The near relations of Dr Arbuthnot illustrate well how
members of the family spread to different countries, at first keeping their bonds of
kinship, and then gradually losing contact with their homeland.
The family had lived for several generations in
Aberdeenshire when the Rev. Alexander, father of Dr John, was offered the living at the
Kirk of St.Ternan, Arbuthnott by the 3rd Viscount in 1665. All of his children were born
at the manse, but in 1689 he was dismissed for his High Church sympathies. Two years later
he died and his children went their different ways.
John, the eldest, having been educated at Oxford and St.
Andrews, finally settled in London, where he became one of the most renowned men of his
time. Robert, a Jacobite who fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie, went to Rouen and
established the firm of 'Arbuthnot et Cie', Bankers. In later life he moved to Paris,
where he kept up his Jacobite activities and gave shelter to many, including those who had
to flee to France after the failure of the 1715 uprising. Another brother, Alexander, went
to India. The youngest, George, went to London and became a member of the Queen's Guard.
When Queen Anne died, he too went to France and took part in Jacobite activities. Finally
he went to China, where he died, leaving a young son, John.
This John, after trying various ventures in England and
France, was offered the post of Inspector-General to the Irish Linen Trade in 1782. The
appointment took him to Ireland where he decided to settle, buying land at Rockfleet in
County Mayo. He married five times and had eleven children. His eldest two sons went to
India, the third, the Rt. Hon. Charles, was Ambassador to Turkey. He and his wife were
close friends of the 1st Duke of Wellington. In Charles' later years, when both he and the
Duke were widowers, he became constant companion and only close confident of the
"Iron Duke". His son, General Charles Arbuthnot, has already been mentioned as
equerry to Queen Victoria. The fourth son of John of Rockfleet became Bishop of Killalloe,
the firth and sixth, Sir Robert and Sir Thomas, became distinguished generals.
I hope this disgression serves to indicate how far one
branch of the family could move over three or four generations; from Scotland to many
parts of the world and into various walks of life.