M, #3663
Last Edited=4 Dec 2015
This photo, taken from the website Scottish Castles Photo Library at, is of the ruins of the Arnot Tower, built in the early 12 century in Fife, Scotland, but now only ruins.
The following family history represents the Arnot/t family only in part. This researcher's Arnott line, starting with the immigration of John Hunter Arnott to Crested Butte, Colorado, in 1888, is fairly well represented due to the memory of my father and mother and to the participation of many cousins, aunts and uncles.

A great deal of the research of the family in Scotland, however, came from a distant cousin, Peter Arnott,who was born only 4 miles from Arnott Tower, grew up in, and now lives in the very part of Scotland where most of the ancestors lived. Peter has spent countless hours researching and then had a generous enough nature to share it all with other researchers. He asks only for a "pint" whenever or if ever any others of us travel to the Scotland of our forbears.

Peter himself says as his introduction: "For those interested in our family tree, they may wish to know something about the person putting this together. Peter is now nearly 75 years old and like most of his age and above, aware that he is getting on a bit. Still fit enough to play golf, keep the garden in good shape and do his share of household chores, he feels that it is important to record his known family history, not only as a hobby but also for the benefit of relatives and future generations."

"Historical records will always be available but family stories can soon be forgotten and should be told before disappearing into the past. There is a clear account starting around the 1800 mark and together with our memories and belongings, we can be absolutely sure that this is us. Overcoming the 1800 barrier is more difficult. Old parish records started in the 16th century but births and marriages were not always registered. Deaths were only registered after the requirement for statutory records in 1855, the first census of the general population having been taken in 1841. The Arnotts must have been good church members as we have a good account of them before that. It is not 100% certain that this account gives true parentage in the dark and distant past. Older records have been derived from a close examination of the old parish registers and where there was a doubt no further attempt has been made to follow that line. There may be the odd error, hopefully not, but it can be corrected and possible additions will always be welcome."

And so, follows the account of the Arnot/t folks and a brief description of the places from which they hail. It's the story of a family finding their ways to live well. In this chronicle is found no fame or fortune. Instead are hard workers, many of them miners or workers of the land in some way or another. Many went to war for their respective countries, but few were heroic except in their own small ways. Many spent their lives toiling in the mines, mostly for coal, several lost their lives in the mines, but none were the owners of mines. We're just simple folk who appear to have been able to persevere through the ages.2


The Scottish surname Arnott is local in origin, being one of those names derived from the place where a man once lived, or where he once held land. This name refers to a locale of Arnot, an area near Portmoak in Kinross-shire in Scotland.

Before the 11th century in Britain a person was known by only a first name and perhaps a description. At that time and the start of our more reliable history, it was William the Conqueror who changed things. The Normans brought their customs and warrior knights to Scotland and were provided with land and privilege for supporting their boss. These different estates took the name of their master and so his flock could then be identified also by the name of their leader. Some places already had Gaelic words to describe them and so the local head of the area would adopt that as his name.

Some variations of the name, likely deriving from the same name are: Arnald, Arnall, Arnatt, Arnaud, Arnell, Arnhold, Arnold, Arnoll, Arnot, Arnott, Arnould, Arnout, Arnull, Harnett, Harnott.

Gillian Arnott Smith, an Australian researcher states: "The original charters for Arnot were lost when King Edward took many documents back to England with him about 1300. Playfaire in "Family Antiquities" says the family is of great antiquity in Fifeshire, and was designed of that ilk as early as in the twelfth century. Sibbald in "History of Fifeshire" gives them equal antiquity. It is open to question whether the place Arnot was named after the family or the other way around. Hugo Arnot [1749-1786, an early chronicler of the Arnot history] thought they were ‘English Scottish', which could mean Anglo-Saxon, but following Beryl Platts' research they could equally have been of Flemish origin."

Arnot(t) in Scotland is a Fife name. The date of arrival is uncertain and there is a bishop Arnold at St. Andrews in 1160 confirming chargers for St. Serfs Island Priory and also Portmoak church at nearby Kinross.

