Clan Carruthers, Genealogy, Origins

Clan Carruthers: The Origins of the Name and Family of Carruthers.

Caer Ruthers 2.jpg
A potential site of Caer Ruthers

Having attained the confirmation of a chief by the Lord Lyon, in August 2019, we will revisit the origin of our family and clan.

Firstly Carruthers is a Scottish clan and family. It is not Norse from Gutland, nor are we royalty nor Irish in ancestry. We are simply a Scottish Border Clan and Family, whose past can be dated to approximately 500AD, and an ancient Brythonic fort in the old Celtic kingdom of Rhegid. Like all other Scottish clans, there is only one and we are led by our Chief: Carruthers of Holmains.

Having clarified that, we take a look at our origins. As in the case of any large group, gathering the evidence can be difficult as we go back in time, but when it is specific to one family it can be more so.

However, we are lucky in the fact that much research was carried out in the early 1900’s by Carruthers and Reid. Using and building on this evidence and genealogical research we remain content with what history has given us and remain proud of our Scottish heritage and origins.

Our Journey.

The Scottish Historian, George Fraser Black in his book the Surnames of Scotland suggests that Carruthers is a topographical name, which seems to be backed by most other authors and historical researchers on the subject.

Not all agree per se as there are other hypotheses, albeit in the minority.  The first is that we may be of Norman blood having come over from Normandy in the 11th century with the Norman Invasion. The second theory, which links us to the fabled King Uther (King Arthur Pendragon) and his ‘brother’ Constantine III is by far the least accurate, for a number of reasons.



iu-7.jpegAccording to Black, the first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners who called themselves, or were called by others after the lands they possessed.

Interestingly, this followed on from the Norman tradition where their nobles were ‘named’ after the area, town or village that they came from.

A typical example close to the hearts of our family as well as other Border families, is that of de Brus (Bruce) where it is reported that they originated from the lands called Brix located in the Manche department of Normandy.

Black goes on to say that surnames originating in this way are known as territorial (topographical) but it does not necessarily follow that every Melville, Kirkpatrick or Somerville for instance is a descendant of the first recorded of these names. Carruthers will also fall into this category it seems.

Further well-respected research suggest tenants often took the names of their landlords or of the land on which they worked. Towns and villages and hamlets (as we can see with Bruce) also gave distinctive appellation to several persons wholly unconnected by blood. in short, those who left one of the towns or villages to reside elsewhere. This does not mean the we are now not all under the one banner as the title of our confirmed Chief Peter Carruthers of Holmains would reflect that in his title; Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers’.

Returning to Black, he further wrote that some of the local names have never travelled beyond the bounds of the place or places that gave them origin, while others have spread over adjoining parishes and again others have travelled much further.

In the case of Carruthers, the epicentre still remains in Annandale, but the name covers many parts of Scotland, into Northern Ireland and beyond and to all corners of the earth.

Initially the surname would have simply been John of Roxburgh, John of Irving, John of Kirkpatrick or John of Carruthers, although historians now accept this as being used as the surname of the individual.

The older records also reflect the Norman and French connection and the use of the ‘de’ meaning ‘of’ or ‘in’ before the topographical name. Examples in our own family would be; William de Carruthers who donated to Newbattle Abbey in the early 1200’s, who it is suspected, died on 1245 and John de Carruthers mentioned in the annals in 1320. The latter being mentioned in the same year that Thomas Carruthers received his charter for the lands of Mouswald from Robert the Bruce. Another example of the use of ‘de’ as a description of ‘belonging to’ or ‘of’ would be the use by Thomas, 1st of Mouswald’s own father in law, Robert de Applyden.

In Black’s works, he suggests that names are considered to be of a territorial origin when ‘lands of the same name’ or a ‘barony of the same name’, gave the name to the proprietor who had the lands chartered to him by the king or in some cases with permission of the king,  by more senior nobles with larger cache’s of land. This was usually as a reward for services given.

Listed in the researched and evidenced Surnames of Scotland, Carruthers is therefore mentioned as a topographical/territorial name being ‘of, the lands of Carruthers in the parish of Middlebie, Dumfriesshire.

Black quotes Henderson in his book Norse Influence on Celtic Scotland, as ‘Carruthers ‘ rendering from the place name ” fort of Rydderich” while Watson in “Personal Names, The influence of the Saints”, was more cautious and suggested the second part was probably a personal name.

