Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: At a Glance and FAQ’s

The Border Reiver Clan and Family Carruthers – at a glance

Chief’s Arms: Gules two chevrons engrailed, between three fleurs de lis Or.
 Two fallow deer bucks RampantCrest: A seraphim volant Proper.Motto: Promptus et Fidelis (ready and faithful)Badge: Gorse (Ulex europaeus)Origin of Name: Topographical – from the Brythonic, Caer Rydderch (fort of Ruthers)Area: Middlebie, West March. Lands: Western Scottish Borders, Dumfriesshire. Original Chiefs: Carruthers of Mouswald, extinct 1548.Current Chiefs:  Carruthers of Holmains 1548-to date.Clan Chief: Peter Carruthers of Holmains, Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers.Clan Society: Clan Carruthers Society-International. HQ – Scotland.

Peter Carruthers of Holmains


Crest Badge: Seraphim Volant Proper, encircled by a belt and buckle on which is inscribed to Chiefs Motto: Promptus et Fidelis. The Seraphim is the crest of the Chief’s Arms.The belt and buckle indicate the clansman’s adherence to the Clan Chief. It is not the personal crest of the bearer.The seraphim on the chief’s crest always follow the religious and heraldic depictions of the same, that being: six wings, the two uppermost and lowermost, crossed in saltire, the middle pair extended as in flight. In the centre sits an angelic face.

Until 2017 there was never a tartan registered against the our name and listed as belonging to the clan/family of Carruthers.

In preparation for a chief being confirmed by the Lord Lyon in 2019 a tartan was designed and registered by the renowned tartan historian Brian Wilton MBE, FSA Scot, formally of the Scottish Tartan Authority and advisor to many.

Until the chief was confirmed, Carruthers were wrongly described as a sept of the family of Bruce. This was due to our historical links with Bruce and further for commercial reasons to bulk out the buying power of Bruce items in the 1950’s. This was not done by the Bruces, but by those selling Scottisness to the world. As such many Carruthers world-wide wore Bruce tartan, and some still ‘Carruthers’ lay claim to it as their own, but sadly that isnt true.

However, as a family in our own right we deserved, through our rich history, a tartan of our own. As tartans assigned to clans (highland) and families (lowland and borders) only appeared in the early 1800’s, many of these surnames have either registered a tartan since then, over the ensuing decades or are doing so now.

Carruthers was late to the game and in 2017 two tartans were registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans, a Scottish Government Agency based in Edinburgh as part of the National Record of Scotland Office. The first (red) carried the the Registers code STR 11700, the second (blue) the code STR 11699. The red was adopted as the official clan/family tartan of Carruthers by our chief, which is reflected in its updated registration of 2019, and the second is the private tartan of Dr George Carruthers of Fife, Society Convenor.

  1. The green purple and lilac in the tartan represents the lands of Annandale, Dumfriesshire, Scotland ancestral home of our family.
  2. The red represents the blood spilt but Carruthers throughout our history i defence of our country, our lands and our family, bth at home and abroad.
  3. Finally and no less inmportant, the subtle white stripe is in recognition of our families support as Jacobites, for the Royal House of Stuart

Family Tree of the Current Carruthers Chief

A brief history shows that Carruthers is an ancient and well-respected Scottish Border name. It hails from Annandale in Dumfriesshire, in the south west of Scotland. The name is topographical (named after a place) and Celtic in origin, dating back to the Roman occupation in and around 200AD and is formed from the Brythonic words Caer (fort) of Rhydderch (pronounced Ruther in the Cumbric dialect). As surnames came into use in Scotland around the 11th-12th century, the family owning the lands of ‘Carruthers’ adopted the place name as their own. Our family have therefore been on those same lands from that time.

The first mention of the surname was in the reign of Alexander II (1215- 1245) when William of Carruthers , b. circa 1185, donated to the Abbey at Newbattle and also Simon of Carruthers who was recorded as Parson of Middlebie in 1296. In the 1300’s, 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. Legend has it that Carruthers were also custodians of Knight Templar and Hospitaller lands in the area, of which Trailtrow was tied. Mainly located in and around the Clan seats of Mouswald (original chiefs) and Holmains (current chiefs) their lands were in what was then the West March of the Anglo-Scottish Borders. Known as loyal supporters of Robert the Bruce, Thomas, son of John of Carruthers who was mentioned in the annals in 1320, received the Charter of the lands of Mouswald for services given. This added to the lands of Carruthers and so began the House of Mouswald

During the age of the Border Reivers, which ran from the late 13th to the mid 17th century, Carruthers played their part. This was not only in defence of their family and lands but also in defence of their country against the English invaders. It was during a border raid in 1548 that the then Chief, Sir Simon Carruthers, 10th of Mouswald, 5th Baron, was killed, ending the Mouswald line. The Chiefship was inherited by the senior House of Holmains with the first Carruthers Chief of that line being John Carruthers 5th of Holmains, 1st Baron. The chiefship has continued with Carruthers of Holmains from that time on.

After the Lyons Act in 1672, John, 9th of Holmains registered the Holmains arms as the Chiefly Arms of Carruthers (centre above), he also moved the family seat from Holmains to Kirkwood, still on the Holmains estate. The House of Holmains is directly descended from John Carruthers the brother of Thomas, first chief of Mouswald. John himself was the King’s Chancellor in 1349. After the death of John 12th, 8th Baron in 1809, the Chiefship sat dormant until in 2019, the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh, confirmed Dr Simon Peter Carruthers of Holmains as hereditary Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers with supporters.  Peter, known as Holmains, also holds a permanent seat on the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.

Carruthers have been involved in and influenced all strata of society both at home in Scotland and wherever they settled. The family have produced; Bankers, Chamberlains, Knights, Chancellors, Minutemen, Barons, Reivers, Royal Advisors, Politicians, Sportsmen, Senior Military Officers, Explorers, Authors, Churchmen and Wardens of the West March itself to name but a few and we remain proud of who and what we are ie Carruthers, descendants of a proud Scottish Border Reiver Clan and Family.

1 thought on “CLAN CARRUTHERS: At a Glance and FAQ’s”

  1. I keep trying to find the reason that they used the Seraphim? There must have been a direct link to church, or spiritual protection since the seraphim are basically the warrior angel. I’ve just been looking for a while and not found a good explanation. Thanks.

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