Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: James Carruthers (1788-1849), Clockmaker in Carlisle

There have been three well known clockmakers in the family that we are aware of, David Carruthers in Ecclefechan (1840),  George Carruthers in Langholm, Dumfriesshire (1836), and his cousin James Carruthers, who moved to Carlisle. It is presumed that the latter two were apprenticed to a locally renowned clockmaker: Philip Corrie in Langholm (1800-1817).

Below is a piece on the latter, the clockmaker James Carruthers in, Stanwix, Carlisle, Cumbria.

James Carruthers, Clockmaker, Carlisle


James Carruthers (1788-1849), Clockmaker.


James Carruthers was born in Langholm, Dumfries on 28th June, 1788, and was the eldest son and only surviving child of John Carruthers and Janet Armstrong, his wife.

James’s father, John Carruthers, was born in 1744 (1) and was almost certainly the son of James Carruthers, farmer, in Bankhead, Middlebie parish (1a), for his wife, Mary Johnstone, who had died on 28th January, was buried in Langholm Kirkyard on 30th January, 1790.(2) (Bankhead was part of the Springkell estates.)

John, and his brother James (born 1746)(1), were manufacturers of cotton thread, candlewick, checks, etc., and seem to have been in quite a considerable way of business, for in its prime the mill employed upwards of 90 persons.(3) At first they had a mill at Whiteshiels, on the Ewes road, about a mile out of Langholm, but in 1789 they established themselves in New Langholm at Meikleholm Mill. In 1793 Dumfriesshire passed through a period of financial stress and work was suspended at the mill for a time. In 1794, however, work was resumed and the brothers carried on the business until sometime prior to Whitsunday, 1802, when a new lease of the mill for 99 years was granted to George Millar.(3a) Subsequently it became a flour mill, and at the turn of the last century was in a ruinous condition and is now non-existent.

According to a ledger of the Buccleuch Estates (unfor- tunately destroyed in a fire at Irvine House some years ago) John Carruthers rented property in Meikleholm, No. 38 in E Street in 1778, with arable ground and pasture for a cow on the hill in 1779 and 1795. The rental payable was 2s 8d for area, 6s for ground, and 18s for grass, a total of £1 6s 8d per annum. At Whitsunday, 1800, John Carruthers appar ently moved from No. 38 in E Street to No. 6 Buccleuch Square, and occupied it till his death.

John Carruthers and big brother James were intimately associated with the founding of the Associate (Burgher) Congregation in Langholm. In 1788 John appeared as a Commissioner from the Congregation requesting the Presby- tery of Kelso to appoint a Moderator over them in electing a Pastor. The Rev. John Jardine was duly called in 1789 and it is noteworthy to recall that he was the first Minister in Scotland to introduce Sunday Schools for the young. In connection with the founding of the Church John Carruthers in 1784 had advanced the sum of £12 3s 0d (a quite consider- able sum in those days) and this was repaid as to £7 on 11th December, 1795, and the balance of £5 3s Od on 5th July, 1797.(4) His brother James also had made an advance to further the building of the church; and he was one of the first Elders of the Congregation, being elected aiid ordained in 1787. (See “ Langholm as it was.”-Hyslop, for an account-based on the Session Records – of the founding of this Congregation.)

The Dumfries Register of Sasines records several transac- tions by John Carruthers and his brother (see 1781-1820, P.R. 25-132, 195, 196, etc.), but a sufficient accounthasbeen given of James Carruthers’s father, John Carruthers. As previously mentioned John married Janet Armstrong, who died 13th December, 1793, aged 39, and is buried in Lang- holm Kirkyard.(1) John Carruthers, died 1st December, 1810, and is also buried in Langholm Kirkyard.(1) They had three children :

1. James (see below).
2. John, died 30th June, 1807, aged 17 years.(1)
3. An unnamed child, who was buried on 23rd November, 1793.(2)

It may be that James Carruthers (John’s eldest son) was apprenticed to Philip Corrie, Clockmaker in Langholm,(5) with whom the family had had business dealings, but at the age of nearly 20 years, in 1808, he was working with Blaylock’s, the well-known Carlisle Clockmaker.(6) This is apparent from the advertisement which appeared in the Dumfries and Galloway Courier of 1st April, 1828, when he set up in business for himself in Dumfries :




Long Clock by James Carruthers

” Begs leave to inform the Inhabitants of Dumfries and its vicinity, that he has taken the Shop of the late Mr Chisholm, situated at the head of Buccleuch Street, next door to the Post 05ce, wherehsintends carrying on the above trade in all its branches.

