Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: The Myth of the Disappearing Carruthers’s

The Disappearing carruthers
Disappearing Carruthers

Again in attempt to set the record straight, at the request of several members, here is the facts that are currently available.

Why!!

As people attempt to justify their actions and lack of credibility, they have a tendency to weave untruths and falsehoods around themselves in an attempt to vindicate their house of straw.

These include; the Bruce tartan being ‘owned’ by Carruthers rather than Bruce, the tartan register being destroyed in 2003 to try and back that up, Carruthers being of Royal descent and entitled to fly the Scottish Royal Standard, Carruthers’ specific DNA being 75000 years old and being one of the oldest families on the planet, Mary Carruthers was William the Conqueror’s mother etc., etc.

These and many more are perpetrated by those who seem to view the clan as a commercial enterprise, simply to be duped and financially milked at their whim. All these claims are based on what seems bizarre fantasy and lies. They do this by attempting to change historical facts, mixed in with untruths while supporting their agenda and all wrapped up in what they see as an acceptable package with which to feed the unsuspecting.

The latest of these is the story that only the Carruthers, now called Carothers or Carrothers living in the US and Canada, are the only living descendants of the ‘original’ Carruthers from Scotland. Those who fail to fall into that category, especially those in Scotland, are not ‘real’ Carruthers.

The Case of the Disappearing Scottish Carruthers

Well…….. where do we begin.  Firstly how anyone could make this stuff up and expect people to believe it is beyond me. Secondly, it bemuses me how anyone of our name would consider these statements to be remotely true without checking it out for themselves.

So here goes and as with all fairy stories, if you are sitting comfortably then we will begin;

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James VI Scotland, I of England

Their story suggests that, being King James, one has to presume they mean James VI (1566-1625), who during the time of the Covenanters (1638- 1688) had become very concerned that far to many Carruthers, all of which were covenanter supporters, were ‘escaping’ Scotland.

They were allegedly helped by a Lord Achison of Northern Ireland was a member of the English Parliament, who in the 1600’s helped carruthers escape.

In order to try and dupe the neighbours of Carruthers in believing this was not the case, he went out his way to fill the crofts, farms and steadings with doppelgangers and strangers, called them ‘Carruthers’ and voila, job done.

These people then grew up believing they were really Carruthers, when they, according to the storytellers, were not. The comment made was ‘ it so sad but many people are not true Carruthers, especially if their family are descendants of Guileburn and/or stayed in Scotland!!!

As an aside, they also claim that the College of Arms in London has added Carothers and Carrothers, onto the “British Nobility Records” to the exclusion of Carruthers. Sadly this is also false.

  • The College of Arms does not deal with Scottish clan matters, of which Carruthers is obviously one.
  • The College of Arms would not recognise the bastardised badge on which is included the legal arms of a Scottish Chief.
  • Carothers and Carrothers are derivatives of Carruthers, which remains the root.
  • There is no such thing as British Nobility Record.
  • If in doubt please contact the College of Arms in London, 130 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4V 4BT, United Kingdom. college-of-arms.gov.uk 

Researchers within our Society, as well as other historians and genealogists external to it, are all fishing in the same pond, the claims being made are embarrassingly false on many levels.

Lord Achison of Northern Ireland.

There are two points to review here: the first, having researched the name in the parliamentary records of the English Parliaments, which is available on line, there is no records of a Lord Achison as a member of Parliament in the 1600’s nor in fact a Lord Achison anywhere else. Further to this, until 1921 Northern Ireland did not exist as partition only occurred in 1921. Sadly, unless other evidence is brought forward, we have to presume, based on the facts available that this is another false claim.

Covenanters – Who were they?

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The signing of the National Covenant, Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, 1638  

Simply stated, the Covenanters were those people in Scotland, all Presbyterians, who signed the National Covenant in 1638 after the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer by King Charles I (1600-1649) and not King James VI (1566-1625). They signed this Covenant in Greyfriar’s Churchyard in Edinburgh to confirm their opposition to the interference by the Stuart kings in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Stuart kings harboured the belief of the Divine Right of the monarch. Not only did they believe that God wished them to be the infallible rulers of their kingdom – they also believed that they were the spiritual heads of the Church of Scotland. This latter belief could not be accepted by the Scots as no man, not even a king, could be spiritual head of their church over Jesus Christ.

