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Papers of Sir Robert Arbuthnot, Rear Admiral, 1864-1916, and his wife Lina Macleay, daughter of Colonel A.C. Macleay of the Seaforth Highlanders.


Object connections:

Collection Archive
Gallery locationNot on display

Record details:

Biographical details Arbuthnot joined the Navy in 1877 as a midshipman. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1885, commander 1897, and captain in 1902. He was on the WARSPITE in 1891 which played a role in the Chilean civil war: the ship’s captain was shot at when attempting to negotiate a ceasefire between the belligerents in February 1891. He was flag captain to Admiral Sir John Fisher between 1903 and 1904, commodore of the third destroyer flotilla between 1910 and 1912, aide-de-camp to George V between 1911 and 1912 and was made a Rear Admiral in 1912, initially with the ninth cruiser squadron. He became second in command in Warrender’s second battle squadron in HMS ORION in September 1913, where he failed to take a rare opportunity to engage a group of German light cruisers and destroyers who were returning from their raid on Scarborough in December 1914. He received command of the first cruiser squadron in January 1915, but was killed at the Battle of Jutland when he took his squadron into the path of German battle cruisers and dreadnoughts in pursuit of German light cruisers. Arbuthnot’s flagship HMS DEFENCE and HMS WARRIOR and PRINCE were all lost, and his manoeuvre also prevented Vice Admiral Beatty’s battle cruisers from firing on the Germans (in fact his DEFENCE almost collided with Beatty’s flagship HMS LION).
Description Brief description:
Robert Arbuthnot:
1. 15 journals and diaries for 1885-1886, 1899, 1902-1904 and 1907-1913, which include journals kept aboard HMS ACTIVE in the West Indies in 1885/6 and HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN off Malta in 1899. His 1910 diary includes his reflections on an inflammatory anti-German speech he delivered to the AutoCycle Union in January 1910 and associated news cuttings.
2. ‘Details and station bill of HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN’ book with manuscript notes, 1899: presumed to be an early version of his Details and Stations for a Battleship [REG13/000432.40].
3. Notebook containing notes on the technical specifications of HMS NORTHUMBERLAND, SALAMIS, AMETHYST and ACTIVE, 1881-1885.
4. 13 photographs of Arbuthnot, Frederick A. Whitehead, Royal Navy ships, group portraits aboard ships, motor cars, sports teams and trophies, and a race run by Arbuthnot and a colleague as a result of a bet made as junior lieutenants 20 years earlier, 1880s-1910s.

Lina Arbuthnot:
1. 39 diaries, 1886-1924, which include details of Arbuthnot’s career.
2. Photograph of Lina in leather case.
Date made 1881-1924

Finding Reference ARB
Catalogue section Personal collections
Creator Arbuthnot, Robert Keith
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Extent 6 boxes
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