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Frequently Asked Questions
(and some less frequently)

1.    What does the name Arbuthnott mean?
       It comes from Aberbothenoth which comes from the Gaelic.
       It comes from the parish which lies in Aberdeenshire between
       Aberdeen and Dundee, where the head of the family still lives.
       Grid reference: NO 798 755:     381329,773878
       Latitude: 56:51:45N  Longitude: 2:19:23 W   WGS84
       10km map    1000m map    Another 1000m map
       Old map of Arbuthnott

       "Aber" means the influx of a small stream into a greater stream.
       "Aber" can also mean "mouth of" as in Aberdeen.
       "Both" or "Bothena" is a baronial residence.
       "Nethea" has been described as the stream that descends
       or is lower than something else in the neighbourhood.
       - Source "Memories of the Arbuthnots".
map.gif (6088 bytes)

2.    Which is correct - Arbuthnott or Arbuthnot?
       They both are. In olden times spelling was unimportant and indeed, was the preserve of clerics.
       There is one document in which the name is spelled "Arbuthnot" and "Arbuthnott" and "Arbuthnoth".
       The head of the family and most Arbuthnots in Scotland spell it "Arbuthnott".
       Arbuthnots outnumber Arbuthnotts by about 9 to 1.
       The older form was certainly Arbuthnot and the name is thus spelt throughout Principal Alexander
       Arbuthnot's MS. History of the Arbuthnot Family finished about 1567.
       The family took the surname from the place name not the other way round.   We think 
       the village name is spelled with two "t"s because when the Ordnance Survey visited
       the local Lord to ask how the name was spelled, he said it was spelled Arbuthnott.

3.    How is the name properly pronounced?
       In the UK, the emphasis is on the second syllable, the third syllable being a very short "nert".
       In North America, the emphasis is often on the first syllable, the third syllable being pronounced "not".
       The descendants of James Lycurgus Arbuthnot pronounce the name "Arbernot" which is not otherwise
       heard. (Arbuthnot has a different value from Arbernot under the soundex system).

4.    Can I stay on the Arbuthnott estate?
       Probably.  Contact Hon Keith Arbuthnott. Travelling by train London Kings Cross to
       Stonehaven takes 6 hours (see Or fly to Aberdeen and hire a car.

5.    How can I get hold of "Memories of the Arbuthnots" by Mrs P.S.M. Arbuthnot?
       This book is now on the internet.  The copyright is owned by Sir William Arbuthnot and the book (which concentrates strictly on the main branch of the family) remains subject to copyright until 75 years from 14th October 1946.  When we occasionally hear of a copy becoming available (e.g. they occasionally (but rarely) pop up in a bookshop), we will tell you on the Merchandise site - not here.  Then it is first come, first served. Sir William Arbuthnot is looking for a leather bound copy. 25 leather bound copies exist, being owned by (1) The Viscount of Arbuthnott, (2) Mrs Jake Arbuthnot, (3) Sebastian Arbuthnot-Leslie (4) Felicity Anne Arbuthnot (5) Tony Grubb and others [owners as yet unknown - if you have one, please tell us]. 

6.    How accurate is the information you hold on the family?
       It is pretty good - and superb so far as some branches are concerned.  But please keep us
       informed.  Do you know of a birth, marriage, death, email address or change of address we
       might not know about?  Please write and tell us.

7.    Have you produced a book about the Arbuthnott Family?
       The definitive book is of course Memories of the Arbuthnots. Beyond that the answer is Yes.  The Hon Mrs Christy Bing has produced her book, "The Lairds of Arbuthnott" ISBN 0-9514062-3-X. Anthony W Arbuthnot has written an amazing History of the Descendants of James Arbuthnot of Dens (Table M). David J Arbuthnot has written "From Down to Doon", an account of Table 44.  And Margaret Ridall and Betsy Henry have produced several volumes of American / Canadian Genealogy, 3rd edition dated 2003. The webmaster also runs (see below) which publishes genealogical information (in abbreviated form) in the linked but disassociated site.

