Arthur, Francis (d. 1824), Limerick merchant and developer, belonged to a long-established catholic patrician family in that city. His father, Patrick (1716–99), mainly an importer of wine and timber, was one of the developers of a new suburb, Newtown Pery; he built a quay on the Shannon (Arthur's Quay, completed in 1773) and laid out streets, naming them after members of his family. Probably by the mid 1770s, Francis was in partnership with him. Doing good business in the surrounding counties, they acquired a warehouse, lands and houses, and built a row of fashionable dwellings facing the quay. By 1792, Francis Arthur was the leading catholic in Limerick, presiding over an important catholic meeting there (September 1792) and representing the city at the Catholic Convention (December 1792 and April 1793). In 1796, when a French invasion threatened, he showed loyalty to the government by raising and training, at his own expense, a corps of yeomanry artillery of which he was a captain. But by proposing Thomas Maunsell as a candidate at the parliamentary elections of 1797, Arthur incurred the wrath of the lord chancellor, the earl of Clare (qv), whose seat, Mount Shannon, was nearby and who had property in the city and county.
On 15 May 1798 (on the eve of the United Irish rebellion), Arthur's corps was disbanded. At about the same time, William Maume, a man under sentence of transportation for treasonable practices, gave information that brought treason charges against Arthur: offering (though not advancing) money to Lord Edward FitzGerald (qv), concealing firearms and pikes in hogsheads, and employing one Higgins to raise men in the west. Arthur was arrested without a warrant at his home (29 May) and was lodged, in unpleasant conditions, in the City Marshalsea; his counting-house was raided by the authorities and 1,000 guineas in specie were seized. Until his trial, by court-martial (23 and 25 June), Arthur knew neither the charges against him nor the name of his accuser and at all times he was refused counsel or any communication with a friend. Convicted on Maume's evidence, most of Arthur's witnesses having been excluded from the court, he was sentenced to transportation for life to Botany Bay and a fine of £5,000. (He was also expelled from the Royal Coffee House.) His wife, Ellen, petitioned the newly appointed lord lieutenant, Marquis Cornwallis (qv) (3 July); Arthur was liberated on £500 security and on condition that he leave Ireland. He moved to England (October), living at Worcester and in London.
By 1807 he was back in Ireland and listed in Wilson's Dublin Directory as a merchant in Middle Abbey St. Probably he retained his business interests in Limerick. Francis Arthur died in France, at Dunkirk, on 17 June 1824. Prayers were said for him in Limerick. By his wife Ellen (née Sexton), whom he married in 1779 and who died in 1805 or 1814 (the sources are unclear), he had a son, Patrick Edmond (d. 1814), and five daughters, Catherine, Alicia, Margaret, Maria, and Ellen.