Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: The Caerlaverock Wedding

This article was submitted by Gary Carruthers from Australia. He found it years ago during his research into this branch of the family. but uncovered it of late.   His words were ‘I laughed my head off.   Seems like our family certainly were a wild bunch … even today I see a resemblance’!

On that note we at the Society have to agree.

Caerlaverock in Gaelic is Cille Bhlàthain, is a civil parish, historically in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. It sits

The most famous landmark is the 13th century Caerlaverock Castle which is located south of the town of Dumfries itself. Originally a stronghold of the Maxwell’s of whom Carruthers of Holmains were great supporters

Dumfries Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Court is an imposing building that was constructed in the Scottish Baronial Style from a design by David Rhind. The tall peaked towers and open Italianate parapets give it the characteristics of a castle and the softer lines of a palace. Originally on the site of a town hall that had been built as an independent place of worship and sold on to the county authorities the building was enlarged, adapted and opened as a Court House in April 1866.

The article below is dated the 23rd of December 1893 from the Dumfries court records of the day.


The next case occupied a long time in the hearing, and evoked not a little interest on the part of the audience in court.

Six men were called to answer to a charge that on 2nd inst., at the farm steading of East Park, Caerlaverock, tenanted by Mr David Edgar, they commited a breach of the peace by behaving in a drunken, disorderly, and outrageous manner, cursing and swearing and using threatening and abusive language; and further, that they assaulted David Burgess, the constable stationed at Glencaple, beat him on the head, and knocked him down to the effusion of blood.

The names of the accused were ;

•Sam Bennet jnr, fisherman, Church Steet, Maxwelltown;

•Wm. McMinn, carter, and John Laurie, quarryman, Greenbrae;

•James McMinn snr, labourer, Greenbrae Loaning;

•James McMinn jnr, horse breaker, Burnhead,Penpont;

•Thomas McMinn, horse breaker, Store Buildings, South Queensberry Street, Dumfries.

James McMinn jnr, was unable to appear on account of an accident.

The others pleaded not guilty, and were defended by Mr Jonathan E. Blacklock, solicitor, Dumfries.

It appeared that a daughter of Mr Edgar’s ploughman, James Carruthers, had been married to Thomas McMinn, one of the accused, on the first of the month.

Mr Edgar had granted the use of the barn for the young couple to entertain their wedding guests. A company variously stated as numbering from sixty to ninety assembled, and a jollification was kept up from seven o’clock in the evening to five the next morning, there being a good lot of drink going.

Mr Edgar stated that, being apprehensive of his property, he stayed up all night,mainly keeping company with constable Burgess, whom he had secured for emergencies.

There was a series of disturbances the whole night commencing about half past ten o’clock and lasting till half past two. It appeared from Mr Edgar’s and the constable’s evidence that a few of the company were in the house of the bride’s father, where the marriage took place.

At the request of Mr Carruthers, and on complaint, the constable went to the house and found two men in one room- one on the top of a chair and the other holding on to him. He put Bennet , who was the worse of drink, out.

Meanwhile Mr Edgar was seeing to the yoking of the horses to the traps that were to drive to Glencaple.

When the constable came out of the house a man, who, he said, was Imrie, came up and asked him what he was wanting there, and jostled him. The constable pushed him aside, and the man being the worse of drink fell.

Thereupon about half a dozen men surrounded Burgess and told him that striking one meant striking them all. Burgess next went into the barn to see Mr Edgar, and not finding him, returned to the open, being followed by a number of men, who shouted threateningly.

The constable hurried towards Mr Edgar’s house, but before he reached it he was knocked down, with the result that he was unconscious for some time, his face and part of his forehead skinned by the fall on to the stones, and his side made black and blue.

He got up and was assisted to the house, where Mrs Edgar attended to him. He could not say who struck him.

Mr Edgar afterwards cleared out the barn, but about three o’clock allowed dancing, which had been interrupted, to be resumed. By that time a goodly number of the company had left and there was no disturbance afterwards.

Burgess only spoke to seeing Imrie, Thomas McMinn, Bennet, and James McMinn, who was not present. The defence sought to show that some feeling had been engendered by a remark made by the constable to one of the women guests.

With regard to the bridegroom, it was held that, having taken a fainting fit, he could not have taken part in the alleged riot when Burgess was assaulted. As to Imrie, it appeared that he too, had been married the same day, and he was represented as being in the company of his wife for most of the evening.

The Sheriff was inclined to think that the charge of assault would fail to be dismissed. He was all the more glad to say so because these offences were always seriously punished.

The court very seldom gave accused the option of a fine for assaulting constables in the execution of their duty.

At the outset there was only a very small proportion of the wedding party following the constable, and he identied absolutely none of those who followed him.

The whole affair seemed a very extraordinary one altogether. Mr Edgar started with the resolution to be up all night himself, and not only so but sent for the constable to keep order.

His lordship had no doubt there was what might be technically called a breach of the peace if the noise and fighting were to be so described.

That part of the case did not seem to him to be so serious, so that accused might be let off for it as well as for the alleged assault. The charges were accordingly found not proven.

So there you go, noise and fighting at a Scottish wedding not considered a major issue at the latter part of the 18th century. More so these days I’m sure, but altercations of this nature still occur to this day, where drink and emotion are mixed.

The good news is no Carruthers were involved in this particular fray or at least were recorded as such, being the law abiding citizens we are. Instead we left it to the in-laws to sort out.

Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey

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