Clan Carruthers, Mouswald

Clan Carruthers: Carruthers of Mouswald

Carruthers of the House of Mouswald, were the first after Carruthers of Carruthers, and the Carruthers chiefly line. According to John J Reid. The earliest reference to Mouswald as a place, takes us back to the time of Alexander II. It is cited in the Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, where is says: Richard de Bancori quit claims to his lord Robert de Brus and his heirs, the whole land of Loyerwode by these bounds, viz, from Pollnilin as far as Blakebeck, as the half of the moss extends and from said half of the moss as far as the water of Loyer with a certain common pasture in the fee of Comlongan which the said Robert’s men of Musfaud were wont to have the grantor in farm for one mark yearly. This was witnerssed by Sir Adam de Carnoto, Sir David de Parco, Sir Ufridus de Kirkpartic, Sir Roger de Kirkpatric, Sir William de St Micheal, Sir Engram de Musseus, James the Clerk and others.

This deed brings to our attention some of the early history of the district. There is a thought that the de Bancori mentioned may be in relation to the Banchory, a name used in several place names in Aberdeenshire. The Robert de Brus was likely to have been the 4th Lord of Annadale who died in 1245, Robert the Bruces’s great-grandfather. The Loyerwode is now knownas Locharwood with the Loyar being the Lochar, the stream thast flows through Lochar Moss, which joined the Solway near Powhillon (Pollnilin). Comlongan, is still there and was owned by the Murrays of Cockpool (Earls of Mansfield). There is no doubt in the historians mind that Musfauld is the modern Mouswald (Moss wald or wood on the Moss). Tradition has it that a great and dense oak forest spread out from Mouswald to Torthorwald, as far as Tinwald Kirk, at least until 1504 according to the Records of the Justiciary Court. The field adjoining the ruined tower of Mouswald in 1888, where a large stone on a ridge, locally called the Druid Stone, is noted on a private and ancient map as Mallathum. This may have referred to the Celtic “meall-ná-tua meaning the “mound of the tomb”.

The men of Mouswald mentioned in the deed above, were even at this early period, vassals of Bruce and there is no doubt that the family of Carruthers were great supporters of King Robert the Bruce, who awarded them accordingly. He granted Thomas (the Clerk) Carruthers, son of John Carruthers a charter of all the lands of ‘Musfeld et de Appiltretwayt cum pertinenciis’. Although Thomas now 1st of Mouswald, was in office for the House of Bruce, after the death of King Robert in 1334, he took office under Edward III of England. The deed of appointment states: “Sciatus quod constituimus dilectum nostrum Thomas le Clerk de Carrothres receptorem exituum castri peli et terrarum de Loghmaben ac Vallis Annadie quamdui nobis placuerit” &c.  Similarly, he was appointed to ” officium cancellarie nostre de Loghmaben ac Vallis Annadie” with charge of the seal. This doesn’t necessarily suggest that Thomas himself, was a traitor but rather bent before the storm. His brothers however stood firm. One of them William, who was to become 2nd of Mouswald is mentioned by name as a brave supporter of the national cause. Andrew of Wyntoun (c.1350 – c. 1425), was a Scottish poet, a Canon of St Andrews who in 1335 states:

Qu’hill this thus gat tretyd was,

William off Carrothrysis ras,

With hys berethir, that war manly,

And gat till him a cumpany,

That as schawaldouris war wa(l)kedand

In till the vale of Annand

                                              -Crinykill, bk.viii. cap.29, 1. 4361

This same William received from David II, a charter for the lands of Middlebie and patronage of the Church of Middleby in 1351. There is suggestion by some historians, which may be reflected in the crest of our Arms, that many Carruthers were named as churchmen or presided over churches on their lands, in this and the following century to include John Carruthers, rector ecclessie de Revel de Scotia, who was permitted by Edward the II to study in Oxford in 1370-1. A deed of the Abbots of Dunfermlyn and Neubotle on November 1371, being addressed to several persons includes Nigel de Carotherys, a Canon of Gasgow. Again in 1419, another churchman named Nigel Carruthers, had safe conduct through both England and France as chaplain to the Abbot of Paisley.  In 1429 there is a mention of Sir Laurence Carruthers as Chaplain to Master John Gray of Bruges, his role it seemed also included important diplomatic negotiations (Exchequer Rolls, vol. iv. p 676).