More certainly our name derives from a Sir Michael de Arnoth at Portmoak, recorded in 1335 at Arnot Tower near Scotlandwell and Leslie. He would have been awarded an estate before that date. Arnot Tower exists today together with an Arnot farm and Arnot reservoir in the Lomond hills. The Annals of Kinross-shire, prepared from old records and published in a more recent local newspaper, gives an account of his exploits at Loch Leven. He took part in a siege against supporters of David Bruce at Loch Leven castle. He was under the command of a Sir John de Stirling supporting the cause of the Baliols even after the death of Robert the Bruce...Apparently Sir Michael's son was known as David the Devil. Michael Bruce, (1746-1767), one of Scotland’s best known early poets from Kinneswood, refers to the ruined Arnots and the state of disrepair for their properties.

Overcoming this start, the Arnots were as worthy Scots as any other, perhaps a bit too loyal to their early master. There is no Arnot tartan of course. Modern tartans were the invention of Sir Walter Scott. It was a bit rich to introduce them in order to please the English. Considering previous and later treatment of the Scottish Highlands, that smells of hypocrisy to adopt their dress in the Lowlands after it had been previously banned in the Highlands.

The distribution of Arnott(t)s remained mainly in Fife until well into the 19th century. Some had moved to neighboring counties, more in Edinburgh than elsewhere. A few have since emigrated south of the border and abroad but their homeland even today is in Fife. Although growing in numbers, Arnott is quite an uncommon name. It represents less than 0.01% of Britain's population.

What we see in the 19th century Arnot(t)s are large families and a sure sign of improving conditions. Our family moved into coal mining, better providing for their needs and the new industrial age. Women and children under 14 years of age stopped working underground in the early 1800s and some improvements in safety later came about to improve working conditions. It was due to agitation in the mining communities, not always successful, which hastened much of the political change of these times. It was always difficult and dangerous work and our family spirit is a reflection on how well they coped.

So the turf roofs and candlelight, muddy tracks and the Sabbath, spuds and porridge, old songs and music, have given way to modern homes with all conveniences, railways, motorways, sport and foreign holidays, the supermarket, television and the internet. What we can be absolutely sure about, though, is that we have no near relatives, certainly on the Arnott side, that are going to leave a legacy and make us rich.2,3


"There is a locality near Kinross, between Scotlandwell and Leslie in Fife, named Arnot and it may be from this that the Arnot / Arnott family derived their surname after settling there early in the 12th century - there are records dating back to 1105 linking the Arnots to the area. Though the Tower now is in Kinross-shire, this was originally in the Kingdom of Fife and was transfered to Kinross at a later date of political alliance issues.

"A tower was built in the early 1400s though earlier fortifications may have occupied the site. The building seen today was probably built in 1507 at a time when a charter was granted making the lands a barony for the Arnot family of that ilk. There was a spiral staircase running from a vaulted cellar in the south-east corner (now collapsed) and there was a hall above and two upper storeys. The Arnots abandoned their tower around 1700 and it subsequently became a ruin."

Posted on the Arnot Message Board at on 27 Apr 2009 was the following: "Just to let all the Arnots/Arnotts know that we've just put Arnot Tower near Scotlandwell in Kinross-shire, Scotland, on the market. It has been wonderful to live in the Victorian manor house next to the ruined castle for over a decade...If you know of anyone who might be interested in a seven-bedroom 1878 manor house, the ruined medieval castle that is Arnot Tower, and 10 acres of glorious gardens overlooking Loch Leven, Please direct them to, where more details can be found."

