Arthurs History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Clan from whom the Arthurs family descends began among the ancient Dalriadan kingdom of the west coast of Scotland. 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 Arthurs family

The surname Arthurs 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 Arthurs family

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

Arthurs Spelling Variations

Historical recordings of the name Arthurs include many spelling variations. They are the result of repeated translations of the name from Gaelic to English and inconsistencies in spelling rules. They include Archibure, Arthuwire, Artheor, Arthurs, Arture, Harthawr, Artair, Artuir and many more.

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

Ireland Migration of the Arthurs family to Ireland

Some of the Arthurs 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 Arthurs migration to the United States +

Significant portions of the populations of both the United States and Canada are still made up of the ancestors of Dalriadan families. Some of those in Canada originally settled the United States, but went north as United Empire Loyalists in the American War of Independence. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the ancestors of many Scots on both sides of the border begin to recover their collective national heritage through Clan societies and highland games. Some of the first North American settlers carried this name or one of its variants:

Arthurs Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Alice Arthurs, who arrived in Virginia in 1642 [7]
  • Christ Arthurs, who arrived in Virginia in 1642 [7]
Arthurs Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Arthurs, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1756 [7]
  • Joseph Arthurs, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1768 [7]
  • Thomas Arthurs, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1779 [7]
Arthurs Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Arthurs, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1803 [7]
  • Robert Arthurs, who landed in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1818 [7]
  • John Arthurs, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1835 [7]
  • Philip Arthurs, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1873 [7]

Canada Arthurs migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Arthurs Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Robert Arthurs, aged 25, a cobbler, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland

New Zealand Arthurs 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:

Arthurs Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Arthurs, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Endymion" in 1873
  • Eliza Arthurs, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Endymion" in 1873
  • William Arthurs, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Endymion" in 1873
  • John Harold Arthurs, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Endymion" in 1873

Contemporary Notables of the name Arthurs (post 1700) +

  • John Arthurs (b. 1947), retired American basketball player who played for the Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1970)
  • Faye Arthurs, New York City Ballet dancer
  • Wayne Arthurs (b. 1948), Canadian politician, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge and Pickering-Scarborough East (2007-2011)
  • Paul Benjamin "Bonehead" Arthurs (b. 1965), English musician, one of the founder members of the English rock band Oasis
  • James Arthurs (1866-1937), Canadian Senator, Member of the Canadian Parliament for Parry Sound (1908-1935), Senator for Ontario (1935-1937)
  • Harry Arthurs (b. 1935), Canadian lawyer, academic, and academic administrator, President of York University (1985-1992)
  • Wayne Arthurs (b. 1971), Australian tennis player


The Arthurs 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. ^ 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)


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