Friday 27 February 2015

(159) Arbuthnot of Elderslie

Arbuthnot of Elderslie
George Arbuthnot (1772-1843) came from an established trading and landowning family in north-east Scotland. His grandfather, Robert Arbuthnot (1695-1756), bought the Haddo-Rattray estate in Aberdeenshire, where the Queen Anne style house is still in existence. His father, Robert Arbuthnot (1728-1803) was a banker in Edinburgh, but was obliged to sell all his inherited property including Haddo when his firm, Arbuthnot & Guthrie, failed in 1772 - the year of his son George's birth. 

Haddo-Rattray as it is today. Image: Eleanor M. Harris

Thereafter the family lived in relative poverty, and they remained dependent upon the support and assistance of friends to provide career opportunities for their sons. Robert himself became Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of the Manufactures and Fisheries of Scotland. The painful experience of growing up in a family used to comfort that had been reduced to poverty marked George's whole life, and he put boundless energy into making a career in business and building a stable financial basis for his family, and even after he retired he seems never to have taken affluence for granted or to have ceased counting his blessings.

George was sent in 1801 to work with his elder brother Robert as part of the colonial administration in Ceylon, but his post was under threat as part of an economy drive in the government service there, and in the autumn of 1802 he moved to Madras to join Francis Latour & Co., a trading and banking company founded in 1777. He was very soon a partner in the business (Latour lending him the money to buy in) and it was known as Arbuthnot, de Monte & Co. from 1810 and Arbuthnot & Co. from 1821.  Arbuthnot's became one of the most important banks in southern India and financed much other mercantile and industrial activity before going bust spectacularly in 1906, by which time it was no longer in direct family control.  Although he did not make a fortune on the scale of the great Indian nabobs like Hastings or Cockerell, George Arbuthnot accumulated substantial funds and in 1823 he retired from the business and returned to England. On a previous visit in 1816 he had bought a London town house and he now bought the small Elderslie estate and moved his family there.  It is perhaps typical of the man that the property he bought was relatively modest in relation to his wealth, so that it did not represent a drain on his income. As a result, it was able to pass successfully through many generations of his family.

When George died in 1843 his heir was his eldest son, George Arbuthnot (1815-95), who had also worked in the family business in Madras. His eldest son, George Arbuthnot-Leslie (1846-96) married the heiress of the Leslies of Warthill in Aberdeenshire and they succeeded to that estate in 1880. When he inherited Elderslie, therefore, he had no need of the house, and sold it to his younger brother, James Woodgate Arbuthnot (1848-1927) who had worked in the family firm in Madras until his retirement in 1884. James in turn left the estate to his grandson, Sir John Francis Prideaux (1911-93) who became Chairman of the family's London bank, Arbuthnot Latham & Co., and later of the National Westminster Bank. Elderslie was sold by his widow after his death.

Elderslie Lodge, Ockley, Surrey

In origin a farmhouse called Newhouse, which was built in the 17th century on an outlying part of the Addiscombe Place estate. The original form of the building is still quite apparent on the west side facing the main road, which retains five regular gables and a projecting gabled porch in the centre. At the south end the house runs down into an 18th century stable block. Newhouse remained just a farmhouse until the beginning of the 19th century when it was sold with about 60 acres and redeveloped as a gentleman's villa, probably for Joseph Foskett but possibly for his successor, Captain Sykes of the Royal Artillery.  

Elderslie Lodge, from a watercolour of 1823 by John Hassell. Image: Surrey History Centre

The east side, facing away from the road, was made picturesque with crenellations and the addition of a two-storey central bow surrounded by a veranda, and the grounds were landscaped and planted. The completed effect is apparent in a watercolour made by John Hassell in 1823. 

The house as it now stands is built of red and blue brick under a coat of white painted render, no doubt put on to conceal the building materials of different periods and give a unified effect. Later changes to the house included raising the Georgian wing to the right of the bow to a second full-height storey and extending the verandah along in front of it.  If sashes were ever inserted in the west front, casement cross-windows were reintroduced in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Descent: Sir Thomas Wallace Dunlop sold 1802 to Joseph Foskett; sold 1811 to Capt. Sykes; sold 1824 to George Arbuthnot (1772-1843); to son, George Arbuthnot (1815-95); to son, George Arbuthnot-Leslie (1847-96) who sold 1896 to his younger brother, James Woodgate Arbuthnot (1848-1927); to widow, Annie Susan Charlotte Arbuthnot (1857-1944); to grandson, Sir John Francis Prideaux (1911-93), whose widow sold 1993 to Jamie & Sarah Bryant.

