Arthur Reuel Tolkien, the father of J.R.R. Tolkien, was born in Handsworth, Stafford, England, about February of 1857. He was the eldest child of John Benjamin Tolkien and Mary Jane Stowe. Arthur had at least 5 siblings: Mabel (1858), Grace Bindley (1861), Florence Mary (1863), Wilfred Henry, and Laurence George H. Tolkien. Marian Esther (1866) and Mary Tolkien (1870) may also have been sisters of Arthur.
Arthur's father John had previously been married, to Jane Holmwood, with whom he had four children: Emily, born 1838, Louisa, born 1840, John Benjamin, born 1845 and Jane, born 1846.
Arthur did not follow his father into the traditional Tolkien trade in pianos, which many of his London cousins also followed; instead he became a bank clerk and ended up moving to South Africa, where he was later joined by his fiancée, Mabel Suffield.
Mabel felt the English climate would be better for the boys' health and returned to England in 1895. Arthur remained in South Africa because of business. Before he had the opportunity to join his family in England, he was hit by rheumatic fever and died of severe brain haemorrhage, on February 15, 1896. His father followed six months later.
Arthur's burial service took place in the Anglican church in Bloemfontein. He was buried in the "President Brand graveyard". His grave we re-discovered in the early 1990s by co-founders of the South African Tolkien Society. A new tombstone was placed on his grave by the Tolkien family and co-founders of the South African Tolkien Society in 1994.