The fact of the matter remains that the place name of Carruthers evolved from the Brythonic word ‘Caer’ meaning ‘fort’ and Rydderich/Riderich/Rhythr being the name. The suggestion is that it came from King Roderic (possibly Rydderich Hael, although not conclusive) mentioned by St Adamnan in his works “Vita Columbae”.

Adamnan was an abbot and a scholar, famous for his biography/hagiography of St Columba. Born in c625 in Ireland he became the Abbot of Iona, an island in the Inner Hebrides with strong religious connotations. He travelled extensively throughout the West of Scotland and Northumbria visiting other religious sites.

Rhydderich Hael was a famous ruler of Alt Cut (Strathclyde) a Brythonic kingdom in the Hen Ogledd (old North) and is often mentioned in later medieval works. These writings appear in both Welsh and Latin such as the Harlean Genealogies (1100’s -1200’s) and the Black Book of Chirk from the 13th century, the latter now believed to be apocryphal.


carruthers of dormont (1).jpgCarruthers of Dormont, a senior member of our family, offers a legend that Carruthers may be the descendants of the Brythonic monarch, ColeHen, King of Cumbria (or Old King Cole as he became known). This is due to the fact that a son of his, Rhideris, built a caer, or castle, near Ecclefechan. The belief, following other reserchers opinions, was that Caer of Rhideris later became Car-ruthers. The remains of the old castle can still be seen on the hill above the farm of that name – Carruthers Farm.

Way & Plean 

iu-8.jpegIn Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopaedia, now in its third edition by George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Carruthers is accepted as a topographical name, without, at the time of printing aChief and referring back to the work by Black.

This of course will change in the next edition as the Chief of our Name has been proclaimed by the Lord Lyon.

Carruthers & Reid

iu-10.jpegThis exceptionaslly well reserched work, is the tome from our family takes its historical and genalogical base, however it was not the first and addendums followed.

As a precursor to the book; “The Records of the Carruthers Family” by R C Reid and the Rev Stanley Carruthers, a limited run of “Carruthers Records” covering; Mouswald, Holmains, Dormont, (Over) Denbie, Braes, Langholm and Carlisle had previously published by Stanley Carruthers in 1924 and the work by J J Ried, R C Reid’s father, in his publication in the annals of the Society of Antiquaries in 1988.

As this publication had piqued an interest, it was decided at the latter stages of 1930 to revise the original book and print a limited subscription edition.

Because of the work by Mr R C Reid’s father, J J Reid, who had carried out the initial research paper published in the ‘Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland’ in 1888/89 on the subject of the Barony of Mouswald and its Barons, his son R C Reid was invited to read the proofs. This eventually led to a full collaboration between Reid and Carruthers on the “Record of the Carruthers Family”. The “Records” included a revamp of the Mouswald chapter and the inclusion of other branches of the family previously excluded.

R C Reid had importantly been given full access to the contents of the Holmains Charter Chest owned by the Rev William Mitchell Carruthers. Much of these documents currently lie with the National Records of Scotland and included in some cases, previously published papers by the Historical Manuscripts Commission. The documentation Reid had access to at the time was immense, as it included all the Sasines and Testaments of the Carruthers Family.

He also researched and correlated the contents of other documentation and collections in private hands. These included access to the ‘History of the Dormont Titles’ with the permission of Lieut. Col Francis Carruthers of Dormont, the notes prepared by George Carruthers Thompson and information on Woodfoot and Milne from Dr S W Carruthers and W R Carruthers from Norwood and Lockerbie as well as many others.

With this new evidence a rewriting of the chapter on Holmains occurred, which included Reid’s accumulated research. This same process was also carried out for the cadet branches of Holmains, such as Dormont, Butterwhat, Nether Denbie (Whitecroft), Over Denbie, Warmanbie, Rammerscales, Isle, Dyke, etc.

Once again we have competent researchers, with access to information, suggesting after much background work, that Carruthers is of Celtic/Brythonic in origin and is formed from the words ‘Caer’ and the name ‘Rhydderich’ (the Fort of Ruther).

Carruthers and Reid also go on to define who Ruther was. They take us back to the 6th century when the Brythonic peoples were being driven West by the Angle and Saxon (Teutonic) tribes after the departure of the Romans. At the time Brythonic tribes covered a vast swath of the west of what is now England and southern Scotland. The northern portion was called Strathclyde to include what is now Cumbria. Eventually, as some of the tribes were defeated, the northern tribes found themselves severed from the southern tribes.