Arbuthnot family of Elderslie

George Arbuthnot (1772-1843)
George Arbuthnot (1772-1843) of Elderslie. Sixth son of Robert Arbuthnot (1728-1803) of Haddo-Rattray, Crimond (Aberdeens) and his wife Mary (d. 1818), daughter of Capt. John Urquhart of Craigstone and Cromarty, born in Edinburgh, 4 December 1772. Sent to Ceylon in 1801 with his elder brother Robert, who secured him a place as a junior secretary in the British administration there, 1801-02; after which, on the advice of Coutts Trotter, he joined the firm of Henry Latour & Co. (Arbuthnot, de Monte & Co. from 1810 and Arbuthnot & Co. from 1821) in Madras, a trading company which later became one of southern India's largest banks; he became the senior partner and retired in 1823. He later became a Director of the Palladium Life & Fire Insurance Co. and a JP for Surrey. He married, 26 April 1810 at St Mary's church, Fort St George, Madras (India), Eliza (1792-1834), daughter of Donald Fraser, and had issue:
(1) Mary Arbuthnot (1812-59), born 29 April 1812 in Madras. She married, 2 June 1832 at St Marylebone (Middx), John Alves Arbuthnot of Coworth Park (Berks) and had issue; died 30 March 1859;
(2) Robert Arbuthnot (1813-14), born in Madras, 11 July 1813; died in infancy, 24 October 1814; buried at St Mary's burial ground, Madras;
(3) George Arbuthnot (1815-95) (q.v.);
(4) twin, Jane Arbuthnot (1816-92), born in Edinburgh, 22 October 1816; married, 3 June 1846, George Stephens Gough (1815-95), 2nd Viscount Gough and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 3 February 1892;
(5) twin, Anne Arbuthnot (1816-40), born in Edinbugh, 22 October 1816; died unmarried in Lisbon (Portugal), 22 February 1840;
(6) Coutts Trotter Arbuthnot (1818-99), born in London, 24 April 1818; in the Madras Civil Service; a member of the Ootacamund Club; died unmarried in London, 24 July 1899 aged 81; buried at Kensal Green Cemetery;
(7) Elizabeth Georgiana Arbuthnot (b. & d. 1820), born 19 May and died on board the East Indiaman, "Duke of York", 27 September 1820; buried in St Mary's burial ground, Madras;
(8) John De Monte Arbuthnot (1822-86), born in Madras, 27 April 1822; partner in Arbuthnot Lathom & Co., 1844-46 but by 1851 was living on income from investments; married 29 January 1853, Elizabeth Esther Jane (b. 1827), daughter of Sir William Murray, 9th bt. and had issue two sons and one daughter; died at Boulogne, 4 August 1886;
(9) Catherine Gregor Arbuthnot (1824-37), born in London, 18 April 1824; died at Elderslie, 22 August 1837;
(10) William Reierson Arbuthnot (1826-1913) of Plawhatch, East Grinstead (Sussex), born in London, 28 January 1826; employed by Arbuthnot & Co., Madras, rising to become Chairman of Bank of Madras and of Madras Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Legislative Council; retired 1875 and returned to England, settling at Plaw Hatch, East Grinstead, a new house planned by his wife and sold in 1916 after his death; Director of Commercial Union Insurance Co., and Midland Bank Ltd.; married, 9 December 1858 at St James, Paddington (Middx), Mary Helen (1839-1912), daughter of Philip Anstruther, Colonial Secretary of Ceylon, and had issue eight sons and five daughters; his descendants include the Arbuthnot baronets of Kittybrewster; died 31 May 1913 and was buried at West Hoathly (Sussex);
(11) Elizabeth (k/a Leila) Agnew Arbuthnot (1828-95), born in London, 10 April 1828; married, 6 November 1850 at Urquhart (Inverness), as his third wife, Field-Marshal Sir John Bloomfield Gough GCB (1804-91) and had issue four sons and two daughters; died 25 October 1895;
(12) Laura Calvert Arbuthnot (1830-1917), born 22 January 1830; married, 5 August 1856, Sir William Fitzwilliam Lenox-Conyngham KCB (1824-1906) of Springhill (Derry) and had issue eight sons and five daughters; died 1 July 1917;
(13) Eleanor Louisa Arbuthnot (1833-94), born 28 January 1833; in 1854, while she was living in Ireland, a middle-aged landowner, John Carden, became infatuated with her, and when she declined his advances he attempted to abduct her by force; the attempt failed and he was prosecuted and imprisoned for two years; she died unmarried, 1894.
He lived in India, c.1801-23 except for a short period c.1816-20 when he returned to England and bought a house in Upper Wimpole St., London; he purchased the Elderslie estate in 1824 for his retirement.
He died 3 November 1843; his will was proved 21 December 1843 (wealth at death £78,746). His wife died in London, 29 September 1834, and was buried at Ockley, 9 October 1834.

