In the case of Carruthers, like many other large clans who had multiple branches of the family, the head of that branch was simply named after their lands. For instance, those who lived in Rammerscales or Dormant were simply known by their locations. With regards Carruthers of Holmains, our chiefly line, the chief of the clan would simply have been known as Holmains (Holmends, Howmains).
John Carruthers, 12th of Holmains and 8th Baron, was the last Chief of the clan and eldest son of the 11th Laird and 7th Baron, also John Carruthers, at least until August 2019 when a new Chief was confirmed.
He was born in 1731 and died in 1809 at the grand old age of 78. The records further show he was married to Charlotte Laurie in 1762, whose father, Sir Robert Laurie interestingly was the nephew of the famous ‘Annie Laurie” immortalised in song. He had two sons and seven daughters but sadly the sons John and Robert died before their father, closing the male line and leaving only daughters. However, in Scotland, unless for a title of nobility is being petitioned where provisos may exist ensuring only descendancy down the male line, of which a chief or head of a house isn’t, the female line, if senior should still hold precedence. That decision lies with the Lyon Court.
During the 12th Lairds lifetime financial disaster struck the family and the Holmains estate was lost after investing in the Douglas Heron Bank of Ayr. The collapse of the bank ruined Holmains and left the family having to sell Kirkwood, the family home since the latter part of the 17th century.
There was however a Charter Chest passed down as the last remnants of Carruthers of Holmains, which held ancient Carruthers documents. The chest was left to Christian Murray née Carruthers, eldest daughter of the last Chief as the senior representative of the line. The contents of the chest were important enough to be accessed by the Historical Manuscript Society, some of which were published, while others are still held in private hands by members of the family.
Christian’s husband, Erskine Murray gave the chest to the Rev. William Mitchell-Carruthers, grandson of Christian’s younger sister Susan, 3rd daughter of the last Chief.
William, was the elder son of Major-General St Leger Mitchell and grandson of Major William St Leger of the Indian Army, husband of Susan Carruthers of Holmains. The Reverend Carruthers was Governor and Chaplain of Kingham School. Oxon, before he died in 1931. Many of the line of Holmains went east and were active in the Indian Army, attaining high rank in the same. They were further involved in the British East India Company during the British occupation of India.
The senior line Carruthers of Holmains still exists and for that reason, as a clan we simply cannot vote in a chief. For a Scottish Clan Chief to be recognised, the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh must be involved, either through the matriculation of the Chiefly Arms or by a Derbfine, overseen by the Court of the Lord Lyon. Currently genealogical information for Chief of Carruthers is with the Lord Lyon and we await his pleasure on the outcome.
(UPDATE: a Chief was confirmed by the Lord Lyon on 19/08/19. Dr Simon Peter Carruthers of Holmains, was recognised as Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers.)