The Border Reiver Clan and Family Carruthers – at a glance
Chief’s Arms: Gules two chevrons engrailed, between three fleurs de lis Or.
Supporters: Two fallow deer bucks Rampant
Crest: 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.
Clan Crest Badge
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, no tartan was registered against the name Carruthers. Prior to a Chief being confirmed in 2019 Carruthers was seen as a sept of Bruce and as such wore their tartan. Two tartans are registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans, a Scottish Government agency based in Edinburgh as part of the National Records of Scotland. The first carries the Registers code STR 11700 (Red Carruthers), which is the official clan/family tartan of Carruthers, recognised by the Chief. The second is the Carruthers Blue, STR 11699, which is a personal tartan.
The recognised Chiefly line of the clan and family of Carruthers began in 1320 with Thomas 1st of the House of Mouswald, who received a Charter of land for his devoted service, in 1320 by King Robert the Bruce, although there is evidence of three generations of Carruthers of Carruthers, prior to this, which dates back to the early to mid 1200’s. Of the four brothers, Thomas was the eldest, William, became 2nd of Mouswald, then John, Chancellor of Annandale, and ancestor of the House of Holmains and Sir Nigel Carruthers Chamberlain to the King, Thomas’s youngest brother was knighted by King David II, for his services to the Crown. He was killed fighting for Scotland at the Battle of Dunbar in 1346.
John 6th of Mouswald was Captain of Lochmaben Castle and first Baron of the House of Mouswald, he was killed after the castle was captured through treachery in 1454. John’s eldest son Archibald became 7th of Mouswald, 2nd Baron, and his younger brother Sir Simon, Warden of the West March who was knighted by King James II, was killed serving his country at the battle of Kirtle in 1484.
The House of Mouswald, expanded in land and influence until it became extinct in 1548 on the death of Sir Simon of Mouswald, 5th Baron. Sir Simon was killed fighting against criminals of the realm in the debatable lands in 1548, and the Chiefly line was passed to the next senior house of Holmains and John the 5th of that line. Sir Simon was knighted by King James V for services to his king and country.
John 5th of Holmains and 1st Baron of that House had 9 sons and 5 daughters. His heir John was killed in battle for the crown, at Solway Moss. His second son George became 6th of Holmains and 2nd Baron, while his third son William, became the ancestor of the House of Dormont. George was the Captain of Threave Castle under Lord John Maxwell, Earl of Morton and George’s son Charles was Cornet in the mounted garrison there. George raised a sizable troop of cavalry in support of the Earl during his Siege of Stirling, in 1585.
It was said that the Barony of Holmains could raise over 100 cavalry, a great feat in those days, compared to either their cousins in the Barony of Mouswald, or their neighbours the Johnstons in the Barony of Wamphry, who could only raise 80 or so.
It was John the 9th of Holmains and 5th Baron who, after the Lyons act of 1672, registered the Holmains arms, although they had been used by the family for many years before this. The arms, are those of our Chief as mentioned and described above and are still used by him to this day.
The Chiefship under Holmains sat dormant from the death of John 12th in 1809 and was reclaimed by petition in 2017 and finally confirmed by the Lord Lyon to Peter Carruthers of Holmains in 2019. Supporters were granted to the arms by the Lord Lyon in 2019, in recognition of his status as Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers.
The current Chief is a direct descendent of Thomas 1st of Mouswald who received the lands in 1320 and is the 4 x Great Grandson of John 12th of Holmains, 8th Baron of that House. This makes Peter Carruthers of Holmains, 19th in the line of Carruthers Chiefs.
Black on the tree are the Chiefs, Blue was prior to the Chiefship being passed to Holmains.
- Were Carruthers originally Gaels from Ireland – No, nor are they linked to Irish royalty
- Did Carruthers Chiefs get their seraphim from David II for supporting the crusades– There is no evidence that Carruthers were on the crusades. David II lived from 1324-1371 and the Crusades were from 1096-1271
- Were Carruthers Knight Templars – There is no evidence to support this clam, although they were keepers of Trailtrow preceptory. This could have been either
Hospitaller or Templar, although the Seraphim crest of the chiefs, maty suggest some links, with either order.
Were Carruthers ‘Lords’ – No, the term Laird was used by those who were owners of long term and large estates and can be translated to ‘Lord of the Manor’. A laird therefore ranks below a Baron and above a gentleman. However, no Carruthers were ever made Lords by the monarch, thus placing them firmly in the peerage of Scotland.
- Were Carruthers ever Knights of the realm – Yes, we have had Carruthers knighted for services to crown by the reigning monarch of the day.
- Are Carruthers of a Royal Line – As much as everyone has some relationship to some past king or queen in their distant past, Carruthers is not a royal family.
- Did all Carruthers, and heads of Carruthers branches move to America – No, there is no evidence this was the case, but rather the evidence suggests the contrary.
- Were Carruthers at Bannockburn – There is no evidence to support this, however, accepting Carruthers were great supporters of Robert the Bruce and his family for generations before hand, and as supporters of Maxwell, who were there, we could have been but not in any leadership capacity.
- Do the ‘Carruthers’ coat of arms belong to the family – No, they belong to our hereditary Chiefs, currently Peter Carruthers of Holmains