Scott was born on 6 June 1868, the third child and elder son of John Edward and Hannah (née Cuming) Scott of Stoke Damerel, near Devonport, Devon. Although his father was a brewer and magistrate, there were naval and military traditions in the family, Scott's grandfather and four uncles all having served in the army or navy. John Scott's prosperity came from the ownership of a small Plymouth brewery which he inherited from his father and which he subsequently sold. In later years, when Scott was establishing his naval career, the family would suffer serious financial misfortune, but his early childhood years were spent in comfort.
In accordance with the family's tradition, Robert and his younger brother Archibald were predestined for careers in the armed services. Robert spent four years at a local day school before being sent to Stubbington House School, Hampshire, a cramming establishment preparing candidates for the entrance examinations to the naval training ship HMS Britannia at Dartmouth. Having passed these exams Scott, aged 13, began his naval career in 1881, as a cadet.
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