Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Our ‘Ancient Colours’ received from King David I (1082—1153)

Did we as Carruthers, being a small Annandale family at the time, actually receive the ‘colours’ of Red and Gold as our own from David I, way back in the late 11th century?

Interesting stuff, but is it true?

The piece in question

Carruthers Colours

Arms of Carruthers of Holmains, hereditary chiefs 1548-to date.

Firstly, what are the colours of Carruthers.

As no colour can be the property of one individual or group of individuals, to be honest we have no idea. The only link with colours that any Scottish clan or family would have, would be on the shield and mantling of the chief’s arms or in a tartan assigned or registered to the name, in our case Carruthers.

The question that was asked by an interested party was; “Aren’t our colours the same as the Bruce colours?”

Arms of Bruce of Annadale, extinct after David I, and Current Chiefs Bruce of Clackmannan (Earl of Elgin)

Ok if we consider they do in fact mean the colours on the shields ie the Arms because in Scotland it really could be nothing else, let’s look at them and compare.

The shields (the main part of the arms) of both chiefs contain the colours Gold and Red ie the shield of Carruthers of Holmains and the shield of Bruce of Annandale. This is the original Bruce family line from which Robert the Bruce came from and as we see, used during the time they were Lords of Annadale (1124-1312). Their colours are in fact the same as ours and are portrayed above.

Now of course their chief, who is from the line of Bruce of Clackmannan also shown above, has a blue lion rampant on white in the top left corner on his shield, which differences them from Annandale, the former senior line, now extinct. The blue (Azure) Lion Rampant on the shield of Clackmannan dates back to Adam, grandfather of Robert 1st Lord of Annandale. His shield was blazoned Argent (silver) a lion rampant Azure (Blue).

It is said that Robert, 1st Lord of Annadale, having married his wife Agnes of Annandale, took up the arms of Annan as Lord of Annandale as was the custom when marrying heiresses, according to Alexander Nisbit (1722), and as such the Bruces of Annandale carried the arms of Or (gold) a saltire and chief Gules (red).

However, other historians claim that the Bruces connection to heraldry and those arms of the Lord of Annandale may only be traced as far back 1124, when David granted Annandale to Robert, even though the de Brus/Bruis family had previously been given the lands Annandale by Malcom III (Canmore) (1058–1093).

At that time it seems that few native Scots, if any, bore arms and Carruthers, based on our place in the pecking order, would not be among them.

If it of course it was simply the colours that were important, both would just have red and gold shields, but that is not the case.

Bruce Arms before 1100’s, Carruthers Arms as above,1500’s;

These same colours ie Gules (red) and Or (gold) are normal heraldic colours and are used by many other Scottish clans/families, with potentially no relevance on their own other than allowing the bearer to be identified on the battlefield.

Of the larger clans and families the following also use Gold and Red; Boyle, Broun, Cameron, Grant, Seton, Sutherland, Lyle and Urquhart to name a few. When being described, the colour of the main body of the shield is blazoned first.

So for Bruce, their shield is gold and blazoned (described) as: Or (gold), a saltire and chief Gules (red), whereas the Carruthers chief’s colours ie Holmains from the 1500’s onwards is: Gules (red) two chevrons engrailed between three fleurs de lis Or (gold) – gold on a red shield

But why these colours?

Well there are really only 7 colours to choose from in traditional heraldry dating back to the beginning of its use, two of which are classed as metals and each with its own heraldic meaning?

Colours/Tinctures

Red (Gules) – Military fortitude and also magnanimity.

Blue (Azure) – Loyalty and in addition, truth.

Black (Sable)- Constancy, and sometimes grief.

Green (Vert) – Hope, joy and also loyalty in love.

Purple (Purpure) Royal majesty, sovereignty and also justice.

Metals

Gold (Or) Worthy ambition.

Silver (Argent) Peace and sincerity.

As such an individual looking for arms would have contacted a herald whose job it was to produce arms. Ideally they would know not to use the same arms for two different people and based on the requirement of the individual, or links with other names, would design a set of arms. This still happens today through the Lord Lyons office as the official Herald for Scotland.

