Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: 274th Anniversary of Culloden, April 16th 2020


Today is the 274th Anniversary of the Battle of Culloden. On the 16th of April 1746, on a field outside of Inverness, the Battle was fought. It was a disasterous day for the Scottish Jacobites who, as a hungaru and tired army, lost the field and their wounded were massacered where they fell. Historians suggest that many things went wrong for the Scots, as the battle lasted approximately an hour, and the victorious cries of the ‘Royal’ Army echoed across the field.

This progressivly led to the end of highland clan life as we know it and the introduction of the Act of Proscription. The act banned the wearing of highland dress, carrying of weapons and the a preference towards the teaching of English, Latin and Greek.  This covered the areas: ‘within the shire of Dunbartain, on the north side of the water of Leven, Stirling on the north side of the river of Forth, Perth, Kincardin, Aberdeen, Inverness, Nairn, Cromarty, Argyle, Forfar, Bamff, Sutherland, Caithness, Elgine and Ross’.

It was repealed in 1782, however The Jacobite cause to bring a Stuart back on the throne of Scotland, was all but lost and Bonnie Prince Charlie headed back to France where he died in 1788 of a hemorrhage to the brain. The Jacobites failed to rally again.

According to a piece by Ellen Castelow on the Historic Scotland web site:

The last ever pitched battle to be fought on British soil took place on 16th April 1746 on Drummossie Moor, overlooking Inverness.

At the Battle of Culloden, a well-supplied Hanovarian Government army led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II, would face the forces of Charles Edward Stewart, The Young Pretender, in the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

The Jacobite Rising was an attempt to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. Having failed in their attempt to gain support in England and advance on London, the Jacobites had retreated all the way back to Scotland.

Under constant pressure from the King’s army, Charles marched his force of around 6,000 men ever further northward, before finally establishing a base at Inverness.

Ignoring advice to launch a guerrilla campaign, Charles chose to stage a defensive action and confront his enemy at nearby Drummossie Moor. He also ignored warnings that the marshy rough ground may favour the larger Government forces. And so, on a rain soaked morning the Government army struck camp and headed towards the moorland around Culloden and Drummossie to take up their positions.

Over the first half-hour of the battle, Cumberland’s artillery battered the Jacobite lines, first with roundshot and then grapeshot. Finally, Charles issued the orders his Highlanders had been waiting for, to charge the enemy.

Although hampered and slowed down by the boggy ground, many of the Highlanders reached the Government lines. In the bloody hand to hand fighting that followed, the new Redcoat tactic of bayoneting the exposed side of the man to the right, rather than confronting the one directly in front appears to have paid dividends. The Highlanders finally broke and fled, the entire battle had lasted less than hour.

Over the weeks that followed, those Jacobites that managed to escape the battlefield were hunted down and killed (as pictured below). Charles himself evaded capture for five long months, eventually making good his escape to France and final exile.


Key Facts:

Date: 16th April, 1746

War: Jacobite Rising

Location: Culloden, near Inverness

Belligerents: British Government, Jacobites (with support from France)

Victors: British Government

Numbers: British Government 8,000, Jacobites around 6,000

Casualties: British Government 300, Jacobites 1,500 – 2,000

Commanders: Duke of Cumberland (British Government), Charles Edward Stuart (Jacobites)




So there are many comments about the English army being full of lowlanders against the Highland army of Prince Charles, and this is accurate and in accurate. There were definately, lowlanders and in fact Highlanders in both camps, but it seemed that the Border folks were not heavily involved, at least on the side of Cumberland.

On the English side, the Campbells and Munroes were apparent in great numbers as were the the Royal Scots, who at the time were known as the St Clairs under Major General Sir James St Clair of Dysart and Rosslyn, played a central role on the side of the English Army at Culloden.

The main list of Clans that fought at Culloden on the side of the Jacobites included: Camerons, Chisholms, Drummonds, Farquharsons, Fergusons, Frasers, Gordons, Grants, Innes, Macgregors, Macbeans, Macdonalds, Macdonnells, Macgillivrays, Macinnes, Macintyres, Macpherson, Macintoshes, Mackinnons, Maclachlans, Maclarens, Macleods (Raasay), Murrays, Oglilvies, Robertsons, Stewarts (Appin). Attached to other units were Macolls, Carmichaels, Livingstones, Macleans, Machoules, Macmartins, Macneills, Macollonies, Macphee, and Campbell (Glen Lyon).

Did Carruthers play a part at Culloden?

Interestingly, a check through the British Army Muster Rolls 1730-1895, which would cover the period of the battle itself, shows no Carruthers on the side of Cumberland.

However, according to further research by Seton and Arnot, it is stated that one William Carruthers, who is listed as a servant to James Maxwell of Kirkconnel, a stauch Jacobite, was at Culloden.  There is however some indication that William may have deserted the field but for what reason we dont know. Was it good fortune through insight or simply cowardice?  We do know that Kirkconnell, has stated that he was in a position to know ‘the most material things that were transacted in the council, though not a member of it,’. Did William, through his position, become privy to some concerns, we cannot be sure.but For what its worth, William was not on the side of Cumberland, nor on that fateful day, the Jacobites.

Kirkconnel was a Captain in Balermo and Elcho’s Cavalry and it is recorded that he escaped capture to France, but returned to Scotland in 1750.

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