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Clan Arbuthnott


  • Crest/Badge A peacock's head couped at the neck
  • Gaelic Name: Obar Bhuadhnait
  • Motto: Laus Deo ("Praise be to God")
  • Origin of Tartan: registered by Lord Lyon in 1962, based on Black Watch tartan
  • Name Variations:
  • Lands Kincardineshire; Aberdeenshire
  • Seat: Arbuthnott House
  • Clan Chief: The Rt. Hon John Arbuthnott The 16th Viscount of Arbuthnott


Origins of the name

The name Arbuthnott is of territorial origin from the lands of the same name in the county of Kincardineshire. Aberbothenoth lies on a narrow peninsula on the north side of the river Bervie. On the north east side the land falls steeply down to the burn, once called Buthenot, and on the south side it slopes more gradually down to the river Bervie. “Aber” means the influx of a small stream into a greater stream. “Aber” can also mean “mouth of” as in Aberdeen. “Both” or “Bothena” is a baronial residence. “Nethea” has been described as the stream that descends or is lower than something else in the neighbourhood.

Origins of the clan

The lands of Arbuthnott are believed to have come into the possession of the Swinton family during the reign of William I of Scotland through the marriage of Hugh, to the daughter of Osbert Olifard (or Oliphant) ‘The Crusader’. The first recorded instance of the family acquiring the name Arbuthnott is in 1355 with Philip de Arbuthnott described as ‘of that ilk’.

Murder of John Melville of Glenbervie

Around 1420 Philip’s son, Hugh de Arbuthnott, was implicated in the murder of John Melville of Glenbervie, sheriff of Kincardineshire (The Mearns). Melville was said to have been extremely unpopular with the local lairds due to his strict interpretation and adherence to the law. Albany, regent at the time of James I of Scotland’s captivity became tired with complaints against the sheriff and is supposed to have said, “sorrow gin that sheriff were sodden and supped in broo”. The Lairds of Mathers, Arbuthnott, Pitarrow and Halkerton took this as a request to kill the sheriff. They invited the unsuspecting sheriff on a hunt in the Forest of Garvock where he was ambushed. They reputedly killed him by throwing him into a cauldron of boiling water, each drinking of the broth once he was dead. Arbuthnott was pardoned for his part in the murder and died in 1446.

Arbuthnott People

Alexander Arbuthnot (1538 — 1583)

Alexander Arbuthnot was a Scottish ecclesiastic poet. After having studied languages and philosophy at the University of Aberdeen, and civil law under the noted Jacques Cujas at the University of Bourges in France, Arbuthnot took ecclesiastical orders, and became in his own country a zealous supporter of the Reformation. In 1569 he was elected principal of King's College, Aberdeen, which office he retained until his death. He played an active part in the church politics of the period, and was twice Moderator of the Kirk of Scotland, and a member of the commission of inquiry into the condition the University of St. Andrews. His attitude on public questions won for him the condemnation of Catholic writers. He is not included in Nicol Burne's list of periurit apostatis, but his policy and influence were disliked by James VI, who, when the Assembly had elected Arbuthnot to the charge of the kirk of St. Andrews, ordered him to return to his duties at King's College.

Dr. John Arbuthnot, (1667 – 1735)

Often known simply as Dr. Arbuthnot,, was a Scottish physician, satirist and polymath in London. He is best remembered today for his contributions to mathematics, his membership in the Scriblerus Club (where he inspired both Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels book III and Alexander Pope's Peri Bathos, Memoirs of Martin Scriblerus, and possibly The Dunciad), and for inventing the figure of John Bull.

Sir William Arbuthnot, 1st Baronet of Edinburgh (1776–1829)

Sir William was a Scottish politician, who served twice as Lord Provost of Edinburgh 1815-17 and 1821-23. Son of Robert Arbuthnot, 2nd of Haddo-Rattray and older brother of George Arbuthnot, 1st of Elderslie. He married Anne Alves, and had issue. On the death of his father, Robert Arbuthnot of Haddo, he became Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of the Manufactures and Fisheries of Scotland.

Sir William ("Willie") Arbuthnot-Lane ( 1856–1943)

Arbuthnot Lane was a Scottish surgeon. Son of Brigade Surgeon Benjamin Lane. Associated for most of his career with Guy’s Hospital, Lane is known particularly for three surgical procedures: treatment of the cleft palate, the application of internal splints to fractures using the aseptical ‘Lane technique’ and the treatment of chronic intestinal stasis. During the 1914-18 War he organised and opened Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, a pioneering institution in plastic surgery. This controversial surgeon had his name removed from the Medical Register, in order to promote the New Health Society (the first organised body to deal with social medicine) he had founded in 1925 to publicise his views on healthy diet and life, without being disciplined by the General Medical Council. He was an Irishman who was posted to Inverness, who trained and later worked at Guy's Hospital in London. Lane is known for his attempts at improving alignment of fractures by using internal fixation. He started off using silver wire, then he used steel screws and this was followed by the use of plates and screws. Lane was said to have been eccentric, regarding humans as machines and performed total colectomies as a cure for "auto-intoxication". He also initiated the programmes of health education that are present today. Lane wrote columns in the newspapers, held public lectures and improved the distribution of fruit and vegetables.,_1st_Baronet

Sir William Reierson Arbuthnot, 2nd Baronet (b. 1950)

Arbuthnot is the eldest son of Sir John Arbuthnot, 1st Baronet and he inherited his father's baronetcy in 1992. He was educated at Eton College and The College of Law and worked in banking, law and as a company director. He has Parkinson's disease and is an active member of Families Need Fathers. He runs the website and collates the genealogy of the Arbuthnott Family Association. He has been a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Grocers since 1981. The heir presumptive to the baronetcy is his younger brother Rt. Hon. James Norwich Arbuthnot, MP.

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