Clan Carruthers, Coat of Arms, Dormont, Holmains, Mouswald, Welcome

Clan Carruthers: Armigers and how to obtain Carruthers Arms.

George Carruthers Pottenger 200A

Currently and excluding the Carruthers petitions in the process of presentation, there are 12 recorded Carruthers arms in the armorial records of Scotland, although one is deemed a mistake. As an armigerous clan, if there were no surviving descendants of the chiefly line of Holmains, then during a Derbfine, the armigers would play a role. However, any gathering being held to choose a recognised chief of a Scottish Clan again would need to have the process supervised by the Lyon Court. Clan Bell are currently going through this process. A Chief of Carruthers was confirmed on Aug 19th 2019, by the Lord Lyon King of Arms.

Active Carruthers Arms

carruthers of dormont (1)
Arms of Carruthers of Dormont

An armiger is someone who has been granted arms within a family or clan by a recognised and official authority.  Such recognised Heraldic Authorities and Arms Granting Bodies would be:

  • Scotland: Court of the Lord Lyon
  • England: College of Arms
  • Ireland: the Chief Herald Office
  • Canada: Canadian Heraldic Authority
  • Belgium: Flemish Heraldic Council
  • Sweden: Heraldy Unit of Sweden
  • South Africa: South Africa Bureau of Heraldry

Coats of Arms are therefore granted or matriculated to an individual and not to a family. Currently there are four active sets of arms, if we consider the Chiefly Arms of Holmains. Each of these arms have their first born son, if there is one, or if not a daughter, as an heir with cadency mark to show where they sit in the family line.  The designations and portrayal of Arms functions like any other pictorial language in their representation but they are further accompanied through description by their blazon. Each set of Arms portays the history and background of the individual and family from which the individual, whose arms they are, originates. In Scotland, if there are chiefly arms of that name, unless a direct descendant, any new arms must have two differences.

Arms of the Mitchell-Carruthers

The user of a coat of arms may only use arms recorded (or “matriculated”) in the Public Register with a personal variation, appropriate to that person’s position in their family, approved by the Lord Lyon (the heraldic authority for Scotland). This means that in Scotland no two men can ever simultaneously bear the same arms, even by accident, if they have submitted their position to the Scottish heraldic authorities; if they have not done so, the matter falls under statute law and may result in proceedings in the Lyon Court, which is part of the Scots criminal justice system. To this extent, the law of arms is stricter in Scotland than in England where the only legal action possible is a civil action in the Court of Chivalry, which sits extremely rarely and is not an integrated part of the English justice system.

The Cadency System in Scotland

Scottish Cadency System, Courtesy of Electric scotland

What is important to recognise is that the cadency mark stays unless it is that of the heir apparent, which is removed on the death of the Father. This sequence of events continues down the line. With respect to the arms of our last armiger, he has two sons, both designated by their cadency.


Showing the arms of Holmains to Dormont, the Holmains are the arms of the Chiefly line and therefore Dormont has to have two differences in their own arms. The suggestion is that the ancestor of Dormont was the second son based on the use of the gold border. In actual fact William Carruthers was the third son, but as the eldest John is presumed to have died at the Battle of Solway Moss, his eldest sibling George became 6th of Holmains and 2nd Baron, which moved William up into second place.  The other difference was the changing of chevrons to chevronelles. In the third shield, a blue cadency mark known as a ‘label’ defining Dormont’s first son is apparent. This gets passed to his son when he inherits the full arms of Dormont.


In the arms of George Carruthers above, again two differences had to be made from the Chiefly line. Because their was no claim of having a direct lineage to Holmains, a new Carruthers House was granted. The differences were as before with Dormont, Chevrons to Chevronelles as well as replacing the fleur-d’-lis in the base with a pheon. The latter to represent the ‘Lang Spear’ favoured by Riding Families or Graynes during their reiving days.

Canadian Heraldry

Courtesy of Wikipedia

In Canada interestingly enough, the Canadian Heraldic Authority patented in 1988, generally follows the English system, the cadency for the male line are the same. However, since in Canadian heraldry a coat of arms must be unique regardless of the bearer’s sex, Canada has developed a series of brisures for daughters unique to their system. To the left on the diagram is Cadency marks for men and to the right brisures. As early as 1967, plans were reportedly in the works to transfer overview of heraldry from the College of Arms in the UK to Canada. The push for a wholly Canadian heraldic system came largely from the Heraldry Society of Canada. on 4 June 1988, then Governor General Jeanne Sauvé authorised the creation of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, made possible by Letters Patent signed by Queen Elizabeth II, on the advice of her Canadian Privy Council and presented by her son, Prince Edward. As a result, Canada became the first Commonwealth country outside the United Kingdom to have its own heraldic authority. Canada also provides full equality to women in terms of inheriting and transmitting arms.

