Sons Of Arthur


Strachur is located on the east bank of Loch Fyne on the Cowal peninsula in old Argyll.

I would like readers to note that there are some discrepancies between the following article by Jenny Paterson and Graham Holtons ??? That isthe nature of history - Once it has happened we are never quite sure what happened!

The Seven Sons of John MacArthur
(b1678 & died 16th April 1746)

Colin Duncan Macarthur

Photograph Jenny Paterson

Much of my Macarthur ancestry has been from my grandfather's notes cross-referenced with various resources, some of which have there own authority substantiated such as Burke's Colonial Gentry, Geneological & Heraldic History of the Colonial Gentry by Sir Bernard Burke CB LL.D King of Arms. 1970 edition, Vol 1 & 2, p224-225. Burkes Colonial Gentry states- "Macarthur of Strachur was chief of the clan Campbell previous to 1427, since which the oldest cadet, MacCailinmore of Campbell of Loch Arve, now Duke of Argyle, has filled that position, not by right of descent, but by feudal and territorial power" and then goes on to "John Macarthur , Esq, of Strachur, Loch Arve, N.B, was slain at Culloden." and details the seven sons and their descendants going into greatest detail with John, of Camden Park and his children. website under Clan Campbell states- "Another account makes Arthur the first laird of Strachur, to have descended of the family of Argyll, at a later period, in which the present laird seems to acquiesce, by taking with a mark of cadetcy, the arms and livery of the family of Argyll, after they had been quartered with those of Lorn. The laird of Strachur has been always accounted, according to the custom of the Highlands, chief of the clan Arthur or Macarthur" and in 1427 "…John Macarthur, who was beheaded, and his whole lands forfeited. From this period the chieftainship, according to Skene, was lost to the Macarthurs; the family subsequently obtained Strachur in Cowal, and portions of Glen falloch and Glendochart in Perthshire."

Also of interest, in the booklet "Return to Loch Fyne" by Eoin McArthur, when referring to the origins of the macArthur Clan, he states- "The late Charles Fergusson has recorded his opinion that their home was a moraine, or glacial mound, situated in Inverglen, Strachur, on which are remains of what could have been a fort. This mound, with surrounding stonework, can still be seen, and is marked 'Dun' on the Ordinance Survey Map."

Since my ancestor was the laird of Strachur, it seems my ancestry is linked with the chiefship and fortunes of Clan Arthur (or Macarthur) and so I look forward to reading any research being done by our Clan.

I consider the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography may have combined two Royal Navy "Johns" (John b1755 son of Alexander, and John b1779 son of William) as my John had a son that immigrated to Australia, thus a connection with Governor Hunter, the painting at Camden Park and the authorship of Nelson's biography.

John Macarthur (b1678 & died 16th April 1746)
John was born about 1678 in Strachur, Loch Fyne and was the son of Alexander Macarthur the Laird of Strachur. Alexander fought from 1685 to 1689, in the reign of James VII, and thus it may be assumed in protest of his rule. Alexander may have been a protestant but it is more likely that he objected to the politics of this reign as he didn't begin fighting earlier with the Covenanters and by this time political rebellion had superseded religious conflicts. John fought at the Battle of Culloden with his seven sons and died there with one of them on 16th April 1746.

His seven sons were:

1) Charles born about 1715 Strachur and died after 1746.
Who had two sons: Charles (b1740 Strachur) who foreclosed on the mortgage at Strachur and Duncan (b1773 & d1855) who was Assistant Surgeon in the Royal Navy and Physician to Duke of Wellington (whose son: John Francis b1809 & d1877 immigrated to Australia in 1827.
I have a copy of his descendants to the present from a living descendant.)

2) Unknown born about 1717, most likely Strachur.
Whose grandson was Macarthur of Little Mill, Perthshire and great-grandsons were John (d1824) surgeon in Granada West Indies, and Robert of Little Mill Callander SCOT(and his daughter Joanna died Portobello Road ENG).

3) John born about 1719 Inverglen, Strachur. Married Mary McNeil of Cowal.
Whose son Alexander (b~1733 Greenock & d bef 1797) was a merchant and married Mary McDonald of Isle of Skye and had six children: John (b1755 RN), Mary (b1759), Alexander (b1763), Andrew (b1765), James (b1767) and Archibald (1768).

4) Alexander born about 1721.
Who had three sons: James (b1752 Stoke & d1824) married Catherine Hawkins and had 14 children including Hannibal Hawkins (b1788 & d 1861) who immigrated to Australia in 1805 and married 1812 to Anna Maria King, daughter of Governor King.
I have a copy of their descendants.

And John (b1766 Stoke & d1834) married 1788 Elizabeth Veale and had eight children. He was an army captain and is credited with introducing the merino sheep to Australia. I have a copy of their descendants.

And William (b1770 & died in infancy).

5) William born about 1723 was a farmer in county Nairn.
Whose son John (b1779 Cawdor & d1842) was a younger son of the family, went to sea at an early age and changed his surname to M'Arthur. He worked for the East India Company (EIC) and Royal Navy, becoming a Lieutenant in 1796 and Purser 1805. He served the EIC with distinction for over twenty years. He was the co-author of Lord Horatio Nelson's biography 1809, author of 'Principles & Practice of Naval & Military Courts Martial' and 'Financial & Political Facts of the 18th and Present Century' and editor of the Naval Chronicles 1799-1818. He owned the paintings that illustrated Lord Nelson's biography. In the biography of John 'merino' Macarthur, MH Ellis writes that his "cousins in near degree" were "Duncan Mac Arthur-the friend and physician of the Duke of Wellington" and "John Mac Arthur- purser to the Royal Navy, Nelson's secretary and biographer". (NB John 'merino' Macarthur's cousins: Charles b~1740 and Duncan b1773, Alexander b~1733, and John b1779). Although Nelson asked him to be his secretary he didn't take up that position, however, he was secretary for Admiral Lord Viscount Hood and officiating judge advocate of various naval courts martial during the american war. When JS Clarke was seeking information for William Falconer's memoirs he "met a shipmate of his, Governor Hunter, at the house of John M'Arthur, Esq. of York-Place, a literary and naval character of considerable eminence". One of his paintings is hanging in the hallway of Camden House, Australia (residence of descendants of John "merino" Macarthur). He married in 1822 Elizabeth Anderson at St George's East London (Parish of Poplar) and had four sons:

Richard Parkin (b1827 London & d1894 Wombat AUST) who immigrated to Australia 1849 and married Mary Grace Williams (her third marriage) with ONLY ONE child Colin Duncan b1888 Wombat, my grandfather who changed surname back to Macarthur.

William Colin (b1832 SCOT & d1894 USA) whose son William immigrated to New Zealand.

Duncan (died in infancy)

Alexander Christopher (b1840 SCOT) whose daughter Estelle (b1875 & d1947) married Thomas Hutson. My family have kept in touch with their children and grandchildren. One of these relatives has John "merino" Macarthur's Masons apron and certificate.

6) Unknown born about 1725 and died 1746 at the battle of Culloden without issue.

7) Unknown born about 1727 went to the American colonies.


  • Notes of Colin Duncan Macarthur, my grandfather
  • Aus-Convicts-L Archives on Rootsweb, article by Alan R Burkhill on Elizabeth Farm
  • MH Ellis. John Macarthur, Famous Australian Lives Edition 1978, p4
  • Macarthur Papers, A2910, p56 as quoted in John Macarthur, MH Ellis p4

Article courtesy of:
Jenny Paterson
MacArthur Society Australia


Back To Sons of Arthur