8.    How can I obtain email address e.g. or ?
       These domain names are owned by Sir William Arbuthnot and are not for sale. First come, first served for each christian name (and he can allocate only a limited number). Emails would be instantly diverted to an address of your choosing. ISPs (such as freeserve in the UK) to receive such emails charge nothing beyond the cost of the telephone calls. He can offer you up to 5 years at which time he will have to renew ownership. He can offer telephone advice and support if required. He would appreciate a contribution towards his costs. Write to or email Sir William Arbuthnot, Bt, 37 Cathcart Road, London SW10 9JG (tel +44 (0) 20 7795 0707)

9.    How do I get hold of a copy of Table (whichever)? Or the full genealogy?
       Look on  You will probably have to register which you can do by clicking here.  
       Or write to Sir William Arbuthnot, Bt, 37 Cathcart Road, London SW10 9JG

10.   Will you be putting more genealogy on the website?
       The Webmaster has uploaded many of the genealogical records he holds to his own site and amends these every day. The Australian genealogy and the Irish genealogy can be accessed through a separate page. Please send genealogical additions and amendments to Sir William Arbuthnot (Genealogist and Webmaster of both sites).

11.  What do the "Table Numbers" mean?
       Mighty little, as they were allocated pretty much at random.  All the lettered tables are thought to be descended from Edulf Edulfing, 1st Lord of Bamburgh.   There is no established connection between each of the numbered tables or between the lettered and numbered tables. But if you belong to a numbered table, other people who belong to the same numbered table will be related to you.  See the genealogy site for more detail on this.

12.  What is
       Kittybrewster is a suburb of Aberdeen and is one word, not two. There is a trading estate in Blyth, Northumberland called Kitty Brewster - no connection. The name is celtic in origin and represents Cuitan Briste, broken fold. Cuitan, dim. of cuit, fold; briste, broken. Usually, folds for cattle had water near them. Kittybrewster was in the den now called Berryden, which means watery den [Source: "Celtic place-names in Aberdeenshire", by John Milne (1912)].
       It is also the website located at  It contains substantial amounts of Arbuthnot-oriented and other genealogical information, email addresses, etc. The philosophy of that site is set out on the concept page.  Most of the site is restricted to members (of Kittybrewster), membership being free of charge.  The Webmaster has not undertaken to subject that site to the Association's privacy policy (if any). The site is not subject to the control of the Association and the Association specifically disassociates itself from the site. You can contact the webmaster of by writing to 37 Cathcart Road, London SW10 9JG. 

13.  Why
       The domain is owned and run by Sir William Arbuthnot, 2nd Bt.  All Baronetcies require a territorial designation in order to distinguish them (e.g. in case the inheritor has the same christian name as a Baronetcy owned by another person with the same surname). Kittybrewster is a suburb of Aberdeen and Sir William's father, the first Baronet of Kittybrewster, chose that place as his territorial designation because he was born at Powys House where his father, a soldier, was stationed.

14.  Parts of are clearly restricted. How do I penetrate that barrier?
       You will probably have to register which you can do by clicking here.   You will then have unrestricted access to that site. Various purposes lie behind the restriction including our wish to know who is using that site and for what reason.  Actually at the moment they are not restricted but search engines do not point at them. They were restricted so search engines pointed to /members/table_nn.htm which then redirected you to /members/table_nn.htm which was inaccessible without a password. But the server stopped working properly, we moved to a new server and then found it does not support security. We hope to re-privatise sensitive parts of the site shortly.

15.   Security issues on
       Those who choose to become a member of the Kittybrewster site will be asked to choose
       a UserName and password each of which must be more than 5 characters long. They
       will also be asked to agree Terms and Conditions which are detailed at that point. Shortly
       thereafter their membership will be confirmed and they will be sent an email confirming their
       UserName and password and advising where they can log in in future. Their computer will
        retain a  note of their UserName and password, lest they forget it. Those who are unhappy
       about this procedure may be able to join by emailing the webmaster for specific alternative
       instructions. Those who choose not to join will be able to access some pages on the site but
       will be unable to access the majority of pages and all sensitive pages. The security is powered
       by Locked Area Lite v3.0 obtainable from The UserName and
       password are case sensitive. If you are have further concerns or are having problems, click here.

16.  How can I add to or amend your email list or the genealogy?
       Email the webmaster at, 37 Cathcart Road, London SW10 9JG.  He will
       probably upload (or alter) it for you; he will certainly hide your email address from search
       engines if asked to do so. He does not undertake necessarily to alter somebody else's entry
       at your request. He will not remove the name, dates or address of a person at the request of
       another person without good reason being shown. He does not generally reveal the sources
       of his information.

