Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Carruth and Carruthers, a confused connection.

Carruth House. Kilmalcolm, Renfrewshire

Like Carrick, the family of Carruth is often misrepresented as being a derivative of Carruthers, but it seems after a little investigation, clearly this is not the case.

Carruth it seems are a proud family in their own right, deemed by some to be a sept of Cunningham. My understanding is, originally hailing from Renfrewshire in the west of Scotland, they were also found in the neighbouring county of Dunbartonshire in the early 17th century.

From a piece on Ancestry describing the family of Carruth, it seems that, like many Carruthers not off the chiefly line, ‘they were tenant farmers or craftsmen, hard-working, honest, conservative, and religious individuals, in no way related to gentry‘. It was also said that they were ‘found in Ulster since the 17th century as CARUTH‘. Therefore, unlike Carruthers and not being landed gentry, they do not hold registered arms in Scotland, nor is there any historical indication that they ever had a chief.

As the Carruth lands lay just south of the River Clyde in what is now Renfrewshire, their ancestors came under the influence of the Gaels and spoke Gaelic.  We therefore believe that the similarity in name is where the confusion lies regarding the use of gaelic, as evidence shows that the lands of Carruthers were not a Gaelic speaking region nor were they greatly influence by them, while Carruth, obviously were.

With regards Carruth as a name it is, like our own a topographical name, rooted in the Brythonic word for fort i.e. Caer but has no real link to Carruthers, although the reason for the misconception is pretty plain to see.

The Family of Carruth, it really is a separate entity.


The Carruth lands would have been inhabited by the Brythonic Damnonii tribe, who lived just south of the capital of the kingdom of Strathclyde ie Dumbarton, where Rydderch Hael would have lived. As per our last blog on the origins of Carruthers, it seems that Rydderch Hael was not the Rydderch of Caer Rydderch fame, who gave his name to both our lands and family.

According to FamilySearch: Renfrewshire is a county in the west of Scotland, bounded on the north and north-east by the Firth of Clyde and the river Clyde, which separate it from Dunbartonshire, on the east by the county of Lanark, on the south by Ayrshire, and on the west also by the firth, which divides it from the county of Argyll. However, a part of the parish of Renfrew, and therefore of the county, lives on the north side of the river Clyde. The county is about 31 miles in length and 13 miles in extreme breadth, comprising an area of 241 square miles or 154,240 acres.

After the defeat of the Picts by Kenneth II, and the union of the Scottish and Pictish kingdoms, the ancient inhabitants of the area became identified in time with the Scots. In the reign of David I (1124-1153), Walter, son of Alan, retiring from North Wales, settled in this district. He was appointed the steward of Scotland and took the surname of Stewart or Stuart, and was the ancestor of the Stuarts kings of Scotland. The district of Renfrew anciently formed part of the county of Lanark, but in 1404, Robert III erected the lands of Renfrew, with the other estates of the Stuart family, into a principality which became hereditary in the eldest sons of the Scottish kings, and the barony of Renfrew was separated from the shire of Lanark and constituted an independent county.

Screen Shot 2021-04-09 at 11.31.19.pngThe county contains 20 parishes with parts of others. For civil purposes it is divided into the upper and lower wards.  The sheriff courts are held at Paisley and Greenock. The quarter-sessions are held at Renfrew which is the shire town and the only royal burgh. The county also contains three market towns, several populous villages, and numerous smaller villages and hamlets.

Interestingly the historian George F. Black in his definitive text; The Surnames of Scotland, also clearly states that Carruth and Carruthers are of vastly different origins.

Carruth, Caruth, Curruth; of local origin from the lands of Carruth in the parish of Kilmacolm (in 1359 Carreth), Renfrewshire. The surname is mainly confined to the shire, Alexander Carrich (Ch error for the) witness in Renfrewshire 1576 (Laing 916(. Jean Carruth was charged with attending conventicles in Dalry, 1686 (RPC., 3 se xii, p 355) several persons named Corruith were burgesses in 17th century (RDB)

This is further supported by the ‘Surname database’, which states:

This unusual surname is of early medieval Scottish origin, and is a locational name from the lands of Carruth, west of the Bridge of Weir in Renfrewshire. The component elements of the placename are the British (pre-Roman) “ker”, fort, reflected in the Welsh “caer”, fortress, with the Celtic “ruadh”, reddish, used here either as a personal byname for one of ruddy complexion, or as an adjective reflecting the colour of the earthworks. The ancient parish of Carruthers in Annandale, Dumfriesshire (from which we take our names ed), shows the same initial element with a compound personal name meaning “Red Ruler” as its second.

