Clan Carruthers, Holmains

CLAN CARRUTHERS: The 661 year old Charter of 1361 that started the Holmains Line.

It is always advantageous to be officially recognised by our Chief and through him, our clan and family. This allows us direct access to documents that only the family of Carruthers of Holmains have in their possession.

Accepting that, we would again like to share with you a photo of the original Charter which started the Chiefly line of the House of Carruthers of Holmains and their extensive lands, which in themselves led to the barony of the same name.

The written translation below the picture of the Charter was commissioned by the Holmains family and at the time requested to be put into Modern English from the old Scots tongue, from which it was originally written.

The History of the Charter

Photograph of the Charter of 1361 written in the old Scots language. The copyright watermark has been added by the society. It is therefore legally only found on this site.

The House of Carruthers of Mouswald were the descendants of the first recorded Carruthers; Carruthers of ‘Carruthers’ who held the lands of our name prior to Mouswald becoming the primary seat of the Carruthers family.

Mouswald at this point became the chiefs of the family in 1320 and they lasted as such until 1548.

Robert the Bruce

In 1320, it was recorded in the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland that Thomas the Clerk, son of John of Carruthers was granted a charter of the whole lands Mouswald and Appletreethwaite by king Robert the Bruce for services to his family.

David II

Again, on 10th December 1361 when King David II visited Mouswald as a guest, a parcel of land, formally one half of the lands owned by John of Rafhols (Raffles) and lying within the tenement of Mouswald, was granted to John Carruthers and witnessed by Robert Carruthers, 3rd of Mouswald.

It wasn’t until more than a century later, according to the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh and dated Dec 10 1888, that the other half were joined to the Mouswald estates.

Interestingly, the paper published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries was written by John J Reid, father of R C Reid, the famous border historian and a well known historian and researcher.

It was R C Reid himself, who in collaboration with Arthur Stanley Carruthers FSA Scot, wrote the very well researched Records of the Carruthers Family published in 1934 which are still used today as a cornerstone of Carruthers history.

Both historians and clan genealogists agree that the John Carruthers mentioned in the 1361 charter was John, Kings Chancellor at the time, brother of Thomas and ancestor of the House of Holmains.

It was this charter which was to become the foundation and initial kernel from which the vast estates, owned by the Holmains branch of the Carruthers family was seeded.

The change in status of Holmains to chiefs of the family happened after the demise of Mouswald line. This occurred when the chief at the time; Sir Simon Carruthers of Mouswald, was killed on a border raid in 1548. As he had no living male heirs, it led to the legal extinction of Mouswald as a House and the subsequent removal of them as heads of the Carruthers clan and family.

From here, the Chiefly line was officially passed to the next most senior branch of the family, that being Carruthers of Holmains, with John 5th of Holmains and 1st Baron, becoming the first chief of that line.

The chiefly line of Carruthers, continues through the House of Holmains into this present day and is represented by the current hereditary Chief, Simon Peter Carruthers of Holmains. Peter was confirmed as Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers by the Lord Lyon King of Arms himself in 2019.

The link between the two great houses of Mouswald and its cadet; Holmains is well known and is further highlighted through the documentation seen below.

This photograph was sent to the Society for their personal by senior members of the Holmains line in order that we can share it with the society.

It is therefore our pleasure to share with you one of the oldest Carruthers artefacts in existence dating back to the early days of Carruthers history. This ancient document is the Charter of Half Raffols dated 1361 and received by John de (of) Carruthers from King David II, who reigned from 1324-1371.

The document clearly demonstrates a link between John, mentioned in ‘Wyntouns’s Cronykil’, who was also Kings Chancellor at the time, and his elder brothers; Thomas 1st of Mouswald and William 2nd of Mouswald.

The watermark, which can be seen on the picture of the Charter above, was added by the Society to prevent misuse and publication without permission.

John de Carruthers, who was in receipt of the charter. was to become the progenitor of the House of Holmains, now the chiefly line of our name.

A translation of the Charter to John Carruthers, progenitor of the House of Holmains and younger brother of Thomas 1st of Mouswald and Robert 2nd of Mouswald, dated 10th December 1361. This was translated into Modern English from the old Scots tongue.

Below is the translation into modern English from the original language commissioned by the Holmains family ie the great uncle of the current chief

David by the Grace of God, King of Scots and Lord of Annandale, to all honest men of his whole land, greetings, know that we have given, conceded and by our own present charta have confirmed to our beloved and faithful John de Carruthers, the half past of all lands and of which were John de Rafhols, lying within the tenement of Mouswald (une Gontrée) which half past extends to fifty shilling sterling and came into our hands by reason of forfeiture. To hold and to have the aforesaid its liberties, advantages and casements, belonging to the said half past of all the said lands purporting to belong or in any way rightfully to refer to the said John de Carruthers and his heirs, freely, quietly, well, truly, honourably and in peace on our own part and that of their heirs forever. The said John and his heirs paying annually to us and to our own heirs the service due and want by law. In testimony of which things we have ordered to be placed our seal of the aforesaid valley on our present charter at Mouswald on the tenth day of December in the thirty year of our reign, with these witnesses,

Robert de Gorry, Lord of Newby,

Robert de Carruthers, Lord of Mouswald,

William de Crigton, Lord of Dryfesdale

Humphry Jardine, Lord of Appleyard

John de Johnstone, Lord of that Ilk

John de Caldicot, Lord of Hoton,

And many others

The photo above and the copy of the letter, were posted by kind permission of the Chief’s family. They are the only people with copies, and we are they only group who have permission to post them.

The translation was carried out by a university research department, and as requested was put into a language that would be better understood ie modern English.

Please remember that the watermark on the Holmains’s Charter was added by the Society and is not on the original.

We hope that this picture of this very important Carruthers artefact, which dates back 660 years to 1361, thrills you as much as it does us.

Our legacy as a border clan and family is built firmly on the history of our past and this piece has to be a huge part of it.


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