Clan Carruthers, Coat of Arms, Lord Lyon

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Carruthers and the Lyon King of Arms Act of 1672


The Chiefly Arms of Carruthers were first registered after the passing of the 1672 Lyon King of Arms Act by King Charles II and the then Scottish Parliament.

Although Royal Heralds existed as far back as the times of Robert the Bruce and beyond, which is supported it seems in a letter dated 1315 in the possession of the Earl of Elgin, this Act saw the Lord Lyon being made Keeper of the Public Register of all Arms and Bearings in Scotland, a role that has continued to this day.

The Act was passed to prevent the misuse and claims of arms throughout Scotland, by those not deemed worthy to hold them. This led to the heralds gathering, correlating and either accepting or in many cases rejecting arms that were presented to them, and if successful as Carruthers were, recorded on the Register. This in itself reflects that Carruthers were a highly respected family of their day and that Carruthers of Holmains as all subsequent arms have come from them, were recognised as the head of the clan/family of Carruthers.

This is augmented by the fact that all Carruthers arms from that date forward were differenced from the Holmains arms.

Seal of the Lord Lyon courtesy of Wiki

The Lord Lyons website states:

Act concerning the privileges of the Office of Lyon King at Armes (1672 cap. 47)

(italics inside brackets indicate the sections repealed by the Scottish Laws Revision Act of 1906)

Our Soveraigne Lord Considering that albeit by the 125 Act of the 12 Parliament holdin by his Maiesties grandfather in the yeir 1592 the usurpation of Armes by any of his Maiesties leidges without the authority of the Lyon King of Armes is expressly discharged And that in order therto Power and Commission is granted to the Lyon King of Armes or his Deputes to visite the whole Armes of Noblemen Barrons and Gentlemen and to matriculate the same in their registers and to fine in One Hundreth pounds all others who shall unjustlie usurp Armes who should bear none and many of these who may in law bear have assumed to themselvis the Armes of their cheiff without distinctions or Armes which were not caried by them or their predicessors Therfore His Maiestie with advice and consent of his Estates of Parliament Ratifies and Approves the forsaid Act of Parliament And for the more vigorous prosecution therof Doth hereby Statute and Ordain that lettirs of publication of this present act be direct to be execute at the mercat cross of the heid Burghs of the Shires Stewartries Bailliaries of Royaltie and Regallitie and Royall Burrowghs chargeing all and sundry [Prelates] Noblemen Barons and Gentlemen who make use of any Armes or Signes armoriall within the space of one yeir aftir the said publication to bring or send an account of what Armes or Signes armoriall they are accustomed to use and whither they be descendants of any familie the Armes of which familie they bear and of what Brother of the ffamilie they are desended With Testificats from persones of Honour Noblemen or Gentlemen of qualitie anent the verity of their haveing and useing those Armes and of their descent as afoirsaid to be delivered either to the Clerk of the Jurisdiction where the persones duells or to the Lyon Clerk at his office in Edinburgh at the option of the party upon their receipts gratis without paying any thing therfore Which Receipt shall be a sufficient exoneration to them from being obleidged to produce again to the effect that the Lyon King of Armes may distinguish the saids Armes with congruent differences and may matriculat the same in his Bookes and Registers and may give Armes to vertuous and well deserving Persones and Extracts of all Armes expresssing the blasoning of the Armes undir his hand and seall of office [For which shall be payed to the Lyon the soume of Tuentie merkes by every Prelat and Nobleman, and Ten merks be every Knight and Baron, and Five merkes by every other persone bearing Armes, and noe more:] And his Maiestie hereby Dispensses with any penalties that may arise be this or any preceiding act for bearing Armes befor the Proclamation to be issued hereupon And it is Statute and Ordained with consent forsaid that the said Register shall be respected as the true and unrepeallable rule of all Armes and Bearings in Scotland to remain with the Lyon office as a publict Register of the Kingdome and to be transmitted to his Successors in all tyme comeing And that whosoevir shall use any other Armes any manner of way aftir the expireing of year and day from the date of the Proclamation to be issued hereupon in maner forsaid shall pay One Hundred pounds money toties quoties to the Lyon and shall likewayes escheat to his Maiestie all the moveable Goods and Geir upon which the saids Armes are engraven or otherwise represented And his Maiestie with consent forsaid Declaires that it is onlie allowed for Noblemen [and Bishopes] to subscrive by their titles And that all others shall subscrive their Christened names or the initiall letter therof with there Sirnames and may if they please adject the designations of their Lands prefixing the word Of to the saids designations And the Lyon King at Armes and his Brethren are required to be carefull of informeing themselvis of the contraveiners heirof [and that they acquaint his Maiesties Councill thewith, who are hereby impowered to punish them as persones disobedient to, and contraveiners of the Law:]  It is likewise hereby Declaired that the Lyon and his Brethren Heraulds are Judges in all such causes concerning the Malversation of Messingers in their office and are to enjoy all other priviledges belonging to their Office which are secured to them by the Lawes of this Kingdome and according to former practice.

