You ask about the connection between the names MacArthur and McCarty and
First remember that the Sept Lists were not made by the clans or their
chiefs or historians but by tartan manufacturers. They did have people
search old records, but their motive was to include as many names as possible.
For example the Buchanan list of septs got up by their society in the late
18th century included 14 names. Today the list is much larger, as got up by
the tartan people. Their motive was to sell tartan.
However that said, it is also true that our Campbell chiefs - for two
generations - have said that they will not change the presently published
sept list since it would be unkind to some who have taken their valued
association with clan Campbell from that list. And clans always had people
adopting to be a part of a particular clan for reasons of defence, so that
adopting a clan today is not unusual.
However the MacArthurs are one of the best accredited among the Campbell
septs and appear as a branch of the family in the old Gaelic pedigrees, even
before written record.
Their most notable Campbell ancestor is also among the earliest Campbell
knights on record; Sir Arthur Campbell whom Robert Bruce made Constable
(manager) of Dunstaffnage Castle after Bruce and his Campbell, MacDonald and
Douglas allies had defeated the opposing Lord of Argyll and the Isles
(ancestor of the MacDougalls) in the battle of the Pass of Brander in 1308.
Dunstaffnage remained in crown hands for a time and was then re-granted to
one of the MacDougalls, passed by an heires to the Stewarts and then by a
land exchange to the Campbell Earl of Argyll in 1470. It has remained a
Campbell stronghold ever since and is open to the public.
Sir Arthur Campbell had a son and was founder of the line of the Campbells
of Strachur in Cowal - the eastern district of Argyll. The son of the
present Campbell of Strachur lives in Argyll and is the publisher of
One branch of the MacArthurs who used that name rather than Campbell were
based upon Loch Awe. For a number of generations they had been the 'doers'
or legal writers for the Earls of Argyll and in the mid 16th century
(fifteen hundreds) they were granted lands on Loch Awe and advanced from
being professionals to being farmer-landowners. They were granted a coat of
arms which appears on their surviving seals on old documents and it includes
the Campbell gyronny of eight. So they acknowledged themselves as Campbells
- which upsets some American MacArthurs I am told(!).
The last of that family were two sisters in the last century, and in their
wills they presented the old four poster bed of their family to the then
Duke of Argyll and it is on display in Inveraray Castle and belongs to the
There was another MacArthur family in the nearby district of the Lennox who
likely descended from a different Arthur. The MacArthur society now
encompasses both families I believe, a slightly odd arrangement since they
have such different origins, but it is a free country and hopefully they can
help eachother. I think you might find an advertisement for that society in
the Highlander magazine. They used to send me a copy of their magazine but
not for some years now. A nnumber of MacArthurs are members of the Clan
Campbell Society. While one can belong to only one 'clan' (unless you
bleong to a sub clan within a larger clan), you can belong to any number of
Any 'Mac' names may in fact have different origins since they started not as
'clan' names but at 'patronymics' or father's names. Today, because
revived interest in clans, most people do tend to gather under the name by
name rather than origin, until they have their genealogy to a point which
can help them chose their actual association by origin.
I had always thought that MacCarty was an Irish name but I have seen some in
Argyll records if I remember rightly. I know nothing more about MacCarty
than that it apears in the Sept list as a variant on MacArthur.
All best, Diarmid Campbell