The Genealogy of John Franklin Carothers and the fabled tale of a link to the line of Carruthers chiefs…or not as the case may be!
In November 1937 John Franklin Carothers wrote his Genealogical Record of the Ancestors and Descendants of John Franklin Carothers, which in itself was a monumental task . However his claims and those using his charts and in fact the records of the Church of Latter Day Saints as a base line, without due care and attention has led to false claims of genealogical links to the chiefly line of Holmains, without any substantive evidence.
In any form of science, of which genealogy will fall, the pitfalls of bad and lazy research are well known. This is amplified by how quickly that same research can become utilised to fit an agenda or sell a product. However, thankfully there are always those with the skills to point out the errors, which if left alone, will seriously affect the research of many less experienced individuals going forward.
With this in mind, and accepting our family history and genealogy is the bedrock upon which we build, our society has put together a research group with some of our best genealogists from around the world. This has been done to educate and inform and attempt to combat the many fraudulant claims which are tarnishing the good name of Carruthers.
The Clan Carruthers Genealogy Research Group
The group includes the following individuals from our Society, all working in unison for your benefit.
- Dana Caruthers Norton (USA) – Team Lead
- Chris Carruthers (USA)
- Gary Carruthers (Australia)
- Pat Carruthers Weber (Canada)
- Arthur Miltenburg (UK)
- Laurie Caron Pasher (Canada)
- Janet Carruthers Webb (Zimbabwe)
- Catherine Pavli (Canada)
- Susan Carruthers Tattersall (UK)
To ensure the research is accurate, the works of an individual are critiqued by the others in the group. This ensures that what we publish is based on good investigative skills and current evidence.
As in all areas of research, they are further supported by the following advisors:
- John Titford MA (Cantab), M ès L (Sorbonne), FSA, FSG. Licentiate of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (UK)
- Anthony Maxwell, BA, BSc, Heraldic Artist, Historian and Genealogist (UK)
- Dr George Carruthers, FSA Scot, Convenor CCSI (UK)
The American Society of Genealogists
One of the tasks they have undertaken to date, based on the claims being made by others, was to analyse the works by John Franklin Carothers, from which many have taken their own family trees. Sadly we find the links in his research to the chiefly line of Holmains wanting. This culminated in rechecking and critiquing the evidence and claims of his works accepting that his charts are published in the US, and viewed by some as accurate. We therefore contacted and consulted with the American Society of Genealogists with our findings and received this response.
Dear Mr. Carruthers
Thank you for your email.
Yes, many statements in Compendium of American Genealogy – First Families of America indeed have been proven unsubstantiated and false. It’s a shame, because they do perpetuate and have done so for years.
Keep up your good work in correcting this material.
Henry Z Jones, Jr.
President & Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, &
Fellow of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society
Josiah Van Kirk (J.V.) Thompson
We also need to take into consideration the preface in John Franklin’s book where he states that;
About this time I received a letter from Josiah V Thompson of Unlontown, Pennsylvania, asking about the Carothers family In Shelby County, Missouri. I gladly gave him all the assistance I could and In return he gave me quite a lot of material on the Carothers’ line, confirming what I already had, and quite a bit of additional material on the family history, going back to Ireland and Scotland which he had secured from his genealogist whom he had employed to look up the family line In Scotland and Ireland.
Mr. Thompson had been gathering this material for a number of years with the intention of publishing it. Unfortunately, through adverse conditions of health and financial matters, he was prevented from achieving his ambition, his death occurring September 27, 1933.
However in the piece by Sharon Hall in 2017, on Gustave Anjou entitled the ‘King of Genealogical Fraud’ at www.trace.com/genealogists, she clearly states:
Coal baron Josiah Van Kirk (“J.V.”) Thompson ended up paying Anjou over $50,000 to research several family lines he was interested in. Thompson had declared voluntary bankruptcy in 1917 and began devoting himself to genealogical research, with hopes to compile his research, publish it and make a tidy profit. In 1930, before an Orphan’s Court, defending himself against contempt charges, Thompson admitted to paying the considerable sum to Anjou.
