Lord Arbuthnot

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LORD ARBUTHNOT. Scottish, Strathspey. G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCD. Composed by Nathaniel Gow (1763-1831). The Arbuthnots were from Kincardineshire; Arbuthnot House was located there. The Viscount Arbuthnot(t) in Nathaniel's time was John Arbuthnott [1], known as "the rich Lord", who was a Scottish peer and soldier. Born in 1778, he succeeded to the title in 1800, after service in the 52nd Regiment of Foot and the 7th Dragoon Guards (Princess Royals). He married in 1805 to Margaret Ogilvy, daughter of the Earl of Airlie, and served for many years in the House of Lords. Unfortunately, in 1829 he suffered a fall from a horse, which resulted in severe brain injury from which he never fully recovered. His judgement and reason impaired, he was prosecuted for his subsequent actions in 1848, and ended his life in lonely exile from Scotland in 1860.

John Arburthnott, 8th Viscount



One Lord Arbruthnot (who died in 1794) had a reputation as a miser. Robert Pearse Gillis wrote a sketch of him in Personal Reminisces (1876), in which he said that Arbruthnot caricatured the part, and for this demanded respect and not ridicule for his attention to purpose. He kept a few servants, but seldom needed or wanted them; visitors would be fed meager fare. His personal valet was wont to drink, which Arbruthnot seemed to tolerate, until one day, fed up and angry, he declared "Either you shall quit this house directly, you scoundrel, or I must." His acquaintances knew this as an idle threat, however, for Arbruthnot was comfortable in his parsimonious routines and home. He never did fire his man. Apparently, in his old age he usually retreated to his upstairs room, where he horded food, books and odds and ends, and would not tolerate visitors there.

If a guest arrived on a winter's day, and complained of cold in the reception-room, where perhaps there was only a smouldering peat in the grate, his Lordship would trot back into the closet, and reappear, carrying a portion of coals on a broken plate. Possibly, he weighed out his own daily portions of food and drink, and drove hard bargains with himself, and tried the question on how little he could subsist.

This Arbruthnot had a sarcastic, biting wit, which endeared him to few. However, he succeeded in erasing the family debts and putting his estates on a sound financial footing, leaving them to his heirs in a comparatively prosperous position.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Gow (Sixth Collection of Strathspey Reels), 1822; pp. 10-11.

Recorded sources:




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