CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 2764
TitlePapers of Arbuthnott of Arbuthnott
Date1206 - 20th century
Extent42 volumes, 110 boxes and rolled plans: 21 linear metres
Creator NameArbuthnott Family, Arbuthnott, Kincardineshire
Administrative HistoryThe Arbuthnott family take their name from the lands and parish of Arbuthnott, Kincardineshire, first mentioned in a charter of c 1170 - c 1174, in which the lands were granted to one Osbert Oliphant, Sheriff and Forester of the Mearns. Hugh de Swinton inherited the lands from Osbert c. 1188, possibly through marriage to Osbert's daughter, and took the title of 1st Laird of Arbuthnott. Hugh, 3rd Laird of Arbuthnott, 1240 - 1260, is believed to have begun building Arbuthnott house, ancestral seat of the family, and present home of Viscount Arbuthnott c. 1242. The heritable title of Viscount Arbuthnott, was granted in 1641 to Robert, 18th Laird, in a vain attempt by Charles I to win him over from the Covenanters.

Sales of family papers and lands took place in the 1890s and early twentieth century. The family library was sold in Edinburgh in 1892; and 'The Arbuthnott Missal', 'Arbuthnott Prayer Book' (or 'Horae'), and 'Abuthnot Psalter', written by James Salter between 1482 and 1491, were all sold in London in 1897. A sale catalogue for the estate, dated 1901, is in the University's Local Collection (ref. L fpKi7 Q5 A).

Principal Alexander Arbuthnott compiled the Arbuthnott genealogy in the 16th century, on which most later accounts are based, and of which an 18th century transcription was used in James Balfour Paul and Robert Douglas, 'The Scots Peerage', 9 vols (Edinburgh: Douglas, 1904 - 1914). For further details on the family see also, Christy Bing, 'The Lairds of Arbuthnott' (Edzell: Capability Publications, 1993); and William Fraser, 'Report on the Manuscripts of the Right Honourable John, Viscount of Arbuthnott, at Arbuthnott House, in the County of Kincardineshire in Historical Manuscript Commission', Eighth Report (London, ?1880), pp. 297 - 304), which also contains a description of the family papers. See also H. G. Slade's account of the family and house in 'Proceedings of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 110', p 432-74.
Custodial HistoryThe family records were surveyed at Arbuthnott House by the Historical Manuscripts Commission in 1880. Later surveys were subsequently made by the National Register of Archives, Scotland (NRAS) in 1947, 1962 and 1963, at which time the records were in the custody of Messrs Lindsay, Howe and Company, W.S., Edinburgh. These surveys were superseded by NRAS survey no. 5, dated Nov 1968, by which time all surviving records were believed to have been transferred to Arbuthnott House, Kincardine.

The records covered by NRA(S) survey no. 5 were deposited in the University by John Viscount of Arbuthnott in July 1971.

In 1975 a further group of papers were located in the offices of Clark, Oliver, Dewar and Webster, Arbroath. In 1979 the University received two additional deposits of Arbuthnott records, though it is not clear if either of these relate to the papers found in Arbroath in 1975. In March 1979 a collection of estate maps was transferred from the Scottish Record Office; and in October 1979 a group of records, as yet unsorted, were transferred from Arbuthnott Estate offices, Laurencekirk. A letter from the Viscount of Arbuthnott, 8 Nov 1979, states that he has found 3 additional boxes of 19th century records, but there is no record of whether these were subsequently deposited.

Documents relating to the Arbuthnott ownership of estates at Tintinhull and Wyke Regis between 1793 and 1913 were transferred in 1988 to Somerset County Archives [Somerset Record Office] where they are held as the "Arbuthnott (Tintinhull) Manuscripts", reference DD\AT, accession no. G/126. Some remaining bundles relating to the Tintinhull estate and other Arbuthnott possessions in England are in section MS 2764/2/5.
SourceSee information above.
DescriptionVarious inventories of the Arbuthnott muniments, 18th c - 19th c, including a 2 volume inventory made by George Hume in 1822, together with deeds described therein, 13th century - 19th century (bundles have been disturbed since Hume's listing, and arrangement and numbering is frequently at odds with his inventory); several genealogies of the Arbuthnott family, 16th c - 20th c; estate, household and personal accounts, 15th century - 20th century; extensive estate papers, including baron court papers, correspondence, accounts, valuations, rentals and tacks, early 15th - 20th century; legal papers, 15th century - 20th century, including marriage contracts, action between Lord Arbuthnott and the Laird of Dun, 1680 - 1682, and papers re. the roup and sale of Arbuthnott and Fordoun estates, 1920; papers relating to Arbuthnott House, including contract for its repair, 1754, proposed plans, 1839; papers relating to teinds, stipends and heritors, 17th c - 18th c; papers relating to Bervie fishings, 1587 - 1775, Haltoun fishery, 1817 - 1819, and Catterline harbour, n.d.; personal papers, including military commissions and related papers of John, Lord Arbuthnott, 1861 - 1920; sermons of Henry Davidson, 18th c; miscellaneous correspondence and other papers, relating to family, business and other matters, late 18th c - 20th c.

