Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: Supporters Granted.

Dr Peter Carruthers of Holmains, Chief of Clan Carruthers

As a clan, our chiefly arms of Holmains, registered in 1672 by John Carruthers 9th of Holmains and recognised as those borne by our Chief through the centuries, have never to date been granted supporters. There are claims of arms with supporters on them, but they have no recognition nor official status as Carruthers arms.

However, after the confirmation of Peter Carruthers of Holmains’ as Chief of our Name and Arms in August 2019, the additaments were left to be discussed and hopefully granted. These included the recognition and recording of the Clan flower , Chiefs banner and Pinsel and of course, whether the Clan itself was large enough to warrant supporters on their chiefly arms. By estimation, there are over 60,000 Carruthers or derivations of our name worldwide, making us not as large as some, but definately not small either.

Clan Plant Badge 

Carruthers Badge Bonnet and plantThis is not to be confused with the Clan’s Crest Badge. The Clan Badge, was a sprig from a local plant by which clansmen would allegedly identify themselves in battle. Reputedly, used well before a clan crest,  it is worn these days on a bonnet, behind the clans crest badge or attached at the shoulder of a lady’s tartan sash.  

An authentic example of plants being used in this way (though not by a clan) were the sprigs of oats used by troops under the command of Montrose during the sack of Aberdeen in 1644. Similar items are known to have been used by military forces in Scotland, like paper, or the famous “White Cockade” (a bunch of white ribbons attached to the bonnet), which would show that the individual was a supporter of the Jacobite cause.

iu-16Because of the fleur-de-lis being predominant on some of our shields, the lily has in the past been associated with us, however the current Chief has officially registered the furze or yellow gorse (ulex europaeus) as our official Clan Plant Badge. It was chosen, as it is found in abundance in Annandale from which we originate and it was also reputedly used by our Reiver ancestors to corral livestock, either at home or en route after a raid. The yellow flower of the ‘furze’ is protected by its spiny leaves, in much the same manner as our forebears historically protected their family, lands and country as the renowned Border Prickers.

Supporters on Arms

In Boutell’s Heraldry, supporters in heraldry are defined as “figures that stand on either side of the shield, as if upholding and guarding it”. These figures can either be human or beast and can be real or mythological or completely original and imagined. Sometimes even inanimate objects are used as supporters. 

The context of the application of supporters may vary, although entitlement may be considered conditioned by grant of a type of augmentation of honour by admission in orders of chivalry or by heraldic authorities, such as in the case of traditional Scottish heraldry. 

chiefs arms with mantling red and silver 2

We are therefore exceptionally pleased to announce that as of 26 November 2019, our chiefly arms have been granted supporters as additaments by the Lord Lyon. The supporters were accepted, after discussion with the Chief and his legal Council, Sir Crispin Agnew QC, as two fallow bucks rampant on either side, representing the lands of Dumfriesshire. The Interlocutor has been signed, see the text below, making the decision official. The mockup to the left is representative of the full achievement of the Chief of Clan Carruthers, note the gorse in the base. Animal supporters are by default, portayed as close to rampant as possible if the nature of the supporter allows it (this does not need to be mentioned in the blazon), though there can be some blazoned exceptions.

progression of Holmains Arms 2

Above is the progression from the Chiefs Arms (Shield) through to the full registered Chiefly Arms of Holmains in 1672, to the adding of a compartment of heath, with gorse on which stands the supporters. The balzon is noted below in the Interlocutor Note: as in all Scottish arms, the motto; Promptus et Fidelis, sits at the top.

This really is superb news, not only for the Chief, but for the clan in general, as it shows quite clearly that we are taking our place in Scottish clan society and just as importantly in Scottish clan history. This is something we have been striving for, for many years.

It is said that originally, heraldic artists drew figures around the shield simply to fill out the empty space when creating seals for their masters. This was done without any real heraldic meaning or rules. They were just a “filler”.

Over the years, the use of supporters, as with the rest of heraldry, started becoming organised and rules were established. These rules were not only observed in Scotland, brining into play the Lord Lyons Act of 1672,  but also throughout the United Kingdom and in the rest of Europe. These rules set the stage for all those with Heraldic Authorities such as Canada, where it would be illegal, as it is in the UK, to use someone elses arms. These same basic rule, especially regarding supporters and the use of the regitered arms of other, by all other respectable Heraldic organisations worldwide, to include the United States.

In Summary

Thankfully after years of tenacity and hard work, we are where we are.  We have a Chief with legally granted supporters, a great bonus to our Clan, we have official and legal recognition as a clan in our own right and we are recognised as such internationally. As a worldwide organisation, we have set up regional branches in Australia, the US, Canada, and Europe. Our Society is therefore strongly founded on our ancient Scottish history and heritage and we embrace the ancestry from which we came.

So why are armigers and the Chief’s arms important. Well, simply put they are the personal identity of the Clan, they are the visual signiture of who and what we are and they offer a legal and pictoral history of Carruthers as a clan and family through ages, and most importantly, theu belong to an individual not a family. For those of us in our Society, we remain proud of our Scottish heritage and culture and we believe Clan Carruthers is worth the effort in promoting the same.

As a Society, we will keep doing what we are doing, we will keep ploughing through the evidence and we will keep building a clan for which all Carruthers can be proud for many generations to come. We hope you support us.

For a guide on Scottish arms please see:

Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey





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