm very little of the direct ancestry of John Spotswood, and would welcome any assistance that might help in that determination. His father's name was  William, but we have found little about William's background. The marriage in Newry of William Spotswood to Miss Stewart of Ennikillen was reported in Saunders' News-Letter of 4 March 1784.  Alice or Alicia Stewart (Miss Stewart), was of Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Ireland. (In her book, Dictionary of Members of the Irish Booktrade, Mary Pollard shows Alice to be marrying William Spotswood a Dublin Bookseller. When we were first apprised of this we thought it unlikely, given that William the bookseller migrated and arrived in Philadelphia in 1785.) Alice's husband possibly could have been a gentleman of Newry.  Alice likely was a widow by 1800, when John was about 15. Alice died in 1835, (death notice appeared in an Enniskillen paper 'The Enniskillen Reporter' ) leaving a will, of which we have a photocopy. John had a sister, Jane, who married a merchant, William Kernaghan, of Sligo. Jane and William Kernaghan had three sons, the youngest of whom was James, a solicitor in Dublin, Manorhamilton, and Enniskillen. The other sons may have been William and Thomas, also merchants. James may have died around 1845, as we can find no record of him after that time.

We have identified over 2000 descendants (direct descendants and spouses) of John Spotswood and Elizabeth Waddington. Of those alive today, most are to be found in Australia or New Zealand. Jane Elizabeth Spotswood returned to England with her husband John Jones, and one the great-grandchildren, John Edgar Christopher Spotswood, migrated to South Africa, and today, descendants of these branches are to be found there and in England and in Canada.

To see the Descendants of Capt John Spotswood, click here

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