Clan History

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Carruthers as a name was first found in what is now Dumfriesshire from in and around the parish of Middlebie in the West March of the Anglo-Scottish border.  Historically, the principal strongholds of the Clan were Mouswald, Holmains, Dormont, Little Dalton and Rammerscales. Carruthers as a Clan, lived and rieved in the most dangerous and violent part of the Scottish borders, that of the West March.

ORIGIN:

The most accepted origin of the surname of Carruthers alludes to the ancient Briton fort called Caer Rydderch or Rythyr as per by the Scottish historian George Fraser Black who asserted that this means fort of Rydderch, with Ryderch appearing to be a form of personal name. Carruthers of Dormont  further suggest through family legend, “that the Carruthers family may be descendants of ColeHen, King of Cumbria (or Old King Cole as he became known) because one of his sons, Rhideris, built a caer, or castle, near Ecclefechan”. From their ancient beginnings they were to rise to be Stewards of Annandale, Wardens of the March, Chancellors, advisors and Commissioners to the King, knights and Barons of the realm, Asst, Directors of the War Office, Brigadier Generals in the British Army and Colonels in the Indian Army.

CARRUTHERS – of that name:

The earliest recording of the name or territorial designation ‘Carruthers’ was William de Karruthers who made a donation to the Abbey of Newbattle in the reign of Alexander II of Scotland (1215-1245).

Another early recorded spelling of the family name ‘Carruthers’ is shown to be that of Simon de Karruthers, a churchman of the parish of Middlebie, which is dated circa 1272 – 1307. This is listed in “Historical Manuscripts of Great Britain” and was during the reign of King Edward 1, also known as “The Hammer of the Scots. Nigel de Carruthers, a cleric who was also Rector of Ruthwell in 1380, and rose to become Canon of Glasgow Cathedral.  In 1351 he was also named as chancellor to Robert, High Steward of Scotland in 1344. Robert was later to become King Robert II in 1371.

It is also suggested although no solid evidence exists, that the Carruthers were among those who rose with William Wallace (1272-1305) when he rebelled against English rule and again with Robert the Bruce, supporting him at Bannockburn in 1314 when he defeated the English and finally drove them from Scotland.  However, when the Barons of Scotland were summoned by King Edward the first of England to Scone in 1291 to swear fealty to the Crown of England and sign the famous Ragman Roll, there were some that refused, one being William Karrudise (Carruthers) of Annandale who stood with  Sir William Wallace of Ellerslie (William Wallace) and Sir William Douglas of the Sanquhair, in their refusal to bend the knee.

It seems we were a proud and rebellious lot as it is stated in the Chroncles of Muckledale that a William Carruthers was one individual who ever refused the English Yoke. He was a friend of Thomas Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and a supporter of Robert Stewart (King Robert II, 2 March 1316 – 19 April 1390) grandson of Robert the Bruce, who reigned Scotland 1371-1390. Robert II was the first monarch of the House of Stewart.  What is historically evident from the mention in the chroncles is that Carruthers were a highly respected family in their region and of their time.

In the thirteenth century the chiefly family of Carruthers rose to become Stewards of Annandale, a position of power and nobility in Scotland at the time. This was granted under the Family of Bruce (wrongly termed Clan Bruce) and in 1320, the chiefly line of Carruthers acquired the lands of Musfald (now called Mouswald).

In 1349, John Carruthers, brother of Thomas, was Kings Chancellor to Annandale (ancestor of Holmains), while his youngest brother Sir Nigel Carruthers, Chamberlain to David II, was killed at the Battle of Durham. Another NIgel, this time brother of Andrew, the 5th of Mouswald, was Chaplain of the Abbot of Paisley in (1419), and his brother was Commissioner of the West March (1429). It was the 1st Baron and 6th of Mouswald (1454) John who was Captain of Lochmaben Castle (1446). Lochmaben Castle, one time owned by the Family Bruce and reputed to be the birthplace of Robert the Bruce was ‘kept’ by John Carruthers in 1446.

Thomas, son of John Carruthers, received a grant of Mouswald from Robert Bruce. (1320). Their estate stretched northward into the district of Wamphray, which they shared with the Laird of Johnstone, and they were made Barons of Mouswald in the 15th century. His grandson, brother of the 2nd Baron, 7th of Mouswald who was Warden of the West March (1472) and died at the Battle of Kirtle (1484).

