Show ContentsMacArthur History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the MacArthur family

The surname MacArthur was 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.

Early History of the MacArthur family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacArthur research. Another 184 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1427, 1767, 1817 and 1890 are included under the topic Early MacArthur History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacArthur 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 MacArthur has appeared as MacArthur, MacArtair, MacArter and many more.

Early Notables of the MacArthur family

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was

  • Alister MacArthur who was beheaded by James I in 1427

MacArthur Ranking

In the United States, the name MacArthur is the 6,535th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [1]

Ireland Migration of the MacArthur family to Ireland

Some of the MacArthur family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States MacArthur migration to the United States +

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 United States in the 17th Century
  • Gilbert Macarthur, who landed in New Jersey in 1685 [2]
MacArthur Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Neill Macarthur, who arrived in North Carolina in 1772 [2]
  • Alexander Macarthur, who arrived in North Carolina in 1772 [2]
MacArthur Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert MacArthur, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811 [2]
  • John MacArthur, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811 [2]

Australia MacArthur migration to Australia +

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

MacArthur Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William MacArthur, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Recovery" in 1839 [3]

New Zealand MacArthur 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:

MacArthur Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Jessie MacArthur, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Winterthur" in 1866

Contemporary Notables of the name MacArthur (post 1700) +

  • 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 [4]
  • 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
  • Charles Gordon MacArthur (1895-1956), American playwright and screenwriter
  • 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"
  • John Donald MacArthur (1897-1978), American businessman and philanthropist, eponym of "John D. MacArthur Beach State Park" in Florida
  • Telfer MacArthur, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1932 [5]
  • Stuart MacArthur, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Mexico, 1952, 1956, 1960 [5]
  • Douglas II MacArthur (1909-1997), American politician, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, 1957-61; Belgium, 1961-65; Austria, 1967-69; Iran, 1969-72 [5]
  • Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Senator from New York, 1956 [5]
  • Charles L. MacArthur, American politician, Member of New York State Senate 16th District, 1882-83 [5]
  • ... (Another 9 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

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

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. 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)
  3. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RECOVERY from London 1839. Retrieved from
  4. Douglas MacArthur. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Douglas MacArthur. Retrieved from
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 12) . Retrieved from on Facebook