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The Covenanters’ Communion – National Galleries of Scotland

Preachers who had Covenanter sympathies were ousted from their kirk/church, many having to leave the area in which they had preached. While others continued to preach in the homes of sympathisers, or in the open-air gatherings called ‘Conventicles’. Laws were passed by the crown and thus this became a punishable offence by death. Scots who chose not to attend the local kirk could be fined, branded as rebels and even tortured for their beliefs. They would be forced to take oaths (the Test) to accept the Crown as the head of the church, refusal often led to death by firing squad from the dragoons, scouring the districts for these Rebels.

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Charles 1st

However in 1646 King Charles I was forced to surrender to the Scottish Covenanter army who handed him over to the English Parliament headed by Oliver Cromwell. The English parliament at the time, were run separate from Scotland and they executed him in 1649. For the following ten years of civil war in Britain, the Covenanters were the de facto government of Scotland. In 1642, they sent an army to Ulster in Ireland to protect the Scottish settlers there from the Irish Catholic rebels who had attacked them in the Irish rebellion of 1641. The Scottish army remained in Ireland until the end of the civil wars.

In 1649 Charles II (1630-1685), came on the scene approaching Scots for their support. He agreed to sign the National Covenant and was crowned king at Scone in 1651.This irritated Cromwell, who invaded Scotland causing Charles to escape to France. This invasion led to a rebellion by those who supported the ‘Covenanted King”. On Cromwell’s death in 1658, the royalists returned to power and with them Charles II was returned to the throne of a United Kingdom, in 1660

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Charles 2nd

At this point, Charles turned his back on the Covenanters and the persecutions, tortures and executions not only returned but also increased. This situation led to armed rebellion, especially in the southwest of Scotland and in Ayrshire. Between 1661 and 1688 it is estimated that 18,000 died both in battles and persecution, creating martyrs and lasting bitterness.

In 1666 at the Battle of Rullion Green in the Pentland Hills, the King’s army, led by Sir Thomas Dalyell, defeated the Covenanters. In 1678 the King raised an army of Catholic Highlanders, with no love for the protestant southerners, who swept through the South West of Scotland looting and plundering.  They remained for many years, quartering themselves on the already impoverished Covenanters and played a gruesome part in the ‘Killing Time’ where executions occurred without any trial.

John Graham of Claverhouse, who later became Viscount Dundee and a supporter of the Jacobite cause, was at the forefront of the “Killing Time”. On June 1, 1679 Claverhouse came across a conventicle of several thousand people at Drumclog. With a fighting force of around 1,500, the Covenanters outnumbered the dragoons by around four to one. But the government forces were routed and chased from the field. However, a few weeks later the Duke of Monmouth subdued the Covenanters at Bothwell Bridge. But persecution continued – the last Covenanter to be executed was in February 1688.

220px-King_William_III_of_England,_(1650-1702)_(lighter)
William of Orange

Eventually, some degree of order was restored in 1690, with the accession of William of Orange and Queen Mary. Even so, some extreme Covenanters known as “Cameronians”, who disliked William of Orange because he had not signed the Covenant, continued to object for a while especially in the south west of Scotland. The last Covenator executed was in 1688

Greyfriars 072014 045

In 1707 a monument was erected at Grayfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, near the open ground known as the “Covenanters’ Prison”, where some twelve-hundred Covenanters were held captive after Bothwell. It gives a figure of 18,000 killed in the period 1661 to 1680, quoting an estimate which Daniel Defoe claimed was “Collected from the Accounts both Publick and Private” for his Memoirs of the Church of Scotland (1717)

Carruthers, Carothers, Carrothers and the Covenanters.

iu-2During this period it is fair to state that some Carruthers along with other Presbyterians, some of whom would have been Covenanters, did leave the Scottish shores to escape persecution or for simple economic reasons, but not in vast numbers. They usually headed to Ireland where they became the Ulster-Scots and where many Carruthers still reside. They did not necessarily migrate directly to the Americas at least in these initial stages.

