Arthur History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Dalriadan clans of ancient Scotland spawned the ancestors of the Arthur family. Their name comes from 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 Arthur family

The surname Arthur 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 Hundred 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 Arthur family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Arthur 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 Arthur History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Arthur Spelling Variations

The medieval practice of spelling according to sound and repeated translation between Gaelic and English created many spelling variations of the same name. Arthur has been recorded as Archibure, Arthuwire, Artheor, Arthurs, Arture, Harthawr, Artair, Artuir and many more.

Early Notables of the Arthur 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 Arthur Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Arthur World Ranking

In the United States, the name Arthur is the 1,227th most popular surname with an estimated 24,870 people with that name. [7] However, in France, the name Arthur is ranked the 2,887th most popular surname with an estimated 2,000 - 2,500 people with that name. [8] And in Australia, the name Arthur is the 495th popular surname with an estimated 7,700 people with that name. [9] New Zealand ranks Arthur as 511st with 1,355 people. [10] The United Kingdom ranks Arthur as 847th with 8,002 people. [11]

Ireland Migration of the Arthur family to Ireland

Some of the Arthur 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 Arthur migration to the United States +

Descendents of Dalriadan-Scottish families still populate many communities across North America. They are particularly common in Canada, since many went north as United Empire Loyalists at the time of the American War of Independence. Much later, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the highland games and Clan societies that now dot North America sprang up, allowing many Scots to recover their lost national heritage. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Arthur, or a variant listed above:

Arthur Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Joseph Arthur who settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Georg Arthur, who landed in Virginia in 1637 [12]
  • Hugh Arthur, who arrived in Virginia in 1649 [12]
  • Eliz Arthur, who landed in Virginia in 1651 [12]
  • John Arthur, who arrived in Virginia in 1663 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Arthur Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Robert Arthur, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1704 [12]
  • Dominick Arthur, who landed in South Carolina in 1708 [12]
  • Christr Arthur, who landed in South Carolina in 1724 [12]
  • Hannah Arthur, who arrived in America in 1760 [12]
  • Helen Arthur, aged 22, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Arthur Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Arthur, who arrived in America in 1803 [12]
  • Robert Arthur, who landed in America in 1805 [12]
  • James Arthur, who landed in America in 1807 [12]
  • Alexander Arthur, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1808
  • William Arthur, who landed in New York, NY in 1817 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Arthur Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Joseph Thomas Arthur, (b. 1873), aged 27, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "St Paul" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 10th March 1900 en route to Copper Falls, Michigan, USA [13]
  • Mrs. Matilda Arthur, (b. 1852), aged 50, American housekeeper, returning from St. Austell, Cornwall travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 22nd November 1902 en route to California, USA [13]
  • Mr. Percy C. Arthur, (b. 1886), aged 16, American labourer, returning from St. Austell, Cornwall travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 22nd November 1902 en route to California, USA [13]
  • Mr. George T. Arthur, (b. 1884), aged 18, American labourer, returning from St. Austell, Cornwall travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 22nd November 1902 en route to California, USA [13]
  • Mr. Richard Arthur, American farmer, returning from St. Austell, Cornwall travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 22nd November 1902 en route to California, USA [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Arthur migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Arthur Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John Arthur, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mrs Mary Arthur, U.E., "Aurthur", United Empire Loyalist, who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 476 on board the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on Novemer 14, 1783 at East River, New York [14]
  • Miss Mames Arthur, U.E., "Aurthur", United Empire Loyalist, (b. 1772), aged 11, who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 580 on board the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York mother Mary Arthur "Aurthur" [14]
  • Miss Eliz'th Arthur, U.E., "Aurthur", United Empire Loyalist, (b. 1770), aged 13, who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 542 on board the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York mother Mary Arthur "Aurthur" [14]
  • Master Sam'l Arthur, U.E., "Aurthur", United Empire Loyalist, (b. 1781), aged 2, who arrived at Port Roseway [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on December 13, 1783 was passenger number 36 on board the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on November 14, 1783 at East River, New York mother Mary Arthur "Aurthur" [14]
Arthur Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Matthew Arthur, aged 59 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Aberdeen" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in June 1847 [15]
Arthur Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Mr. Frank Arthur, (b. 1882), aged 21, Cornish farmer, from Deloe, Cornwall travelling aboard the ship "Celtic" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 24th April 1903 en route to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada [13]
  • Mr. Joseph E Arthur, (b. 1875), aged 29, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "St Louis" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 22nd May 1904 en route to Rossland, British Columbia, Canada [13]

