Based on the amount of rebuttles and challenges that are appearing on social media regarding false claims, relating to Scottish history and genealogy, it is no surprise that again we have been requested to offer clarication by some of our American cousins on information being shared. The query is based on claims posted on the internet relating to our own family and the ‘Scottish Carruthers Heraldry’. At their request, we have gone through the relevant information posted and commented, based on the facts and current evidence. The Piece The question stems from this rather misinformed piece shown below in blue and italics and we have offered a clarification and explanation of the post in ‘black’. Although the piece goes into Kirking of the Tartan, the Saltire and the Lyon Rampant, this is irrelevent to the general gist of the article. As such we will concentrate on the matter at hand ie what has been said about ‘Carruthers Scottish Heraldry’.
Firstly the crest and badge are not the same as the arms. As such, the clarification of what arms, crest, and badge actually are sets the scene for our input. The crest sits abocve the helmet, the arms are the shield, the full arms are all the other stuff, and the badge is what is worn to show fealty to a clan and its chief. Therefore to misunderstand this simple concept shows a serious lack of understanding of heraldry specifically, and Scottish clan culture in general.
“In all clans the Chief by tradition and courtesy allows members of his clan to wear his crest as a capbadge or brooch, the crest generally being of silver and always set within a circular belt and buckle, the motto of the chief being inscribed upon the belt. Wearing the Chief’s crest is, for Carruthers, an expression of symbolic adherence to the Chief and, through him, to their clan”. Our Response: This is true
“There is no such thing as a “clan” crest. The various houses of the chiefly kin within the clan have their own arms and crests. For example Airds has a swan, Inverawe a deer’shead”. Our Response: This is totally inaccurate and simply negates their first statement. As has already been stated by them a clan crest, used by ‘every’ Scottish clan, is the crest of the chief encircled by a belt and buckle on which is inscribed the chief’s motto. However, as is alluded to but not accurately conveyed, armigers ie of the various houses (those of the family with arms registered with the Lord Lyon), can wear their own crest in a circlet, not a belt and buckle, behind which sits one eagle feather. They are not clan or family crests but personal crests of the individual armiger. The chief himself would have three feathers behind a circlet with his own crest in the centre and his son and heir, again with the chief’s crest, with one feather. All others wear the chiefs crest inside a belt and buckle. Further Alistair Campbell of ‘Airds’ and in fact Campbell of ‘Inverawe’, both have territorial designations and are not separate clans. Their Chief is Torqhuil Campbell, Duke of Argyll and other than armigers, all other Campbells wear the Chiefs crest of that clan. See left. As an aside Alastair Campbell of Airds is no longer in post as Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary appointed in 1987, as he was appointed in 2008 to Islay Herald Extraordinary, a higher position in the Lyon Court. What is true is that any Carruthers can use the correct clan/ family crest of our name. This is clarified quite clearly by the piece on the website of the Lord Lyon which states: Clansmen and Clanswomen; These are the Chief’s relatives, including his own immediate family and even his eldest son, and all members of the extended family called the “Clan”, whether bearing the Clan surname or that of one of its septs; that is all those who profess allegiance to that Chief and wish to demonstrate their association with the Clan. It is correct for these people to wear their Chief’s Crest encircled with a strap and buckle bearing their Chief’s Motto or Slogan. The strap and buckle is the sign of the clansman, and he demonstrates his membership of his Chief’s Clan by wearing his Chief’s Crest within it.
“The heraldry of Clan Carruthers is probably the most elaborate, fascinating and diverse of any family in the world, since the number of armigerous Carruthers is probably greater than for any other clan. Those who visit Dunbarton and CaerlaverockCastle, along with Dumfrieshire and Galloway, can see something of the richness of this heritage displayed throughout the lands”. Our Response: Again this is not based on any evidence, nor in fact….facts. We are no more elaborate, fascinating and diverse than any other Scottish clan or family, although our heraldry does tell a rich history, and is unique to us but as with all history, it overlaps with other clans and families who have similar stories from their past. More facts on that here. There has only ever been to date 13 Carruthers arms recorded to date, in either the ancient armorials (books of arms written by heralds) pre 1672 or since 1672, in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings of Scotland, held by the Lord Lyon. As abobe the chiefs arms are in the centre. This is not a huge amount compared to other clans and families ie the Campbells as mentioned above and below, have a great many more. But what is important is that all Carruthers arms are differenced from the base line that is the Chiefs arms. Therefore, ignorance and bad research is no excuse for false information, deliberate or otherwise. The fact that arms are displayed in Dumbarton or Caerlaverock Castle or any other castle or building in Scotland is irrelevant. Does their display make them ours, of course not and in fact they aren’t.
