Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: The lands of our family 1300-1700, a window into our history.

We were deemed in our day to be quite a powerful, and very well respected family and classed in Annandale as a member of the landed gentry. Although we were lairds of estates throughout Annandale, Carruthers were never Lords. However, both Mouswald and Holmains were erected as Baronies through the Scottish Crown. The accumulation of lands were therefore very important, both finacially and militarilly to the owners.

This map, correlated by Joseph Bell marked in red, with a few addons from the society in blue, clearly shows some of our holdings. However like the ribbon of history, these lands were both lost and gained until in the 18th century when two things happened: the extinction of the House of Mouswald in 1548 and the loss of the lands of Holmains under the chiefship of John 12th of Holmains in 1772. The only estate left on the original Carruthers lands, is that of the estate of Carruthers of Dormont, a cadet line of Holmains.

Sasines, which were legal documents that record the transfer of ownership (usually a sale or an inheritance) of a piece of land or of a building, were continually changing hands. For instance in January 1468 a sasine was in favour of Alexander Carruthers, son of his father also Alexander Carruthers for the lands of Glengapp and Geratgill, in the Lordship of Wamphrey and Stewartry of Annandale.

In those days, without powerful friends and lands to match, a family could fall prey to plunder by neighbouring ‘vultures’ on the make. However in 1484, the Laird of Mouswald, Archibald Carruthers was befriended by King James III who granted him the lands of Raffles. The deeds stated ‘Rex concessit armigero suo Archibaldo Carruthers de Mousfald et heredibus ejus terras de Raffulgil continentes 20 sol antiqui extendus in domino de Annandale vic. Dumfries qhas Herbetus Grymes resignavit‘. Archibald was a great supporter of James III, and throughout the civil war of that time. In fact if he had been alive when the King was killed at Sauchiburn, he would have been called traitor, along with the other supporters of the ill-fated monarch.

Riffulgil (Raffles) comes from the old Cumbric dialect once prevalant in the area, of the Brythonic language. The Brythonic language, although containing various dialects, was in general use by the Celts throughout Britain, well before the Gaelic language came to our shores, and continued to be used in the Borders and south of the Forth-Clyde divide, even after it fell out of favour with the Scottish crown who used Dunfermline as its capital.

This addition of Raffles was to become important both militarily, as it came with its own large tower/border keep which was strategically placed on a ravine with a full view of the countryside. As such it gave us command of the edge of Mouswald parish and further helped consolidate the Barony of Mouswald. Raffles sat on one of the minor routes from the Marches into Annandale which helped curtail raids into Carruthers lands.

The sasine of 1495 to Sir Simon Carruthers of Mouswald led to another important addition to the baronial possessions of Mouswald at the end of the 15th Century, that of Pennersex /Pennersaughs, previously owned by Kirkpartick who had received some of the lands from Robert the Bruce, and Westakalis estates. Adding to the ever expanding lands of Carruthers of Mouswald which in 1501 included the lands of Robertshill. Sadly Sir Simon was murdered in 1504 with the entries of the Judiciary Records accusing Thomas Bell of the Broom and Thomas Bell of Currie along with a Stephen Johnston of the crime. It seems that the quarrel was over the acquisition of Pennerax.

The history behind this event goes back to the disputed ownership/use of lands, as the two Bells who were accused were related to the Bells of Middlebie, neighbours to our family. While Stephen Johnston, it is suggested, was related to the house of that name who 60 years previously had imprisioned and killed John Carruthers, Captain of Lochmaben Castle. As such bad blood ran very deep in those days.

Further lands were included in a 1516 through a charter to Sir Simon’s son, Simon 9th of Mouswald, of the lands in Dornock, Cummertrees, Howthat, Panathwat, Hetlandhill and Cocket. It is further interesting to note that if Sir Simon, 10th of Mouswald had not been killed in a border raid into the debatable lands in 1548, where the family would have been now.

Sadly he was, and at that point Mouswald was declared extinct and the next senior house of Holmains, a cadet of the Mouswald line through John, Thomas 1st of Mouswald’s younger brothers took on the Chief’s mantle, they themselves having been erected into a barony in theor own right in the 1500’s.

As we look deeper into our family history, much more floats to the surface which we will share with you. As such we hope that you enjoy our research, as there is much more in the pipeline.

1 thought on “CLAN CARRUTHERS: The lands of our family 1300-1700, a window into our history.”

  1. As a Member of the Carruthers of Mouswald, this is very interesting finding out about our history. My family come to America around, 1849. Have you ever thought about writing a book, about the Carruthers family. What you have printed makes for interesting history.
    David Haas (my mother was born a Carruthers)

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