In the 1980's Peter Arnott (the Peter who provided a great deal of the Arnott information) and his sister Joyce went to the Arnot Tower to find out more about the family. He says that the Tower wasn't open to the public at the time, but that the current owner showed them around. The house (the above mentioned Victorian mansion) had two large rooms either side of a wide hallway and that the walls were covered with silverware, pictures, etc. Some months later Peter received a newspaper clipping saying that this ower had been sentenced to imprisonment for his involvement in a series of burglaries. While he was wining and dining his guests in the home, some arrangement was made to ransack their homes. This came to light when one of his guests recognized one of his own possessions!4,2


"Fife has a long history of association with the Scottish monarchy, so much so that it's people fiercely defend it's right to be known as the 'Kingdom of Fife'. The kingdom is home to Scotland's ancient capital, Dunfermline, the ancient Palace of Falkland and also the 'Home of Golf', St. Andrews."

"Man came early to settle in Fife. About eight thousand years ago, when the entire population of Scotland numbered only a few hundreds, a strip of coastline in North Fife was one of the rare abodes of those Stone Age settlers, the Mesolithic.

"Later, in Neolithic times and through the long centuries of the Bronze Age, the population was steadily growing. And then, almost two thousand four hundred years ago, a great wave of invaders from the Continent - the Gaelic-speaking Celts - swept triumphantly into Scotland to start a new Iron Age of progress.

"Centuries later the early Christian missionaries arrived...Through most of the middle ages the Earls of Fife were first among the nobility of Scotland. They had hereditary right to place the crown on the King's head at his coronation and to lead the vanguard of his army into battle.

"Fife too was the home of Scotland's leading churchman, the arch-bishop of St. Andrews. The cathedral at St. Andrews was by far the largest in the land..."

"It was here that higher education flourished for the first time in Scotland after St. Andrews University was founded in 1411."

"But it was not all work and no play on those far-off days. In Fife is the oldest tennis court in Scotland...There, people still play real-tennis, which is tough and fast and very different from the tennis of today. As for golf, there Fife has no equal in all the world. By 1522 the game had already become an obsession at St. Andrews and it has remained one ever since."

"The word "Fife" was originally an old Danish word that meant 'Wooded Country.'...In fact the Danish Vikings suffered so many defeats in Fife that it became known as their burial ground. The crafty Danes were given something to think about by the even craftier Fifers." Recently it was discovered that most men of Scottish descent have Viking DNA, so perhaps they were not so crafty at all!

"If was also in Fife that Alexander III plunged to his death; Macduff fled from Macbeth; Robert the Bruce's parents courted; King Malcolm met his beloved Margaret; Mary of Lorraine landed at Balcomie; Sir Henry Wood trounced Henry VIII's navy between Crail and the May Island; Andrew Selkirk (alias Robinson Crusoe) sailed from Largo; the Spanish survivors of the Armada put into Anstruther; Cardinal Beaton was slung into an unknown grave near Kilrenny; and James V crossed the wee Dreel Burn in Anstruther on the back of a Fife girl."5


The village of Saline goes back to the 13th century or even farther back than that. It was mainly an agricultural village at first, then during the 18th and 19th centuries it was a center for weaving. Later coal mines were opened in the area and the village grew.

James Arnot and Ann Hunter Arnott, whose descendents went to Colorado in the USA, lived in Saline. The Saline Hill commands a beautiful and extensive view of the Forth Valley. On clear days Ben Lomond, Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument, Edinburgh Castle and the Pentland Hills can all be seen.6


From a brief history of Steelend and the Steelend Mines, it states, "The Steelend district, to the east of Saline, has been worked from early times for ironstones and coals, and the various mines and coal pits appear to have changed ownership over the years. In September 1846, 'The Scotsman' carried notices that the property of North Steelend - its lands and minerals - was for sale, and we believe that it was around this time that minerals began to be extracted on a truly 'commercial' basis, although it is clear that some coals and ironstones had been mined on neighboring estates at an earlier time."

John Hunter Arnott, immigrant ancestor of the Colorado, USA, line of Arnotts was born in Steelend in 1865.2


There was an Arnott presence in Roscobie between 1805 to 1880. Researcher Peter Arnott states that "The population of this hamlet was never more than 100 or so and the Arnots must have accounted for some 25% of that total at times. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, railways and easy access to coal, lime burning to create products for industry and agriculture was a growth area of the economy. Quarried limestone was smashed up and burned in the make lime.

