Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: Use of Arms to show fealty and support to the Chief.

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Fealty to a Chief

The piece below explains the use of arms, in this case by Clan Kincaid although for ease of understanding, Kincaid has been replaced with the name Carruthers. It is interesting to note that the wearing of, or the use of the chiefs crest or Arms, is a declaration in support of the chief and in our case; Peter Carruthers of Holmains, hereditary Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers.

The Arms are contained within the Shield of the Chief and in the case of Carruthers consist of two engrailed chevrons between three fleur-de-lis, all in gold, on a red shield, this is blazoned as: Gules, two chevrons engrailed, between three fleu-de-lis Or. Since the demise of the House of Mouswald in 1548, the chiefly Arms of Carruthers have been the Arms of Holmains and since 1672 all other legally warranted Carruthers arms have been taken from these, with two differences. For instance the Arms of James Carruthers of Dormont show the use of a Gold Border and the exchange of chevrons engrailed to chevronelles engrailed.  Dr George Carruthers, Convenor of the Society, once shows again the use of chevronelles rather than chevrons and again engrailed, and in this instance an exchange of a pheon for the fleur de lis in the base.

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Arms of our Chief

The use or portrayal of this shield, which is the physical and intellectual property of the Clan Chief of Carruthers; Peter Carruthers of Holmains, is a clear indication of loyalty to the same, or if used illegally, a blatant attempt to proclaim albeit fraudulently, some form of official status when their are none. In countries where warrants or Letters Patents have been issues by the British Monarch that they may issue Arms on their behalf, it would be deemed illegal and disallowed.   

The Right to Bear Arms

Scotland is the only country in the world that maintains an official legal registry of Armorial Bearings for individuals whose roots belong to that country. The science of Heraldry is complex and steeped in history, tradition and law. Any treatise on the subject confined to a few paragraphs would, of necessity, be only an effort to introduce the reader to concepts and open the door to a more full exploration of possibilities with the proper authorities. The Lyon has the right, after careful investigation of all the evidence and proofs, to grant of matriculate arms to those applicants who can prove their descendancy.

Armorial Bearings

A “Coat of Arms”, as it is often referred to and displayed, is really composed of several parts – 1) The Shield or Lozenge,  2) Helm or Chapeau, 3) Torse, 4) Mantling, 5) Crest, 6) Motto and 7) such additional accoutrements as befit an individuals rank.

James Carruthers of Isle

However, the Shield is the most important part as that is arms of the individual owned and registered in their name. The Shield was used in war and as such is exclusive to men. Women make use of a Lozenge which is a diamond shape containing the same styling as the shield. To the left is the Arms of Carruthers of Isle (registered in 1672)

The Helm or Helmet on the arms upon which sits the torse, acts as another visual signature and identifies the rank of the holder to those who understand Heraldry. Using the wrong helm simply portrays something that you are not and again should call into question the whole authenticity of the arms themselves.

The Torse or wreath, is a woven band off which hangs the mantling. The colour of both reflects the primary colours of the arms of the Chief. In the case of Carruthers, it is red ( Gules) and gold (Or).

The Crest sits above the wreath or torse, and depicts as a visual signiture, the arms and identity of the armiger. To date all Carruthers crests historically have been angelic, and in the case of the Seraphim, it has always been depicted with a head and face as per religious and heraldic depictions of the same. 

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A Clansman’s Crest may therefore respond to that of the Chief or be entirely different if no chief is in place. If there is a chief, it is always the Chief’s Crest that appears within the Strap and Buckle and is worn as a broach or badge by members of his/her Clan to indicate allegiance to the Clan Chief. This includes any derivation of the same, based on the Clan Chiefs official blazon of the crest. The motto of the chief is inscribed on the belt and buckle.

The Motto is a saying or phrase giving common purpose to a Clan or branch of a Clan. A motto can be individually granted to all armigers and is a saying or phrase giving an idea of their philosophy of life. In the case of the Chief of Carruthers it is ready and faithful – promptus et fidelis, in the case of Carruthers of Isle it is – Paratus et Fidelis and Dr Carruthers – Non Sto Solus. In Scottish Heraldry, the motto is always on top of the full Arms, never at the bottom.

Who Bears a Coat of Arms?

Firstly it is important to understand that there is no such thing as a family coat of arms in Scotland. Arms are individual and heritable. That is, they are property and can be passed on from father to eldest son. 

First a Grant of Arms must be made. This is the right of the Lord Lyon King of Arms by appointment by her Majesty – Queen Elizabeth II. A grant of Arms is made to a native Scot who has distinguished him/herself or belongs to an armigerous (having arms) family such as the Carruthers. 

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Once a Grant of Arms has been established, descendants of the person who received the Grant may Matriculate their arms. That is to say – bring them up to date. Eldest sons have no need to Matriculate their Arms as they receive them un-differenced from their fathers. Second, third and succeeding sons will each bear a small difference from their father’s arms. The differences are prescribed but can be altered to befit rank, occupation, accomplishment, etc. Such differences are agreed upon between the petitioner and the Lord Lyon. The first son has an in verted ‘E’ across the arms of his father, on the horizontal, to indicate he is the heir, the second son a gold border/bordure to show that he is a cadet or junior line as can be seen above.