“Because of strong demand from the Clan Societies in recent years for heraldic emblems which they could use in parades and at Society tents at Highland Games, without contravening the Scottish laws of heraldry, the creation of the Federation of Clan Societies was formed. This was an example to clans on how to obtain a grant of arms from the Lord Lyon King of Arms for those within the Scottish borders and for those on the other side of the borders to honor and respect the Scottish heraldic emblems which can be used by the Societies and their members. These arms may also be used by the members of the Societies for as long as they are members. Reproducible copies of the art work for these arms is available from The Clan Carruthers Int Society (CCIS) “. Our Response: The Clan Carruthers Int Society CCIS also known as the LLC, are not recognised by the Chief, the Society, nor the clan in general and again they have chosen to exclude history and facts. The fallacy here is that before 1672 there are only 5 Carruthers arms recorded and only 8 in or after 1672, their badge, seen left, is not included on that list. However, although the comment above is in ‘support of the Laws of Scottish Heraldry’, this badge totally contrevenes it, on a number of levels. Here is why;
- This shield, (centre in their badge) belongs to our chief. Only he has the right to display it, our society displays it with his permission. we do not abuse it or claim it as our own.
- Only the British Monarch, through the auspices of Lord Lyon, can grant supporters to Scottish arms (animals etc supporting the shield on arms). Our chief is the only Carruthers to have supporters.
- The chief’s supporters are two fallow deer bucks rampant, not the Royal Unicorn or the dragon of the City of London.
- The Chief’s crest as a seraphim volant proper, has been depicted since before 1672 as six wings, the two above and below crossed in saltire, the centre two spread as in flight and always with an angelic face in the centre. It cannot simply be changed on a whim other than on the agreement of both the chief and the Lord Lyon.
- The helmet portrayed is that of a member of the British nobility, and as such is not accurate.
- Scottish Arms have the motto at the top, English arms at the bottom.
“The need for a coat of arms for use by members of Clan Carruthers Societies was made clear by the widespread misuse of the historical gyronny. The “Gyronny”, is the personal coat of arms of several of our Carruthers ancestors, which was granted by the Sovereign, through the Lord Lyon, to them alone, which cannot be passed on to, or used by, anyone else. The Carruthers Clan Int Society CCIS LLC went to considerable lengths and expense to obtain a grant of these arms so that any member of this Clan Carruthers Int Society, could use these arms as a correct use of Scottish heraldry”. Our Response: Sadly, simply cutting and pasting without a true understanding of the facts as seen below, leads to misinformation to include that of what the gyronny actually is. As such, other than the Carruthers arms shown further up the page and to include our living armigers, no other arms currently exist or have been granted. One has to question therefore exactly what ‘considerable lengths and expense’ has been incurred to ensure this badge’s acceptance or heraldic registration. To date we have found none. Further, Gyronny has nothing to do with ‘personal’ Carruthers arms although it is a mainstay of defining Clan Campbell, and the writers seems to be getting them somewhat confused with us as Carruthers. Gyronny is instead a heraldic pattern/design of trianglar shapes centered on the shield which is clearly seen on the arms of Campbell to the left. All Campbells, incorporate this gyronny in their arms, to show the are of that clan and difference it, like any other Scottish clan or family, from their ancient chief’s arms. Even the Federation of Clan Campbell Societies maintain the gyronny as can be seen above, with full allegience to their chief and they state: The Federation of Clan Campbell Societies was created in 1986 by his Grace, the 12th Duke of Argyll, to enable the various Clan Campbell Societies to use heraldic arms as granted to the Chief by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland, for the Federation. The need for a coat of arms for use by members of Clan Campbell Societies was made clear by the widespread misuse of the historical gyronny. The “Gyronny”, is the personal coat of arms of MacCailein Mor (gaelic title) , Chief of Clan Campbell, granted by the Sovereign, through the Lord Lyon, to him alone, which cannot be passed on to, or used by, anyone else. The Chief went to considerable lengths and expense to obtain a grant of these arms from the Lord Lyon for the Federation so that each Society, who was a member of the Federation, could use these arms as a correct use of Scottish heraldry. The design of the coat of arms as granted, is the gyronny differenced by a silver globe at centre point, to emphasize the worldwide spread of our Clan. The globe is surrounded by a silver chain which represents our common bond of kinship and loyalty to our Chief. The dimensions, design and colors of this banner are available from the Chief Executive of the Clan Campbell.
“All Clan Carruthers must have received the approval of the (Mac Uilleam Garbh Ri )in order to be eligible” Our Response: Who or what is ‘Mac Uilleam Garbh Ri‘? As Carruthers are borderers we do not come from a Gaelic clan/family and we never really spoke the language. Our origins do not come from the Gaels but rather Brythonic tribes (Celts). It is therefore inconceivable that the Chief would use such a ‘title’ or in fact that the clan would ever call him this. The official Clan Carruthers Society (International) accepts all those of our name, as such Mac Uilleam Garbh Ri has no place in our family or its history, is simply a made up term, never used or to be used by a Carruthers, chief or otherwise and should be taken with a huge pinch of salt.
“The Scottish system of heraldry is well controlled and is reckoned to be the purest in the world”, so states Alastair Campbell of Airds, is Unicorn Pursuivant, is also one of the Officers of Arms for Scotland”. Our Response: This is accurate, except for Alastair’s title.