This connection strongly suggests again that John Franklin Carothers’ genealogy and research was totally corrupted and perpetuated into the future by this information.
The Records of the Church of Latter Day Saints
Accepting that others are claiming the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) as the ‘Holy Grail’ of their Carruthers genealogy, we did our own research. It seems that as much as the LDS try very hard to keep their records accurate, they are still open to misuse and corruption by the general public. This is usually to fit an agenda, or to simply try and build a profile that they are not entitled to.
In an article entitled ‘FRAUDULENT LINEAGES’, mentioned on genealogy.com, compiled by Mr. Robert Charles Anderson, CG, FASG of 2 Fenway, Derry, NH 03038, and published in Volume 19, Numbers 1 & 2, 1991 of the Genealogical Journal of the Utah Genealogical Association, PO Box 1144, Salt Lake, Utah 84110. The title of the article is; ‘We Wuz Robbed!’
Mr. Anderson is the Director of the Great Migration Study Project sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He is a Certified Genealogist, a fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, a fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association, and has published numerous articles in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and The Genealogist, as well as the Genealogical Journal.
The article goes on to talk about the forgeries and frauds committed by GUSTAVE ANJOU (1863-1942) and their Society believed that this material should be brought to the attention of all who may come in contact with any the publications listed below.
They mention specifically “The following 109 “genealogies” are found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
All but those marked with an asterisk are cataloged under Gustave Anjou, H. Anjou, or M. Anjou in the Author-Title Catalog.
Rather than listing the full 109, we have listed only the section, which would be relevant to us as a family.
CARROLL FamilyFHL #908510 item 11
CARUTHERS Family929.273 C2372a
CARTER FamiliesFHL #897418 item 22
The CHALFONT Family929.273 C35a
CHAPLIN FamilyFHL #908086 item 9
The CHILD Family929.273 C436a
CHURCH Family929.273 A1 no. 544
The CHURCH Family from 1202FHL #389396
Mr. Robert Charles Anderson even gave out the following warning, which is still ignored and abused by some it seems:
If you or you know of anyone researching any of the above lines, you are going to have serious problems with your lineage somewhere when you run into a brick wall you can not scale. Not only will the above mentioned “genealogies” steer you into uncharted waters but any other genealogies that followed later which have used this material for their source. Any of your sources that trace back to anything compiled by Gustave Anjou will prove suspect.
Interestingly it seems that the Carothers genealogy in the LDS Records and that of JF Carothers may need to carry a similar warning.
However the LDS Genealogists do carry out research and check works coming in and have located and highlighted the Carothers / Sproull family in their list of noted fraudulent lineages included in their Salt Lake Repositories.
These are also listed as members of John Franklin Carothers in his later Scottish lineage.
Work by the Society’s Research Group
Although the works have only recently been plagiarised by others, we decided to post and offer credit where credit is due.
The blatant error in his works is the claim that John Franklin Carothers line comes through Rammerscales to the chiefly line of Holmains. However this on investigation is obviously untrue.
We, in the Research Group, have determined and reached agreement that there was no John Carruthers 1st of Rammerscales, son to John Carruthers, 1st Baron of Holmains and to neither of his wives Blanche Murray nor in fact Janet Jardine.
It is duly noted that Simon Carruthers was, as the son of John Carruthers, 5th of Holmains and 1st Baron,1st of Rammerscales. This is clearly stated in pgs 85 and 86 of “Records of the Carruthers Family” where it describes the establishment of the Barony of Holmains, and the lands given to the 6th laird of Holmains, John Carruthers, the grandson, which includes Rammerscales. John, the 1st Baron, had 2 wives, first Blanche Murray and second, Janet Jardine.
Again this is clearly supported on Page 90 of the “Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society – Transactions and Journal of Proceedings 1959-60 Third Series, Volume XXXVIII” that the grandson of John Carruthers (5th Laird and 1st Baron of Holmains) was served heir to Holmains in March 1538/1539.
