When John of Rockfleet bought land in Co.Mayo, other
Arbuthnots were already living in Ireland. Some of them, like John, may have gone to take
up government appointments, but most probably went as farmers in the late seventeenth and
early eighteenth centuries.
A little can be learnt about them through records, though
many Irish records have been destroyed.
Richard Arbuthnot, whose will was recorded in 1777, lived
at Killalla in Co.Mayo. He had a brother, the Rev. Nicholas, who went to Trinity College,
Dublin in 1738, and lived firstly in Dublin and then in Co.Armagh where he was appointed
to the parish of Newton Hamilton. His son, the Rev. Frederick, also went to Trinity
College, in 1778, and had one daughter, Phoebe, who died in Armagh in 1803. The Rev.
Nicholas had another son, James.
Table 2. In County Down there lived John Arbuthnot of Balleny. In
1725 his son Charles married Arabella, daughter of John Arnold of Greenan, Co.Down.
Arabella must have been heiress to the Greenan property because, in 1785, her son Charles
Arbuthnot Senior sold the property to his own son, also called Charles. It is not known
why he sold it, and did not merely hand it on.
It was Alexander, son of Charles Junior and great-grandson
of John of Balleny, who went to the United States in 1835 and founded the Pittsburgh
branch of the family. Another great-grandson, William Arbuthnot of Rockvale, Co.Down
married Sarah, daughter of John McCully of Drumblane, Co.Down in 1796.
At present there are Arbuthnots living in Co.Armagh,
Co.Antrim, Co.Derry, Belfast and also in Co.Down, where, for many generations, some owned
a farm at Dromore. The Irish Arbuthnots are of special interest because it is from Ireland
that most of the families emigrated to America, Canada and Australia.
United States of America
Dr Thomas Arbuthnot must have been one of the earliest
members of the family to settle in the American colonies. His will, dated 1742 and
recorded in the court house at Fairfax Co. Virginia, shows that he owned several farms of
which one was in Montgomery Co. Minnesota and three were in Fairfax Co. Va. He had eleven
children, one of whom may have been Dorothea whose will was recorded in Enrico Co. Va. in
In 1761 an act was passed to provide for the settlement of
Protestants in two new townships in South Carolina called Bessborough and Belfast. Among
the first to come from Ireland under this scheme, on the sailing ship 'Pennsylvania
Farmer', were Francis Arbuthnot and his wife. In order to earn their passage, Francis
became servant to a doctor and his wife acted as maid to another passenger. However, on
arrival, they were able to pay for 450 acres of land and were granted a further 450 acres.
1. It may be only a coincidence, but two
men are mentioned in connection with Pennsylvania in 1793. In that year William Arbuthnot
bought several thousand acres of land in Northampton Co., Pa. Also Samuel Arbuthnot, an Irish ship's captain, arrived then in Pennsylvania. He came
possibly from Co.Cork, but more likely from Co.Down. He served in the Pennsylvania militia
from May to December in 1793. His first wife had died in Ireland and he had one son,
William. He then married Esther McMarlin in 1796 and had eleven more children. He lived in
Allegheny Co., Pa. His many descendants are well chronicled. They moved on to many states
including New Jersey, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, where Susan Arbuthnot became Professor
of English, to Texas and Iowa, from whence one of Samuel's grand-daughters, Eliza Grubbs
and her family moved to Oklahoma in 1889, the year the land was thrown open to
homesteading. They called their baby daughter, born that year, Oklahoma Independance
In 1803, James Arbuthnot owned land in Mississipi and near
Greensburgh, Louisiana. This was the year of the Louisiana Purchase, when the territory
was bought by the U.S. from Napoleon. However, James was in the area before that time,
which suggests, as some of his descendants believe, that he came from France. Others think
he may have come from Scotland. The family plantation was near Winnfield, La.
James Arbuthnot, forebear of the Mississippi and Louisiana
Arbuthnots is mentioned in the Mississippi Territorial Papers, Volume 5. In Volume 6 of
these papers, George Arbuthnot is recorded as having signed a petition to the President
concerning intruders into Chickasaw lands, Miss. Territory in 1810.
A John Arbuthnot bought land in Gibson Co., Indiana in 1817
and 1830, but there seems to be no way of relating him to other members of the family.
An incident on the Spanish Florida border in 1818 caused
consternation in Washington and uproar in London. Alexander Arbuthnot, a Scottish trader
aged seventy, was tried in his absence by an army court under the command of Andrew
Jackson, and found guilty of aiding hostile Indians. He was later captured and hanged.
Another Alexander Arbuthnot, son of Charles Jnr. of Greenan
and great-grandson of John of Balleny, Co.Down, went to the United States in 1835. He
settled in Pittsburgh. He may have gone as a trader in Irish Linen, certainly his son
Charles was a linen trader and founded the Arbuthnot-Stevenson Dry Goods Store in
Pittsburgh. Charles married Elizabeth Shaw, one of their sons, William Shaw Arbuthnot
became president of the store, and another, Dr Thomas Shaw, became Dean of the University
of Pittsburgh from 1907-1918.
In 1850 Eleanor Arbuthnot, after the death of her husband,
travelled to Pittsburgh from Co.Down taking most of her ten children with her. Eleanor,
born an Arbuthnot of Balleny, married her cousin, another Charles Arbuthnot, possibly one
of the Arbuthnots of Greenan. She must presumably have been a close relative of Charles,
the founder of the Arbuthnot-Stevenson Store, who by then was well enough established to
feel he could offer a future for his widowed cousin and her children.
James Armstrong Arbuthnot was Adjutant-General of the State
of Missouri and his grandson, the Rev. Charles W. Arbuthnot, had charge of Presbyterian
activity in Europe for 22 years. He held this appointment after World War II and was based