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Clan Arbuthnott is a lowland Scottish chiefly family

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The name Arbuthnott is of territorial origin from the lands of the same name in the county of Kincardineshire. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Square, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, Harper Collins 1994, pp 68-69</ref> Early documents refer to these lands as Aberbothenoth which has been translated as the mouth of the stream below the noble house. The Arbuthnott lands have been in the hands of the same noble family for more than twenty-four generations including the present Viscount of Arbuthnott. <ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref> Hugh, who may have been from the Clan Swinton family, may have acquired the lands of Arbuthnott through his marriage to a daughter of Osbert Olifard, who was known as "The Crusader", during the reign of William the Lion. Another Hugh, styled "Le Blond", possibly for his fair hair, was Laird of Arbuthnott in about 1282. This Hugh appears in a charter in the same year bestowing lands upon the Monastery of Arbroath for the safety of his soul. <ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref> The first of the clan to be described in a charter as dominus ejusdem (of that ilk) was Phillip de Arbuthnott. <ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref>


The son of Phillip de Arbuthnott was Hugh Arbuthnott who was implicated in the murder of John Melville of Glenbervie who was the sheriff of the Mearns in 1420. <ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref> The traditional story is that sheriff Melville had made himself very unpopular with the local lairds by too strict an adherence to his jurisdiction.<ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref> The Duke of Albany at the time was also Regent of Scotland while James I of Scotland was in captivity in England. The Duke is alleged to have become tired of endless complaints about Melville and exclaimed "sorrow gin that sheriff were sodden and supped in broo", which was taken by the disgruntled lairds as a signal to kill the sheriff. <ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref> The Lairds of Arbuthnott, Mathers, Pitarrow and Halkerton invited Melville to a hunting party in the Garvock Forest. However Melville was lured to a prearranged place where he was killed by being thrown into a cauldron of boiling water and each of the murderers took a spoonful of the murderous brew. The Laird of Arbuthnott was pardoned for his involvement in this affair and died peacefully in 1446. <ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref>

James Arbuthnott of Arbuthnott had a Crown Charter of the feudal barony of Arbuthnott on 29 January 1507. He had married, by contract dated 31 August 1507, Jean, daughter of Sir John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl, a son of Sir James Stewart, 'The Black Knight of Lorn' by his wife Joan Beaufort, Dowager Queen of Scots. Alexander Arbuthnot, a descendant of a younger son of the main family, was a leading figure in the Church of Scotland and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1577. In 1583 he was asked by the General Assembly to complain to James VI of Scotland about various 'popish practices' still permitted by the King. His complaints were met with not inconsiderable displeasure from the King and he was placed under house arrest in St Andrews. This seems to have had an ill effect on his health, as he died at the age of 44 in 1583. <ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref>

Sir Robert Arbuthnott, the direct descendant of the Laird of Arbuthnott who had been involved in the murder of sheriff Melville, was elevated in the peerage as Viscount of Arbuthnott and Baron Inverbervie by Charles I of England. Dr John Arbuthnot, who claimed kinship with the clan chief's family, was a distinguished physician and political humorist who was educated at the University of Aberdeen. In 1705, he had the fortune of being at Epsom races when Prince George of Denmark, husband of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, was taken ill. Dr Arbuthnot was rushed to his side; the Prince recovered, and Arbuthnot was appointed a royal physician. Over time he became a confidant to the queen and friends to a great many of the leading figures of his time. Dr Samuel Johnson once remarked that he was 'a man of great comprehension, skilful in his profession, versed in the sciences, acquainted with ancient literature and able to animate his mass of knowledge by a bright and active imagination'. Dr John Arbuthnott died in 1779. <ref>Way of Plean, Square, Encyclopedia, pp 68-69</ref>

The eighth Viscount of Arbuthnott was Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire and a representative peer for Scotland in Parliament from 1818 to 1847. John Arbuthnott, 16th Viscount of Arbuthnott, became chief after his father's death in 1966. During the Second World War he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and in 1985 the Order of the British Empire with a CBE. In 1997 he was created a Knight of the Thistle. The 16th Viscount died on the 14th of July 2012 at the age of 87. His son, The Rt Hon. Keith Arbuthnott, became the 17th Viscount of Arbuthnott, as well as Clan Chief. <ref></ref> The family seat is still at Arbuthnott House.