National Records of Scotland

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Sir William Arrol (1839-1913)

Sir William Arrol (1839-1913)

Civil Engineer

Sir William Arrol is famous as the builder of the Forth Rail Bridge and of the second Tay Bridge which replaced the ill-fated structure that collapsed in 1879.

Birth in 1839

William Arrol was born on 13 February 1839, the son of Thomas Arrol and Agnes Hodgert. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Houston and Killellan gives his father's occupation as spinner.

Baptism entry for William Arrol

Birth and baptism entry for William Arrol (20 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 585/2, page 157

1841 to 1911 censuses

William Arrol was enumerated in each Scottish census from 1841 to 1911.  From 1861 the entries provide an outline of the development of his successful career.

In 1841 he was aged 3 and with his family in Johnstone (1841/559/9, page 11).
In 1851 he was aged 12, a scholar in the parish of Paisley Abbey, (1851/559/59, page 2).

In 1861 he was aged 22, a blacksmith in the district of Paisley Abbey, (1861/559/27, page 18).
In 1871 he was aged 32, a boilermaker master and employer of 20 men and four boys in the Glasgow district of Calton (1871/644-3/56, page 15).

In 1881 he was aged 42, an engineer and contractor who was employer of 200 men. The census record for the Glasgow district of Dennistoun shows he was living with his wife, Elizabeth, and their niece.

1881 census entry for William Arrol

Detail of the household of William Arrol (14 KB jpeg)census,
National Records of Scotland, 1881/644-3/56, page 11

In 1891 he was aged 52, an engineer living at Seafield House in the district of Ayr. The household included a housekeeper and three table-maids and the building had 24 rooms with one of more windows (1891/578/13, page 1).

In 1901 he was aged 62, mechanical engineer (1901/578-1/16, page 3)
In 1911 he was aged 72, consulting engineer (1911/578-1/15, page 1).

Marriage in 1864, 1905 and 1910

William Arrol was widowed twice.

William Arrol, boilermaker foreman, married Elizabeth Pattison on 15 July 1864, registration district of Abbey Burghal (1864/559-1/113)

Sir William Arrol, Knight Bachelor and Member of Parliament, married Janet Hodgart on 8 March 1905, registration district of Ayr (1904/578-1/54)

Sir William Arrol, Knight Bachelor, married Elsie Robertson on 16 November 1910, registration district of Kilmadock (1910/362/16).

Death in 1913

Sir William Arrol died on 20 February 1913. The entry in the statutory register of deaths for the registration district of Ayr gives the names of his three spouses. His father's occupation is recorded as cotton mill manager.

Death entry for Sir William Arrol

Death entry for Sir William Arrol (29 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1913/578-1/98 

Testament of Sir William Arrol

Sir William Arrol's testament was registered at Ayr Sheriff Court on 24 April 1913 (SC6/46/40 and SC6/44/7).