George Arbuthnot (1815-95) of Elderslie. Eldest surviving son of George Arbuthnot (1772-1843) of Elderslie and his wife Eliza, daughter of Donald Fraser, born in Madras, 24 April 1815. He worked with Arbuthnot & Co. in Madras for some years. JP for Surrey. He married, 28 August 1844 in St George, Madras, Maria (1825-89), daughter of John Fryer Thomas, and had issue:
(1) Emma Marion Arbuthnot (1845-59), born 4 November 1845; died young, 12 September 1859;
(2) George Arbuthnot (later Arbuthnot-Leslie) (1847-96) (q.v.);
(3) James Woodgate Arbuthnot (1848-1927) (q.v.);
(4) Herbert Robinson Arbuthnot (1851-1937), born in Madras, 8 January 1851; educated at Eton; partner in Arbuthnot Lathom & Co., 1875-1936; married, 10 November 1880, Evelyn Mary (1853-1945), daughter of Hon. Henry Lewis Noel and granddaughter of 1st Earl of Gainsborough, and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 18 October 1937 aged 86; will proved 13 December 1937 (estate £137,305);
(5) Ernest William Arbuthnot (1856-59), born 30 April 1856 in Madras; died young, 29 August 1859;
(6) Lt-Col. Lenox Conyngham Arbuthnot (1860-1936), born in London, 21 October and baptised 20 December 1860; served in the Army (2nd Lt., 1879; Lt., 1883; Lt-Col. by 1921); farmer in Ireland and later Superintendent of Dublin Zoological Gardens, Pheonix Park; married, 1894 or Apr-Jun 1898, Mrs Mabel Stanley McLeod Watling (d. 1932) and had issue one son and one daughter, both apparently born prior to the marriage of the parents; died 12 September 1936; will proved 13 November 1936 (estate £5,869).
He inherited the Elderslie estate from his father in 1843 and had a town house in Hyde Park Gardens, London.
He died 19 March 1895 and was buried at Ockley; his will was proved 17 May 1895 (estate £37,033). His wife died in London, 5 May 1889.