This means that John Franklin Carothers was completely duped by the fraudulent work of Gustave Anjou in his genealogy and the link therefore to Rammerscales does not exist.
Further research by the Group
Since this work was plagiarised, further research has come to light by the Group highlighting even further mistakes, which are being made deliberately or otherwise. It seems that in order to circumvent the broken Rammerscales link another and still incorrect attempt has been made by the weakness of some researchers to identify their descendancy from Holmains.
Carruthers of Butterquhat
The oldest family that can be sourced from John Franklin Carothers work is the John Carothers, Esquire who married Mary Armstrong in 1765. They are well documented due to their tragic deaths, which were pu;ished in the newspapers: (U.S., Newspaper Extractions from the Northeast, 1704-1930, Ancestry.com
From there, John, of Carlisle, [Pennsylvania] parents are supposed to be the infamous Robert Carruthers and Sarah Sproul (whose ancestry has also been foibled by Gustave Anjou). Sadly investigative research cannot find a single source document for that relationship, and neither can our genealogists do so for the next 5 generations back in JFC’s work.
However, if we go to that first John, who is the 1st Baron of Holmains, he has a son John by his first wife, Blanche Murray, as noted in JFC’s work, but that John, does not inherit, he dies at Solway Moss in 1542. The second eldest son, George then inherits the bulk of the estate. This is clearly seen on the descendancy chart for Holmains: https://www.carothers-carruthers.com/docHolmains%20Chart.pdf, taken from the Records of the Carruthers Family by Carruthers and Reid, pages 20-21. John, the 1st Baron, also had a second wife, Janet Jardine, and they also have a son, again called John.
Page 90 of the “Records of the Carruthers Family” lists the 2 John’s (actually 3, but the latter 2 are described as probably being the same person). One from his first wife, Blanche Murray (who dies at Solway Moss) and the 2nd from his second wife, Janet Jardine. Page 156, in Chapter XIII of the same, on the Families of Butterquhat, there is mention of one John Carruthers, who, in 1558 is named as bailie in a precept, and is noted as probably being the son of John Carruthers of Holmains and [his second wife] Janet Jardine.
The suggestion of a Butterquhat connection is a leap of faith simply because that 2nd son, John, is the John that JFC refers to being the father of the John that married Susannah Wydderspoon. The one and only reference that was landed on for that relationship, is the Carruthers tree on the Stirnet site: https://www.stirnet.com/genie/data/british/cc4aq/carruthers02.php.
Extract from the Works of John Franklin Carruthers
Our genealogists are therefore having serious issues trusting the tree on ‘stirnet’, because it contains the fraudulent names listed for Gustave Anjou, and replicates information from the US site. We remain highly suspect of this information.
Simply put, our Research Group, suggests anything linked with John Franklin Carruthers Genealogical reserch, should be taken with a huge pinch of salt. They have evidenced that the same son of John, 1st Baron, 5th of Holmains and his second wife Janet Jardine, in this case John the 5th , son who we know was John and was also Parson of Little Dalton, had himself a son John. This John it is suggested married a Susannah Wydderspoon. The couple allegedly also had a son named Joannis Carruthers, who married Lady Elizabeth Henderson, daughter of John of Bandrum. Sadly this relationship and descendancy from John, Parson of Little Dalton is not supported by the evidence and may just be an obvious attempt to join the dots.
There was no John Carruthers, 1 of Rammerscales – it’s a proven fact that it was Simon, which our research group has identified and evidenced and there is no link to Butterquhat using the evidence available from reliable sources. What this means quite simply, is there is no connection from John Franklin Carouthers’ line to that of our chiefs of Holmains.
That there are those who have mistakenly created John, 1 of Rammerscales (above) to being in the frame, a son of John Carruthers who was Parson of Little Dalton. Once again the evidence shows that this John remains a fraudulent person, created by Gustave Anjou. There is no record, nor any historical evidence to support him being the son of either Rammerscales or of Dalton.
