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Clan MacArthur

☀☀☀ Officially registered clan, with Clan Chief, registered with the Lord Lyon Court.

The MacArthurs are a branch of Clan Campbell.

In the reign of Alexander III., 1249-86, the Campbells presented two great divisions: those of MacChaillain mòr and Mac Artair, and the latter maintained their right to the chiefship, andwere, in fact, at the head of the clan; a position which they retained until the time of James i., who ascended the throne in the year 1406.

Reference - R R McIan's THe Clans of the Scottish Highlands

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  • Crest/Badge Two laurel branches in orle, proper.
  • Plant Badge Fir Club Moss, wild mytrle
  • Arms Azure a cross miline, argent between three antique or eastern crowns, or.

  • Gaelic Name: Clann Artair
  • Motto: Fide et Opera (By fidelity and work)
  • Slogan Eisd! O Eisd! (Listen! O Listen!)
  • Name Variations:

Arthur, MacArthur, McArthur, McArthure, MacArther, MacArtur, Carter, MacCarter, McCarter, McCartor, Makcairter, McKairtour, MacArtor, McArtor, MacArter, McArter, MacArtair, McArtair, McArtan, McArta, Maccart, Makarta, Magarta, Mcharter, Makkarthyre, Makarturicht, McCarthair, Makarthour

  • Lands Argyll, Cowal, Skye: - A branch of MacArthurs from the Isle of Skye were a sept of the MacDonalds of Sleat, and were hereditary pipers for the MacDonalds of the Isles
  • Seat:
  • Clan Chief: John Alexander MacArthur of that Ilk as of 2004


"When describing MacArthur in historical terms, it is typically describing the history of the Loch Awe MacArthurs, or the Tirevadich MacArthurs. These MacArthurs were the possessors of the chief line. Since the 1400's, clan Arthur has been without an official chief...until now. On August, 2002, Lord Lyon, King of Arms granted the petition of chief of clan arthur to James Edward Moir MacArthur of that Ilk. Jim, as he was fondly remembered, oversaw the establishment of a worldwide network of MacArthur societies, and nobly performed his duty as chief until his death in April, 2004. His son, John Alexander MacArthur of that Ilk, assumed the position in June, 2004".

Last seen in India in the 1780s, the title vanished with the death of one Charles MacArthur of Tirivadich. Childless and with no obvious male heir, his death appeared to have consigned the hereditary chiefdom to history.

More than 220 years after the disappearance of the chiefly line, the Clan Arthur stands on the verge of having a leader once more. The man they have placed their faith in is James Edward Moir MacArthur of Tirivadich and Milton, 87, a former Coal Board employee living in Edinburgh.

Origins of the name

Son of Arthur


The Clan MacArthur is one of the oldest of Argyll and its age is referred to in the proverb, "There is nothing older, unless the hills, MacArthur and the devil".

The MacArthurs supported Robert the Bruce for Scotland’s independence and were rewarded with the forfeited estates of MacDugal - mid-Argyll lands from the King’s opposers. The Chief was also appointed captain of the castle of Dunstaffnage. From here the MacArthurs prospered and spread, growing into two successful houses - the MacArthurs of Loch Awe and the MacArthur Campbells of Strachur.

Some claim the MacArthurs are descended from Arthur, legendary high king to the ancient kingdoms of Dalriada, Strathclyde and Rheged, represented by three crowns. Other research reveals that the Tirevadich MacArthurs (those that possessed the chief line) share the same ancestor with the Campbell chiefs through the O'Duibhnes, direct descendants of King Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland.


Although there may be controversy as to precise lineage, two schools of thought about MacArthur of Tirevadich are listed :

1. King Malcolm Canmore --- Malcomb --- Dubni mac Mal-colaim ---Arthur Armdhearg --- Arthur Andarian --- MacArthurs of Darleith & Inistrynich (Tirevadich)

Norma Lorre Goodrich, an authority on the subject of King Arthur describes MacArthur lineage as:

2. King Arthur -- Smerevie -- Ferrither -- Duibne Mor -- Arthur Og -- Ferrither -- Duibne "Falt Dhearg" -- Ferrither -- Duibne Dearg -- Duibne Donn -- Diarmid O'Duibne -- Arthur -- Arthur Andarian -- MacArthurs of Darleith & Inistrynich (Tirevadich)


  • John MacArtair, purportedly "a great prince and leader of a thousand men" [R R McIan's THe Clans of the Scottish Highlands] was beheaded by James I and his lands were forfeited, since when the Mac Chaillain mòr branch held the chiefship, gradually acquiring importance.
  • "The MacArthurs are Celts. A Tribe of this clan were hereditary pipers to the MacDonalds of the Isles. MacArtair aided Robert the Bruce, from whom he received the forfeitghed estates of Mac Dougall. John MacArtair held princely state; but this ended when a later MacArtair was beheaded by James I, and his lands were forfeited. In later years the MacArthurs gained part of Strachur, in Cowal, Argyllshire, and also owned a portion of Gelenfalloch and Glendochart. The family seat of the MacArthurs of Tir-a-cladich was on Loch Awe side. The tirtle Mac-ic-Arzair suggests that Tir-a-cladich was a cadet of the main MacArtair line." From "The Scottish Tartans illust. by William Semple" Document attached

The drowning of Clan Arthur

During the 16th century the MacArthurs' hereditary position as Captains or Officers of Over Lower Loch Awe seems to have been furiously resented by their neighbors, the Campbells of Inverawe. Conflict of some sort took place, for a charter in the Archives of Inveraray Castle, dated 1567, confirms that a pardon was granted to the Campbells of Inverawe for "the drowning of Clan Arthur".

The location is described as "somewhere on Loch Awe; the word "drowning" suggests that the MacArthurs, in trying to defend themselves, were driven into the loch.

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References, Sources and Further Reading