It is interesting to note that as of 2009, Roscobie Farmhouse is advertised as a Bed and Breakfast. They have a webside at This is how it is described: "Roscobie is one of the highest farmhouses in Fife, ffrering outstanding views south as far as the Pentland Hills. It is situated in an extremely peaceful and tranquil setting."2,7

There is a famous company in Australia called Arnott's Biscuits. The founder of this company, William Arnott was born in Fife, Scotland in 1827. Though at this time there is not a known connection to this branch of Arnotts, it is quite likely that we are related. There is an interesting and well written history of this company at


Mining played a central part in the lives of the Arnotts in both Scotland and for some also in Colorado. The village of Lassodie was where we find many Arnotts between the years 1880 and 1925. Lassodie was only a short walk from Roscobie.

Researcher Peter Arnott reports that "The village of Lassodie was situated close to Loch Fitty in the parish of Beath in Fife. The village grew up around the mining industry and by 1901 had a population of over 1400. The village consisted of 3 separate hamlets - Old Rows, New Rows and Fairfield. There was a post-office and Co-op at New Rows and a Co-op at Fairfield. The school and the United Free Church (St. Ninians) were also situated at New Rows. The main coal Company offices were situated at Old Rows. By 1931 the mines had closed and many miners were given notice to quit their homes."

At one point in recent years, Peter Arnott went to Lassodie and hoped to take photographs of the old houses. However, he found that only the foundations of some of the old buildings remained. He says, "Lassodie will return sometime in the future to the original green and pleasant land and not the dirty black hole as it is at present. Fife has changed a lot during these last 50 years, and only a few signs of this industry remain."

Our farthest back ancestor of the Arnott's is George Arnot, born 1625 in Largo Parish, Fife, Scotland.2

This researcher's family line of Arnotts went to Crested Butte, Colorado. In one note I received from researcher Peter Arnott in Scotland, he mentions that having seen some of the places the Arnots were mining in Scotland, he could certainly understand why they might leave.

Though life in Crested Butte was certainly challenging and the mining was dangerous, it was a beautiful place and many of the Arnotts even today speak nostaligically about it.9



  1. Arnot/Arnott Place.
  2. [S416] Peter Arnott, "Correspondence with Peter Arnott Regarding the Arnott Family in Scotland," (author E-Mail address private) at Fife, Scotland, to this researcher, March 2009 and following. Hereinafter cited as "Correspondence - Peter Arnott."
  3. [S412] Gillian M. Arnot Smith, "Correspondence with Gillian M. Arnot Smith Regarding the Arnott Family," (author E-Mail address private) at Austrailia, to this researcher, January 2009, Gillian Arnot Smith has put together a family history of Arnots beginning with John de Arnot (a 1105) through George Arnot and his family in the early 1700s. This history is next-in-male-line descent.. Hereinafter cited as "Correspondence - Gillian M. Arnot Smith."
  4. [S418] Scottish Castles Photo Library, online Hereinafter cited as Scottish Castles.
  5. [S460] Tour the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, online, From the page "The History of Fife". Hereinafter cited as Tour the Kindgom of Fife.
  6. [S462] Fife Direct - Saline, online Hereinafter cited as Fife Direct - Saline.
  7. [S461] Roscobie Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast, online Hereinafter cited as Roscobie Farmhouse.
  8. [S496] Cookie's Lounge Bar -, online, Hereinafter cited as We Ssite - Cookie's Lounge Bar.
  9. [S124] Personal knowledge of this researcher, Lynell Arnott (Florence, Arizona), from family connections and information from family member's direct knowledge of events.
  10. [S417] The Generations Network, online, Peter Arnott and Rosi and Boyer (Arnott/Gallently Tree), downloaded beginning March 2009 and following.