How can a Carruthers obtain a Coat of Arms?

George Carruthers Pottenger 200AFirst: you must be able to prove that you are descended from a Carruthers who was a subject of a Scottish (British after 1707) Monarch. For those living in the United States, that means a Carruthers who was either born in Scotland or born in the United States prior to 1776 when it was still British Territory. Canada has its own Heraldic Office in Ottawa, which grants Coat of Arms. For those living in other nations, your ancestor would have to have been born a British subject of Scottish decent.

Second: you must be a direct male descendant of (or show relationship to) that individual to Matriculate an Arms. Ladies may bear the arms of their father but can not pass on that arms to their children as their children would use their father’s arms. (There are complicated exceptions to this last statement as the world is changing and this may not continue to be the case.

If you are descended from an individual who has a Grant of Arms you can go directly to the Process of Matriculation. If you do not descend from a person with arms then you must Petition for a Grant of Arms for either yourself or your ancestor, then if/when the Grant has been made, if for an ancestor you can then matriculate the arms up to you. 

Is having Arms worthwhile: the Pros and Cons

Cons : Firstly there is the resrch into ones ancestry to prove the entilement for arms. In the case of looking for a chief, this took the Society 0ver 10 years, with a further nearly 2 years going through the Lord Lyons process. All documentation is checked and analysed to remove the posibility of fraufulant claims, but is worth it in the end.

The costs are currently:

  • New Grant of Armorial Bearings, including shield and crest and motto £2625.00
  • New Grant of Armorial Bearings, including shield alone £1805.00
  • New Grant of Armorial Bearings, including shield, crest and motto, together with supporters (see note 1 below) £ 3635.00/£3735.00
  • Matriculation of previously recorded Armorial Bearings, including shield, crest and motto £1310.00
  • Matriculation of previously recorded Armorial Bearings, including shield and motto alone £1130.00
  • Matriculation of previously recorded Armorial Bearings, including shield, crest and supporters £1870.00/£1970.00
  • Matriculation of previously recorded Armorial Bearings, including shield and crest, together with Grant of new supporters £2340.00/2440.00
  • New Grant of Armorial Bearings, including shield, crest and motto to a commercial organisation £4200.00
  • New Grant of Armorial Bearings, including shield and motto alone to a commercial organisation £3,80.00
  • New Grant of Armorial Bearings, including shield, crest and motto, together with supporters to a commercial organisation £5235.00/£5335.00Certificate of Change of Name £ 255.00/£325.00

Supporters are normally only granted to Peers, Clan Chiefs and those of rank of Knight Grand Cross and upwards. They are only granted to Companies established by Royal Charter or an Act of Parliament.

Those wishing to pursue this matter are advised to establish direct communications with the Office of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms. The address is:

    The Court of the Lord Lyon
    H. M. New Register House
    Edinburgh, SCOTLAND
    EH1 3YT

For further information request “Information Leaflet Number 4” which contains details of process, examples of petitions, Schedules of proofs and current cost are included. 

Pros: The ability to bear your own arms and maintain the position of Armiger in a Clan, is one of great respect and outwith the right to sit on a Chief’s Grand Council if called, it ensures, not only is the name held within the same register as the greats of Scotland, it anchors one’s own family to our ancestral home for time immemorial.

all registered carruthers arms 2There are currently only 12 Carruthers Arms in the Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland including those of our current Chief Simon Peter Carruthers of Holmains. There are several arms belonging to Carruthers of the 19th century and a number of Carruthers all descended from the Holmains line who have matriculated their arms in the last 150 years or so. There is also one other petition awaiting a grant from the Lyon and we hope to here about this soon.

iu-15For a good book on the subject, the Lyon’s Office suggests a definitive book on the subject of Heraldry that I could cite. I was referred to the text “Scots Heraldry” by Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Lord Lyon King of Arms. It was first published 1936 and enlarged in a second edition published in 1956 by Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh. The most recent edition is 1978. If you can get a copy of this book you will find it very interesting reading. 

To those who are currently using a “Carruthers” Coat of Arms on their Stationary, Blazer, China, etc. I applaud your good intentions but caution you that it is neither legal nor appropriate. The use of the Chief’s Badge (Crest) is more suitable, with the understanding that by using it you are declaring yourself for the Chief of the Clan. 

In conclusion, I hope that this brief article helps you to understand a little more about Scottish Heraldry and perhaps a few of you may even pursue the acquisition of your own personal arms. 

As a Clan, both the Society and our Chief would enjoy the prospect of more of our name applying for Arms as they bolster the clan and augment our otherwise very rich heritage but more importantly, allows members of Carruthers to put their personal stamp on the Carruthers history, going forwards.


GC BADGE ARTWORK Chosen Logo-10The Clan Carruthers Society (International) was founded in January 2017 and is officially recognised by the Chief of Carruthers to represent 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 

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