It seems that Ruther, in the ‘Records” is called ‘the liberal’ and they state, he is found a lot in the legends told about St Kentigern (St Mungo). They further record that he was the leader of a small section of the Britons of Strathclyde rather than the whole. They do say he was a Christian however and further state that in 573 he fought a battle at Arthuret/Arfderydd, near Longtown in Cumbria. The battle was between the Christian tribes and those who followed the pagan religion. History suggests that the former took the day. It was at this point that the capital of the region was moved to Alt Cut (Dumbarton Rock).

King Arthur

Artists impression

Interestingly the area of the battle, like many others in the old Celtic Britain, is linked to the Arthurian legend of Uther/Arthur Pendragon.

These romantic ideas were mainly perpetrated by the historical fantasy of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Geoffry, was a cleric and is recognised for two things, his help in developing British Histography, where his works helped build a picture of the world he lived in, and his tales on King Arthur. His works to include the fictional writings on Arthur were given credence only into the 16th century, after which the become progressivly viewed as historically unreliable.

His writings were seen as being heavily romanticised, especially in his works on Arthur and his exploits with his magic sword, his trusted knight Lancelot, his Queen Guinevere and is trusty wizard Merlin.  These stories it seems were based on his claims of a lost Celtic text that only Geoffrey was able to examine and is, as one would expect, totally dismissed by historians.

Professor Arthur Morris of Glasgow University, a historian and archaeologist has stated that although there is a possibility that Arthur may (or may not) have existed, he most certainly didn’t enter any historical texts until the 12th century. Although it has been quoted that the Celtic monk Gildus, the only surviving contemporary source on the Saxon invasion and a major source of information of that time, supports Uthers/Arthurs existence, he does not in fact mention him at all.

Arthur was however mentioned by the Welsh historian and monk Nennius in the 9th century where his writings were taken directly from Welsh poetry covering a mix of legend, history and mythology. He listed a total of 12 battles in various locations that Uther/Arthur was meant to have taken part in. However, historians and researchers today would strongly argue that it is inconceivable that one man could have feasibly or humanly participated in them, for various reasons. Thus the Arthurian Legend, remains just that, simply a romantic myth.

Constantine III

iu-11.jpegThere is also no evidence to support the hypothesis suggesting a link from us to ‘Uthers/Arthurs brother’ Constantine III, if nothing else because there is no evidence Uther ever existed. There is also no evidence that Constantine, a real figure in history, had Carruthers DNA. Surely, if true it would be the other way around and based on simple genetics and following Hess’s law, be shared by millions, not simply one family.

Interestingly, Constantine III was a Roman general called Flavius Claudius Constantinus who ‘declared’ himself Western Roman Emperor in Britannia in 407 with the support of the legions stationed in Britannia. This would suggest that any marker, and we presume for this hypothesis to work, a specific marker linking Carruthers directly to Constantine would exist, but again maybe not.

However, getting back to reality, the point of mentioning the battle of 573 is that it is suggested prior to this date that the tribes led by Ruther may have been established on a hill in the modern parish of Middlebie. This later became known as Caer Ruther. It still is possible to trace the remains of an encampment on the hill above the farm of Carruthers to the west. This earthwork encampment is still quite apparent on the landscape, if you chose to look for it, but it is more noticable by air. (See the first picture in this blog)

J A Carruthers

iu-9.jpegIt seems that another competent researcher; James Alexander Carruthers in his book “Carruthers Anthology Genealogy”, also seems to accept that the surname Carruthers originated in the ancient lordship of Annandale, in Scotland. He goes on to say that in “Surnames of Scotland” George Fraser Black provided etymological evidence that the surname Carruthers derived from the Brythonic Celtic, quoting both Henderson and Watson in their assumptions – Caer Rydderich.

Electric Scotland

On this highly respected site, which prides itself on historic accuracy, they offer a similar take on things. Carruthers is described there as: a surname derived from an ancient parish of the same name in Dumfries-shire, which with Penersax was united to become Middlebie in 1609, and they now form one parish, under the latter name. Further stating that “on a height above the site of the ancient hamlet of Carruthers stood a British fortlet whence came the name Caer-Rhythyr or ‘the fort of the assault’.”

