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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish MacArthur family come from? What is the Scottish MacArthur family crest and coat of arms? When did the MacArthur family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the MacArthur family history?

MacArthur comes from the ancient Dalriadan clans of Scotland's west coast and Hebrides islands. The name comes from the Celtic personal name Arthur. It denotes the 'son of arthur', which means noble one.

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The translation of Gaelic names in the Middle Ages was not a task undertaken with great care. Records from that era show an enormous number of spelling variations, even in names referring to the same person. Over the years MacArthur has appeared as MacArthur, MacArtair, MacArter and many more.

First found in Argyllshire (Gaelic erra Ghaidheal), the region of western Scotland corresponding roughly with the ancient Kingdom of Dál Riata, in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Argyll and Bute, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the census rolls taken by the ancient Kings of Scotland to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacArthur research. Another 319 words(23 lines of text) covering the years 1427, 1767, and 1817 are included under the topic Early MacArthur History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 81 words(6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacArthur Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the MacArthur family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 158 words(11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many of the ancestors of Dalriadan families who arrived in North America still live in communities along the east coast of Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence many of the original settlers traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the ancestors of many Scots began recovering their collective national heritage through Clan societies, highland games, and other patriotic events. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name MacArthur or a variant listed above:

MacArthur Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Gilbert Macarthur, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

MacArthur Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Neill Macarthur, who arrived in North Carolina in 1772
  • Alexander Macarthur, who arrived in North Carolina in 1772

MacArthur Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Robert MacArthur, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811
  • John MacArthur, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811

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  • General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), American general who fought in three major wars (World War I, World War II, Korean War) and was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army
  • Charles Gordon MacArthur (1895-1956), American playwright and screenwriter
  • John Donald MacArthur (1897-1978), American businessman and philanthropist, eponym of "John D. MacArthur Beach State Park" in Florida
  • James Gordon Macarthur (1937-2010), American actor best known for the role of Danny "Danno" Williams on the 70's TV show "Hawaii 5-O"
  • Jean Marie Faircloth MacArthur (1898-2000), second wife of U.S. Army General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Dame Ellen Patricia MacArthur DBE (b. 1976), English sailor who broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005
  • John MacArthur, New Zealand Diplomat
  • Ian MacArthur, Newspaper Publisher
  • John R MacArthur (b. 1956), President and Publisher of Harper's Magazine
  • Elizabeth Macarthur (1766-1850), Australian pioneer

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fide et opera
Motto Translation: By fidelity and work.

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MacArthur Clan Badge
MacArthur Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...

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Septs of the Distinguished Name MacArthur
Airter, Archibure, Ardair, Ardar, Arder, Arduir, Ardur, Ardure, Arkibure, Artain, Artair, Artan, Artand, Artane, Artant, Arten, Artend, Artent, Arter, Arthar, Artheor, Arther, Arthur, Arthurs, Arthurson, Arthuwire, Artind, Artint, Artour, Artuir, Artur, Arture, Artyn, Artynd, Auther, Cartan, Cartand, Cartane, Cartant, Carten, Cartend, Cartent, Carthur, Cartind, Cartint, Cartur, Cartyn, Cartynd, Harthawr, Harther and more.

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MacArthur Armorial History With Coat of Arms
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  1. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  2. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  3. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  4. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  5. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  6. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  7. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  9. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  10. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  11. ...

The MacArthur Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The MacArthur Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 17 June 2014 at 11:04.

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