Rawdon, Sir Arthur (1662–95), 2nd baronet, soldier, and horticulturalist, was born 17 October 1662, the third and only surviving son of Sir George Rawdon (qv), 1st baronet, and his second wife, Dorothy, eldest daughter of the 2nd Viscount Conway (qv). He spent some time as a boy in France with a tutor, probably as much on account of his delicate health as for his education. His elder brothers died young in France.
He was captain of a troop of horse by 1682, and on the death of his father in 1684 succeeded to the baronetcy and estate at Moira, Co. Down. In 1685 he offered to raise men to help put down the duke of Monmouth's rising against James II (qv). In 1688 it seems his troop was subjected to the catholicising policy of the earl of Tyrconnell (qv).
In February 1689 he was commissioned to raise a company of dragoons for King William (qv), and about this time attached himself to the association of northern protestants under arms, led by the earl of Mount-Alexander (qv). Rawdon ranked high enough in their leadership to be excluded from the pardon offered them by Tyrconnell's government in March 1689. He was with Mount-Alexander's force when it was routed at the break of Dromore on 14 March and withdrew to Londonderry, which he appears to have left before the siege. He was in Congleton in Cheshire, where his wife's family had an estate, in the spring of 1690, returning to Ireland around the time of the arrival of King William in June of that year.
By 1687 Rawdon was corresponding with Hans Sloane (qv), with whom he maintained a close association based on a shared interest in plant collecting. He created a notable garden at Moira, an undertaking not interrupted by the war, which seems to have left his estate unscathed. Probably in late 1689 he commissioned the plant collector James Harlow to make an expedition to Jamaica. In the spring of 1692, when Rawdon was beginning to fear that he had been cheated, Harlow sailed into Carrickfergus with a cargo of a thousand tropical plants. This great collection was cared for at Moira and Rawdon is reported to have had a conservatory in 1690, though his methods of cultivation are not known.
He was sheriff of Co. Down in 1692, and sat for the county in the Irish parliament in 1692 and 1695. In the 1692 parliament he was among the opponents of the lord lieutenant, Viscount Sidney (qv). After the session, he angered Sydney by joining himself with some politicians who proposed to take their grievances directly to the government in London. He was much closer to the next viceroy, Lord Capel (qv), who consulted him as to northern protestant opinion in December 1694 and appointed him to the privy council in May 1695.
He married, in 1682, Ellen Graham (1663–1710), daughter and heir of the Hon. Sir James Graham of Congleton in Cheshire, a younger son of the earl of Menteith and Strathern and governor of Drogheda, and his wife, Isabella, eldest daughter of John Bramhall (qv). They had a daughter, and a son, John (1690–1724). Rawdon died 17 October 1695, his thirty-third birthday, and John succeeded to the baronetcy and estate as a minor. The plant collections, perhaps inevitably, declined after Sir Arthur's death, though his wife and sisters shared his interest in natural history. Some of his plant specimens are still preserved in Sloane's herbarium in the British Museum of Natural History in London.
Edward Conway (qv), 3rd Viscount Conway and 1st earl of Conway, the great friend and patron of the Rawdons and uncle to Sir Arthur, died without issue in 1683, leaving his estates to his widow for her life with a remainder to his first cousin. He left £2,000 to each of Sir Arthur's sisters but nothing to Sir George, then still living, or to Arthur, his heir at law. Sir Arthur went to law over the will, without success, and, on payment of £4,000 from Conway's widow, renounced his rights. After Sir Arthur's death, his widow, in the name of Sir John, revived the Rawdon claims. The dispute was settled in favour of the beneficiaries of Conway's will by an English act of parliament in 1706.
Some letters from Rawdon to Sloane are in the British Library (Sloane MS 4036); a selection is printed by Nelson, who also reproduces two portraits. Other Rawdon papers, in the Huntington Library in California, are calendared by the Historical Manuscripts Commission.