Ancient clan instals its first chief for 230 years

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ONE of Scotland’s oldest clans, Clan Arthur, has its own clan chief for the first time in more than 230 years.

James MacArthur of the Noble and Ancient House of Milton, an 87-year-old former Coal Board employee, has been officially installed as chieftain at a ceremony in Edinburgh.

His inauguration, in the presence of members of the clan who had travelled to the city from across the globe, has ended more than two centuries of a leaderless existence for the Clan Arthur and marked the culmination of a 17-year search by senior members of the clan to find the true successor.

The title of Chief of the Clan Arthur ceased to exist officially in 1771 when the last chief, Patrick MacArthur, died in Jamaica, leaving no children and no obvious male successor.

Any hope of finding a legitimate heir to the title appeared lost until 1986 when Hugh Peskett, a renowned genealogist, began poring through 12 generations of the MacArthur family tree.

Through his studies, he uncovered the heir apparent, Mr MacArthur, who had been born in Canada but had emigrated to Edinburgh to work for the Coal Board .

Mr MacArthur later recalled that he had first discovered he had a claim to the title as a young boy, in 1922. "My father told me on a Sunday walk in the country that our family was the leader of the Clan MacArthur but he said the family had never bothered about it," he said.

Then, in 1991, Robert McArthur, another prominent member of the clan, organised a "derbfine" - a meeting of the arms-bearing members of the clan - in Argyll, at which the clansmen agreed that "James Edward Moir MacArthur of the Ancient and Noble House of Milton" should be proposed for appointment as leader.

Last August, following another ten years of genealogical research, Mr MacArthur successfully petitioned the Lyon Court to be appointed the first Chief of Clan Arthur after an interval of 231 years.

Almost 100 clansmen from as far as the United States and Australia attended yesterday’s ceremony. A spokesman for the clan said: "It was a warm and friendly historic occasion - a truly a momentous day in Clan Arthur’s future."