The name came into general use in England in the Middle Ages due to the prevalence of Arthurian romances, and it enjoyed a surge of popularity in the 19th century. Famous bearers include German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), mystery author and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), and science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008).
The name was popular until the 15th century in England, usually in the vernacular form Maud. Both forms were revived by the 19th century. This name appears in the popular Australian folk song 'Waltzing Matilda', written in 1895.
As an English name it was not used until after the Protestant Reformation. It was utilized by George Eliot for the title character in her novel 'Silas Marner' (1861).