Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: The Tearful Mouswald Tragedy

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Shield of Sir Simon Carruthers

The story of the Mouswald sisters Janet and Marion who were made wards of the Douglases after their father died in 1548 in a border raid against the English. This led to the maltreatment and death of the younger sister, poor Lady Marion Carruthers. Marion was a strong willed young lady who wass broken by Douglas and on 25 September 1570 she threw herself from the ramparts of Comlongon Castle. Although put down to suicide, there are those at the time who firmly believe that James Douglas of Drumlanrig, who wanted all of the lands of Mouswald for himself, had her murdered for his own gain.

The Mouswald Tragedy, by  James Hall, Dec 1983. (Courtesy of Mouswald Hall)

v1 Sir Symon Carruthers a bold Knight tae see,

had twa bonnie dochters but nae son had he,

In battle he fought sae calm and sae brave,

from English invaders, his country to save.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a.

v2. His twa bonnie dochters they pleaded fu’ sair

O father, O father, gang fectin nae mair

But Sir Symon to no one would bow his proud head

Ill defend my fine lands ’till the day I am dead

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a.’

v3 Ah! but sad was the day his lassies were tol,

Their father was dead, brave Symin the bold

Their grief it wqas bitter now orphaned were they

O who will protect us, young Janet did say.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v4. But no far away was a man wi a scheme

To gain Symons lands was James Douglas’s dream

To Carruthers twa dochters he now offered aid

the accepted in kind, but nae titles conveyed

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v5. Douglas Drumlanrig, now carefully planned

to gain Mouswald House and all of the land.

But Janet and Marion paid Maxwell respect

and gave him possesion, their house to protect

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v6. Charles Murray o’ Cockpool, an uncle was he

Looked after the sisters as well as might be

but janet she soon looed roon’ for aman

Tom Rorison o’ Barndannoch won her fair hand.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v7. Now Rorison and Douglas get freeenly were they

and over young Janet had very strong sway

At Drumlanrig the Douglas made Janet to sign

At last, quo’ Sir James Half o’ Mouswald is mine.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v8. Then Douglas on Marion brought pressure to bear

but determined, she held to the lands she was heir

Janets lands, yae have gotten sae easy and free

But nae green grass of Mousweald ye’ll hae oot o’ me.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

V9. Black Douglas waxed angry his temper wis sair

He cursed and he stamped and he tore at his hair

Ill keep you imprisoned, nae daylicht ye’ll see

Until a’ yer lands are signed ower tae me.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

V10. Sir James knew fu’ weel that many a man

Sought after young Marions elegant hand,

John McMath, she declined for her suitors were many

Lord Bothwick, he tried but she wouldn’t have any.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

V11. Sir James paid the Bothwicks in guid Scottish gold

A’ suitors frae Marion to strongly withhold

The Douglas was ward for her marriage as well

The poor broken lass was living through hell

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v12. To save her inheritance she sought to convey

her lands to her Uncle; stern Douglas’s sway.

But Douglas refused such conveyance to pass

And finally broke the stout heart of the lass.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v13. E’en Janet went against her ain kin

She sided wi Douglas a’ Mouswald tae win.

So Marion with nobody now on side,

To Comlongan Castle, went tae reside.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v14. Not long did she live with grief and dispair

Her oppressors in greed had little to care

and on a dark night from Comlongans’s  grey bower

she leapt to her death from the old lookout tower.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

V15.  Her body lat broken, asll smashed on the ground

Her lands they became forfeit back to the Crown

then cam’ Douglas and in the King’s name

Tae the rest o Fair Mouswald, laid dubious claim.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

v16. Poor Marion she died for her stoutness of heart

In Douglas black schemes she nerr had a part,

But the legend says her brave memory shows

For on the place where she fell, gree grass never grows.

Ch. Wi the Kye in the fields, and the barley an a’

O the brave lands o Mouswald, Are fairest of a’.

After the marriage of Janet to Thomas Roryson of Bardannoch, who had entered into a bond of fealty to Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig in 1544, no time was lost in getting Janet to turn over the deeds of the lands of Mouswald to Douglas himself. This seemed to have been the plan all along.


GC BADGE ARTWORK Chosen Logo-10The Clan Carruthers Society International (CCSI) was founded in January 2017 and is officially recognised by the Chief of Carruthers as representing the worldwide Carruthers family. It is non-commercial, apolitical and non-partisan and is open to any member of the international Carruthers family and derivatives of that name. The Society is based in the United Kingdom, but is represented by an international Executive Council.

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