“The senior herald ofScotland is the Lord Lyon King of Arms.” Our Response: Accurate.
“Lyon is the Monarch’s Supreme Officer of Honour in Scotland. He is also a Judge of the Realm and is responsible, among many other duties, for adjudication of the succession to the Chiefship of clans when in question, the only official recognition given to clans in Scottish law, within Scotland”. Our Response: True.
“In commenting upon those who are eligible for arms, Campbell states “… Lyon may entertain petitions (for arms) of any Scotsman – or woman – who is of good standing and can show that they have contributed to the life of the community.” Our Response: Correct.
“It is also possible for American Scots to apply for personal arms. These may be granted if the petitioner can prove his or her descent – in the male line – from a Scottish ancestor born or living in Scotland, or from one born or living in Canada. Those who can prove descent from an ancestor in the male line living in the American colonies before the Revolution are also eligible. This requires genealogical proofs sufficient to stand scrutiny in a Court of Law.” Our Response: Partly true, Canada has its own heraldic authority, and this jurisdiction would liaise with the Lord Lyon if there was any Scottish connection, and may lead to Scottish arms being granted with evidence. It would also preclude and disallow the misuse of arms in Canada. What is true, is that any evidence provided must be accurate and robust and if American, usually evidence of ancestry dating back to the time of the Colonies.
“If you live outside of Scotland’s borders, you can also go through the College of Arms in London, England”. Our Response: Actually not quite true if you are a Carruthers, as it’s a Scottish name with Scottish ancestry, the Lord Lyon would be involved in some shape or form, as it would always come under the Scottish jurisdiction.
“The arms are actually granted to the ancestor with a suitable difference then added for the petitioner, unless he is the ancestor’s heir in which case he inherits the un-differenced form of the arms.” Our Response: This is accurate only if a matriculation has occurred. Matriculation (inheriting arms of an ancestor) is reflected in the petition for the arms of the Chief of Carruthers by our current chief, which date back before 1672. If no ancestor carried arms or if it hasnt been proved, then new arms are granted with at least two differences and again taken from the main arms ie that of the chief (past or present). Therefore, all Carruthers arms (shields), as previously stated are differenced at least twice from the chief’s personal arms (Holmains). However, one can apply for a grant of arms, which are still differenced from the main arms of that name, but not linked to any previously granted arms of an ancestor.
“The cost of a new grant of arms is not inexpensive; about one thousand pounds sterling. However if the petitioner can prove descent in the male line from a previous owner of arms, then these arms are awarded with a suitable difference and the cost is reduced to about four hundred pounds. The services of an officer of arms is not included in these figures”. Our Response: The cost of a grant of personal Scottish arms through the Lord Lyon is over £3000 (£=British Pounds), while a matriculation is around the £2000 mark. If not Scottish, through the College of Arms it is over £7000. Both the Lyon Court and the College of Arms fees increase annually. The use of an officer at the court of the Lord Lyon, or any other heraldist to generate or process the arms has no bearing on the price the Lyon Court charges and is a private and separate fee.
“You may see a man’s arms displayed in different ways. During his lifetime his eldest son or grandson may display his father’s or grandfather’s arms with a `label’ for difference. A wife may display her husband’s arms upon an oval alone or beside those of her Father. A daughter or granddaughter may display the arms of her paternal father or grandfather on an oval. Younger sons are obliged to petition for the arms of heir armigerous father with a mark of difference”. Our Response: Partly true, the younger son would have a border/bordure usually gold and would need to matriculate his father’s arms. The eldest son carries a cadency mark over his fathers shield, like an inverted E (above) but only during the lifetime of the father. After which he inherits his father’s arms and the mark is removed. As can be seen above, there is a process/language in heraldry which allows anyone with an understanding of it to recognise where the person sat in the line. A woman would have their husbands or father’s arms, or if their personal arms, denoted on what is called a lozenge and is more commonly in a diamond shape, as is the case of the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher seen above.
In Summary The difficulty with the internet is the amount of false information out there. Secondly, when mixed in with some truths, it can be viewed by accident or design that there is in an attempt to suggest a level of expertise or understanding, which is not actually held. Presented in this manner by those with not well versed in the subject, it is far more difficult to spot. As such, and as our Society has been charged by our chief as ‘keepers of the truth’, we feel it is important to offer the facts based on current evidence and let people make their own minds up. As an old professor of ours used to say, “through good education, comes greater enlightenment but you have to have the education in order to become enlightened“. So the bottom line is, if you are dealing with the Laws of Scottish Heraldry or how Carruthers is intertwinned with the same, then you are dealing with it all not simply snippets to fill a void or fit an agenda. We hope this helps clarifies things for those who took the time to contact us with this query. Promptus et Fidelis
1 thought on “CLAN CARRUTHERS: Scottish Carruthers Heraldry; a lesson in history.”
Very illuminating. Thank you for this.