Norman Connection and DNA

200px-Bayeux_Tapestry_WillelmDux.jpgAccording to John F Gillespie in his book “Carruthers Family, An Interesting Record” a slightly different slant is offered. He suggests that Ruther came over with the Norman Invasion in 1066 and settled in a place called ‘Carruthers’, in Annandale where he built a fort above the ancient hamlet of Carruthers. Research shows however, that there are no derivations of a Norman name which relate to Norman knights or in fact Norman names in general, which could easily morph into the name Carruthers. Further, as Normans built of stone and wood, the residual ‘Caers’ near Carruthers Farm and prehistoric in nature, simply do not fit the profile.

However, although out of step with the other chroniclers of the origin of Carruthers, there may be some truth in the Norman connection.

We know for instance through the evidence available, that the Normans were descended from Vikings from Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) who settled and assimilated into Britain 200 years prior the Norman invasion. Not only did they colonise the area, they accepted and upheld conventional Christian beliefs and norms. We also know, through historical documents that land was given to a Viking chef named Rollo in the 9th century in northern France by the then King Charles (the simple).

As we move forward into the realms of Y-DNA testing (from father to son) in Scotland, where men were used, as women historically moved around more, often due to marriage some interesting information appears. According to the cohort study ” The Fine Scale Genetic Structure of the British Population” by Leslie et al from Oxford University, published in 2015, regional genetic evidence shows clear signs of demographic events.

The cohort DNA group in the UK exceeded 2000 and was compared with a cohort of over 6000 in Europe. Interestingly the main areas of Viking DNA, with a substantial difference to the rest of Scotland, were from Orkney, Shetland and Caithness. The Viking gene was found to be far more prevalent in those areas of up to 29.2% in total.

Although there is evidence that they were trading and had influence further south and most certainly in Argyle and in Galloway, the latter next door to Dumfriesshire, there is no current DNA evidence to support an overly marked Viking involvement in the population of the south west of Scotland. If of course there were, it would be of a much less percentile than in the North.

There are of course evidence of clusters of DNA that span from Ireland to Scotland and visa versa. The latter, it is suggested were influenced by the Gaels invading south west Scotland, the movement of the indigenous population trading with Ireland and the Ulster Plantation and lowland clearance migrations.

However and interestingly, the three main groups with a substantial contribution to the UK genetic pool when comparing modern DNA in Europe with the UK were Western Germany, Belgium and Northern France. This was of course outwith the Viking influence in the north and Islands of Scotland.


Norman and Viking DNA

iu-5.jpegWe know that the Normans were of Scandinavian origin, who also integrated into the local population based on the research below.

The first results of a genetic study looking at the descendancy of the Normans to the Scandinavian hordes was announced in April 2016. It was collaboration between British and French Researchers called the “Viking DNA Project” (University of Leicester, UK and the University of Caen, Normandy, France). Scientists focused on the population of the Cotentin peninsula, also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula in Normandy, because of a strong historical Scandinavian link. The cohort tested only people with Scandinavian sounding names whose four grandparents were born and lived in a 50 km radius of their current home. This was included because it is indicative of a longer history of a family in one area. A saliva test was used for a Y chromosome “Viking Marker”.

Of the eighty-nine men tested, fifty-two of them represented haplogroup R1B, most common in Northern and Western Europe, which was not conclusive to a typical Viking signature but scientists suggest a ‘possible’ indirect link.  However haplogroup I1, found in eleven of the Normans studied, suggested more clearly a ‘possible’ Viking link as over 45% of Scandinavians belong to this genetic group, but so do some Germans. Haplogroup I1 is also known as M253.

However, in the previous research from Oxford University, only 9% of the German Y chromosome was found in the South West of Scotland and as an origin of I1, this carries some importance.  The main haplogroups show that Celtic ancestry remains the dominant gene set in the area. It was also noted that there was no single ‘Celtic’ gene suggesting that Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Cornwall have subtle genetic differences which help define origins and input of other genes.

Based on their findings relating to the I1 marker, there was a temptation by the team to suggest that I1 was a mark of the Vikings, as it showed up in other populations with known Viking history. However it was not deemed conclusive. Interestingly, a study on the population genomics of the Viking world concluded that by comparing Viking Scandinavian genomes with Scandinavians today there have been strong population differentiation of certain loci during the last millennia. This suggests that where distinct populations influenced the genomic makeup of different regions of Europe e.g. a majority of Danish Viking influence in England, Swedish Viking influence in the Baltic states and Norwegian Viking presence in Ireland, Iceland and Greenland, Scandinavia also experienced increased contact with the rest of the continent e.g. substantial European ancestry entering Scandinavia during the Viking age.