” James Carruthers, having for the last 20 years been employed in the Shop of Mr Blaylock, Watchmaker, Carlisle, where he has been accustomed to execute the most difficult Jobs in the Common, Patent Lever, Duplex, Horizontal and Repeating Watches,. flatters himself t h a t from a thorough knowledge of his pro- fession, he will be found deserving of the support of the friends of the late Mr Chisholm, as well as the public at large.”


This shop may have been at the corner of Bucdeuch Street and Castle Street, since although in the advertisement it is given as Buccleuch Street, just over a year later, on 19th May, 1829, in the same paper, he is recorded as having subscribed 10s 6d to a fund for ” . . . the Poor, and suppressing of public begging in Dumfries, 5th February, 1829,” and his address is there given as Castle Street.

James Carruthers attended the Associate Burgher (Buccleuch Street) Church whilst in Dumfries, and the Session Minutes of that Congregation record that during 1828 he was invested with the Office of the Eldership, and was chosen as Session Clerk. A t this time the famous (and witty) minister was the Rev. ” Wattie ” Dunlop. James was last present at a Session Meeting on 2nd May, 1833.(7)

During his sojourn in Dumfries James Carruthers was one of the promoters and founders of the Dumfries Temperance Society,(8) having signed the Constitution along with 27 other persons. The Constitution was in these terms:

” We, whose names are subscribed, believing that ‘intem- perance and it.s attendant evils are promoted by existing habits and opinions, in regard to the use of intoxicathg liquors and that decisive measures for effecting a reformation are indispensable, do voluntary agree, to abstain entirely from the use of ardent spirits, except for medicinal purposes,

and although the moderate use of other liquors is not excluded, yet as the promotion of Temperance in every form is the specific design of the Society, it is understood that excess in these necessarily excludes from membership. ”

Workings of James Carruthers clock

Sometime between 2nd May and 22nd June, 1833, James, his wife and family, removed to Carlisle, for he set up in business at 73 Scotch Street (vide Carlisle Journal, 22nd June, 1833), and six weeks later, on- 2nd August, the ” Moderator reported . . . James Carruthers and Wife as intending Communicants by Certificate . . . ” (Fisher Street, Carlisle, Presbyterian Church Session Minutes. This church was then a Congregation of the Associate Presbytery). Seven months later on 3rd March, 1834, the ” Moderator reported that he had waited upon James Carruthers, who declined in the meantime being put in Nomination for the Eldership on account of the uncertainty of his continuing resident in the Bounds of t’he Congregation.’ ‘ (9) The Session were anxious evidently that James Carruthers should be added to their number as on 31st July, 1835, it was reported that they ” . . . unanimously requested the Moderator to make another application to James Carruthers requesting him to take Office as an Elder . . . ” (9) The Moderator reported on 4th December, 1835, (‘that James Carruthers had now con- sented to officiate as an Elder in this Congregation and the Session unanimously instructed the Moderator to take the necessary prelimiiiary steps for his admission as a Member of this Session and further agreed that he be admitted on the last day of the year. ..”(9)

However, the “‘necessary steps ” for some reason not explained were not taken and there is no reference to the matter until 26th March, 1843, over seven years later. On that date it is recorded in the Session Minutes that ” In pursuance of Intimation from the Pulpit on the 12th, a Congregational Meeting was held on the 13th for the purpose of Electing an additional number of Elders in this Congrega- tion when after a suitable discourse from Timothy V and 17, the Congregational Meeting was formed. Mr Hunter in the chair when the following individuals were proposed and seconded and unanimously elected to the Office of Ruling

Elder in this Congregation subject nevertheless to theapproval of the existing Session (viz.) James Carruthers, Andrew Paterson, James Rutherford, James Briggs, Alex-

ander McKie, John Raffle . . . And whereas James Carruthers had been previously Ordained an Elder in the United Associate Congregation at Dumfries and the Session considering him duly qualified to hold Office in this Congregation at a meeting of Session held this day in pursuance of Intimation from the pulpit all the Members being present appeared James Carruthers and 110 objections being stated to his Admission to Office in this Congregation he after giving satisfactory answers to questions in the Formula was formally admitted as a Member of this Session and the Right Hand of Fellowship given him by the Moderator and other Members of Session . . . “(9)

James held office for some six and a half years until his death on 27th November, 1849, when the following Minute is recorded on 30th November of that year: ”The Session also Deem it their Duty to Testify their Sense of the Loss which they and the Congregation have sustained in the Death of James Carruthers, who departed this Life on the 27th of November, 1849, in the course of the week previous to the Dispensation of the Lord’s Supper in the Congregation after having been a most efficient Member of Session in this Church and an Ornament to the Church with which he was connected for nearly 40 years. He died in his sixty-first year.”(9)

James Carruthers was buried in Stanwix Churchyard, the tombstone also bearing the name of his sixth child, James, who had died 31st July, 1848, aged 11 years. (This tombstone, in sandstone, near to the wicket-gate leading to the Old Brampton Road, has lost its inscription owing to flaking, but it was clearly readable in the 1930s.) James left no Will and Letters of Administration were granted on 3rd April, 1850, the estate being less than £200.(10)

Of his fine craftsmanship as a Clockmaker and Watch- maker there is ample evidence, and there are, after well over a century, Grandfather Clocks and watches of his manufac- ture still keeping accurate time. (The writer has two Grandfather Clocks and a watch made by James Carruthers in his possession, and has seen several others in Border homes.