These heralds did not necessarily work for or with the monarchy and as in all walks of life, not all were as educated or good at research as the next. It is therefore not the colours on their own that matter, but the the charges (items) on the shield and the pattern by which they were used. These and the colours offer individual identity to the observer.

The argument against Gold and Red being Carruthers colours and in fact recieved from David I is however even more simple and will be answered using the facts below after we digest what the LLC wrote in response.

The LLC answer:

The answer by the LCC under the guise of the rogue site ‘ClanCarruthers Promptus et Paratus’ was; “the Bruce’s were never given colors. We received ours from King David after an early Crusasade. Bruce’s were not on this earth until the 1300’s and we go back beyond 800bc. They also have 17 tartans that are all different”.

The Bruce’s were never given colours: To understand this you have to understand where heraldry came from and when it began. It began in Flanders around the 11th century and was taken up, as we can see by the Bayeux tapestry by Norman knights and used at the battle of Hastings in 1066. However there is no evidence that the Bruce/Bruis/Brus were there, nor that they had their own arms, although some believe they did.

But we will come to that later. What is important is the coment relating to Carruthers; “We received ours from King David after an early Crusasade”.

Accepting the spelling mistake for crusade, which we have all done, the colours red and gold were never used by Carruthers until the early part of the 1500’s, as such they could not have been received from David I (1082—1153). The arms we recognise today as the Carruthers arms, belong to our chief Simon Carruthers of Holmains, 22nd of his line and date back to the 1500’s, but were only registered along with all other Scottish arms after the Lyon Act in 1672.

Full armorial achivement of the Chief of Carruthers, to include his personal arms as displayed on the shield.

Interestingly the motto Promptus et Paratus used on the rogue website is from the arms of James of Isle, cousin to the then chief John Carruthers 9th of Holmains who registered his arms along with his Chief in 1672, albeit with a silver border around the Arms of Holmains.

Reasons against our ‘Colours’ coming from David I

  • No Arms for Carruthers appeared in any armorial records until the late 1200’s (13th Century), more than 100 years after David I died. Our armorial history is here
  • They were definitely not red (Gules) and gold (Or) in the earliest of records. Carruthers were small landowners, only owning the lands of Carruthers itself until 1320 when they received the charter of Mouswald from Robert the Bruce. As such they would not have been the first in line for arms of any colour, nor would they have considered them during the time of David I and it seemed they didn’t.
  • If any monarch had presented our family with our own ‘colours’ they would have been used proudly from that point onwards and heavily documented, they simply weren’t.
  • The original Carruthers Arms were not changed to contain red (Gules) and gold (Or) until the early 1500’s by Sir Simon Carruthers 10th of Mouswald, up to then Carruthers arms were recorded as black (Sable) on gold (Or).

The original arms are described/blazoned, as two black (Sable) engrailed chevrons on a gold (Or) shield, or as William Pont described them as Blue (Azure) engrailed chevrons on a Gold (Or) shield. These were used from the 1200-1500’s by the Carruthers chiefs in this case during the time of Mouswald, until Simon of 10th of Mouswald , last of that line who died in 1548, changed them. Why he did we do not know, but we do know that no other armorial records appear from the first in the 1200’s until Sir Simon (1500’s.)

In fact the arms of Sir Simon are recorded in five different armorials from that time.

a) Three blazoned red (Gules) and gold (Or)

b) One blazoned red (Gules), silver (Argent) and gold (Or).

c) One blazoned silver (Argent) and red (Gules)

The red and gold arms ie a) have been accepted as the correct representation albeit they were the recorded arms of the Brouns of Colstoun even before the were recorded against Sir Simon, so like others today, homework even then was not done to a very high standard. The other two are deemed to be mistakes in the recorded blazon.