Much of the early correspondence is political in nature, and has in the past been bound into 2 volumes. Examples of its contents include letter to the Laird of Arbuthnott from James, Earl of Arran, Governor of Scotland, stating that an English army was preparing to invade Scotland, and summoning Arbuthnott and his friends to Edinburgh on 13 Apr, with 40 days provisions, 13 Mar 1549/ 50; and letter to the Laird of Arbuthnott from James VI, summoning him to a meeting at Halyruidhous on 24 Nov to assist in putting "sum spedie ordour to the reformation of sindre thinis that ar amiss bayth in religioun and politie", 14 Nov 1588.

Estate papers relate principally to the baronies of Arbuthnott and Fordoun, and to lands lying in the parishes of Ecclesgreig, Fordoun, Arbuthnott, Bervie, Garvoch and Glenbervie.
AccrualsNone expected.
ArrangementThe records are arranged in three series:

1. Legal and business documents: comprising the collection of title deeds and other legal papers relating to land ownership, together with the financial papers of the Viscounts of Arbuthnott.
2. Estate papers: comprising those documents relating to the administration of the estates, including accounts, rentals, and estate development.
3. Family papers: comprising the records relating more particularly to the history and genealogy of the family of Arbuthnott, together with personal papers and correspondence.
4. Finding aids to the papers

Within these series, the records are arranged in general chronological order.

Where alternative reference numbers are listed, these reflect earlier arrangements of the materials, showing either the Arbuthnott deed boxes in which the records were originally stored or the box numbers of the various deposits with Aberdeen University. (see AltRefNo field).
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThe records are available subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions.
LanguageEnglish and Latin
Physical DescriptionNo physical conditions affecting use of collection.
Related MaterialPapers of Charles Arbuthnott (1767 - 1850), diplomatist and politician, 1791 - 1885 (MS 3029)
Collection of extracts from Kirk Sessions and other records of the parish of Arbuthnott, Kincardineshire. Compiled by Archibald Mason, 1903 (MS 2246)
Papers of the Arbuthnott family (drawing on the above MS 2246) (MS 2889)
Papers of the Arbuthnott Family, Arbuthnott, Kincardineshire, 1814 (extracted from the Davidson and Garden Collection) (MS 2769/ III)
Papers relating to the history and genealogy of the Arbuthnott Family; including Alexander Arbuthnott's Continuation of the Genealogie of the Noble Family of Arbuthnott , n.d. [associated with the Spalding Club, c. 1845] (MS 843/ 3)
Poem, 'The Club', and other works relating to Peterhead, addressed to George Arbuthnott, 1808 - 1813 (MS 689)
Publication NoteChristy Bing, 'The Lairds of Arbuthnott' (Edzell: Capability Publications, 1993)

William Fraser, 'Report on the Manuscripts of the Right Honourable John, Viscount of Arbuthnott, at Arbuthnott House, in the County of Kincardineshire in Historical Manuscript Commission, Eighth Report' (London, ?1880), pp. 297 - 304). This report contains short but informative historical account of the family, and a description of the family papers (now deposited in the University: MS 2764).

Some of the records in MS 2764 were used by Viscount Arbuthnott's son, Keith Arbuthnott, in his unpublished thesis 'An Examination of the Long Term Historical Development of a Selected Farm Business: Arbuthnott Home Farm, Kincardineshire'.
Finding AidsThere are additonal paper inventories available:

(MS 2764/1/1/1/3/1/1) - George Home: catalogues and inventories of Arbuthnott deeds. The first volume of Home's catalogue of Arbuthnott writings, covering the period 1200 to 1600 (592 items) provides detailed descriptions for documents in MS 2764/1/1/1/1/1 - 9.

(MS 2764/1/1/1/3/1/2) - Second volume of Home's catalogue of Arbuthnott writings, covering the period 1600 to 1700 (791 items). This volume provides detailed descriptions for documents in MS 2764/1/1/1/1/10 - 19.

There are also three slip catalogues with further details of the contents of some bundles, particularly those relating to the affairs of the seventh Viscount (MS 2764/1/2/3/7). The catalogues are held in Section 4.
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