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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


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 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.

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.


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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 United States in the 17th Century


  • Gilbert Macarthur, who landed in New Jersey in 1685

MacArthur Settlers in 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 United States in the 19th Century


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

MacArthur Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • William MacArthur arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Recovery" in 1839

MacArthur Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Jessie MacArthur arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Winterthur" in 1866

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  • 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
  • Stuart MacArthur, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Mexico, 1952, 1956, 1960
  • Douglas II MacArthur (1909-1997), American politician, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, 1957-61; Belgium, 1961-65; Austria, 1967-69; Iran, 1969-72
  • Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Senator from New York, 1956
  • Charles L. MacArthur, American politician, Member of New York State Senate 16th District, 1882-83
  • Arthur MacArthur, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives from Saginaw County 1st District, 1948
  • Arthur MacArthur (1815-1896), American Democrat politician, Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, 1856-58; Governor of Wisconsin, 1856; Justice of District of Columbia supreme court, 1870
  • Telfer MacArthur, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1932
  • 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"

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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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  1. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  2. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  3. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  4. 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).
  5. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Browne, James. The History of Scotland it's Highlands, Regiments and Clans 8 Volumes. Edinburgh: Francis A Niccolls & Co, 1909. Print.
  8. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
  9. 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).
  10. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  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 12 November 2015 at 09:12.

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