17.  What is the policy relating to the names on the rolling "Family News" banner on the index page?
       We post birth, marriage and death dates since 1st January before last. The number or letter within
        square brackets is the table they are on. We don't always get told so please check the banner for
        recent news you know about.  The banner is quite recent so not all 2002 dates are there - and
        sometimes we post something on the table without remembering to add it to the banner.

18.  What is the meaning of e.g. second cousin, once removed?
       First cousins share a grandfather, second cousins share a great-grandfather, etc (count the "G"s)
       The child of your second cousin is your second cousin once removed (i.e. one generation), his
       grandchild being twice removed, etc.

19.  How can I add to your photographic database?
       Just email it to us.  With a description of who/what is depicted, their dates and preferably the
       Table to which they belong. We may upload it for you. Photographs of headstones also.

20.  What about Arbuthnots in Ireland?
       There are relatively few and the UK Secretary, Genealogist, etc are responsible for co-ordinating those
       branches. To find out who the Secretary is, please see Committees.

21.  How can I join the Association?
       To join the Association please contact the relevant Secretary in USA, Canada or, for the rest of the world,
       UK. To find out who the Secretary is, please see Committees.  If you are based in UK, click here.

22.  Is membership open to people of all races?
       Of course.  We warmly welcome all Arbuthnots regardless of race, religion, etc.

23.  How many people visit your website?
       Click here to find out; it is about 750 per month, ie 25 per day. The number was steadily
       increasing until the genealogy was privatised in mid April 2002; that action has removed
       the site from most search engines and is causing a reduction in awareness of the wealth
       of detail that is in fact available. Having said which, we are not convinced the counter is
       still working properly but we have other priorities before fixing it.

24.  May I copy information from your site onto my own GEDCOM?
       Yes. The information contained on this web site is subject to copyright protection, copyright being
       owned by Sir William Arbuthnot and Alexander Broadbent Arbuthnot.  It may be reproduced
       free of charge provided that it is reproduced accurately and that the source and copyright status
       of the material is made evident to users.
       The right to reproduce the text does not extend to the Arms and Heraldic devices.
       I.e. you may reproduce the text, subject to the following conditions:
       a.      That you acknowledge the source as "Copyright 2002 Sir William Arbuthnot Bt and Alexander
                     Broadbent Arbuthnot. All rights reserved
       b.      That you email to Sir William Arbuthnot a copy of the GEDCOM, when completed.
       c.      That you do not put the information onto a family tree on the web without seeking Sir William's specific consent.
       d.      That you make no charge to anybody to whom you pass the information or GEDCOM
       e.      That you pass on these conditions to anybody to whom you pass a copy of
                the GEDCOM, requiring them to acknowledge they too will abide by them.

25.  How many Arbuthnots and Arbuthnotts are there?
       According to, Arbuthnot is the 48,439th most popular last name (surname) in the United States; frequency is 0.000%; percentile is 85.675 [SourceCBN] Our own answer is that it depends entirely who you include. A daughter who married and took her husband's name? Her children? Her grandchildren? A non-Arbuthnot who married into the family? Approximate numbers in various countries: UK 350; USA 1,150; Canada 220; Australia and New Zealand 190; South Africa 85 (depending on whom one includes)

26.  How does the Association make money?
       It doesn't.  The merchandise is non-profitmaking.  It has income from membership subscriptions and spends its income on newsletters, reunions, etc. All active participants are volunteers (of their time, telephone bills, etc). Occasionally kind folk make donations; we are not proud - we accept them.

27.  Why is yours a Family rather than a Clan?
       Because it comes from the lowlands rather than the highlands. (Rejoice - the lowlands are more prosperous).

28.  How does it come about that the Viscount is a Viscount and Sir Keith, Sir William
       and Professor Sir John have got their titles?
       The first three inherited the Viscountcy, the Baronetcy of Edinburgh and the Baronetcy of Kittybrewster, respectively, each of which is an inheritable title earned by an ancestor.  Professor Sir John Arbuthnot is a Knight Batchelor in his own right (earned for services to education). For more information on how these work, visit  For warnings about fake titles see

29.  How should I write to and /or address the Viscount?
       Envelope:     The Rt Hon the Viscount of Arbuthnott, 
       Formal letter begins:    My Lord                           and ends:     Yours faithfully
       Social letter begins:     Dear Lord Arbuthnott       and ends:      Yours sincerely
       Face to face:          Lord Arbuthnott

