Garda Síochána Historical Society
Irish Police History

Colonel Walter Scott

(1861 - 1935)

The donor of the Medal for Valour in the Garda Síochána, a noted philanthropist, friend of the international police community, leader in the Order of Scottish Clans in the United States and Canada, was born in Montreal in 1861, of Scots-Canadian parents, Walter and Mary (Sharp) Scott.

In 1864, the family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where young Walter found a job in the grocery business, probably as a messenger boy, at $2 a week. By the age of ten, he was manager of a small fruit store near Harvard University. At fifteen, the precocious young businessman joined Butler Brothers, a firm of general wholesalers. In 1889 he was appointed manager in New York. He retired in 1932 after 55 years service with the same employers.

In his letter to General Owen O'Duffy confirming the offer to endow a Medal for Valour for the new Irish police force, he wrote: "It was always been a practice of mine to present flowers during life, when one can enjoy their beauty and fragrance".

He sponsored scholarships at Smith College, the Stevens Institute of Technology and the American International College; he was a founder of the New York Broad Street Hospital, President of the Walter Scott Free Industrial School for Crippled Children and, among his many other charities, he endowed numerous hospital beds.

A lifelong interest in police work was prompted, perhaps, by his contacts with the service in the course of his charitable work. He endowed medals for bravery by policemen in New York, Boston, Worchester, Holyoke, Detroit, in Argentina and, of course, in Ireland. The New York City Police made him one of their own by appointing him an honorary Commissioner.

Walter Scott died in 1935 at the age of 74, laden with honours at home and abroad. He was a knight of the French Legion of Honour, a member of the Belgian Order of Leopold and held the Silver Grand Cross of Austria. He was, also decorated by the British Government.

Copyright © 2000 Garda Síochána Museum.

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