Historians agree that the American migration is usually dated from the year 1717 onwards. In fact one of the first, if not ‘the’ first recorded Carruthers to land in America was James Carruthers, who was part of the West New Jersey Project in the early 1700’s. His sons took part in the American War of Independence, fighting alongside George Washington.

Interestingly the term Redneck also refers to supporters of the National Covenant and The Solemn League and Covenant, or “Covenanters”, largely Lowland Presbyterians, many of whom would flee Scotland for Ulster (Northern Ireland) during persecutions by the British Crown. It is alleged that many Covenanters signed in their own blood and wore red pieces of cloth around their necks as distinctive insignia; hence the term “Red neck”, (rednecks) which became slang for a Scottish dissenter.

Carruthers in Scotland

Back home it is recorded that the chief at the time, John Carruthers 9th of Holmains, had a distinct leaning towards the Covenanter cause although there is no evidence he played a leading part. He was however sanctioned and cautioned to ensure he and his family frequented his own church under penalty of a fine of 1000 merks (Scottish silver coin of the late 16th c and early 17th c).  On December 27, 1683, Holmains bowed to the storm and subscribed to the Test to prove his sincerity. Interestingly, it was this chief who registered our chiefly arms in 1672.

A_Covenanters'_Conventicle,_from_a_children's_history_book
A Coventicle

There is no doubt that Carruthers could and in fact would have been Covenanters, but to imply that they left in such huge amounts to empty their lands is preposterous. Many of our line to include that of our Clan Chieftain’s of Holmains and Dormont can trace their families back before and after the time of the Covenanters. All researched through established and well documented Scottish records of the time, covering Dumfriesshire and surrounding areas.

As both Charles I and II had lands in Ireland and men there to represent them, it would have been no great shakes to round up all the ‘escaped’ Carruthers and bring them back if that was of concern. It wasn’ an issue, because it never happened and their benefactor, Lord Achison of Northern Ireland never existed and neither did any country of that name.

They further mention Carruthers of Guileburn as an example of this strange replacement fantasy, yet records show that as late as 1798, more than 100 years after the demise of the Covenanter movement, that; John Carruthers of Guileburn disposed to his son James, a merkland of Sorydyke and the 1/2 merkland of Guileburn, in which James, it was stated in the Dumfries Reg Sasine, was infelt in 1818, having as a younger of Guileburn, been infelt in part of Middleshaw in 1791. They further show on the Sheriff Court Deeds that; On the 13th February 1810, there was a bond of provision to his eldest son and heir apparent James Carruthers of Guileburn: the children named were William, John, Christopher, David, Walter and Mary. This proves without doubt that, rather than disappearing, Carruthers lived in Guileburn well into the 1800’s. Of course, if Guileburn had have been replaced by strangers, their kith and kin would have known about it and as within all families, investigated. Again it simply didn’t happen.

Carruthers to Carothers, Carrothers.

Regarding the name change from the root of Carruthers to Carothers or Carrothers, the many differences in spelling not seen in the old country (Scotland) are due simply to the inability of clerks and government officials to record correctly the names given them verbally by unschooled immigrants, some with strong Scots or Ulster Scots accents.

The information pertaining to the name Carruthers at the port of entry or the part of the country where they settled, was given verbally as many people were unable to read or write. The spelling therefore was dependent on how it was pronounced and more importantly, heard. Once it was written down by the clerks it became “official,” and it was often accepted by the immigrant themselves as a correct rendering of his name. This spelling stayed with the family and remains proudly with them to this day and rather than a root in its own right, it is a reflection of our joint history and cultural heritage, as a proudly carried derivative of the name and clan Carruthers.