30.  How should I write to and /or address Sir John, Sir Keith, etc?
       For a fairly comprehensive answer, click here
       Envelope:     Sir John Arbuthnott
                            Sir Keith Arbuthnot, Bt
                           Sir William Arbuthnot, Bt
       Formal letter begins:    Sir                           and ends:     Yours faithfully
       Social letter begins:     Sir John                    and ends:     Yours sincerely
       Face to face     :          Sir John
       Elinor, Alison and Louise are all      Lady Arbuthnot
       Gillian (the Viscountess) is              Lady Arbuthnott
       Jean and Julia are                           Dowager Lady Arbuthnot

31.  What are the arms of the Arbuthnot(t)s and how did they come about?
       There are various coats of arms, described on our heraldic page. Coats of arms are granted to one person only and descend to one person only. Anyone is entitled to apply for one. The crest is part of a coat of arms and, unless one is the armigerous owner, it is only permissable to use one within a "belt and buckle" which indicates allegiance rather than entitlement. There is no such thing as a "family crest" and never has been. For detail on the Arbuthnot Arms - see our heraldic page

32.  You are doing a great job. How can I help?
       By joining the Association. By keeping us up to date with family news, email addresses, etc. By checking that what we have posted is accurate and comprehensive. By checking out Queries to see if you can solve a puzzle for us.  By checking out Snippets and Addresses to see if you can help us identify a person listed on it.  By commenting on the site, making constructive suggestions, proof-reading and reporting broken links.  By hunting out other sites that may be of interest to Arbuthnot(t)s generally. And generally by adding to the data.

33.  What does the "Last uploaded" time show?
       Time last uploaded in England - which is usually six hours ahead of (later than) US Central time, five hours ahead of Eastern time, eight hours ahead of Pacific time.

34a. What is this letter from William Pince Publishers offering me "The Arbuthnot Family Chronicle"?
       He knows nothing about the Arbuthnot family. This is a scam. Do not buy it. We believe SGN Genealogical Foundation and William Pince Publishers are no more than trading names. There is no William Pince. The booklet contains no genealogy, a third of it (25 pages) purports to be genealogical index (index to what?) and the balance of the booklet seems to be general blurb dealing with the origin of surnames in general and a bit about the history of heraldry. This is a re-run of "The World Book of Arbuthnots", etc. For an additional 17.95 you can have a "personal family tree" - meaning a blank that you can fill in, such as is easily obtained from many sites on the web. Oh, boy!

34b. What is the "official family web-site"
       The sites at our family year book and our family newsletter are a scam. They know nothing about the Arbuthnott family except that which is online; it is NOT "official" (whatever that means). They are a scam. So are Halberts and the Arbuthnott Family History Center and the Arbuthnott Family News and the Arbuthnott Family Heritage Center. Do not give them money. Maxwell Macmaster of MorphCorp (google it!) of Denver, Colorado registered the domain name and has never been in touch with the family. Their CD contains no genealogy or information that is not available online and they are subject to a court order requiring them to reimburse those who sent them a cheque. This is a re-run of "The World Book of Arbuthnots", etc. The only official sites or bodies are those endorsed by "The Arbuthnott Family Association" as listed on our committees web-page.

35. Do you have a banner we can upload to our site?
      Two herewith.  We intend to improve on these (Volunteers WELCOMED).

36. Have you designed an ambigram?
      Yes - herewith.  (It looks the same both ways up).

37.  Why is there no link to the USA and Canadian sites?
       At present there are no such sites.

38. May I link to one of your sites?


39.  What is the official description of the tartan?
       B2 K2 B10 K8 G4 W2 G4 B4 G4 W2 G4 K8 B2 K2 B2 K2 B8
       This is the count registered with Lord Lyon in 1962.
       It is based on the Black Watch.
       (There is a fair bit of green in it -
        which doesn't show up brilliantly in this gif.)
       B is blue, K is black, G is green, W is white
       TS204 is marginally different namely B8 K8 B38 K38
       G14 W4 G16 B16 G16 W4 G14 K38 B8 K8 B8 K8 B36

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For further information please contact Sir William Arbuthnot Bt
who will welcome corrections, additions and constructive suggestions

Last brought up to date  16:54  27 July 2023
All contents of this site Copyright 1997 - 2003 Sir William Arbuthnot Bt and Alexander Broadbent Arbuthnot. All rights reserved.