Sir Simon, 8th of Mouswald, 3rd Baron, was murdered in 1504, which passed the Barony to his son, again a Simon, 9th of Mouswald. The Mouswald line survived through to Simon 10th of Mouswald and 5th Baron but ended when he died on a border raid in 1548.

One William Carruthers in Clonhede was on January 26, 1508-9, convicted of transporting cattle to England (taken from the laired of Newby) and of art and part of the slaughter at the same time of Robert Hood and of an infant of two years old, as well as of the burning of the place and mill of Newby, in company with Andrew Johnston ‘and the traitors of Leven’. He was sentenced to be drawn and hanged, and all his goods forfeited.

On 18th March 1618 John Carruthers of Rammerscales, and William Johnston, called of Lockerbie, were indicted for the slaughter of Christopher Wigholme (now Wigham or Whigham), burgess of Sanquhar, committed in June 1594, but the charge was not pressed against Carruthers. For the slaughter of John Carruthers of Dormont, one Habbie Rae in Mouswald and twenty-one others were put upon their trial, 3d February 1619; but the case was remitted to the circuit court at Dumfries, and the result is not recorded.

CARRUTHERS – ancient arms: 

The ancient arms devised for the Carruthers by the mediæval heralds bore a striking similarity to the arms of another family of the Southwest, the MacClellans whose shield was also gold but with plain black chevrons rather than engrailed. The blue chevroned armorial was recorded in blazon by William Pont and it was possibly a blazoning error by the author. Due to the lack of heraldic regulation in those days several members of the same family might have borne the same shield which could lead to confusion on the battlefield, but one suspects at the time that one Carruthers was just as worthy as another Carruthers in the fray, so identity was not a problem.

Five ancient armorials record the arms of Simon Carruthers the last chief. Two favour gold charges (the fleurs-de-lis) and two favour silver charges. The fifth records a silver chevron with golden fleurs-de-lis. The shield to the left bears the same arms as those of the Brouns of Carsluith the head of which house was the powerful Gilbert Broun, Abbot of Sweetheart Abbey. This was situation not rationalised until the Lyon Act of 1672 with the Register of All Arms and Bearings and the registration of the Arms of Holmains.

CARRUTHERS OF MOUSWALD – Ancient Chiefs:

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The Carruthers of Mouswald, therefore the Barony and the Carruthers Chiefly line, came to an end with the death of Sir Simon de (of) Carruthers who was killed in 1548 during a border raid, and his two daughters were placed under the guardianship of the Clan Douglas. This led to what some would say, to the mistreatment of the heiress’s, a forced marriage of one of them and the murder of the other and the lands being passed to the Douglas’s of Drumlanrig.

Again alledgedly, acting in the ‘interests’ of the heiress’s, Douglas paid John Carruthers, brother of the last Chief and claimant to the Mouswald line, a sum of £2000 to give up his claim to the lands.  The Chiefly line was then inherited by the most senior of the family lines, that of Holmains.

CARRUTHERS OF HOLMAINS (HOWMAINS) – Chiefly/Senior Line:

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After the Lord Lyons Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1672, which required all worthy gentlemen with arms to have them recorded and registered, John Carruthers registered his arms. These became the chiefly arms of Carruthers and are the ones commonly and wrongly misappropriated for commercial purposes (see above).

Holmains began with the son of John Carruthers (1361) brother to Thomas the first of Mouswald (1320), named Roger as 1st of Holmains who recieved the charter of Little Dalton and Holmains in 1375. It wasnt until John Carruthers, the 5th of Holmains that it became a borony.  His eldest son John, was sadly killed at the battle of Solway Moss in 1542 and his brother Goerge became the 6th of Holmains and 2nd Baron.

The Carruthers of Holmains line continued to prosper and in 1542 their lands were erected into a free barony.  However not all was plain sailing for on May 19, 1563, John Carruthers of Holmends (Holmains), George and William his sons, Edward Irvine of Bonshaw (Chief of Clan Irvine, close allies to the Carruthers), David Irvine of Robgill, and several others of their accomplices, were indicted for ‘hurting’ Kirkpatrick of Closeburn (Chief of Clan Kilpatrick) and slaying several persons whose names were given; but the indictment appears to have been departed from.

Sadly the Carruthers estate of Holmains was lost in 1772 when a financial disaster overwhelmed the family and the male line died out in the early 18th century with the death of the 12th Laird. Many of Holmains went to India where they were involved in the English East India Company, the British Raj and the Indian Army. The Holmains line still exists as the seniors through the female line.