Locational names, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. One of the earliest recordings of the surname in London was the christening of John Caruith, an infant, at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, on April 28th 1619. It is widely recorded in Renfrewshire Church Registers from the mid 17th Century under the variant spellings: Caruth, Carruth, Corruth and Curruth.

Screen Shot 2021-02-17 at 11.15.56.pngOn November 24th 1656, John Carruth and Jean Houstoun were married in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, and in 1686, Jean Carruth, noted in the “Register of the Privy Council of Scotland” was charged with “attending conventicles in Dalry”. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alexander Corruith, which was dated 1575, witness in “Records of Renfrewshire”, Scotland, during the reign of King James V1 of Scotland, 1567 – 1625. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

With this in mind and accepting many of us feel umbrage at the constant misuse and misinformation of our own name, it was felt that for the benefit of both families, clarification of Carruth or ‘it’s’ derivatives, was appropriate.

As an individual, I first came across the name many years ago during my travels through the middle east. It was held by an American friend whose family had done a great deal of research on his name. If my memory serves me correctly, it dovetailed reasonably well into the piece below written by Harvey Carrouth.

Carruth House and Origin, by Harvey Carrough, Aug 9 2002,

Old Map of Renfrewshire, Kilmalcolm no. 11

‘Surnames apparently were not necessary until around the eleventh century. Surnames were then derived from several sources such as the father’s given name John, becoming the family surname Johnson. Other surnames were derived from place names, occupational names, physical descriptions, character descriptions, after a bird or animal, after an event or season, or after a person’s status such as Knight or Squire. This is important for the Carruth family due to our name being a placename.

In the area south of the Clyde River lies in what is presently called “Carruthmuir” and the “Carruth House” is found just to the north of it. They are found in part of the land formerly called “lands of Carruth. “This is the area most Carruth researchers refer to as the place our family came from. G. F. Black’s book published in 1946, “Surnames of Scotland” says, CARRUTH, CARUTH, CURRUTH, of local origin from the lands of Carruth in the parish of Kilmalcolm, (in 1359 Carreth) Renfrewshire. It was therefore a group of farmsteads located in the barony of Duchal in Renfrewshire, Scotland

The surname is mainly confined to that Shire. Several persons named Corruith were named burgesses of Dunbartonshire the 17th century. — Found in Ulster since the 17th century as CARUTH.

The land named Carruth is where the Carruth House name comes from. It has not always been called Carruth House. From Harold Carruth’s book, Carruth Family, we learn this area of land called Carruth was part of the land owned by the Lyle family for many years (300+) before the Semple family acquired it in the early 1500’s. Records show Semple’s interest in “landis of Colruth” and lands of “Corruth. “In 1575 there is an Instrument of Sasine concerning land including “Corruith.”One of the witnesses was a tenant named Alexander “Corruich. “This document establishes that a Carruth family was in the area prior to the Cunninghams becoming the owners of the land called Carruth and as an early genealogy hoax played on the Carruth family went as being the original Carruths in the early 1600’s. This hoax was accompanied by a coat of arms with a shakefork from the Earl of Glencarin’s coat of arms, which was connected with the Cunningham clan.

The above named hoax has caused some confusion to early Carruth family researchers who were very interested in their family heritage. Due to the hoax being carried out, some of the documentation produced by earlier family researchers carried the inaccurate information, thus causing confusion to others interested in our surname history. The hoax was done by John C. Campbell which carried with it a coat of arms partially described above, a family origin, and a statement of what Carruth meant. It was through the alleged Earl of Glencarin connection that attracted those whom Campbell wrote to and sought money for research. The information sent by Campbell in letters to Mrs. E. Rogers were later copied and sent to Arthur Carruth and were supposed to be transcribed in a booklet written in 1895. Arthur Carruth included the information in his genealogy of “The Descendants of James Carruth of Phillipston” published in 1926. It should be well noted that Arthur Carruth was of impeccable character and had no idea of the earlier hoax.


The Carruth House was built by the Cunningham family in the 1700’s and was known then as New Cairncurran. It was sold to William MacDowall in 1820.It is then the house became known as “Carruth House. “The MacDowall family sold the estate to the Cargill family in the early 1900’s. I do not know who the current owners of the house are, but Mrs. Lela Grant Carruth is shown in a picture taken in 1978 in front of the house with Mrs. M. Axton in her book, From Whence Ye Came.’.

