William Arnot (preacher)

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William Arnot's grave, Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh

William Arnot (1808–1875) was a Scottish minister and theological writer.


He was born near Scone, where his father was a farmer, 6 November 1808. He was apprenticed to a gardener; but was led to study for the ministry. In his university career at Glasgow had for classfellows two men, whose biographies he later wrote: James Halley, who died quite young, and James Hamilton, afterwards minister of the National Scotch Church in Regent Square, London.

After completing his theological studies he was called, in 1838, to be minister of St Peter's Church, Glasgow, one of the new churches built under the extension scheme of Thomas Chalmers. He became popular, and after 1843 was connected with the Free Church of Scotland.

In the year 1863, on the appointment of Robert Rainy to a professorship, Arnot was called to be minister of one of the congregations of the Free Church in Edinburgh. There he edited a monthly religious magazine, the Family Treasury. He three times visited America: in 1845, to minister in the dominion of Canada; in 1870 as a delegate from the Free Church of Scotland to congratulate the presbyterian churches in the northern states on their reunion; and for the third time, in 1873, as a member of the Evangelical Alliance, to attend its meetings at New York. Having been a sympathiser with the northern states and the anti-slavery movement, he was well received in the United States.

The degree of D.D. was virtually offered to Arnot by the University of Glasgow, and afterwards formally by the University of New York; but for personal reasons he declined.

He died after a short illness at his home, 8 Merchiston Avenue[1] in Edinburgh, 3 June 1875. He is buried beneath a huge but simple red granite monument in the northern half of the SE section of Grange, Cemetery in Edinburgh.


His works include:

  • 'Life of James Halley.'
  • 'The Race for Riches, and some of the Pits into which the Runners fall: six lectures applying the Word of God to the traffic of man'. It had a wide circulation both in the UK and America, following up the principles of Chalmers's 'Commercial Discourses.'
  • 'The Drunkard's Progress, being a panorama of the overland route from the station of Drouth to the general terminus in the Dead Sea, in a series of thirteen views, drawn and engraved by John Adam, the descriptions given by John Bunyan, junior.'
  • 'Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth; Illustrations of the Book of Proverbs.' 2 vols. This treated maxims of Hebrew wisdom viewed from a Christian standpoint in the nineteenth century.
  • 'Roots and Fruits of the Christian Life.'
  • 'The Parables of our Lord.'
  • 'Life of James Hamilton, D.D.'
  • 'This Present World.' Some thoughts on the adaptation of man's home to the tenant.
  • A posthumous volume of sermons.


  1. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1875
  •  "Arnot, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Arnot, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

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