Finally, two out of the cohort presented a haplogroup, typically regarded as Nordic, the R1a haplogroup. The others, tweny-four of them, showed haplogroups from around the Mediterranean area, extending into the Middle East. The assumption being is that these DNA markers were indicative of the extent of the Norman empire and the crusades.

This shows that with modern scientific technology ensuring accuracy, even within a population cohort, albeit small, from an area steeped in ‘Viking” history and with names historically connected to the same, only eleven were probable and two definitive to Norse DNA. This was out of a total population group of eighty-nine (therefore only 14.6% had the Viking Gene).

I1 Haplogroup

How DNA influenced and is represented in different cultures and European countries.

The chart above, is there to offer a visual recognition of the DNA distrubution in Europe. The resrerch offered is an attempt to assist our readers understand that the DNA profile is helpful, but doesn’t offer conclusive and firm evidence that Carruthers originates from Gotland or anywhere else, we therefore need to appreciate what it actually means.

Haplogroup I1 is the most common type of haplogroup I in northern Europe. It is found mostly in Scandinavia and Finland, where it typically represent over 35% of the Y chromosomes. Associated with the Norse ethnicity, I1 is found in all places invaded by ancient Germanic tribes and the Vikings or with peoples who traded with the same. After the core of ancient Germanic civilisation in Scandinavia, the highest frequencies of I1 are observed in other Germanic-speaking regions, such as Germany, Austria, the Low Countries, England and the Scottish Lowlands, which all have between 10% and 20% of I1 lineages.

Researchers suggest it is the oldest major haplogroup in Europe and in all probability the only one that originated there (apart from very minor haplogroups like C1a2 and deep subclades of other haplogroups). Haplogroup IJ would have arrived from the Middle East to Europe some 35,000 years ago, then developed into haplogroup I soon afterwards. It has now been confirmed by modern DNA techniques, carried out in a University setting, that the first Homo sapiens to colonize Europe during the Aurignacian period (45,000 to 28,000 years ago), belonged to haplogroups CT, C1a, C1b, F and I.

In fact rather than being Gots or Ashmen as some would proclaim, in 2014 Szecsenyi-Nagyet published findings that the earliest sign of haplogroup I1 emerged from the testing of Early Neolithic Y-DNA from western Hungary.  An single I1 sample was identified alongside a G2a2b sample, both from the early Linear Pottery Culture (LBK) , which would later diffuse the new agricultural lifestyle to most of Poland, Germany and the Low Countries. This means that haplogroup I1 was present in central Europe at the time of the Neolithic expansion not in Sweden. These hunter gatherers moved into the Nordic countries around 5,000 years ago where the Neolithic (farmers) and I1 carriers, lived side by side with the Mesolithic people (hunter gatherers) of Southern Scandinavia as found by ‘Skogland et al’ in paper published in 2012.

To further show that integration exists between peoples, and therefore it is difficult to suggest one ‘tribe’ over another, evidence shows that from 2800 BCE a large-scale cultural and genetic upheaval hit Scandinavia with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans from Eastern Europe. At this point this upheaval hit Scandinavia with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans from Eastern Europe, who introduced the Copper Age and Early Bronze Age to the region. The first Indo-Europeans to reach Scandinavia were the Corded Ware people from modern Russia, Belarus and Poland, who are thought to have belonged predominantly to haplogroup R1a, with a minority of R1b and I2a. But this is not all,The second major Indo-European migration to Scandinavia was that of haplogroup R1b-U106, the branch that is thought to have introduced Proto-Germanic languages, as an offshoot of the Proto-Celto-Germanic speakers from Central Europe.

According to ‘Allentoft in 2015’, R1b probably entered Scandinavia from present-day Germany as a northward expansion around 2300-1600 BCE. The oldest known R1b sample in Scandinavia dates from the Nordic Bronze Age circa 1400 BCE.

This highlights the difficulty in claiming that Carruthers were Viking ‘clan’ as it all depends how far back we wish to go and what percentage of DNA dictates the origins of a family.