               Carruth beyond their homelands

According to (Carruth Lineage); around 1695, British Crown opened up plantations in Ulser, Northern Ireland. Many Scots took advantage of the leasable land, including some of the Carruths from Renfrewshire. Not all of the Carruths migrated to Ireland, some stayed behind.

It is known that the forebears of the Carruths who came to America took the opportunity to lease the acreage in northern Ireland.

Throughout the British Islands in the early 1700’s, the Scots, as well as the Presbyterians were weary and discouraged by the restrictions placed on them by the Crown and the Church of England. They began to look around for a new and better home where they could enjoy more freedom of religion. In 1727, the patriarch, James Carruth, of Ballymartin Parish, Antrim County, Ireland, died. His sons, Walter and Adam sailed to America on the ship, Diligence of Glasgow, in January of 1729. When they first arrived in the new country, the earlier colonists referred to them as Irish, which they strongly resented, insisting rather that they were Scots. Later, they were considered Scottish-Irish or Scotch-Irish.

Adam Carruth, born around 1704, Antrim County, Ireland, died 1782, in Gaston County, North Carolina. He married Elizabeth Beattie, daughter of John Beattie. Adam and Elizabeth had seven children. The third child, named Robert Carruth,born 1746, died 1815, married Elizabeth Anderson. They had nine children. Robert and Elizabeth’s seventh child was a son named Alexander Carruth, born 1784, North Carolina, married Nancy Elkins in 1818, and moved to Lawrence County, Alabama.

Alexander and Nancy had nine children, and their fourth child was a son named Thomas Carruth (4). Thomas was born in Madison County, Georgia, in 1814. The 1860 US Census lists Thomas married to Cynthia Ann Stovall, the daughter of William Stovall and Cynthia Tatum Srovail. After Cynthia Ann’s death in 1844, Thomas left his four children with Absolom I. Stovall, a brother of Cynthia Ann, and went back to Walker County, Alabama. Thomas’ whereabouts was unknown by his family and descendants for many years until he was found in the 1860 Census records residing in Marian County, Alabama, with second wife and two more children. In 1852, Absolom I. Stovall moved his family, along with the Carruth children, from Lawrence County, Alabama to Tupelo, Mississippi. He was a minister and he cared for his sister’s children until they were adults.

According to the 1860 US Census, Thomas and his second wife, Mary L. “Polly” Stanford, and their children were in Marion County, Alabama. They had a total of eight children. One of the children was a son, William Carruth, born July 30, 1848, Marion County, Alabama. He married Mary Lou Clementine Miller, daughter of John Jasper Miller and Melinda Clementine Gann. (These Ganns are traced back to Holland in The Gann Generations by Eileen Gann in 1992.) William and Mary Lou had four children. The oldest, a son named John Thomas Carruth, was born October 26, 1875, in Sanford County, Alabama (now Lamar County). He married Emmer Galbreath White, born August 14, 1877.


It seems there is no longer any doubt that like Carrick, Carruth is a separate and distinct family and not in anyway directly associated with Carruthers, even though commercial entities would suggest otherwise. It also seems that if there is any linkage and if Carruth were to be classed as a sept rather than a family in its own right, they would be linked to the Cunninghams, not us.

Sadly, if any research ie DNA or Genealogy is not robust enough it can lead to false outcomes regarding our Carruthers ancestors.

For this reason, the Clan Carruthers yDNA Project run by the Society and linked with our Clan Genealogists is extremely strict in its accuracy and is keen to ensure that all the evidence produced holds up to robust scrutiny. If you have or wish to have yDNA testing and wish to be included please contact us via the link at the Clan Carruthers yDNA Project, and we will get back to you.

As much as it is far too easy to make mistakes when studying DNA and genealogy, our society feels that it is important that the history and heritage of our family remains as intact as possible and is reflected and published in as accurate manner as the current evidence allows.

We hope you agree and if you wish to, you can offer your support and join us here.


Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote 2021


2 thoughts on “CLAN CARRUTHERS: Carruth and Carruthers, a confused connection.”

  1. I really appreciate this article I have been doing research on my Carruth ancestors and when I was trying to find a tartan I stubbled upon this and was excited to see some of my family mentioned here. Walter and Adam Carruth had a sister named Mary who married John Huggins my 6th great grandfather. He also sailed with Walter, Adam and Mary to America.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.