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Interestingly and at the same time as the Chiefly Arms of Holmains were registered in 1672, another set of Arms were also registered. A James Carruthers who was the Steward Deputy and Factor (land agent) to the Earl of Annandale, recorded his arms. They were the same as those of John Carruthers of Holmains but all within a bordure Argent (a silver border). This would seems to indicate that James was very closely related to John, possibly a younger brother, at worst a cousin but also a cadet line.

The male line of the Holmains failed early in the nineteenth century with the death of the twelfth laird, leaving the house with several surviving daughters. A younger sister set up a trust in 1836 for the benefit of a list of heirs, namely her nephews, sons by her older sisters, whereby, in order of succession, they could benefit financially from the trust if they would change their surname to Carruthers and matriculate the Holmains arms.

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The first to take advantage of this in 1854 was Major John Peter Wade of the Honourable East India Company Service. He took the additional surname as Carruthers-Wade and matriculated arms at the Lyon Court quartering Wade arms in the first and fourth quarters and the undifferenced Carruthers of Holmains arms in second and third.

I am not sure that in hindsight that this is what was intended when the trust was set up as it appears the intention was to preserve the chiefship in the immediate family and by retaining the Wade surname the good Major eliminated himself from becoming the chief because he had a different surname.

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However, Major Carruthers Wade died without issue in 1873 and the line of succession passed to his cousin, the Reverend William Mitchell. He too changed his name by adding Carruthers to become the Reverend William Mitchell-Carruthers. Subsequently he matriculated but with the Carruthers coat in the first and fourth and a newly devised Mitchell quartering in second and third depicting seniority of the Carruthers name.

The senior descendant through this line is Simon Peter Carruthers who comes directly from George Carruthers, 6th of Holmains, elder brother of William who was to be 1st of Dormont through the charter of 1552.

CARRUTHERS OF DORMANT – Cadet Line:

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Willaim, younger son of John Carruthers 5th of Holmains and younger brother of George 6th of Holmains, received the Charter of Corsopeland and later Nether Dormont  in 1552. This initiated the cadet line acquiring the estate of Dormont in Dumfrieshsire. The Estate has been in the continuous ownership of the Carruthers family since 1452 athough only chartered to the Dormont branch of the family since 1552.

The present encumbent represents the 13th generation. When Major Francis John Carruthers of Dormont, late of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, decided to matriculate arms in 1913, fully eleven generations of his family had lived at Dormont. Although the Arms may have existed back in time, the Lord Lyon of the time, Sir Francis Grant matriculated arms for Major Carruthers with differences of chevronels and a bordure Or (golden border)  depicting cadetship of their family, from Holmains.

These arms were painted on the major’s Letters Patent by the great heraldic painter A. G. Law Sampson with probably the first ‘accurate’ depiction of a seraphim crest ever to grace a Carruthers armorial. Dormont retained the original motto as is common in Scottish heraldry. The one thing Major Francis did not do however was to make a claim to the chiefship of the name which suggest he would have known that there were others who had a better claim to be chief.

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In November 1965, arms were matriculated by the Reverend Arthur Stanley Carruthers (co-author of the book with R.C.Reid: Records of the Carruthers Family). He had shown that he was a cadet of the family of Carruthers of Dormont, itself having descended from the second son of John Carruthers, 5th of Holmains. The matriculated arms are contained within a Stodart style border to indicate the position of Arthur Carruthers within the family; the border is divided into two parts and charged twice to show the complexity of the relationship with the Dormont line. The shield is ensigned with the black hat with a pair of single tassels which may be used by a churchmen in place of a crest. Again the traditional Carruthers motto was retained.

The remains of the old castle  (Caer of Rhideris) can be seen on the farm of that name – Carruthers Farm on the Dormont Estate. The land of Dormont was first granted to the Carruthers family by Robert the Bruce. Currently the senior member of the Carruthers family of Dormont is James (Jamie) Alexander Carruthers, 13th of that line.

CARRUTHERS – Armiger:

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As an armiger, Dr George Carruthers, of Dunfermline, Fife was granted Arms in 2017. His arms were differenced from the Chiefly arms by two chevronels and a pheon replacing a fleur de lis in the base.

A fuller heraldic history can be found at the clan website : www.clancarruthers.com