Further, Susannah Wydderspoon who supposedly married him, is also a figment of the notorious Anjou’s imagination, as again there are no historical records to substantiate her existence, although she is listed on other sites.
Sadly as genealogical mistakes are compound and self-perpetuating, we follow this fraudulence into the next generation where there is claim of a son Joannis, who it is reported married Lady Elizabeth Henderson, daughter of John Henderson of Bandrum.
Not only are there no records of there ever having been a John Henderson of Bandrum in the region at the time, there is no such place in Annandale on any land or parish register as is implied.
Interestingly there is a mention of a place in Fife known as Bandrum and it does have links to a John Henderson (1580-1653), but no robust evidence connecting him back to John Carruthers, Parson of Dalton.
As an aside, there is however a scam site under ‘Bandrum, Scotland’ where an individual may purchase a ‘square one foot plot of land’ and the fake titles of ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’ which again carries no credibility. Says it all really – https://www.scottishlandsales.co.uk.
Who was Gustave Anjou
Gustave Anjou born December 1, 1863, died March 2, 1942, is an internationally infamous and self-professed genealogist who prepared hundreds of fraudulent pedigrees. His first name is sometimes spelled Gustav.
Widely known today for his many expensive and fraudulent genealogies tainting many early American families, to include Carruthers/Carothers. This occured in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and Anjou was known to receive as much as $9,000 for a genealogy report from his wealthy clients. His report usually took three weeks to complete and included a ‘coat of arms’ and surname history.
We now know that both John Franklin Carothers and any Carruthers Genealogy in the Church of the Latter Day Saints records are seriously tainted by Anjou, yet even today amateur and fraudulent genealogists still use this information to incorrectly join the dots.
Gustav is heavily denounced in the piece ‘FAMILY GROUP RECORD FRAUD’, by Elaine C. Nichols amongst many others. In fact the genealogy.com forums clearly state: Never Trust Gustave Anjou and anyone who quotes him or deliberately uses his works is also fake. This is further supported by an article in 1976 :The American Genealogist, George E. McCracken, American Genealogist, July 1976. (ISSN 0002-8592)
McCracken’s article is one of the most widely quoted sources on Anjou’s fraudulent works on the Internet, although attribution to McCracken is not always made. McCracken’s article also names other authors of suspect genealogies in the article as well, although none come close to Anjou and his activities.
In 1991, genealogists Robert Charles Anderson and Gordon L. Remington wrote companion articles on Anjou in the Genealogical Journal, the Quarterly publication of the Utah Genealogical Association, the former mentioned above.
Sadly as we see on a daily basis, much of the fraud in genealogy can be attributed to a desire for establishing a royal, noble, or otherwise distinguished descent or for laying claim to an estate or in the case of Carruthers, giving credibility to a fraudulent link to the line of our chiefs. This situation sadly still goes on.
This purported lineage, as claimed by John Franklin Carothers and supported by information on the family in the records of the Church of Latter Day Saints, is known to be corrupted and more importantly and sadly for some, does not and cannot link to Carruthers of Holmains. To date we as both a Society and a Research Group feel that the connections and claimed links are false. It is therefore our conclusion that John Franklin Carothers could not prove any link to the Chiefly line of Holmains through either Rammerscales or Butterquhat, nor in fact through any of the houses. However, even today and in some cases knowingly using this false information and bad research, some continue to try to make false genealogical leaps of faith.
We would therefore strongly advise all members of the clan carrying out family research to ensure that they get their information from a reliable source.
We always look forward to ANY new evidence being produced to challenge our findings in order that we may build on the evidence available and if necessary, review our stance.
To date however, nothing robust has been forthcoming.
The Clan Carruthers Society (International) was founded in January 2017 and is officially recognised by the Chief of Carruthers as representing the worldwide Carruthers family. It is non-commercial, apolitical and non-partisan and is open to any member of the international Carruthers family and derivatives of that name. The Society is based in the United Kingdom, but is represented by an international Executive Council.