I1 and the Carruthers homelands

img_3580So, the question is, who genetically influenced the peoples of our land the most :

Research shows that the Germanic migrations dispersed I1 lineages to Britain (Anglo-Saxons), Belgium (Franks, Saxons), France (Franks, Visigoths and Burgundians), South Germany (Franks, Alamanni, Suebi, Marcomanni, Thuringii and others), Switzerland (Alamanni, Suebi, Burgundians), Iberia (Visigoths, Suebi and Vandals), Italy (Goths, Vandals, Lombards), Austria and Slovenia (Ostrogoths, Lombards, Bavarians), Ukraine and Moldova (Goths), as well as around Hungary and northern Serbia (Gepids).

The I1 found among the Poles (6%), Czechs (11%), Slovaks (6%) and Hungarians (8%) is also the result of centuries of influence from their German and Austrian neighbours. The relatively high frequency of I1 around Serbia and western Bulgaria (5% to 10%) could be owed to the Goths who settled in the Eastern Roman Empire in the 3rd and 4th centuries.

The Danish and Norwegian Vikings brought more I1 to Britain (to include the Scottish Lowlands), Ireland, the Isle of Man, Normandy, Flanders, Iberia, Sicily …..

The Swedish Vikings called the Varangians set up colonies in Russia and Ukraine, and outposts as far as the Byzantine Empire, the Caucasus and Persia. The higher frequency of I1 in Northwest Russia (east of the Baltic) hints at had a particularly strong Varangian presence.

To again clarify the position of Gottland in the Carruthers history, using the DNA marker from I1 haplogroup;  L22+ (aka S142+) although we know it is a large and robust Nordic branch, which is seen in the Y chromosome of some Carruthers, it is not Swedish. It is also very common in the rest of Britain, especially on the east coast, where the Vikings, in this case the Danes, settled most heavily in the Low Countries. It is also found in Normandy (also undoubtedly the heritage of the Danish Viking) and again in south western Scotland.

So what does this mean; it means, like many other races to include modern day Normans and Scandinavians, that we are all a mishmash of interbreeding with many different peoples over time with, as the map above reveals, with a huge percentage of Celtic DNA.

As life is not an absolute, DNA is an excellent tool to follow the male line, but conversing with other historians and friends who are professional genealogists and scientist, this works only if all ‘sons’ are in fact ‘the’ sons of the blood line.  Human nature being what it is, women as much as men were involved thoughout the ages in dalliances outside of marriage.  If this cuckold was not picked up by the family, the ‘son’ becomes ‘the son’, life goes on and the bloodline changes from that line forward, yet they still carry on the name. 


The Importance of being Carruthers

img-1300_origWe do know from previous tests that members of our lines show Viking and Norman (Northern France) DNA in their test results and most certainly the I1 marker, but the percentages are not vast compared to the whole. We accept however that although not definitive, DNA indicators do exist to suggest that Viking ‘traders/invaders’ or Norman invaders, amongst others, integrated into the indigenous population already residing in the area of the southwest of Scotland. We say this as there is no historical evidence of ethnic cleansing or genocide of the local populations and therefore living in and with, interbreeding, marriage etc remains the obvious answer.

The influence of many groups have played a major role in who and what we have become, but like the Viking DNA study in Normandy, not all is as clear cut as it seems. There remains no robust evidence to support a heavy Viking or Norman DNA presence in the west of Scotland or our family in general, although genetic markers undoubtedly exists and have played a role in our genetic makeup, but then so have others. What evidence there is, to include looking at the ‘Viking DNA Project’, is definitely not conclusive for a population of an area, never mind a family.

image1-3 2.jpeg
Suspected site of Caer Ruther

What is factual and clear cut is the earthwork site on Birrens Hill towering above and 750m west of ‘Carruthers’ Farm’ owned currently by Mr C R Graham. This is the area upon which the original Carruthers hamlet existed which is confirmed by the government agency; Historic Environment Scotland who simply call it – Carruthers. The earthworks enclosure is considered to be the site of a fort on which a homestead was also built much later, the latter now long gone. The caer remains a ‘Scheduled Monument’ in Scotland. This gives evidence and credibility to the concept of a ‘Caer’ in the area, and if the assumptive history is accurate, belonging to Ruther. 

Even if ‘we; had a Norman influence in the family, it is still reasonable to assume that rather than bringing the name with them, the name was again taken from the area itself and integration into the indigenous population occurred leading intially to ‘of Carruthers’. This is concluded as previously alluded to,  based on the current evidence that there is no derivation of a Norman name from either the Norman Invasion, nor in fact a Norman name listed from that period, that would ‘fit’ with Carruthers. This integration concept therefore would be the same for the Gaels, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Vikings etc. But the question has to be, accepting the influnces of other genetic groups in our makeup, where to we anchor ourselves: Scotland, Normandy, Scandinavia or where?

