Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Arnot, Hugo
ARNOT, HUGO (1749–1786), historical writer, was son of a merchant at Leith, where he was born 8 Dec. 1749. He changed his name from Pollock to Arnot on succeeding to his mother's property of Balcormo, Fifeshire. He became an advocate 5 Dec. 1772. In 1777 he published a satirical paper, called an 'Essay on Nothing,' read before the Speculative Society, and made himself unpopular by his sarcasms. In 1779 he published his 'History of Edinburgh' (a second edition appeared in 1817), and in 1785 a 'Collection of Celebrated Criminal Trials in Scotland.' Both works were pirated in Ireland. He published the second at his own expense in defiance of the Edinburgh booksellers, and the gross proceeds were 600l. His books show reading and shrewdness. He became prematurely old from asthma, and his irritability and caustic language hindered his success at the bar. Many anecdotes are told of his eccentricity. He wrote many papers on local politics, opposed local taxation, and is said to have retarded for ten years the erection of the South Bridge in Edinburgh. He died 20 Nov. 1786, and left eight children. He was a favourite subject with John Kay, the Edinburgh caricaturist, who took full advantage of the extreme slimness of his figure.
[Kay's Edinburgh Portraits, with biographic sketches, Nos. v, viii, lxvi, cxxxii, and pp. 16, 25, 157, 324, ed. 1877; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]