The full Act can be found here

Carruthers and the Act of 1672

Armorial with gary's arms.jpgThere were 5 Carruthers arms recorded in armorials before 1672, which are sub-classified as the ‘ancient arms’ and Mouswald arms.  At the time of the Lyon Act in 1672, two further Carruthers arms were registered in the Records. They were the Chiefly Arms of John Carruthers, 9th of Holmains, 5th Baron and James Carruthers of Isle, Chamberlain and Steward Depute to James Johnstone, Earl of Annandale. James was a cousin of Holmains, as Carruthers of Isle were off that line.

 Holmains Crest

The arms recorded in 1672 were (a) The Chiefs arms ‘of’ Holmains ie two engrailed chevrons between three fleurs de lis, in gold on a red shield and the other (b) that of James Carruthers of Isle, differenced ‘off’ the Holmains arms. Both had angelic figures as crests; the Chiefs Arms as we know being the seraphim volant proper and carried the motto Promptus et Fidelis (ready and faithful) and the other, James’s; a seraphim standing vested Proper, with the motto Paratus et Fidelis (prepared and faithful).

06 copy.png

The arms of James however, were differenced to the Chiefly Arms by adding a border in silver, indicating that the line of Carruthers of Isle were cadets off the main line of Holmains. (see left). Holmains had aquired the lands of Daltonheuk, Blaeberrieward and Isle in the Water of Annan in 1492

Prior to 1672

So, were the Holmains arms in existence prior to 1672?

There is evidence that the arms of Holmains had been used by this branch of the family prior to this date. In fact the Holmains arms had been found carved into a mantlepiece at Holmains Farm, which bore the escutcheon (Shield) of Carruthers of Holmains dating back to at least 1665. It seems that the stone mantlepiece may have been moved from its original position in the old Holmains Tower to the farmhouse after the tower, built in the 14th century, was torn down and the family seat moved to Kirkwood.

This tower was situated on top of a small rocky knoll, and appears to have been rectangular, measuring 6.2m N-S by 6.8m E-W. Traces of the outer wall face can be seen on the north and east sides, and there is some fallen masonry at the SW angle, but otherwise there are no remains. A courtyard possibly existed to the south of the tower.

According to the National Records of the Historic Environment, the arms on the mantlepiece were those as registered by John Carruthers, 9th of Holmains in 1672.

Screen Shot 2021-06-30 at 11.54.24.pngWe know that the Holmains Arms, which remain the property of our chief, combined the engrailed chevrons of the ancient family arms, with those of Simon of 10th of Mouswald last chief of that line.

Holmains took on the mantle of Chiefs of Carruthers in 1548 after the extinction of the House of Mouswald. The conjoined arms are thought to have been a ‘homage’ to the arms used by Carruthers of Mouswald in the past, reflecting Holmains ancestral link back to John, second brother of Thomas, 1st of Mouswald and progenitor of the House of Holmains.

To this day the Holmains arms have remained the part of Carruthers history and are still carried by our current Chief, Peter Carruthers of Holmains, albeit now in a manner denoting his status in Scottish clan society.

chiefs arms with mantling red and silver 2.jpeg

The Chiefly Coat of Arms were significantly enhanced in 2019 by the addition of Supporters: two fallow deer bucks rampant Proper. In addition to the changes to the Coat of Arms, a Pinsel (small banner) and on the Standard, Pinsel and compartment a plant badge ‘ a sprig of gorse in flower’ being the plant badge of the clan and family of Carruthers.

Carruthers: Living Armigers

There are currently six living Armigers (with Carruthers arms) to include our Chief, all of which, other than the Chief, have differenced arms from the Holmains arms.


Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote 2021

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