Meaning and Origin of the Surname Arthur

The surname Arthur means strong as a bear.
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Arthur is an English and Welsh surname with several possible meanings:

  1. Last name meaning "strong man," from Ar, meaning "man" and thor, meaning "strong."
  2. A surname meaning "bear man, hero, or man of strength," from the Welsh arth, meaning "bear" and ur, an ending meaning "man."
  3. From the Gaelic Artair, Middle Gaelic Artuir, both derived from the Old Irish art, meaning a "bear."

Surname Origin: English, Welsh, Scottish

Alternate Surname Spellings: ARTUR, ARTURS, ARTHOR

Where in the World is the ARTHUR Surname Found?

The Arthur surname is common today in New Zealand and Australia, according to WorldNames PublicProfiler, especially the New Zealand districts of Stratford, Waimate, Hurunui, Central Otago, and Clutha. The Arthur last name is fairly evenly distributed throughout England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Surname distribution data from Forebears indicates the Arthur surname is most prevalent in Ghana, where it ranks as the 14th most common surname in the nation. It is also relatively common in Australia (ranked 516th) and England (857th). Census data from 1881–1901 in the British Isles shows the Arthur surname was prevalent in the Shetland Isles of Scotland, Jersey in the Channel Islands, and Brecknockshire, Carmarthenshire, and Merionethshire in Wales.

Famous People with the Last Name ARTHUR

  • Chester A. Arthur - 21st President of the United States
  • Bea Arthur (born Frankel) - Emmy and Tony Award-winning American actress 
  • Jean Arthur (stage name, born Gladys Georgianna Greene) - American actress best known for her roles in films such as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and The More The Merrier
  • Timothy Shay Arthur (T. S. Arthur) - popular 19th-century American author
  • Wilfred Arthur - WWII flying ace of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)

Genealogy Resources for the Surname ARTHUR

Presidential Surname Meanings and Origins
Do the surnames of U.S. presidents really have more prestige than your average Smith and Jones? While the proliferance of babies named Tyler, Madison, and Monroe may seem to point in that direction, presidential surnames are really just a cross-section of the American melting pot. 

Arthur Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as an Arthur family crest or coat of arms for the Arthur surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male-line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted.

Arthur Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the Arthur surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Arthur query. - ARTHUR Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Arthur.

The Arthur Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the popular last name Arthur from the website of Genealogy Today.


Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.

Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.

Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.

Hanks, Patrick, and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.

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Your Citation
Powell, Kimberly. "Meaning and Origin of the Surname Arthur." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Powell, Kimberly. (2020, August 27). Meaning and Origin of the Surname Arthur. Retrieved from Powell, Kimberly. "Meaning and Origin of the Surname Arthur." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).