When does a Scottish clan or family become a Scottish clan or family.

There are some claims regarding Carruthers,  suggesting that we are not Scots, but Irish or Viking. As can be seen above, we need to evaluate and put into perspective these claims accepting that Carruthers, or at least the people that would come to be known as ‘of’ or ‘in’ Carruthers prior to the surname being used, were there at least 100’s of years before the family of Robert the Bruce even arrived in Scotland. I therefore use the family of King Robert the Bruce as an example based simply on them being extremely well known internationally and our own support of the them, and them of us.

The de Brus/Bruis are clearly listed as knights who arrived after William the Conqueror’s campaign into England in 1066. The current thoughts are that Bruce didnt arrive until 1106 over 900 years ago. We know that Robert de Bruse was a companion in Arms to the future King David I of Scotland, in 1124. This means that sometime in the 18 years of arriving, de Brus moved to Scotland. As we said previously, the evidence further shows that the Normans (Northmen) were of Viking descent (in fact the gene pool reflects Franks, Gallo Romans and Vikings supporting population integration) so do we class them at that point as Norman or Viking?

Based on the genetic make up of Bruce, in a similar vein to all other families and clans in Scotland, ignorant people or those with their own agenda could in fact argue that they were not Scots.

Accepting the role they and others have played in Scottish history, how downright ridiculous would that be. The family rose from knight to Lords of Annandale to Earls, they were  integral in Scottish history and played a huge part in Scottish Independence and founded a Royal Line.

So are the Bruce Scots?  One has to assume that after nearly a thousand years of living there, their role in our history and the love and pride the Scots themselves have in them,  of course they are.

Yet, accepting as a people ‘we’ourselves have been proven to be ‘of’ the indiginous peoples of our own homelands and most certainly ‘of’ the area, in order to fullfill an agenda, we still have those who chose to believe nonsence about our own family origins.

Our Origins 

Caer Ruthers 2
Potential site of Caer Ruthers, on Birren Hill

However, by bringing together of the history and the science surrounding our origins, there is no doubt that Carruthers are a Scottish clan and family. Our origins are not Norman, Viking, Gutes, Ashmen or Gael, we are border Scots from Annandale in the West March of the Anglo Scottish border and remain proud of the same.

We therefore feel, based on the irreputable evidence, that the origins of Carruthers remain topographical in classification. We further believe, based on current reseach, that the name is taken from the place name ‘Caer Ruthers’ and that we took our name from the same. This falls within the designation and process described by Black and is accepted by most other authors researching the subject. Based on our own research and that of other, both inside the family and external to it, we feel this accurately reflects our origins.

With this in mind, the population of Annandale and thus our own family may have, like many other border families, become a broad church of DNA and that we are not all from the Chiefly line.  The attempt to prove we are all from the main trunk, in our opinion causes bad research and an incorrect joining of the genetic dots. This obviously leads to an abuse of the genealogy, simply to prove one is from the main line, rather than accepting that they are from a separate tree, but the same topographic source.

The origin of our Chiefly Arms.

Moving ahead in time, lords/lairds of baronies, landowners and farmers were inclined to overstate their importance by signing letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms, instead of the Christian names and surname.

This caused a confusion in titles, and led to an Act being passed in 1672 in the Scottish Parliament, forbidding this practice and declaring that only ‘noblemen’ and bishops could subscribe to and use these titles.

The Heralds would then distinquish between those they had evidence of, that were seen to be worthy to hold arms and titles, and those that were not.

As an aside, what is interesting about this and remains pertinent to our family in general, is that John Carruthers, 9th of Holmains and 5th Baron registered what are now recognised as the chiefly arms of Carruthers in 1672. These arms were a union of the ancient arms of Carruthers, and those of the House of Mouswald.

This reflected the level of importance and standing the family held in Scottish society of the day.

Another Carruthers, cousin of John the 9th, who was James Carruthers of Isle, also registered his arms. James was an important man in his day being, Stewart Depute of Annandale and Factor to the Earl of Annandale.

Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey



8 thoughts on “Clan Carruthers: The Origins of the Name and Family of Carruthers.”

  1. My paternal grandfather was Jack Caruthers of Woodward Oklahoma owner and operator of Jack’s Refrigeration.
    I had been told that I am related to this family Clan Carruthers .

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