Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: Another Armiger joins our ranks.

gary with seraphim .jpeg

Gary J Carruthers

Any armorial will represent the pictorial history of a Scottish clan or family and in the case of Carruthers, this goes as far back as the 13th Century.

The shields on display will anchor the individual firmly to their birthright and heritage.  As arms are the property of an individual and not a family, Clan Carruthers is very pleased to announce the matriculation of our latest Armiger, Gary John Carruthers who has joined our armorial ranks.

Gary is an active member of the Society and one of our senior clan genealogists. He has evidenced his family line back as far as Francis Carruthers 3rd of Dormont (1619-1679). Any genealogist worth their salt will know that that is a huge task.

However, what makes Gary’s Arms interesting is that rather than differencing his arms from the Chiefly Arms of Holmains directly, as other armigers have done before him, he has chosen to matriculate from the Arms of Dormont and throgh them to the Arms of Holmains. This matriculation was granted after a full and in depth analysis of the evidence in his petition, by the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh, on the 21st of November 2019.

The Interlocutor

Court of the Lord Lyon

 Interlocutor of the

Lord Lyon King of Arms


the Petition of


of date 18 March 2019

Edinburgh, 21 November 2019. The Lord Lyon King of Arms, having considered the foregoing Petition, GRANTS WARRANT to the Lyon Clerk to matriculate in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland in the name of the Petitioner the following Ensigns Armorial, videlicet:- Gules two chevronels engrailed between two fleur d-lis in chief and a bell Or in base all within a bordure quarterly of the Second and First charged in 1st and 4th with a crescent and 2nd and 3rd with a mullet counter-changed . Above the Shield is placed an Helm befitting his degree with a Mantling Gules doubled Or , and on a Wreath of the Liveries is set for Crest a seraphim volent Proper, and in an Escrol over the same this Motto “PROMPTUS ET FIDELIS”.

The Armiger

Christopher Carruthers with his five sons.

Gary John Carruthers is of proud Scottish descent through his great-great-grandfather, Christopher Carruthers from Pathhead. Christopher was a shipwright and ships carpenter to trade, who fought and was wounded in the Crimea War (1853-1856), losing one eye in the process. His ancestor came to Australia in 1850 on the Marlborough, a Scottish ship built in Port Glasgow.

Pathhead lay next to Guileburn in Dumfriesshire and as one can see by his genealogy, it is from Guileburn that many of this branch of the family hail. 

A young Gary Carruthers.

Gary himself was born on the 30th April 1951 in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia and at the age of 17, obviously with the sea in his blood, joined the Royal Australian Navy where he served for 13 years and attained the rank of Petty Officer.

After leaving the navy, he career was as a Human Resources Manager in the Oil and Gas industry, which took him to sites in Australia, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. Gary has held a keen interest in genealogy for over 50 years, which culminated with the help of the Clan Carruthers’ heraldist and heraldic artist Mr Antony Maxwell of Edinburgh, in the attainment of his Arms. Antony guided Gary through the process and with Gary’s input, designed the Arms,  which because of the accuracy of their representation and the robustness of the evidence, were finally approved by the Lord Lyon.

The Petition

His petition, initiated in March 2019 after much background investigation, research and artwork, matriculated his arms through his genealogical line of Guileburn to Brydegill both in Dumfriesshire. This linked directly into Carruthers of Dormont, a cadet of Holmains, and covered eleven generations.  In four of these he is descended from eldest sons, twice from second sons, four times from third sons and once through a fourth son.

Formation of Arms

The Lyon Court prefers to follow the Stoddart system for differencing, thus the first difference to the Dormont arms would normally give the Dormont ‘bordure Or’ a ‘dancetty’ inner edge.

(Gules = Red, Or = Gold, these are the colours of the Carruthers chiefs Arms, which were finally settled on by Sir Simon Carruthers, last of Mouswald in the early 1500’s. These colours were adopted by Holmains and are represented in the 1672 registration with the Lyon Court. This registration shows the combining of the engrailed chevrons and the fleur d-lis to the shield we recognise today as the Arms of the Chief. Before this, the ancient armorials reflect that Sable (Black), Azure (Blue) and Argent (silver) had been used, outwith the border of Carruthers of Isle,  on the Carruthers Chief’s shields going back to the 13th century).

Dancetty bordure

A Dancetté or dancetty, and sometimes dantelly, (fr. denché):  is a zigzag line of partition, differing from indented only in the indentations being larger in size, and consequently fewer in number.  

In this instance it would be used for the inner edge of the bordure as can be seen to the left.  The chart below shows use of the dancetty border of the arms of the 2nd son of the 2nd son in the Stoddart System chart below.