Clan Carruthers Society International

Promptus et Fidelis

14 thoughts on “Clan Carruthers: The Myth of the Disappearing Carruthers’s”

  1. Hi I’m a Carruthers traced so far as 1630 Scotland when my gr(s) grandfather left Scotland for Ireland. Upon entering Ulster he changed the spelling to Carrothers. Later about 200 to 300 years when another great(s) grandfather left for the Ottawa area of Ontario, he changed the spelling back to Carruthers. These were deliberate spelling changes and my Ontario relatives have always been Carruthers but my gr gr grandad had 9 or10 kids in Ontario. Wife died and he remarried an Irish/Scot girl from Ireland and moved across the Ottawa River into Quebec and had 9 more kids with most of them settling into various areas of Quebec and in our family that’s when various spellings and pronunciations surfaced. Often the spelling derived from phonetics and or ignorance. These variety spellings have endured to this day and they all are as Carruthers as I am. My genealogy is from my father thru all former great grandfathers and as I said I’ve traced them back to 1630 Dumbartonshire, Scotland.

    When I first got involved in my ancestry about 2 years ago I became a member of an organization of Canadian/American Canadians. After several months I realized that informations I was being told (most were quite sensational) became suspect and I left that ‘fake’ organization and asked George if I could join his group which I did. Soon learned the error of my ways and settled into the real history of my forefathers and my real genealogy and heritage. I grew up thinking I was Irish but have learned that a forefather had immigrated to Ireland where they stayed for approximately 200 plus years before my branch immigrated to Canada from Ireland. It has been very difficult for me to experience the misinformation that is constantly still being spread by that ‘fake’ organization. I am looking forward to the new Year (2019) when our International Society will honored with a new but rooted Chief be named.

  2. Spelling of my Pennsylvania Carruthers family also changed through time. From the early 19th century spelling was Carothers because existing Revolutionary War families used that spelling. So census workers and other government types said THAT was the correct spelling. My father & grandfather knew it was a double “rr” with a “u” however. We never changed it though, but some distant cousins out west today spell it Carrothers. Makes it a challenge doing family history because sometimes it’s also Crothers and Caruthers on records. Interestingly yDNA studies from Carruthers all over the planet have a similar haplogroup no matter how they spell the name today! Oh, also the Horse Tax rolls from 1797-1798 show John Carruthers of Guileburn paid a tax on two horses. Obviously he was still riding around Scotland at the end of the 19th century

    1. I find the name change thing fascinating and this is a wonderful piece of history which I’ll add to the blog. Regards the disappearing Carruthers, it’s ridiculous that people pluck these things out the ethereal and claim it as fact. It’s getting totally embarrassing.

    2. Hi Marshall are you a geologist with a PhD from Pittsburgh?

      Thank you for this response, fascinating stuff

      1. Sorry for the delay – trying to get year end messages out now! Yes finished University with my graduate degree in 1976. Still visit Pittsburgh regularly and have a son there with a law degree from the University. Cheers & Happy New Year!

    3. My family, the Carruthers all settles in Pennsylvania somewhere within the 1750’s I wonder if you are related to my clan?

      1. All Carruthers world wide, come from the same clan and the same roots in Annandale, Dumfriesshire.

      2. My family research has taken me back to a John Carothers born 1798 in Ireland and probably before that to a Guileburn Carruthers family in Scotland. Wish I knew more about all the pre-Revolutionary War Carruthers. Must have been interesting families judging from their descendants!

      3. Our genealogist in Australia is from that branch of the family I believe. I can contact him on your behalf in the new year to see if he can help.

    4. Hi Marshall,
      Firstly Happy New Year to you, yours and our Carruthers international family.
      I continue to wonder where we relate … being as you are my closest DNA match.
      Kind Regards
      Gary C

  3. We must all observe honesty and clarity in research and maintain the integrity of our research results to overcome such cheap, false and convenient self serving outcomes.

    Any one individual or Society who fails to act with integrity will only serve to dishonour our name and our familys part in history.

    Then what will be the point in researching?

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