James Carruthers married, on 29th October, 1824, Christiania Jardine, daughter of the Rev. John Jardine (the Langholm Associate Burgher Congregation’s first Minister) and his wife Ann Patterson (both of whom are interred in Wauchope Kirkyard). She was born 25th September, 1800, and died 16th Maroh, 1869, being buried in Stanwix Church- yard. According to the Session Records she was admitted to the membership of the Associate Burgher Congregation in Langholm on 13th May, 1818.(4)

James Carruthers, on his return to Carlisle in 1833, set up in business on his own account, as has been previously mentioned, at 73 Scotch Street, and by 1837 he was at 17 Scotch Street (1837 Directory), living in Fisher Street. Later his business was at 32 1/2 Scotch Street (1847 Directory), whilst he resided at Eden Terrace, Stanwix, where he died.

James and his wife, Christiania, had eight children, as follows : (11)

1. John, born in Rickergate, Carlisle, on 15th September, 1825. In 1850 he was probably carrying on his late father’s business as a Clockmaker at 32 Scotch Street, but in 1851 he emigrated to the United States ofAmerica, and later became Statistician to the Labour Bureau of the United States Government. He married twice: first, on 9th May, 1854, Mary Elizabeth Ander- son (who was born 6th August, 1827, and died 2nd August, 1862); and second, in 1864, Sarah Jane Wales (who died aged 77 years on 11th October, 1915). He died 25th August, 1891. By his first wife he had three children, John (born 4th July, 1855), James (born 1st February, 1858), and Christiania (born 12th June, 1859); and by his second wife, George Malcolm (born 25th Marcsh, 1865). Details of their families will be found in ( ( Records of the Carruthers Family,’’ page 33 and Appendix.

2. Jardine, born in Rickergate, Carlisle, on 18th August, 1827. He founded the business of Jardine Carruthers and Sons, 10 Scotch Street, Carlisle (Ironmongers), and took an active part as a member of Carlisle Corporation, being a member of the Council for a number of years. Together with Mr Robert Pattinson, and others, he was one of the founders of Charlotte Street Congregational Church, Carlisle, which contains a memorial to him. He married on 13th March, 1854, Sarah, daughter of John Peacock Redmayne of Preston, Lancashire (she was born 9th July, 1829, and died 22nd October, 1902). Jardine died 4th October, 1891, and was buried in Carlisle Cemetery. There were five children of the marriage : James (born 18th February, 1855, and died unmarried 7th October, 1910); John Samuel, who died in infancy in 1863; Eliza (born 4th May, 1861, married the Rev. Owen K. Hobbs (15th September, 1886) and died 25th December, 1929); Jardine (born 5th May, 1863, married Margaret Ann Dand on 10th April, 1889 -by whom he had four daughters-and died 8th March, 1933); and Thomas (born 25th July, 1867, married Eleanor Oxberry Hutchinson on 2nd July, 1895-by whom he had two sons-and died 21st November, 1938). Jardine and Thomas succeeded to their father’s business, which was carried on until 21st September, 1938, shortly before Thomas’s death on 21st November, 1938. The premises were then disposed of to the Corporation and pulled down to make way for the new Police Station and Fire Station. Details of their families are set out in the “ Records of the Carruthers Family,” page 34 and Appendix.

3. Andrew, born in Dumfries on 5th December, 1829, and died in 1833.

4. George, born in Dumfries on 14th June, 1831, was a printer and publisher in Barrow-in-Furness. He married twice: first, on 25th December, 1850, Mary Giles Acton (who was born 10th June, 1831, and died 10th January, 1875); and second,- Grundy, of Nottingham. He died on 2nd March, 1879. By his first wife he had 11 children: Mary (born 10th February, 1852), James (born 5th November, 1853), Christiana Jardine (born 25th November, 1855), Thomas Acton (born 2nd December, 18570, Jane Anne (born 24th February, 1860), George Murray (born 14th February, 1862), Isabella Eleanor born 26th November, 1863), Elizabeth Fanny, born 23rd February, 1865), John William (born 29th November, 1867), Annie Jardine (born 22nd October, 1869), and Margaret Katherine (born 13th April, 18711); and by his second wife, Herbert Grundy. Details of their families are set out in “ Records of the Carruthers Family, ” page 35 and Appendix.