  • for the first daughter, a heart;
  • for the second daughter, an ermine spot;
  • for the third daughter, a snowflake;
  • for the fourth daughter, a fir twig;
  • for the fifth daughter, a chess rook;
  • for the sixth daughter, an escallop (scallop shell);
  • for the seventh daughter, a harp;
  • for the eighth daughter, a buckle;
  • for the ninth daughter, a clarichord.

Additionally, all armigers within Canada may file for trademark protection of their grant of arms under the Trade-Marks Act.

Arms are open to everyone and anchor the individual to the history and origins of their family and clan, in the case of Carruthers this is the West March of the Anglo-Scottish Borders, and we are proud of the pedigree.

The Acquisition of Scottish Arms through the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms

Arms of the Lord Lyon king of Arms

This is reproduced by kind permission of Michael Grear FSA Scot. Those who wish to use arms in any personal sense must petition for a Grant of Arms or—if they can trace their ancestry back to a direct or, in some cases collateral, ancestor—a “cadet matriculation” showing their place within the family. When a grant, or matriculation, of arms is successfully obtained, an illuminated parchment, narrating the pedigree as proved, is supplied to the Petitioner, and a duplicate is recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland and/or the Public Register of Genealogies and Birthbrieves.

Application for such a Confirmation, by Letters Patent or Matriculation, from the Lord Lyon King of Arms is the only way to obtain a genuine coat of arms.

British Commonwealth. Anyone domiciled in Her Majesty’s realms overseas or in the Commonwealth (except those of English, Welsh or Irish ancestry who should approach Garter King of Arms in London or the Chief Herald of Ireland in Dublin or Canadians who should approach the Chief Herald of Canada in Ottawa) can apply to the Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland for grant or matriculation of arms.

Foreign Countries. Arms are not granted to non-British citizens (though those of Scottish ancestry can apply to the Lord Lyon King of Arms for cadet-matriculations, as above described) Moreover even if not of direct armigerous descent, foreigners of Scottish descent can often arrange for a cousin in Scotland, or in one of Her Majesty’s overseas realms get arms established by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, and thereafter themselves to obtain a cadet matriculation. Each party is in such cases is supplied with an illuminated parchment.

Applying for Arms Introduction

On behalf of the Sovereign, the Lord Lyon King of Arms exercises the Royal Prerogative committed to him by the Acts of 1672 cap. 47 and 1867 30 & 31 Vict. cap. 17, to grant Arms to virtuous and well deserving persons”. The Court of the Lord Lyon is a court of law, and applications for Arms are made by a formal “Petition”. This is done on the initiative of the person wishing to obtain Arms, who submits a Petition to the Lord Lyon stating who he is and asking for Arms to be granted to him.

The process is not complicated, and there are four main varieties of Petition

Petition for a new Grant of Arms
Petition for a Grant of Arms to an Ancestor
Petition for a Matriculation of Arms
Petition for a Grant of Arms to a Company

Advice on any special difficulties or any matters not covered can be obtained by writing to the Lyon Clerk at the Court of the Lord Lyon, H.M. New Register House, Edinburgh, EH1 3YT, and to whom all completed Petitions should be sent.

All such correspondence is ‘CONFIDENTIAL:.

Once Arms have been granted and recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, they are protected under the law of Scotland. Any infringement of a person’s armorial rights in Scotland may be drawn to the attention of the Procurator Fiscal to the Court of the Lord Lyon, who may mount any necessary prosecution of the offender.

In return for this permanent legal protection and for the maintenance of the permanent registration of Arms in the Court of the Lord Lyon, Fees are charged to the Petitioner. These fees are made up of the dues to H.M. Treasury, Herald Painter’s fees and costs of materials in preparing the Petitioner’s Letters Patent. This is his title deed to his Arms, written in a formal script on vellum, illustrating his Arms in full colour, and sealed with the Seal of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The fees are fixed by Statute, and rise from time to time.

All statements made in Petitions must be accompanied by legal proof, usually Certificates of Birth and Marriage for statements of parentage and ancestry. It is the Petitioner’s responsibility to provide this proof. Neither the Lord Lyon nor the Lyon Clerk may take any part in providing the proof. Petitioners may employ their own genealogists to provide the proof. They may employ any of them directly, at their own responsibility, or with the assistance of an Officer of Arms.

Petitioners requiring assistance in preparing the Petition may write to the Lyon Clerk at the Court of the Lord Lyon stating their requirements and objectives. If an Officer of Arms is engaged he will provide an advance estimate of his fees for his professional assistance. If required by the Petitioner he will take charge of any genealogical research needed, employing the researchers and supervising their work on behalf of the Petitioner, and will periodically report on its progress as the Petitioner may require.

Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey

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