George Arbuthnot (later Arbuthnot-Leslie) (1847-96) of Elderslie. Eldest son of George Arbuthnot (1815-95) and his wife Maria, daughter of John Fryer Thomas, born 12 March 1847. Educated at Brighton College. Served in the Army as an Ensign in 53rd Shropshire Foot and Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys. After his marriage he took the additional surname Leslie. DL for Aberdeenshire. He married, 4 August 1875 at Fyvie (Aberdeens), Mary Rose (d. 1900), daughter of William Leslie of Warthill (Aberdeens), and had issue:
(1) William Douglas Arbuthnot-Leslie (1878-1956) of Warthill, born 7 August 1878; educated at Eton; Lieutenant in Gordon Highlanders and Scots Guards; Capt. in Reserve of Officers; ADC to Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong; member of Royal Company of Archers; married 1st, 23 April 1921, Maria de la Luz (d. 1969), daughter of Don Guillermo de Landa y Escandon (Governor of Mexico City) and previously the wife of Don Bernardo de Mier and had issue one daughter; married 2nd, Georgiana Nutter Connal (c.1889-1970), daughter of Robert Nutter Campbell Connor and previously wife of Capt. Augustus Brabazon Urmston; died 27 October 1956;
(2) Capt. George Rupert Arbuthnot-Leslie (1883-1951), born 23 August 1883; educated at Haileybury and Trinity College, Oxford (MA 1913); served in Suffolk Yeomanry in WW1 (Lt., 1914; Capt., 1917); ADC to Brig-Gen. McNeill in Palestine, 1917; emigrated to Jamaica where he bought a banana plantation already named the Arbuthnot Estate; died unmarried, 4 January 1951;
(3) Aline Rose Arbuthnot-Leslie (1888-1948), born 24 June 1888; served as a nurse in WW1 with the French and Italian Red Cross; married 1st, 14 November 1919, Hon. Charles Fox Maule Ramsay MC (1885-1926), son of 13th Earl of Dalhousie; and 2nd, 14 May 1929, Maj. the Hon. Arthur Michael Bertie DSO MC (1886-1957), second son of 7th Earl of Abingdon and had issue one son (later the 9th Earl of Abingdon); died 5 July 1948; will proved 9 March 1949 (estate £2,434);
(4) Violet Seton Arbuthnot-Leslie (1893-1950), born 28 June 1893; died unmarried, 19 August 1950.
He inherited the Elderslie estate from his father in 1895, but sold it to his brother, James Woodgate Arbuthnot. His wife inherited the Warthill estate from her father in 1880; on her death in 1900 it passed to their eldest son.
He died 1 November 1896; will proved in Aberdeen Sheriff Court, 19 March 1897. His widow died 6 January 1900.

James Woodgate Arbuthnot (1848-1927) of Elderslie. Second son of George Arbuthnot (1815-95) and his wife Maria, daughter of John Fryer Thomas, born at Brighton, 5 July 1848. Educated at Eton; worked with Arbuthnot & Co in Madras (retired 1884). He married, 26 September 1877, Anne Susan Charlotte (1857-1944), daughter of Sir Charles Jackson, judge of the High Court of Calcutta and had issue: 
(1) Marion Fenn Arbuthnot (1878-1958) (q.v.);
(2) Francis Sidney (k/a Frank) Arbuthnot (1882-1952), born in Madras, 26 November 1882 and baptised 24 December 1882;  served in Suffolk Yeomanry in WW1 (mentioned in despatches twice); married, 3 September 1912, Lillemor (d. 1955), daughter of Nicholas Halvorson of Oslo (Norway) and previously wife of Christian Mohr; died without issue, 6 November 1952; will proved 16 January 1953 (estate £3,568);
(3) Capt. Maurice Armitage Arbuthnot MC (1889-1918), born in London, 4 March 1889; Capt. in the 16th Lancers (Staff-Captain, 1918); ADC to General Sir Hubert Gough, 1915-18; awarded the MC and Croix de Guerre, 1917; involved in suppression of the Curragh mutiny; married, 7 August 1915, Edith Madeline (1888-1974), daughter of Sir Frederick Albert Bosanquet KC and had issue one daughter; died of Spanish flu, 14 October 1918 and was buried at Ockley; will proved 28 February 1919 (estate £1,052); his widow married 2nd, 4 April 1925, Alfred Weston McKenny (k/a Bubbles) Hughes (1895-1970), zoologist.
He bought the Elderslie estate from his elder brother in 1896. At his death it passed to his grandson, Sir John Francis Prideaux subject to his widow's life interest.
He died 21 October 1927; his will was proved 13 December 1927 (estate £41, 028). His widow died 13 March 1944; her will was proved 22 May 1944 (estate £29,840).

