Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Happy 700th Anniversary to the Chiefly Line of Carruthers

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For those of us with Scottish blood, history is the bedrock upon which our culture, traditions and heritage is built. We are proud to say that this is reflected in both us as individual Carruthers and on the Society (Clan Carruthers Society International) which promotes us, and it is solidly built on the foundations of our forebears, going back many centuries.

Although there is evidence of Carruthers owning the land of ‘Carruthers’ for more than 800 years, the starting point of our chiefly line is usually considered as being 1320 with a charter of land from King Robert the Bruce. With this in mind, here is a small celebration and heartfelt congratulations of who and what our chiefly line is, on this their 700th Anniversary.

01 copyCarruthers of Mouswald

In 1320, Thomas the Clerk. great grandson of William de Carruthers, received from Robert the Bruce a charter of land for services to his family. It is from this date that the Chiefly line is normally taken. Although rewarded by the Bruce, there is sadly no evidence that Carruthers were at Bannockburn. However, there is evidence that we were supporters of the Family of Bruce up to and including David II, last king of that line.

Carruthers are evidenced as having been made hereditary Stewards of Annandale, Keepers of Trailtrow Preceptory and Guardians of the Old Kirk Ford under the Bruce Family, as well as being hereditary Foresters in Annandale.

The ancestor of the House of Carruthers of Holmains, John, brother of Thomas was King’s Chancellor to David II while his younger brother Sir Nigel Carruthers, was King’s Chamberlain. Sir Nigel was killed fighting for his country at the Battle of Durham in 1346. The line passed through Robert 3rd of Mouswald, Simon the 4th and Andrew the 5th. Andrew’s brother was Commissioner of the West March in the early 1400’s. I wasn’t until John the 6th of Holmains that the estates were chartered by the crown as a Baronetcy.

From 1446- 1454, John Carruthers 6th of Mouswald 1st B. was Captain of the Royal Castle of Lochmaben, but the castle was taken by the Johnstons, after a betrayal by a gate porter. John died in captivity.  Sir Simon Carruthers, Johns brother, was Warden of the West March but was killed at the Battle of Kirtle.

The records show that Archibald 7th of Mouswald and 2nd B. married twice. The first to the daughter of John Johnston, chief of that clan, and secondly to Marion Scott. His younger brother, Sir Simon, was warden of the West March but was killed at the Battle of Kirtle in 1484.

In 1484, Archibald’s son, Sir Simon Carruthers 8th of Mouswald and 3rd B, known as the belted knight, became chief. He firstly married Isabella, daughter of David Scott of Buccleuch and secondly to the daughter of Douglas of Drumlanrig. He was murdered in 1504.

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His eldest son Simon 9th of Mouswald and 4th B. who married Katherine daughter of Lord Carlisle in 1531. His son Simon 10th and 5th B. who had married firstly Agnes, daughter of Cuthbert Murray of Cockpool in 1538 and secondly Miriota, sister of John Johnston Chief of Johnson, was to be the last of that line.

The House of Carruthers of Mouswald continued until 1548, when during a raid to try to clean out the Debatable Lands, Simon Carruthers, 10th of Mouswald, 5th Baron along with other Border chiefs, was killed. This left only two daughters, Janet and Marion. Sadly, it seems one was manipulated into giving up their lands and the other was killed, resulting in the Mouswald estates being absorbed by Douglas of Drumlanrig.


Carruthers of Holmains

In 1548 the Chiefship of Carruthers fell to the next most senior house, that of Holmains. The progenitor of this house was John Carruthers, Kings Chancellor of Annandale to David II. It was therefore John Carruthers 5th of that line and 1st Baron of Holmains who became Chief in 1548. John was firstly married to Blanche Murray, daughter of Sir John Murray of Cockpool and secondly to Janet Jardine, relic of Cuthbert Murray of Cockpool.

He was succeeded by his second son George 6th and 2nd Baron, as his first son was killed at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542. George’s second wife was Janet Irving. He was succeeded by his son John 7th of Holmains and 3rd Baron who married Nicolas, sister of Alexander Jardine of Applegarth.

It was John the 8th of Holmains and 4th Baron who married Agnes the daughter of George Douglas of Parkhead, and not Lady Agnes Douglas, who was to become Countess of Argyll. John 8th’s second wife was Janet, sister to William Douglas of Drumlanrig, 1st Earl of Queensbury in 1616.

