This interesting  piece has been contributed by a long term associate of mine, Robin Walsh. Robin is acknowledged  as Australia’s  foremost expert on the Macquarie era. For many years he was Librarian at Macquarie University. He edited and compiled the book, In Her Own Words; the Writings of Elizabeth Macquarie.

Mad Tom’ Davey’s Other Granddaughter, Mary Scott

The recent story on this site about Lachlina Elizabeth Scott (1824-1861) is a tantalising venture into the world of 1820’s Hobart and the possible connections with Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth (nee Campbell of Airds). Lachlina’s mother Lucy Margaretta Davey (c.1796-1847) was the only child of Thomas Davey (c.1758-1823), the controversial Lieutenant-Governor of VDL in the period 1813-1817 and Margaret (nee Gorton) (c.1767-1827).

Lucy’s marriage to Dr. James Scott on 25 June 1821 would see, in the following decade, the birth of six children – the third of whom was Mary Bell Scott (1826-1895). She would live 32 years longer than her older sister Lachlina – and become a member of the Swedish aristocracy.

The childhood of Mary, and her older sister Lachlina, was spent comfortably within Boa Vista, the house and grounds of one of Hobart’s leading medical men. Dr. James Scott served as Colonial Surgeon between 1821-1837. Boa Vista, situated on 20 acres, comprising the land now bounded by Argyle, Stoke, Park and Lewis Streets was built for Dr Scott in 1828.

Boa Vista, childhood home of Mary Scott.Boa V

Boa Vista (National Library of Australia)

Advertisement for Boa Vista, where Mary Scott grew up.

Description of Boa Vista when the property was offered for sale (unsuccessfully) in 1834 (Source – The Tasmanian, Aug. 8 1834)

The property  remained in Scott’s ownership until his death in 1837. At this time Mary was eleven years of age. Boa Vista was sold for ₤1,900 in 1840 and subsequently rented for several years in the late 1840s by Bishop Francis Russell Nixon, the first Bishop of Tasmania. Mary’s mother Lucy Scott (nee Davey) lived until 7 April 1847, dying when Mary was aged twenty-one.

Mary’s educational background is unknown, but perhaps she enjoyed the type of tuition offered by establishments for young ladies such as the boarding school Ellin Thorp Hall near Launceston.

…The pupils are educated in every branch of female acquirement usually taught in the first schools in England, comprising especially the French and English languages (in the study of which the principles of general grammar are carefully imparted), writing and arithmetic, geography, useful and ornamental needlework, music, drawing, and dancingHobart Town Gazette 27 September 1827 p.4.

Such skills in social refinement, and especially languages, would later prove significant in her personal life. In 1851, after what appears to have been a whirlwind romance, Mary married Compte [Count] Carl Augustin Alfred Thomas Ehrensvard (1825-1854) of Rödjenäs, Björkö, Jönköping, Sweden.

On the 17th May, at the cathedral church of St. David’s, Hobart Town, by the Rev. Dr. Bedford, Count C. Augustine Ehrensvard, to Mary Bell, second daughter of the late James Scott, Esq., Colonial SurgeonLaunceston Examiner 11 Jun 1851 p.3.

Ehrensvard was a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Swedish Navy serving on the French corvette L’Alcméne as part of the French Pacific fleet based at Papeete (Tahiti). The ship had been undergoing a refit at Hobart for several months in 1851 and left Tasmania on 22 May 1851, with 230 people on board: 229 sailors and one female passenger Mary (nee Scott), the new bride Comtesse d’Ehrensvard – five days after her marriage.

L’Alcméne departed for Whangaroa on the east coast of Northland, New Zealand, to load kauri spars before continuing for Tahiti. The ship had been lost for four days off the west coast and was about 100km off course when it was struck by a hurricane that drove the ship towards the shore. The ship ran aground on 3 June 1851 at Baylys Beach (Ripiro), Kaipara, on the west coast, with the loss of at least 12 lives. Mary and the other survivors had to fend for themselves as best they could near the site of the shipwreck. A group of Māori from a village 35 nautical miles distant eventually came to their rescue, transporting them in canoes as far as Akaroa, where they were met by British officers. In Auckland the survivors were feted, and a monument commemorating the loss of the French ship and crew was erected. Many of the survivors, were transported back to Tahiti on an American vessel.

The Stricken ship on which Mary Scott set sail after her marriage.

The stricken ship L’Alcméne. (

Mary and her husband Carl finally arrived back in Brest, France, on 28 January 1852, and subsequently made their way to Sweden. A son was born on 8 May 1853 at Skeppsholmen, Stockholm, but died the same day.

Tragically Compte Ehrensvard died on 1 April 1854, in Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda, Pyrénées-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, aged 28 years. Mary was five months pregnant at the time and gave birth to a son Carl Augustin Alfred Thomasson Ehrensvard Jnr. (1854-1934) on 1 August 1854 at Tosterup, Sweden.

Five years later she married Baron Gustaf Johan Vilhelm Akerhielm (1829-1863) of Blombacka, on 26 September 1859, but tragedy struck again, and he died in 1863 at Tosterup, Sweden, aged 33-34 years. Mary continued to live in Sweden with her son Carl and then married for a third time on 29 December 1866 in Stockholm. Her new husband was Admiral Carl Filip/Philip Samuel de Virgin [also de Virgen/Vergen] (1824-1906).

Mary de Virgin/Vergen (nee Scott) with her son Carl Ehrensvard arrived in Sydney on 3 December 1880 from Venice on board the RMS Bokhara sailing via Suez, Bombay, Madras, Galle, King George’s Sound, Adelaide (Glenelg) and Melbourne.

They caused quite  a buzz in the local newspapers who recorded their movements and the society events they attended. They travelled from Sydney to Melbourne by train on 8 January and sailed to Hobart in January 1881 on board the S.S. Southern Cross. They crossed the island overland and subsequently departed from Launceston for Melbourne on 4 March on board the S.S. Mangana.

During their stay in Launceston, the Count and Madame Virgen visited Beaconsfield, where they received much kindness from Mr Davies, the mining manager of the Tasmania Co., and the Count was agreeably surprised to meet a compatriot in Launceston, Mr C.M. Sandberg, who furnished him with a good deal of information, and obtained a number of specimens of Tasmanian minerals, which he had expressed a wish for. The Count was also introduced to the Vice-Consul for Sweden and Norway, Mr Alfred Harrap, and other gentlemen, and when he left expressed himself as highly pleased with his visit to Launceston and the kindness he had everywhere met withLaunceston Examiner 5 March 1881 p.2.

After returning to Melbourne mother and son returned to Sydney by train on 22 March 1881; from here they planned to return to Sweden via China, Japan, and America. In the latter years of her life she is also described as a porcelain painter. For Svaneholm Castle in Skåne, she painted a Rörstrand dining service consisting of 154 parts that came on the market in 1934 at an auction sale. The service was decorated with a polychrome floral decoration and each piece was signed with MV and a date.

Mary de Virgin (nee Scott/ Ehrensvard/Akerhielm) died on 6 April 1895 at Liatorp, near Helsingborg, Sweden.

This was the end to remarkable life that began in Hobart as the granddaughter of the controversial colonial administrator Thomas Davey; daughter of the Colonial Surgeon Dr. James Scott; a New Zealand shipwreck survivor; and eventually an integral member of the upper eschelons Swedish society. What an adventurous life of travel, personal loss, resilience and privilege. The two sisters Mary and Lachlina Scott never saw each again after 1851.

Robin Walsh


© 2024



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