Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Caratacus of the Catuvellauni- was he a Carruthers? 

Caratacus-Wiki

In the first century AD there lived a Chieftain of a Celtic tribe called the Catuvellauni, whose name was Caratacus (The ancient Cumbric/Welsh form was Caradog/k).

He was renowned as a brave and experienced warrior who fought hard against the Roman occupation of Brittannia, when his lands were invaded.

So the question is why is our Society doing a piece on Caratacus? Well it’s simple, not only was he a fascinating man in his day, but as usual we recieved a query from one of our members asking if Caratacus was ‘a Carruthers’. We are told this is based on some claims currently being made.

The misconception here, and of course in other cases, seems to be that if a name ‘sounds’ like Carruthers, there must be a link. But this is not how things work, bizarre guessing and fantasy is simply not valid research and thus the claims remain nonsense.

As such and as per normal, here is the piece that stimulated the blog and it was not definitely not published by us.

Note the Bruce tartan centre top, under the claim of Caratacus, misspelt of course but more importantly, based on no evidence linking Caratacus to our family whatsoever:

Carruthers is the root of the surname, it originates in Scotland, it is topographical and as a stand alone surname with its own derivatives, does not need to be linked to all asundry to claim importance as it is very well respected and ancient in its own right.

Thankfully our history and lineage being well documented supports this, and our DNA, through our own y-DNA Research program is very robust and evidenced and as such we can advise you without any fear of contradiction, that he was not.


Carruthers and Caratacus

Our story begins at the time that Caratacus was alive i.e. during the period of the Roman Invasion of 43AD. Our ancient Celtic ancestors (at least through the maternal line) and the inhabitants of what was to become the lands know as Carruthers were the Selgovae,. Because of the distance involved, there is a probability that they never even knew of his existence.

In fact it wasn’t until around 150 years later that the hill fort of Rydderch, named after a war chief of the Selgovae, was built on Birren Hill. This as we know led to the name Caer Rydderch, with the name Rydderch being pronounced Ruthers in ancient Cumbric. In time as we now know, the name of the land around it progressively became known as Carruthers. It from here that out name originates, not Scandinavia nor Ireland, and was first adopted by our family in the 1100’s, when surnames started to appear due to the Norman influence in Scotland.

However, back to the main character in this story, Caratacus did exist and below is a summary of his story. Although he has never been historically associated with the Selgovae nor ‘our’ Rydderrch, who lived around a 100 years or so after Caratacus died in 54 AD, his place in history is well recorded, marked by his actions against the Romans.


Caratacus, war chief and king of the Catuvellauni

According to historic UK:

Caratacus was the son of one of the great British kings in ancient times called Cunobelinus, leader of the Catuvellauni tribe. This tribe occupied the Hertfordshire area north of the River Thames and would later expand north and to the west. They were said to have created a prosperous economyand practised agriculture in their territory.

King Cunobelinus after his death left his Catuvellaunian kingdom to be divided between Caratacus and his brother Togodumnus. The brothers would find themselves leading the opposition forces against the Roman invasion in 43AD, a duty which Caratacus would find himself bound to for the rest of his life.


It is recorded that the resistance by the two brothers against the Roman invaders to their lands headed by Publius Scapula, lasted around 9 years and their tribe the Catuvellauni gained a reputation as great and fearful warriors. But although they fought hard, they were not successful in stemming the Roman’s advance.

Publius Scapula – Wiki

The Romans outmanoeuvred the Catuvellauni by subjugating the Dobunni tribe to the west of them. The subjugation of this tribe, who had previously been allies and had come under the rule of the Catuvellauni themselves, affected Caratacus both diplomatically and recruitment-wise. This meant that there was less fighters for Caratacus to pull from to replenish his troops, and as such it weakened his army.

Being continually pursued by the more powerful and better organised Roman legions, at the battle of the Thames, Caratacus’s brother Togodumnus lost his life and Caratacus fled to Cambria ie modern Wales where he regrouped and gathered support from other tribes local to the area.

History shows that the initial campaign into Britannia was highly successful for the Romans. They gained a solid foothold on the island, especially in the southeast of the country. Although the resistance led by Caratacus became a serious irritation through their guerrilla tactics, progressively his troops were weakened by these clashes and progressive lack of new blood into his ranks. He did however, have some success in the Vale of Glamorgan at the battle of Silures but was still forced further north in Cambria..

His final battle against the Romans was at the battle of Caer Caradoc (Fort of Caradocagain nothing to do with Carruthers) in 50 AD. Even though the land which sat just slightly north west of modern Birmingham, was chosen by Caratacus allowing them the higher ground, sadly the exchange did not go in Caratacus’s favour. The mighty Roman military machine badly defeated the Celtic army leaving Caratacus to flee north east into Brigantia (now Yorkshire), land of the Brigantes seeking refuge.

Caratacus is handed over to the Romans by Cartimandua

However their queen, Cartimandua had already made a pact and treaty with the Romans receiving wealth and support for her allegiance in return. This led to Caratacus to being handed over to his enemies in chains, an action that would come back to haunt her. In time her own people would rebel against her for this and other bad choices she had made on their behalf.

After his capture, Caratacus was taken to Rome and paraded and exhibited as a sign of the great Roman victories in Brittannia. However when he was finally presented to the Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54), he was asked by the Emperor why his life should be spared. He proceeded to give this speech which saved his life (recorded by Cornelius Tacitus AD 56-AD 120).

The Speech made by Caratacus to Claudius -Wiki

Had my moderation in prosperity been equal to my noble birth and fortune, I should have entered this city as your friend rather than as your captive; and you would not have disdained to receive, under a treaty of peace, a king descended from illustrious ancestors and ruling many nations.

“My present lot is as glorious to you as it is degrading to me. I had men and horses, arms and wealth. What wonder if I parted with them reluctantly? If you Romans choose to lord it over the world, does it follow that the world is to accept slavery? 

“Were I to have been at once delivered up as a prisoner, neither my fall nor your triumph would have become famous. My punishment would be followed by oblivion, whereas, if you save my life, I shall be an everlasting memorial of your clemency.”

Caratacus and his family were released by Claudius and lived, albeit in exile in Italy, to the end their days in peace.


As interesting and romantic this story is, we must reiterate, in the same vein as many other famous people to include royalty, the claim that he was part of, or linked with the family is inaccurate. This would also suggest that CARRUTHERS’ roots were English, when the records and documented history shows them to be Scots.

As such, please be aware of the many false claims based on weak DNA and historical research and bastardised genealogy to support them, which are found on the internet.

But what you believe remains your choice, what is factual remains ours.

Promptus et Fidelis


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