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Registered Chief’s arms of Holmains 1672

It was John’s grandson, John 9th of Holmains, 5th Baron who succeeded his grandfather and married as his first wife Helen, daughter of Sir Robert Grierson in 1659 and his second wife Helen Callander of Craigforth in 1687.

During the chiefship of John 9th, the Lord Lyon Act came into force in 1672 at the behest of King Charles II. The Holmains arms are evidenced as existing before this date,

IMG_0343 2.jpegAlthough evidence shows it was used prior to this, it is from this period that the Chief’s crest (seraphim volant proper) and motto (Promptus et Fidelis), as part of the Holmains arms, was recorded onto the Public Record of all Arms and Bearings of Scotland.

The official crest is portayed as having six wings, the two above and the two below crossed in saltire, with the middle ones spread as in flight and an angelic face in the centre. This makes the chief’s crest over 350 years old and thus a major part of the Carruthers visual history and heritage.

John 9th’s eldest son died before he did, leaving his second son George 10th of Holmains and 6th Baron to take over the chiefship. George married his distant cousin Mary, daughter of William Carruthers of Denbie in 1680.

In 1727, George’s eldest son John became 11th of Holmains and 7th Baron. He married Rachel Douglas, daughter of James Douglas of Dornock. He died in 1734, with his eldest son John 12th and 8th Baron, leading the family. He married Charlotte daughter of Sir Robert Laurie Baronet of Maxwelton. John had two sons and 7 daughters. Both his sons died before him, the eldest being John who died in Kirkwood, Dumfriesshire and Robert who was working in India at the time. On John’s death, as the male line was extinct, his estates and titles passed through the female line. Although not unusual these days, this was provided for in the Holmains Charter from the Crown in 1755 and again through a prenuptial agreement with Charlotte in 1762.

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Chief’s Arms with supporters as granted by the Lord Lyon in August 2019, in recognition of his hereditary status as Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers
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Peter Carruthers of Holmains

The Chiefship then lay dormant for 210 years, although there could easily have been other contenders, no one took up the mantle. It wasn’t until 2017, that a Carruthers of the Holmains line, placed the first ever petition to the Lord Lyon to bear the Chiefly arms of Carruthers. After two hearings and nearly two years of analysis of the documented evidence and proofs, the 4 x great grandson of John the 12th, Peter Carruthers of Holmains, was confirmed Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers. As a hereditary chief, the Chief of Carruthers holds a permanent seat on the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs and was granted supporters to his arms by the Lord Lyon to reflect of his status as chief.

Dr. Carruthers parents, Charles and Molly were married in St Jude’s Church, South Kensington in London in 1951 and while working for a British tea company in India in 1954, their only child Simon Peter was born.  After returning home to the UK with his family as a child, Dr Carruthers, known as Peter, spent his informative years in England and was educated up to doctorate level here in the UK. Peter is an agricultural scientist, with further qualifications in management and theology.

For many years he was on the staff of the Centre for Agricultural Strategy at the University of Reading. Subsequently he worked in environmental education and rural policy in the public and third sectors. Currently, he is Director of a Christian charity that supports the rural church. He is a co-founder and former Chairman of Farm Crisis Network (now the Farming Community Network) in the UK, is a member of the Royal Society of Biology and an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Worcester.

Interestingly, Peter’s grandmother was Irish and of the famous Jameson Whiskey family, originally from Dublin.

Alexander Douglas Carruthers
Colonel N L Carruthers

Peter’s uncle was the explorer Alexander Douglas Carruthers, and his grandfather was Col.  Nigel Laurie Carruthers, an officer in the British Army in India. His first cousin’s line married the grand-daughter of the Marquis of Queensbury, Sholto Douglas, famous for the boxing rules.

The Carruthers chiefs have therefore a rich history going back to the 1300’s and beyond. We were led by them in battle and history shows that they fought and died for our family, our lands, our country and our monarch both before the age of the reivers and beyond.

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We therefore all have something to be proud of and as such, at the behest of our Chief, the Clan Carruthers Society – International will ensure that anything we publish is honest and evidence based.

We are after all the Keepers of the Truth not just for the present, but for the many generations of Carruthers to come.

Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote 2021








2 thoughts on “CLAN CARRUTHERS: Happy 700th Anniversary to the Chiefly Line of Carruthers”

    1. if you mean Carruthers, there is only one Clan originating in Annandale South West Scotland. Have you carried out any genealogy research.?

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