Stoddart System used in Scottish heraldry

Unfortunately, this form of bordure as a difference severely conflicts with the curves and edges of the fleur-de-lis and the scalloped edges of the engrailed chevronels in the Carruthers Chiefly arms. It is from these arms, the Arms of Holmains, that all other Carruthers arms are taken, but with a minimum of two differences.

A request by the petitioner was therefore made to the designer, Mr Antony Maxwell, that the first difference to the Dormont Arms may be the replacement of the fleur d-lis in the base with a golden bell to represent the wife of Francis Carruthers, 3rd of Dormont. Genealogical records showed that the wife of Francis was a Bell from a neighbouring family and brought with her a dowry for the lands of Brydegill. These in time were given to their fourth son, Gary’s ancestor, George Carruthers 1st of Brydegill.

By omitting the dancetty or any other ornamental edge, the bordure was kept well defined and more in the spirit of the Dormont bordure. The second difference resorted back to the Stoddart system by dividing the bordure per pale Or and (for a third son) Gules. The third difference is for another third son and partitions the bordure per quarter Or and Gules.


With four more differences to make, small cadency marks as ‘brisures’ were added to evolve the bordure. The fourth difference (for another third son) is a star in chief (on the centreline counter-changed). Likewise the fifth difference, this time for a second son, was a crescent in base counter-changed. For the sixth difference the last third son, the star is moved to a top corner and a second star added to the other corner both counter-changed. Finally, the seventh difference (a second son) adds a second crescent and moves the four brisures into diagonally opposite quarters, e.g. crescents in first and fourth, stars in second and third, all counter-changed.

Gary Arms Design 2.jpg
Heradic progression of Gary Carruthers’ Arms and rationale for the same.

The design process and rationale produced a well balanced shield, thus keeping it relatively simple. This is important as it is intricate in detail given that is has seven differences from the Dormont shield, which in itself is differenced twice from the Holmains arms (Chiefly Arms of Carruthers). Dormont, as a cadet line differenced their arms with a gold border, depicting a cadet line and chevronelles rather than chevrons.

IMG_0141.jpgReplacing the chevrons in the Holmains Arms with chevronelles as a difference, were also used by Dr George Carruthers, Convenor of the Society, who, in a similar vein to Gary replaced the fleur d-lis in base, but in this instance with a pheon as his second difference

Gary felt that recording the family and clan Bell with a charge on the base of the shield was of utmost importance to him. This represented the Bell name and the intermarriage between that family and his Carruthers line in three generations. The feeling was that this better represented his lineage and helped keep the bordure easy to read heraldically.

holmains dormont and gary.jpg

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Gary with his younger brother and his father (before the Carruthers tartan)

For his Crest and following historic and current Carruthers tradition, an angelic figure was chosen, thus in keeping with all other Carruthers arms so far granted. The angel holds the third fleur d-lis, taken from the shield that is replaced on the base of shield, by the bell. The Angel is Proper (Natural depiction) and the fleur-de-lis kept in Or as depicted at the beginning of this blog.

For his Motto, although a change is viable by any armiger, the petitioner chose to keep the same Carruthers motto favoured by both the Dormont family and the chiefly line of the Holmains, that being: ‘Promptus Et Fidelis’ (Ready and Faithful).

The Arms of Gary John Carruthers are Blazoned: Gules two chevronels engrailed between two fleur d-lis in chief and bell Or in base, all within a bordure quarterly of the Second and First charged in 1st & 4th with a crescent and 2nd & 3rd with a star Counter-changed. 

Gary Arms Design 4Mantling: Gules doubled Or.

Crest: an angel Proper holding to its breast a fleur d-lis Or. 



Armorial with gary's arms.jpgThis is a huge achievment and we are therefore extremely pleased and honoured that Gary will take his rightful place along with the other Carruthers’ Arms, both ancient and modern, on our Armorial roll above. This makes a total of 13 officially registered and recorded Scottish arms to the proud name of Carruthers.

It is also important to note that ALL Scottish Arms have the motto placed above the shield, English Arms however have them below. Therefore,  no self-respecting Scot nor Clan would have their Arms depicted with a motto beneath them.  Of course, only the Chief of the clan may use the Chiefly Arms of Carruthers and only the Lord Lyon may permit, on behalf of the British Crown, supporters to be used.

Chiefs Arms mock upfallow deer v3
Arms of the Chief

As we speak, negotiations and dialogue are taking place between our legal representative, Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw, QC, who is a specialist in his field, and the Lord Lyon in order to finalise additaments to the Chiefs Arms as per the declaration of the 19th August 2019.

We hope to have some more exciting news soon and will keep you informed, but currently, no legally recognised Carruthers arms have supporters.

Below is the evidenced family tree of Gary John Carruthers, anaylised and accepted by the Lyon Court showing clearly his line back through Guileburn, into Brydegill and on to Francis Carruthers, 3rd of Dormont.

Family Tree Gary Carruthers genealogy


Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey

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