Australia Arthur migration to Australia +

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

Arthur Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Alexander Arthur, (b. 1763), aged 38, Irish convict who was convicted in Ireland, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1829 [16]
  • Mr. Arthur Morney, English convict who was convicted in Somerset, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Baring" in April 1815, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [17]
  • James Arthur, a plasterer, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. James Arthur, English convict who was convicted in Southampton, Hampshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Clyde" on 20th August 1830, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [18]
  • Margaret Arthur, Scottish convict from Glasgow, who was transported aboard the "Amphitrite" on August 21, 1833, settling in New South Wales, Australia [19]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Arthur migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Arthur Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • David Arthur, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • Mr. Richard Arthur, British settler travelling from Plymouth aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 19th March 1858 [20]
  • Mrs. Jane Arthur, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Evening Star" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 14th October 1860 [20]
  • Miss Arthur, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Evening Star" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 14th October 1860 [20]
  • Mr. Thomas Arthur, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Robert Henderson" arriving in Bluff, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 18th November 1863 [21]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Arthur migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [22]
Arthur Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mathew Arthur, aged 18, who landed in St Christopher in 1633 [12]

Contemporary Notables of the name Arthur (post 1700) +

  • Carol Arthur (1935-2020), born Carol Arata, an American actress, wife of Dom DeLuise, best known for her supporting roles in films produced by Mel Brooks including Blazing Saddles
  • Jean Arthur (1900-1991), American actress and a major film star of the 1930s and 1940s and arguably the epitome of the female screwball comedy actress
  • Beatrice "Bea" Arthur (1922-2009), American actress, comedienne and singer whose career spanned seven decades
  • Admiral Stanley Arthur, American Vice Chief of Naval Operations from 1992-95 and won the Distinguished Flying Cross 11 times and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal 3 times among other decorations
  • President Chester Alan Arthur (1830-1886), 21st president of the United States
  • Harold John Arthur (1904-1971), American Republican politician, Major in the U.S. Army during World War II; Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, 1949-50; Governor of Vermont, 1950-51 [23]
  • George Kenneth Arthur (b. 1934), American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1972 [23]
  • Elizabeth L. Arthur, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from New York 31st District, 1918; Dry Candidate for Delegate to New York convention to ratify 21st amendment, 1933 [23]
  • Chester Alan Arthur (1829-1886), American Republican politician, Vice President of the United States, 1881; President of the United States, 1881-85; Candidate for Republican nomination for President, 1884 [23]
  • Charles Shirk Arthur Jr. (b. 1917), American Republican politician, Mayor of Manhattan, Kansas, 1956-57; Member of Kansas State House of Representatives, 1957-65; Member of Kansas State Senate, 1965-69 [23]
  • ... (Another 31 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. John  Arthur (1850-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who survived the explosion but later died due to injuries [24]
  • Mr. Henry  Arthur (1859-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [24]
HMS Cornwall
  • Matthew Erskine Arthur (d. 1942), British Stoker 1st Class aboard the HMS Cornwall when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [25]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. William S Arthur, British Joiner 4th Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [26]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. George Henry Arthur, American 2nd Class passenger from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking and was recovered [27]


The Arthur 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.


Suggested Readings for the name Arthur +

  • Genealogy and History of the Descendants and Ancestory of Richard Henry Arthur and Susanna Coad by Fred E. Sawyer.
  • The William Arthur Family by Robert L. Arthur.

  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  8. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  9. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  10. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  11. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  12. ^ 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)
  13. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retreived 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  14. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  15. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 12)
  16. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/baring
  18. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 19th February 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/clyde
  19. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Amphitrite voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1833 with 99 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/amphitrite/1833
  20. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  21. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  22. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  23. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 2) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  24. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  25. ^ Force Z Survivors Crew List HMS Cornwall (Retrieved 2018, February 13th) - Retrieved from https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listcornwallcrew.html#A
  26. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  27. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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