Margaret Fenn Arbuthnot (later Prideaux) (1878-1958). Eldest child of James Woodgate Arbuthnot (1848-1927) and his wife Anne Susan Charlotte, daughter of Sir Charles Jackson, judge of the High Court of Calcutta, born in Madras, 15 October 1878. She married, 20 April 1901, Walter Treverbian Prideaux LLD (d. 1958), solicitor and Clerk of the Goldsmiths Company, 1919-39, and had issue:
(1) Walter Arbuthnot Prideaux CBE MC TD (1910-95), born 4 January 1910; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge; qualified as a solicitor; served in WW2 with Kent Yeomanry; Clerk of the Goldsmiths Company, 1958-xxxx; married, 4 February 1937, Anne, daughter of Francis Cokayne and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 5 November 1995; will proved 18 March 1996;
(2) Sir John Francis Prideaux OBE TD (1911-93) (q.v.);
(3) Anne Rachel Prideaux (1913-75), born 22 January 1913; married, 19 June 1937, Maj. John Waldo Edward Hay Drummond-Hay (b. 1906) and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 6 May 1975; will proved 17 July 1975 (estate £31,074);
(4) Lt-Col. Sir Humphrey Povah Treverbian Prideaux (1915-2014), born 13 December 1915; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford; Lt-Col, 3rd Carabiniers; on Joint Planning Staff, War Office, 1945; Chairman, NAAFI, 1963-73; Chairman, Brooke Bond Liebig Ltd, 1972; Vice-Chairman, W.H. Smith & Son (Holdings) Ltd., 1977; President, London Life Assurance Society, 1973; married, 30 August 1939, Cynthia Violet, daughter of Lt-Col. H. Birch Reynardson and had issue four sons; died 7 May 2014; will proved 29 October 2014;
(5) Andrew George Prideaux (b. 1918), born 10 March 1918; educated at Eton; served in Royal Navy in WW2; a solicitor; married, 1 April 1944, Eleanor Abigail Broome and had issue one son and one daughter; now living;
She died 5 April 1958; her will was proved 18 July 1958 (estate £4,163). Her husband died 24 January 1958, aged 83; his will was proved 21 April 1958 (estate £22,115).

Sir John Prideaux 1911-93
Sir John Francis Prideaux OBE TD (1911-93). Second son of Walter Treverbian Prideaux (d. 1958) and his wife Margaret Fenn, daughter of James Woodgate Arbuthnot of Elderslie, born 30 December 1911. Educated at Eton. He served in WW2 with the Middlesex Yeomanry in the Middle East and Italy. He joined Arbuthnot Latham & Co. in 1930 and specialised in the bank's foreign business; he was a Director, 1939-69 and Chairman 1964-69. He joined the board of the Westminster Bank in 1955 and became Chairman of the International Westminster Bank in 1969. On the merger of the Westminster, National Provincial and District Banks in 1970 he joined the main board and became Chairman of National Westminster Bank Ltd. 1971-77; Vice-President of British Bankers Association, 1972-77; Chairman of the Committee of London Clearing Banks, 1972-74; President of the Institute of Bankers; Deputy Chairman of the Commonwealth Development Association, 1960-70; Chairman of the Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship, 1977-81. Deputy Lieutenant for Sussex. Treasurer and Chairman of Governors of St Thomas' Hospital, London, 1964-74. Knighted, 1974. He married, 24 November 1934, Joan Hargreaves Terrell Pigott-Brown (d. 2008), daughter of Capt. Gordon Hargreaves Brown and Editha Pigott, and had issue:
(1) Christopher John Prideaux (b. 1936) of Doddershall Park (Bucks), born 12 November 1936; educated at Eton; Director, Arbuthnot Latham Holdings Ltd. Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire; married, 16 April 1959, Celia, daughter of Sir Peter Averell Daniell and had issue two sons and one daughter;
(2) Editha Anne Prideaux (b. 1940), born 4 September 1940; married, 10 February 1968, Alaster Scott Templeton, son of Kenneth Templeton, and had issue two daughters;
(3) Michael Charles Terrell Prideaux (b. 1950), born 23 October 1950; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge; married, 1975, Susan H. Bennett, formerly wife of Max Monsarrat, and had issue one son and one daughter.
He inherited Elderslie from his grandfather in 1927; it was sold after his death.
He died 7 January 1993; his will was proved 29 April 1993 (estate £456,153). His widow died 10 January 2008; her will was proved 3 October 2008.


P.S.M. Arbuthnot, Memories of the Arbuthnots of Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire, 1920;"George Arbuthnot" in Eleanor Harris, The Episcopal Congregation of Charlotte Chapel Website.

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to survive, although in 1920 substantial quantities of papers were in private possession and are quoted in Memories of the Arbuthnots.

Coat of arms

Azure, a crescent between three mullets, two and one, argent; the whole within a bordure or, charged with three boars' heads couped gules.

This post was last updated 2nd April 2015.

1 comment:

  1. I have enjoyed many photographs and doing some reading. It is an interesting website you have, and I am looking forward to your updates. Thank you.


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