5. Jane Anne, born in Stanwix, Carlisle, 15th March, 1834, and died unmarried on 24th April, 1899, being buried in Carlisle Cemetery.

6. James, born in Fisher Street, Carlisle, on 10th October, 1536, and died 31st July, 1848, being buried in Stanwix Churchyard.

7Thomas, born in Fisher Street, Carlisle, on 22nd April, 1840, married 29th April, 1869, Isabella, daughter of John McNicol (of Carlisle) (she was born 19th August, 1840, and died at Purley, Surrey, 26th October, 1932, being buried in Colchester Cemetery). He was a partner in the Ironmongery firm of Wetherington and Carruthers, 25 English Street, Carlisle. He took an achive part in the work of the Church and was a Manager and later Elder in the Fisher Street Presbyterian Church. Thonias left Carlisle in 1892 and later resided in Colchester, where he died on 25th September, 1908, and was buried in the cemetery there. They had one son, James Arthur Carruthers (born in Carlisle 1st.October, 1871) who married on 23rd June, 1898, Sarah Ann, daughter of Robert Pattinson of Carlisle (she was born 18th February, 1872, and died 5th April, 1952). See “ Records of the Carruthers Family,’’ page 33 and Appendix, for further details of descendants.

8. Christopher, born in Fisher Street, Carlisle, 25th December, 1841. He graduated Master of Arts and entered the ministry of the Church of England, becoming Rector of Duncton, near Petworth, Sussex, and Rural Dean of Chichester. At an earlier date he had been private chaplain to the Duchess of Abercorn, and he was also tutor to Lords Claude and Ernest Hamilton, and with them had been round the world. He married twice: first on 4th August), 1870, Kate. Sandeman (born 3rd May, 1839, and died 6th December, 1892); and second, on 4th April, 1894, Jane Hamilton Fleming Macleod (who died 2nd February, 1951). There was no issue by either marriage. He died at 8 Hillside, Wimbledon, Surrey, on 8th July, 1919.


1 Tombstone, Langholm Old Kirkyard.

1a James Carruthers, farmer, in Bankhead, was baptised on July 14th, 1719, and was the son of James Carruthers, in Breckonhill, who, on October 5th, 1710, had married Agnes Davidson. He was thus descended from the Dormont fa,mily, through George Oarruthers of Brydegill, fourth son of Francis Carruthers, 3rd of Donnont. For earlier details of this family see Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society-Vol. XXYV.. p. 125, and “Records of the Carruthers Family”- Appendix, pp. 7 and 11.

2 Langholm Parish Register (1668-1819).

See First and Second Statistiaal Accounts of Scotdand (Sinclair) (Vols. 13 and 21).

3a Buccleuch Estates Ledger.

4 Session Records (Langholm Erskino Churoh, formerly the Associate Burgher Congregation).

5 James’s cousin, George Carruthers (son of James Carruthers-cotton thread manufacturer in Langholm), may also have been apprenticed with Philip Corrie. George later carried on busifiess as a clockmaker in Langholm. He died October lst, 1866, aged 76. George married Jane Hope (who died September 30th, 1867, aged 68) and had two sons, John (an artist, who died November 12th, 1851, aged 24 years) and Robert Hope (who died September 7th, 1837, aged 4 years). It is also believed he had a married daughter, with issue in Edinburgh

6 “ Dumfries and Galloway Courier ” (April lst, 1828).

7 Session Minutes (Buccleuch Street Associate Burgher Congregation)

8 This Temperance Society is earlier by at least four years than the ’’Dumfries and Maxwelltown Total Abstinence Society ” formed on January loth, 1837, and said by M‘Dowall in his “History of the Burgh of Dumfries ” to be the ‘ original society ” (pp. 731-2).

9 Fisher Street, Carlisle, Presbyterian Church Session Minutes.

10 Probate Office, Carlisle.

11 Particulars of the children of James Carruthers, clockmaker, are from personal family records, etc. Full genealogical details of the descendants of James Carruthers, and of his uncle, James Carruthers, manufacturer in Langholm, may be seen in “Records of the Carruthers Family.

Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey Final to use

3 thoughts on “CLAN CARRUTHERS: James Carruthers (1788-1849), Clockmaker in Carlisle”

  1. I have acquired a long clock and on the dial it says “Carruthers Carlisle”. The top of the dial has a painted picture of a ship and a person holding a book and the British flag. The works of the clock look exactly like the one pictured in the article above. I was hoping to find some information regarding his clocks. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I can provide photos if needed.

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