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. Learn more about his career in our open book blog William Arrol (1839-1913) - the Engineer.

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 1861 censuses

In 1841 William Arrol, aged 2, was enumerated with his family at Laighcartside in Johnstone. The household schedule starts on the previous page and gives details of his father, Thomas, cotton spinner, and mother Agnes.

1841 census record for William Arrol

1841 census record for William Arrol (31 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/559/9, pages 10-11

In 1851 William Arrol, aged 12, was enumerated with his family at 10 Ferguslie in the parish of Paisley Abbey. The birth places of the children show that the family moved from Houston to Johnstone after William Arrol's birth.

1851 census record for William Arrol

1851 census record for William Arrol (55 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/559/59, page 2

In 1861 William Arrol, 22, blacksmith was enumerated with his family at 8 Back Row, Ferguslie in the district of Paisley Abbey.

1861 census for William Arrol1861 1861 census for William Arrol (52 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1861/559/27, page 18

Marriage in 1864

William Arrol, boilermaker foreman, married Elizabeth Pattison, mill worker on 15 July 1864. The entry in the statutory register for the district of Abbey Burghal shows they were married according to the forms of the Free Church of Scotland.Marriage entry for William Arrol - 1864

Marriage entry for William Arrol (67 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1864/559-1/113

1871 to 1901 censuses

In 1871 William Arrol, 32, boilermaker master and employer of 20 men and four boys was enumerated at 309 London Road in the Glasgow district of Calton with his wife Elizabeth.

1871 census record for William Arrol (19 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1871/644-3/56, page 15

In 1881 William Arrol, 42, engineer and contractor, was enumerated at 10 Oakley Terrace in the Glasgow district of Dennistoun with his wife, Elizabeth, and their niece, Cecilia Murray. The census records that he was the employer of 200 men.

1881 census entry for William Arrol

1881 census record for William Arrol (14 KB jpeg)
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 35 rooms with one of more windows.

1891 census record for William Arrol

1891 census record for William Arrol (23 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1891/578/13, page 1

In 1901 William Arrol, 62, mechanical engineer was enumerated at Seafield House with his wife and servants. The schedule for the household is over two pages and this time gives the number of rooms with one or more windows as 24.

1901 census record for William Arrol, part 1

1901 census record for William Arrol (21 and 25 KB jpegs)
National Records of Scotland, 1901/578-1/16, page 3

Marriage in 1905 and 1910

William Arrol, Knight Bachelor, Member of Parliament and widower, married Janet Hodgart on 8 March 1905. The entry in the statutory register for the district of Ayr gives his age as 66 years and his address as Seafield, Ayr.

Marriage entry for Sir William Arrol - 1905

Marriage entry for Sir William Arrol (46 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1905/578-1/54

William Arrol, Knight Bachelor and widower, married Elsie Robertson on 16 November 1910. The entry in the statutory register for the district of Kilmadock gives his age as 71 years.

Marriage entry for Sir William Arrol - 1910

Marriage entry for Sir William Arrol (46 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1910/362/16

1911 census

In 1911 William Arrol, 72, consulting engineer, was enumerated with his wife, Elsie Robertson Arrol, and eight servants. The census record for the district of Ayr shows he and Elsie had been married for one year and had no children (none).

1911 census record for Sir William Arrol

1911 census record for Sir William Arrol (30 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1911/578-1/15, page 1

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. National Records of Scotland, SC6/46/40 and SC6/44/7.