IMG_0267Mouswald existed at least as far back as Edward 1 in 1303 and probably prior to that under the Bruces as Lords of Annandale and included the time of Wallace himself, where there was listed at Mouswald a mill: “2 qrs 5 bushels I peck oatmeal and 2 qrs 5 bushels 1 peck of malt oats of the farm of Mousfald Mill”.

King David II, visited Mouswald in 1361 and granted one-half of the lands of Rafhols (Raffles) to John Carruthers, William, second of Mouswald’s brother.  It wasn’t until a century later that in a charter of 1361, Raffulgil (considered the other half of the Raffles estate, was joined to Mouswald. It is concluded by some that this charter became the foundation of the Holmains branch of the Family although the grant of Holmains  itself did not take place until 1425, it included the lands of Raffles.

Effigy of Simon Carruthers (Historic Churchyards )

At one time a recumbent effigy exists but is badly damaged by exposure and neglect, in the churchyard at Mouswald represents Sir Simon Carruthers who was allegedly the ‘esquire’ of the Earl of Douglas. However, there is argument that this is not the case but was either the last or last but one baron, both called Simon.

The figure described being of red sandstone, the  head resting on a double pillow, tassled at the corners. It is in armour and girt with sword, the hands on the breast and placed together in an attitude of supplication. Formally inside the church with an effigy of the baron’s wife, but that has disappeared. below are three Arms recorded for the House of Mouswald during Sir Simons lifetime. Sir Lindsey of the Mount, Lyon King of Arms in 1542, blazons the Carruthers of Mouswald Arms as: Gules (Red), a chevron between three fleurs-de-lys Argent (Silver). It is however recognised that the Shield; Gules, a chevron between three fleurs-de-lys Or (Gold) was sir Simons and the middle one was incorrectly blazoned. The Arms of Sir Simon, and the Ancient Arms with the engrailed chevrons, were combined to become the Chiefly Arms of Holmains. They were registered by John Carruthers 9th of Holmains in 1672 after the Lyons Act, although the suspicion is Holmains had used them for many years prior to this.

As the Carruthers estates grew larger, the importance of the family followed suit and they played a role in the history of the West March and Scotland in general. However the Mouswald line ended with the death of the last Baron of Mouswald, Sir Simon Carruthers where one account strongly suggests he was killed by the “Thevis of the Marche”, Lord Herries. This came from a report on the state of the Marches 30 years later, suggested that the Laird of Mouswald was slain on a border raid by him or his men.

The last reference to Simon Carruthers seems to be in the Act of the Scottish Parliament (Act. Parl., vol. ii. p 481) in the year 1548, when upon the 12th June both Carruthers of Mouswald and his kinsman “of Holmends” (Holmains) , who were to become the chiefly line after the demise of Mouswald, are mentioned.

In this case it is certain that Sir Simon Carruthers was alive on or around the 12th June 1548, but died before August 13th 1548 when the wardship of Janet and Marion was sadly granted to the Douglas of Drumlanrig, who it seems wasted no time in trying to gain control of the Mouswald lands.


After Simon’s demise, the Chiefship of Carruthers was passed to the then senior House in the family, that of of Holmains. They were descended from John Carruthers Kings Chancellor of Annadale 1349), the second brother of Thomas, 1st of Mouswald. John received the Charter of Half Raffles in 1361, and passed it to Holmains on their demise, suggesting he was either the father or an uncle who died without issue. What is a certainty is Roger Carruthers received the charters of Little Dalton, Fourteenaikerbank and Holmains and was the 1st of Holmains. He is listed in the Historical Families of Dumfrishire and the Border Wars by C L Johnstone as being ‘a son of the Laird of Mouswald’.

Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey

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