By Cathy Jones
William Arnott (1827-1901) was the founder of Arnott’s Biscuits, which was first established in the Newcastle district. He retired in 1899 and moved to Strathfield near Sydney, where he died on 22 July 1901. In 1850, he married Monica Sinclair (1829-1965). In 1865, after the death of his first wife, he married Margaret Fleming (1840-1902). Arnott was survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters of his first marriage and five sons and three daughters of the second. The sons of his first marriage, Leslie and Samuel, became chairmen of directors of the business and were succeeded by their half-brothers, William, John Maclean and Halse Rogers; while Robert Fleming became an engineer and Arthur Smith a colonel in the Salvation Army. William Arnott’s residence in Strathfield was ‘Arnottholme’ 65-7 Albert Rd Strathfield. His widow, Margaret died in 1902. Both are buried in the Wesleyan section of Rookwood Cemetery.
The Arnott’s factory at Homebush was built after his death in 1907-1908.
Phyllis Mander-Jones, ‘Arnott, William (1827–1901)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/arnott-william-2903/text4169, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 21 December 2021.
James Hayden Leslie Arnott (1856-1931) was the son of William Arnott and Monica Sinclair and was Chairman of Arnotts Biscuits. Two of his sons, Walter and Harold, were Strathfield residents. Walter Esmond Arnott (1879-1955) was the director and general manager of William Arnott Ltd, biscuit manufacturers. He lived at ‘Balnagowan’ 15-17 Wakeford Rd Strathfield from 1914 until his death in 1955 with his wife Mary Pattinson Arnott (nee Ross) (1887-1954). He was the grandson of Arnott’s founder, William Arnott and became general manager of Arnott’s Biscuits. He was known as Mr Wally to his staff at Arnotts. He was later appointed a director of the William Arnott Ltd after the retirement of his uncle’s John McLean Arnott and Samuel Arnott.
Harold Arnott (1888-1971). Harold married Nellie Gertrude Huffan and built ‘Brockby Lodge’ on corner of Homebush Road and Victoria St in 1923. ‘Brockby Lodge’, an Arts and Crafts mansion, was designed by architect A L Buchannan. ‘Brockby Lodge’ is classified by the National Trust and listed by the Royal Institute of Architects as a significant building of the Twentieth Century. This house is sometimes called the ‘Cheesehouse’ by local residents due to the yellow coloured rendered finish. One of Harold’s children was Terrence Harold Arnott born 1914. Terrence lived at 141 Homebush Rd and is noted on various records as a biscuit manufacturer.
Another son of the Arnott/Sinclair marriage was Samuel Sinclair Arnott (1861-1934). His son Percival Sinclair Arnott (1889-1950) was a resident of Strathfield. Percy Arnott was also a well-known sportsman, who played cricket for NSW. He married Nina Boden in 1915 and in 1916 built ‘Wawona’ at 96 Albyn Rd (cnr Chalmers Rd). ‘Wawona’ (sometimes called ‘Arnott House’) is a classic Californian Bungalow designed by architect Herbert Dennis in 1916 and is classified by the National Trust.
Three of the children of Arnott’s second marriage to Margaret Fleming resided in Strathfield. Janet Duman Arnott (1867-1948) married broker James Simpson Perry. ‘Waratah’ 37 Homebush Road was built for Janet by William Arnott and shares a boundary with Arnott’s ‘Arnottholme’ property in Albert Rd. Janet’s son Alan Arnott Perry (1891-1959) married Louise Kent. Louise was the daughter of architect Harry Chambers Kent, who lived at ‘Kelmswood’ in Redmyre Rd.
Colonel John Mclean Arnott (1869-1945) was the Managing Director of Arnott’s Biscuits. Colonel John McLean Arnott served in the AIF with much distinction during World War I earning the rank of Colonel. In 1895, he married Adeline Hardy, the daughter of John Hardy of Hardy Bros jewellers and owner of the home ‘Strathfield’. Arnott lived at ‘Strathfield’ for a short time after his marriage and then moved to ‘Ilemong’ 20 Carrington Avenue, before acquiring ‘Hatherly’, which he renamed ‘Birnam Wood’. ‘Birnam Wood’ was demolished c.1927 and subdivided creating the street Birnam Grove. One of Col. Arnott’s sons was Bruce Hardy Arnott (1898-1916) who died during WWI. His name appears on the Roll of Honour outside the Strathfield Council Chambers.
‘Who’s Who in Australia’, The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, Melbourne Australia, 1927-1928 edition
Margaret Fleming Arnott (1872-1953) married Dr George Mander Jones, grandson of retailer David Jones. They lived at ‘Dagworth’ 39 Homebush Rd from 1901-1907 and Dr Jones practiced medicine in Strathfield.
In 1939, Arnott’s Biscuits Pty Ltd donated the clocks in the Strathfield Council Chambers Clock tower in memory of William Arnott.