Clan Arnott is a Scottish kin group who do not have a recognised chief, and are therefore considered an armigerous clan.
The origin of this name appears to be territorial, from the lands of that name in the parish of Portmoak in Kinross-shire. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 353</ref> Black states that the family was settled there from the middle of the twelfth century and that the lands were in the possession of Michael de Arnoth in 1284. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 353</ref> The name probably derives from the Gaelic 'eornach'- meaning 'barley land' although an English derivative of the surname is also possible from the Germanic personal name, Arnold. <ref>David Dorward, Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 8</ref>
In 1918 a family history was compiled by Dr. James Arnott, who was a retired Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Medical Service. In his introduction he notes that the Arnott family had at one time been influential, and their history supplies a good illustration of the vicissitudes of families. <ref>James Arnott, The House of Arnott and Some of its Branches, A Family History, 1918, v</ref>
According to Nisbet, the family of Arnott of that Ilk held lands in Fife, and Michael De Arnoth was sent as one of two knights escorting Duncan, Earl of Fife, as ambassador to England in 1340. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 353</ref> David Arnott, Archdeacon of Lothian in 1502, later became Bishop of Galloway.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 353</ref>David Arnott of Arnott took part in an archery competition between Scotland and England in 1535. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 8</ref>
David Arnott (d.1526) was Bishop of Galloway and Dean of the Chapel Royal. <ref>James Arnott, The House of Arnott and Some of its Branches, A Family History, 1918, vi</ref>Robert Arnot of Woodmylne was killed at the Battle of Flodden. <ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref>
Sir Michael Arnott of that Ilk was created a baronet by Charles I on 27 July 1629.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 354</ref>His successors favoured military careers and held high rank for the next five generations.
The family were Presbyterians and Covenanters. <ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref> Captain Andrew Arnot of Lochrig fought at the Battle of Pentland and was later executed.<ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref> James Arnott signed the Covenant in Greyfriars Churchyard in 1638. His signature appears on the copy of that document preserved in Edinburgh.<ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref>
Archibald Arnot is listed as an apothecary of Dundee in the list of investors in the infamous Darien scheme of 1695. <ref>James Samuel Barbour, A History of William Paterson and the Darien Company, 256</ref>
During the eighteenth century the family rapidly declined in status. The Arnot estates were sold to Sir William Bruce of Kinross in 1705.<ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref> The estates of other branches such as Arnot of Woodmylne, as well as other family lands were also sold. <ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref>The main line of the family, and their title, became extinct when the sixth baronet died without heirs. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 354</ref><ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref> Other Arnot families of Fernie, Newton, Balberton, and Lochrig died out through lack of sons.<ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref>
The other principal families are listed as Arnott of Woodmiln, Balkaithlie, Balcormo and Eastrynd.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 354</ref> Hugo Arnott, who succeeded to the Balcormo estates through his mother and assumed the name 'Arnott of Balcormo', was a well-known lawyer, antiquarian and historian who, in 1785, published a work on celebrated criminal trials in Scotland. His appearance as a principal character in Kay's Edinburgh Portraits, demonstrates his renown as a character in that city.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 354</ref>
Hugh Arnot (in middle) depicted in an etching by John Kay, 1784
Early Twentieth Century
By 1918 the remaining branch of the family was that of Arnott of Balcormo, though succession of daughters.<ref>Arnott, House of Arnott, vi</ref> The only other family members who held 'landed property' by this period are stated by James Arnot, the family historian, to have been Catherine Arnott, his cousin, and her sister, Miss Collington. They lived at Kirkconnel Hall near Ecclefechan. <ref>House of Arnott, vi</ref>It is now a hotel.