Arbuthnott Family Association

Newsletter 2012

John Campbell Arbuthnott,

16th Viscount of Arbuthnott

(26th October 1924 – 14th July 2012)

John died peacefully on Saturday 14th July after a long illness. The family held a private funeral service at Arbuthnott Kirk on Friday 20th July. There will be a service of thanksgiving on Friday 14th September in Aberdeen at the Cathedral Church of St Machar at 2.00pm. This will be a celebration of a truly remarkable man who contributed so much to the nation and the local community, to local industry and to the church and most of all to his family.

John was born at Dubton House near Montrose and, like his father and grandfather, was educated at Fettes. Graduating after the war from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1949, the lure of learning never left him and, at the age of 43, the year after succeeding his father, he returned to university to take a postgraduate master’s degree, later being appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

In 1942, aged 18, John volunteered for the Royal Navy, entering the Fleet Air Arm and was sent to the US for flying training. Commissioned and still only 19, he was posted to 849 Squadron aboard the carrier HMS Victorious, piloting Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers in the Near East and Pacific until the Japanese surrender in August 1945 and being decorated for gallantry with the Distinguished Service Cross.

Back from the war he gained a reputation for business ability as a chartered surveyor and land agent. While his talents were taken up initially in Yorkshire and Midlothian in estate management, his succession to the title in 1966 and the opening up of the North Sea the following year led to appointments with BP and the Clydesdale Bank. The family moved to Arbuthnott in 1967 where projects were developed to improve the estate, the farm and the house. John served as Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire from 1977 to 1999 and was made a CBE in 1985.

Involved with the Church of Scotland from the early days – he served Arbuthnott Kirk as elder and treasurer for decades – he was twice appointed Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in 1986 and the following year. This was an appropriate appointment, given that his distinguished ancestor Robert Arbuthnott, 14th laird, had attended the Reformation Parliament of 1560.

His service to Scotland was recognised in 1996 when he was made a Knight of the Thistle, Scotland's greatest order of chivalry, and whose numbers at any one time are limited to just 16.

The family was always at the centre of so much that John did, introducing younger members to country sports, offering advice on career development and setting up the Arbuthnott Family Association.

Arbuthnott House Restoration, Update June 2012

I am delighted to report that Keith’s son, Christopher, his wife, Emily and their three children are now residing at Arbuthnott House and it is a family home once more. They were able to celebrate Christmas 2011 there – just – as they moved in on Christmas Eve!

The rising damp and the wet and dry rot that was found to be rampant throughout the house has all been treated. The staircase has been re-plastered from top to bottom and the cupola looks resplendent, double glazed using “histoglass”, a system specifically developed for the restoration and renovation of historic buildings. The ‘bulge’, the structural deficit that was revealed in the south wall, has been rectified - part of the original stone wall had to be rebuilt - and the internal floors and lintels have been strengthened throughout the house. The new roof seems to be keeping out the continuous rain meantime.

The kitchen (now overlooking the garden) is a focal point of the house and has been fitted out to a high standard to answer the needs of a modern family. The new library nearby contains the regency bookcases from the old library that have been skilfully refurbished by a local firm of restorers. The central heating system using renewable biomass wood pellets as fuel, sourced and manufactured on the Arbuthnott Estate has been installed and is working well. All the furniture has been delivered back from storage and a suitable place is being gradually found for each item.

There is a snagging list, however, so the work is still unfinished. Keith says they are close to completion and have been since February, but this part is taking a disproportionally long time as what should be a few days work, is approaching half a year!

The Arbuthnott Heritage Trust is supporting this restoration project and thereby helping to preserve our family’s heritage for the future. Any donations will be very gratefully received. Cheques can be made out to “The Arbuthnott Heritage Trust” and sent to the AFA Treasurer.

More news and a full report will follow at the London AGM in October.

Annual Gathering, Friday 12th October 2012, London, at 6.30pm

Our annual gathering this year will be in a new venue, Wiggin LLP, in London’s West End. We have been offered the use of Wiggin’s meeting room for the evening. See map overleaf for directions (A).

The format will be the same with a short AGM followed by a buffet supper. The evening will start at 6.30pm. The cost for the evening will be £30.00 payable on the day. It is a great help to know in advance who is going to be able to come so that we can get the catering right. So please could you let me know if you can join us, using the reply form attached or by e-mail to

International Gathering in 2013

The Association has started to make arrangements to hold an International Gathering at Arbuthnott during the weekend of 17th-18th August 2013. We hope that events will start on the evening of Friday 16th August. Please save the date.

Wiggin LLP,

10th Floor, Met Building,

22 Percy Street, London W1T 2BU

The Wiggin office is located on the 10th Floor of the Met Building at 22 Percy Street. Percy Street lies between Tottenham Court Road and Charlotte Street.

It is a short walk from Tottenham Court Road tube station. Walk up Tottenham Court Road and turn left into Percy Street.

Reply Form.



Telephone number

e-mail address

Family Gathering Friday 12th October 2012 at 6.30pm Yes, I will be attending the Gathering on Friday 12th October at Wiggin LLP, Met Building, 22 Percy Street .

Cost £30.00 per person How many? ……..

Please can I have your reply by Saturday 29th September. Thank you.

Please return to Charles Arbuthnott

7A Woodhall Bank


EH13 0HL


telephone number 0131 441 1815