Show ContentsArter History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The root of the ancient Dalriadan-Scottish name Arter is the Celtic personal name Arthur, which is of various and often disputed etymology. The personal name Arthur may be derived from some early cognate of the Gaelic "art" and the Welsh "arth" which means "bear" and may indicate early Celtic worship of that animal or one who has a high regard for that animal's virtuous qualities.

Alternatively, the name could have meant "a strong man; from Ar (Latin vir), a man, and thor, strong. In the Gaelic, Air is the same as Fear, a man; and the ancient Scythians called a man Aior. Thor was the Jupiter of the Teutonic races, their god of thunder. In Welsh, Arth is a bear, an emblem of strength and courage, and ur a noun termination, a man. Arthur, a bear—man, a hero, a man of strength; the name of a British prince." [1]

Early Origins of the Arter family

The surname Arter was first found in the county of Berwickshire an ancient county of Scotland, presently part of the Scottish Borders Council Area, located in the eastern part of the Borders Region of Scotland, in south eastern Scotland.

"Arthur, Duke or Count of Brittany (1187-1203), for whose death King John was responsible, was the son and heir of Geoffrey, third son of Henry II, who was killed in a tournament at Paris 19 Aug. 1186. His mother was Constance, daughter and heiress of Conan le Petit, count of Brittany. He was born after his father's death, on 29 March 1189. The Bretons hailed his birth with enthusiasm, and the bestowal upon him of the name of their national hero excited in them new hopes of independence, which was at the time seriously threatened by the ambitious designs of the kings of France and England." [2]

"The name may point to early Celtic worship of the bear, whence Artogenos, 'son of Artos,' W. Arthgen. The name occurs several times, both among the northern and southern Cymry at the close of the sixth and beginning of the seventh centuries. Aedan mac Gabrain, king of Dalriata, whose mother was a British princess, named his eldest son Arthur, "the first Gael, so far as we know, to bear that name" [3]

In England, the name is thought to have been a "baptismal name as in 'son of Arthur' A rare font-name in the Hundredorum Rolls. Very common since the battle of Waterloo and the publication of Tennyson's poems." [4]

Early feudal rolls provided the king of the time a method of cataloguing holdings for taxation, but today they provide a glimpse into the wide surname spellings in use at that time. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 include listing for: Walter filius Arthurii, Lincolnshire; William Arthur, Essex; Stephen Arthur, Wiltshire; and William Artur, Somerset. [4] In Somerset, Henry Artur was listed there 1 Edward III (during the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [5]

In singular, the Latin form of the name Erturus was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Hampshire in 1130. Henricius filius Arturi, Artur was listed in the Pipe Rolls of 1187 and the Curia Regis Rolls for Cumberland in 1212. In Yorkshire early rolls revealed Ærturus in 1192; and the Pipe Rolls recorded Normannus filius Arcturi in 1196. Geoffrey Artur was listed in Oxfordshire in 1135; Robertus Arcturi in the Pipe Rolls for Herefordshire in 1197; and Adam Arthur in the Assize Rolls for Lancashire in 1246. [6]

We would be remiss if we didn't include a note about Le Morte d'Arthur (Le Morte Darthur), first published in 1485 in Middle English prose reworked by Sir Thomas Malory telling the tales of the legendary King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. In all, eight volumes tells us of his birth through to his death in legendary fashion.

Early History of the Arter family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Arter research. Another 197 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1435, 1511, 1678, 1879, 1112, 1686, 1530, 1556, 1830, 1886, 1334, 1615, 1709, 1486, 1502, 1486, 1532, 1670, 1640, 1593, 1666 and are included under the topic Early Arter History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Arter Spelling Variations

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 Arter has appeared as Archibure, Arthuwire, Artheor, Arthurs, Arture, Harthawr, Artair, Artuir and many more.

Early Notables of the Arter family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Arthur (1486-1502), the eldest son of Henry VII, born at Winchester on 19 Sept. 1486. His mother was Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Edward IV, whom his father, after he obtained the crown, had married in fulfilment of a promise that he had...
Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Arter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Arter Ranking

In the United States, the name Arter is the 13,865th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Arter family to Ireland

Some of the Arter family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 168 words (12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Arter migration to the United States +

Many settled along the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. As the American War of Independence broke out, those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these hardy Dalriadan-Scottish settlers began to recover their collective history in the 20th century with the advent of the vibrant culture fostered by highland games and Clan societies in North America. Highland games, clan societies, and other organizations generated much renewed interest in Scottish heritage in the 20th century. The Arter were among the earliest of the Scottish settlers as immigration passenger lists have shown:

Arter Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Nicholas Arter, aged 25, who arrived in Maine in 1812 [8]
  • C M Arter, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [8]
  • J.C. Arter, aged 34, who immigrated to America, in 1894
Arter Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • John Charles Arter, aged 48, who landed in America, in 1907
  • Homer Arter, aged 43, who immigrated to the United States, in 1907
  • Ernest arter, aged 24, who landed in America from Halifax, England, in 1907
  • Hazel Arter, aged 20, who immigrated to the United States, in 1908
  • Annie Arter, aged 31, who immigrated to America from Horwich, England, in 1908
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Arter migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Arter Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Arter, British convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Cornwall" on 28th February 1851, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]

Contemporary Notables of the name Arter (post 1700) +

  • Jared Maurice Arter PhD (1850-1928), American slave who wrote "Echoes From a Pioneer Life"
  • Robert Arter (b. 1929), retired United States Army Lieutenant General, former commanding general of the Sixth United States Army
  • Irwin Dean Arter (1886-1947), American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Nuevitas, 1918-20 [10]
  • David Albert Arter (1820-1913), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Ohio, 1860 [10]
  • Daniel Arter, American politician, U.S. Collector of Customs, 1869 [10]
  • Harry Nicholas Arter (b. 1989), English footballer

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. James Sydney Arter, English 2nd Class passenger residing in Federated Malay States returning to England, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania (1915) and survived the sinking by escaping in a collapsible [11]

The Arter Motto +

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: Impelle obstantia
Motto Translation: Thrust aside obstacles.

  1. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  6. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  7. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  8. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th March 2021). Retrieved from
  10. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 2) . Retrieved from
  11. Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from on Facebook