George Arbuthnot

George was brought up in bleak poverty in the Episcopalian heartlands of northeast Scotland. He carried the Episcopalianism with him around the world, but was determined to leave the poverty behind. He succeeded in business where his father had failed, and the pleasure of watching his family grow in a comfortable English country house appears to be one which he never took for granted.

Robert Arbuthnot, businessman whose firm failed the year George was born, in an epidemic of bank failures. (4 p.331)
Mary Urquhart. She had to bring him up in poverty. George remembered, 'I have heard my dear and excellent Mother say that so limited were the Means of the family at that period, and so uncheering the view before her, that she would have considered herself happy and fortunate if she could have been assure of an Income of £200 a year.' (4 p.331)
When in Edinburgh he stayed at his mother's, 47 Queen Street
Elderslie, purchased 1824
Political views
His grandfather was Jacobite. A 'good, but by no means a narrow-minded, Conseervative. He held the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, a statesmen, in special regard.' (4 p.360)
Religious views
When Eliza died he wrote, 'I have lost more than half of myself, -- she was my oracle, -- she was the staff on which I leant. In these melancholy moments, I have recourse to prayer. I pray for resignation, I pray for strength of mind to bear up against despair and for fortitude to do my duty as becomes the Father of a Family.' (4 p.368)
1801 Chief Secretary to Frederick North, Governor of Ceylon; 1802 joined Messrs Latour and Co in Madras; 1803 Appointed Agent to the Ceylon government in Madras; founded Arbuthnot Bank in India; 1823 retired from business to become country gentleman
Wealth at death
£10,746 in stock and £68,000 in property.
He appears to have enjoyed his time in India but his aim was always to come home. In 1801 he wrote to his friend Coutts Trotter, 'I shall look upon every Pagoda saved, as a step towards Home, where I still hope to return before either you or I are too old to enjoy each others' Company' (4 p.334). Once settled in Elderslie he lived in quiet retirement, keeping a diary and noting the weather etc. In 1828 he visited Rome and saw the tombs of the Stuarts. (4 p.360-362). In his will he said 'I desire that my funeral may be plain and conducted without ostentation'
Chapel connection
1816 (baptism)
26 April 1810
Eliza Fraser
Mary (1812), Robert (1813), George (1815), Jane and Anne (1816) Coutts (1818), Elizabeth (1820), John (1822), Catherine (1824), William (1826), Elizabeth (1828), Laura (1830), Eleanor (1833)
Related to
William Arbuthnot, brother; Margaret Urquhart via his mother.
George Arbuthnot was one of the sidesman in St Mary's Church Madras, and one of four witnesses of the induction of Rev John Mousley as Archdeacon of Madras. In 1828 the induction of his successor Rev Thomas Robinson was witnessed by George Cadell (6. vol.2 pp.131,145). Cadell's will reveals they had business together.

George Arbuthnot



  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1818
  3. Gazetteer of the British Isles (Edinburgh: Bartholomew and son, 1966)
  4. P. Arbuthnot, Memories of the Arbuthnots of Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire (London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd 1920)
  5. George Cadell's Will NAS SC70/4/53/965
  6. Frank Penny, The Church in Madras (Smith Elder and Co. London 1904)

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