Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: The Templar grave of Uileam Roibard and the Crescent Moon

The Credibility of Nonsense.

For many years, a great many of us have worked very hard to have our clan and family recognised and respected as a credible entity within Scottish culture internationally. Yet when we are continually bombarded and embarrassed by nonsense, posted by people who by accident or design, are putting up posts of this nature, we simply have to question their motives.

This is from what is claimed to be a ‘Family Carruthers History’ site, yet facts and evidence obviously have no meaning to them.

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Carruthers Family ‘History’ but not historically accurate

Ok let’s look at what they suggest:

“This is the grave stone of a Carruthers Templar”.

There is genuinely no evidence that any Carruthers were Knights Templars. There is however some suggestion that when Bruce were Lords of Annandale, Carruthers were their Stewards as well as keepers of the Trailtrow Preceptory and guardians of the ‘Old Kirk Ford’ at Hoddam. But one does not, nor can simply translate guardian to being part of the Order. The templars were active from their inception in 1119 – 1312, and therefore one of William’s sons, obviously not a Carruthers, could have been in the Order, but let’s analyse this.

“It is believed to be one of King William I (the Lion) sons Uilleam Roibard, who died I believe in Syria”.

William I (aka Uilliam Garm -William the Rough) was called the Lion, not because of his warlike spirit but because he was the first king to carry the red lion rampant on a yellow background as his banner.

According to ‘Scots Peerage’, William was Born: 1142-1143, in Scotland and married Ermengarde de Beaumont, daughter of Richard, Vicomté de Bellomont on 5 Sep 1186 at Woodstock, Oxfordshire in England. William died: 4 Dec 1214, Stirling, Stirlingshire, in Scotland at the age of 72 and was buried at Arbroath Abbey in Scotland.

But the piece posted by the ‘Carruthers Family Hostory site, suggests that his son ‘Uilliam Roibard’ was a templar and in fact possibly died in Syria, alluding to the crescent?  

So who were William the Lion’s sons ?

In wedlock, William had only one son, Alexander who went on to be king – Alexander II. Interestingly is was during Alexanders reign that William of Carruthers, the first recorded mention of the name, gave a donation to Newbattle Abbey.

However there is still hope yet as William had six illegitimate children from three mistresses, two of which were sons. The first was Rogert de London (not William), listed in a Charter by William (Kelso Liber: charter No. 144 p 112) and acknowledged as King Alexander II’s brother in a gift of land to the monks at Kelso (Kelso 183-Liber de Calchou). No indication he died in Syria

The second illegitimate son was Henry Galithtly, (mac Uilliam i.e. son of William) whose son Patrick was a competitor (to the Scottish Crown) in 1291. But again not a William and again no indication he died in Syria and outwith that and very importantly, none of Williams  I’s sons were Carruthers.

“You will see the crescent moon on the shield”

Irrelevant of the above, the intriguing question has to be; is this the grave of a Carruthers Templar. It is obviously a Carruthers by the arms shown, but what does the crescent mean. Is this a sign of a Templar or that he served in the Middle East? Sadly none of the above.

The headstone in the pic posted by the ‘Carruthers Family History’ page, is found in a Churchyard in Dumfriesshire, in Scotland and does not reflect a templar grave either by format nor burial date. There is also nothing on the headstone that would suggest Templars and in fact in Scotland, Templars gravestones of this ilk are normally marked with the Skull and Crossed Bones (Momento Mori) carved on them, not a crescent. However, the Momento Mori also became popular in the 16th – 17th centuries and were used by Freemasons, amongst others in the general population “to remind us that we cannot avoid death and no matter what our status is in life, we are all the same”.

Interestingly, the use of the cherub does not always relate to a member of Carruthers and may simply have been a chosen adornment on the gravestone of the deceased, by the family.  However in this case it seems to act as the crest, as it sits above the helm on a torse. 

iu-15.jpeg“During the Regency period (late 1700’s to the mid 1800’s), we saw the skull and crossbones fall out of fashion and preference was given to the image of a cherub to represent the soul of the deceased and was referred to as a ‘winged head‘. In America, they call it a ‘soul effigy”. 

iu-14.jpegThe cherub also “relayed an important message that those who found grace might win Heaven. In England, the cherub’s face is similar to the face of the Renaissance putti, which is shown as being child-like”. (headstonessymbols.co.uk)

It is always reasonable to remember that the blazon of the crest of John Carruthers 9th of Holmains, who registered the Carruthers of Holmains arms (Chiefs Arms) in 1672 after the Lyon Act, was described and recorded in the Register of all Arms and Bearings held by the Lord Lyon, as a ‘seraph volent proper’. It remains as such to this day. It was therefore not a cherub, although some heraldic artists may have wrongly placed the same on the chief’s helm.  The seraph/seraphim in both heraldic and religious depictions is always depicted as six wings with the face of an angel in the middle.  However, it seems that it wasn’t until Dormont registered their cadet arms in 1913 that the depiction of the Seraph was depicted and well fixed, as they took their blazon directly from that of the chiefly House of Holmains, which in turn reflected the same. 

The Carruthers arms i.e. the shield, are clearly displayed with a crescent, which is accurately stated in the post. But this simply shows that they are the arms of a cadet of the line, not a templar, nor that they served in the middle east.  

The crescent is a common heraldic cadency mark, which depicts a second son or these days, a second daughter. The use of Cadency marks can clearly be seen in 1) Arms of Gary Carruthers to reflect his proven genealogical link with Dormont showing a border, and the cadency marks of a crescent and a mullet,  2) the eldest son of James Carruthers of Dormont with a label and of 3) Cecilia Mitchell-Carruthers, the Chief’s cousin, who was the second child with a crescent. It sadly is that simple.

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(1) Gary Carruthers    (2) the Dormont Heir    (3) Cecilia Mitchell-Carruthers
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Cadency Marks

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica; Cadency is the use of various devices designed to show a man’s position in a family, with the aforementioned basic aim of reserving the entire arms to the head of the family and to differentiate the arms of the rest, who are the cadets, or younger members. Heraldic works in the 16th century refer to cadency marks as: a label for the eldest son during his father’s lifetime; a crescent for the second son; a mullet (five-pointed star) for the third; a martlet (a mythical bird), the fourth; an annulet (a small ring), the fifth; a fleur-de-lis, the sixth; a rose, the seventh; and so forth. Those marks were not always used in the Middle Ages.  

With a little bit of effort, we can see that what depicts itself as a ‘Carruthers History’ site, is lacking in any real substance, as sadly this is not the first time that they have posted incorrect information to fit an agenda. However we will say again, Carruthers as a Scottish border family have a rich history going back many, many hundreds of years, therefore there is no real need to make things up, but sadly some seem to feel the need.


Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey Final to use

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