Based on the armorials, is is known that our arms existed before 1320 but were used by Mouswald until Sir Simon changed them in the 1500’s

What is known is that the chiefly line of Holmains conjoined the ancient arms of Carruthers ie the engrailed chevrons, with the three fleurs de lis of Sir Simon and retained the red and gold livery. This gave us us our chief’s arms as we can recognise them to this day.  

First record of any Scottish Arms

Arms of the Stewards of Scotland

The first records of any Scottish heraldry is on the seal of Alan fitz Walter (1140 – 1204). His tenure of High Steward of Scotland ran from 1177–1204 and as such his seal at the earliest would not been in existance until over 20 years after David I died in 1153.

Alans seal and on the shield can be seen the Arms of the High Stewards of Scotland

Although the seal had no colours it is accepted as being the first usage of the ancient seal of the High Steward of Scotland ie gold (Or) shield on which the charge, a fess chequy in Argent (White) and Azure (blue) sat. The fess chequy representing, as claimed by some historians, the chequered counting cloth of the Stewards.

Interestingly, there is absolutely no evidence in court records, archives or otherwise that shows David I gave colours to anyone, to include Carruthers and if so why would he? We would be way down the list as a very small Annandale family who had very little land and more importantly, very little power during his time.

There is further, NO documented evidence that Carruthers went on a Crusade, if they had, they would have gone as vassals of the Brus family as Lords of Annandale. From the Scottish Bruces, it was only Robert the Bruce’s heart that went on the Spanish crusade against the Moors, carried by Sir James Douglas in 1330, a year after Robert the Bruce died. Bruces heart is buried in Melrose Abbey while his body is burried in Dunfermline Abbey.

To summarise; based on current evidence and in cases of claims such as this, evidence is important to counter the nonsense produced. Carruthers did not, would not and more importantly could not have received ‘colours’ (1125-1153) from David 1st.  

Existence of the family Bruce  

“Bruce’s were not on this earth until the 1300’s”

Clan badge of the Family of Bruce

The evidence shows that the family of de Brus (Bruce) were originally from the Chateau d’Adam at Brix, which originate from the Gaulish suffix of ‘brut’. Brix sits between Cherbourg and Valonges in Normandy and as landowners and knights their designated name was ‘of/de’ the area they owned ie ‘de Brus/Bruis’.

This is the same as in the earliest record of our own name during the reign of Alexander II (1214–1249), William was recorded as ‘de Carruthers’ ie of Carruthers, being the owner of the lands carrying that name. This was written as such by the early clergy scribes of Newbattle Abbey in Midlothian, where he was recorded as giving a donation.

Therefore,the family of Bruce were most certainly in existence ‘on this earth’ before the 1300’s and can trace their lineage back to 721 AD according to the Family of Bruce International website, but happily they do not claim a date BC (before Christ) as the LLC do.

De Bruis/Brus and Scotland

The Norman knight, Robert de Brus, the first of the name in England, was given lands in Yorkshire in 1100, 34 years after the Battle of Hastings. His son also Robert who came to Scotland as a companion-in-arms of David I (1124–1153), was the progenitor of the Bruce line in Scotland and the first Lord of Annandale. The surname Brus/Bruis, which became Bruce as language and spelling settled, is clearly stated in the charter of 1138 from David I to Robert Brus regarding the lands of Annandale and according to the historian Bain was without the ‘de’. Whether it was de Brus or just Brus, to suggest the family of Bruce didnt exist until the 1300’s is once again total nonsense.

As such the family Bruce and their line existed in Scotland since the reign of David 1st (1124–1153) and even without the removal of the ‘de’ the name Brus was, from their arrival as knights, always going to be higher up the feudal ranks of nobility than Carruthers, and again long before the 13th century.  

