Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Scott, Robert Bisset

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SCOTT, ROBERT BISSET (1774–1841), military writer, born in 1774, is chiefly noteworthy in connection with military law. He was commissioned as lieutenant in the Tower Hamlets militia on 9 Nov. 1807. In 1810 he published anonymously his first work, ‘The Military Law of England (with all the principal authorities) adapted to the general use of the Army in its various Duties and Relations, and the Practice of Courts-martial.’ He was himself brought to a court-martial by his colonel on 19 Dec. 1811 for neglect of orders and for breaking his arrest; but the court practically acquitted him, and even the private admonition which they adjudged was remitted. They considered that the facts brought forward in support of the charges were of a vexatious nature.

Two years afterwards his colonel, Mark Beaufoy [q. v.], was tried by court-martial, Scott being the prosecutor. The trial lasted from 26 Oct. to 24 Nov. 1813. The court acquitted Beaufoy of most of the numerous charges, but found him guilty of some irregularities in the enlistment of recruits, and of culpable neglect in not preventing illegal deductions from the men's pay. They sentenced him to be removed from the command of his regiment, which he had held since it was first raised in 1797, but they stated that, in the conduct of the prosecution, Scott had not been ‘actuated by that regard for the service which alone ought to influence an officer upon such an occasion.’ The result was that, while the sentence was confirmed, Scott was informed that his further services would be dispensed with (22 Jan. 1814).

He then started a weekly paper, ‘The Military Register,’ and published in 1816 ‘The Stratagems of War,’ a translation of Frontinus. In 1830 he went to Portugal to serve against Dom Miguel, and is said to have liberated Sir John Milley Doyle [q. v.] from prison; but this must be a mistake, for Doyle was liberated two years before at the instance of Sir Frederick Lamb. In 1836, on the recommendation of Sir Herbert Taylor, William IV made him a pensioner of the Charterhouse, where he died on 22 Oct. 1841. He was twice married.

Besides the works mentioned, he published ‘The Excellence of the British Military Code … exemplified,’ London, 1811, 8vo.

[Gent. Mag. 1841, ii. 657; Hodder's History of the 7th Battalion Rifle Brigade (formerly Tower Hamlets Militia); Military Extracts in the library of the R.U.S. Institution which contain a full report of the two trials (vi. 408).]

E. M. L.