It must be remembered that having lands in Annandale and under the feudal Lordship of the Bruces of Annandale, Carruthers as small landowners of the lands of ‘Carruthers’ are obviously recognised by thier Lords as being a well respected family. They were named as Stewards and Foresters of Annandale, Keepers of the Trailtrow Preceptory and made Guardians of the Old Kirk Ford at Hoddom. These were honours given by the Lord of Annandale to those in service to him, which in those days Carruthers were most certainly included. More here on the link between Carruthers and Bruce

In a form of gratitude for services to the family of Bruce and as an aside there is no evidence we played a part in Bannockburn, with the clue possibly in the name given to Thomas; ie the clerk, was given a charter of lands of Mouswald in 1320 from King Robert the Bruce. From here the Lands of Mouswald grew into a barony during the chiefship of John 6th of Mouswald, who died in 1454. Thomas’s younger brother John was the progenitor of the Holmains line, which became the chiefly line in 1548 after the Mouswald line became extinct on the death of Sir Simon of Mouswald.

The male line of the Bruces of Annandale also died out with the death of David II, son of ‘The Bruce’. The line then passed through Robert’s sister Marjory and her husband Walter, 6th High Steward of Scotland to their son Robert II (1371–1390).

The Chiefship of Bruce is now held by the Andrew Bruce, Earl of Elgin, a descendant of the Bruces of Clackmannan whose progenitor was Sir Thomas Bruce, 1st Baron of Clackmannan. Thomas received a charter of the land of Clackmannan from his cousin King Robert II, son of Marjory, ‘the’ Bruce’s sister and her husband Walter, 6th High Steward of Scotland. Interestingly this line continues down through our current Queen, Elizabeth II.

According to the website of the Family of Bruce International regarding the lineage of Bruce of Clackmannan (1320) it states: Many Bruces today descend from many of these family branches, that started with this Thomas Bruce. It is questionable as to who Thomas’ father was. Some say from King Robert’s brother Edward’s son Thomas; others say from Robert Bruce, a cousin or illegitimate son of King Robert and some say another Thomas Bruce of Clackmannan (nephew of King David II (Bruce). Whichever it may be, we will never know for sure. However, he was a descendant of the Scottish Bruces.

Current research published in 2022 by the University of Strathclyde have found the marker in male line descendants of the Bruces of Clackmannan, who were related to Robert the Bruce, King of Scots from 1306 to 1329. This suggests that the DNA snp they found can be traced back to ‘the family of Bruce’, but not directly to Robert the Bruce himself, as the paternal line died out with his son David II as this clearly shows.


And of course that final triumphant statement by the rogue LLC – “and we go back beyond 800bc (800 years before Christ)

Jeezo, who believes this stuff and where is the evidence? 

Carruthers as a family did not exist back then ie from the lands of Caer Ruther (circa 200-400 AD) and as we do exist and from wherever all humans came from and according to research this is from the cradle of life in Africa, simple maths suggest that we would be sharing those same ancestors with billions of other humans on the planet. We therefore did not begin as a family in 800 BC, what absolute nonsense.

“ They (the Bruce) also have 17 tartans that are all different”.

Ach, see here on the Bruce Tartan, otherwise we are covering old ground and here on the Carruthers tartan.


It is always a real ‘joy’ to read what the American Carruthersclan LLC come up with next and as such it simply just never fails to amaze us. This group, led by an individual called Patti/Partricia Fello, just keeps on giving, sadly much of it is far from factual.

As a Society we, along with other authors and researchers are well used to:

a) their continued breach of copyright.

b) their use of false FB identities.

c) their plagiarism from both our sites as well as those of others.

d) their stealing of art work, and again not just ours …….and of course……

e) their ridiculously false claims.

However to try rewrite history requires three main components:

a) reason to lie ie vindictive, financial, manipulative, attention seeking, elevation of self or simply pathological in nature.

b) fake information and a vehicle to spread it.

c) an audience to believe those lies


Sadly, when people use the ignorance and lack of education of others to dupe them into believing such nonsense, then shame on them.

However the reason we respond is it simply continues to bring the name of Carruthers into disrepute and with absolutely no evidence to substantiate their claims.

But then the believers will believe and we can’t change that. What we can do is stimulate those who are far more aware/inquisitive to question the information they produce based on the current facts. The truth as they say is out there, but not from such groups as the LLC it seems.

Promptus et Fidelis (Ready to fight our cause and Faithful to the truth)


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