Here are some basics on the Border Reiver Clan and Family of Carruthers.
The official Society is the CCS-I (Clan Carruthers Society – International), which is the only organisation authorised by our Chief to represent our Name world-wide, The CCS-I has branches throughot the world, led by Regional Commissioners appointed by our Chief in: Africa, Australia and Oceania, Canada, Europe, UK/Scotland, and the USA.
Therefore Membership of our organisation is open to any and all Carruthers by marriage, adoption or ancestry or any derivation of our name, wherever, you are from i.e. you don’t have to be Scots or have land there to join, and you are more than welcome to join and support Clan Carruthers Society-International amnd the work we do on your behalf.
Our site itself is full of evidenced based information to help you enjoy your personal journey.
Here is the link to the achievements and successes of the the Society, from pre 2007 to December 2020.
Where do we come from
According to Scottish historians, Carruthers is a topographical name (ie named after a region or area of land where a Briton fort once sat. The fort was called Caer – Rydderch (Fort of Ruthers) in the ancient Brythonic language, and the area around it became the ancient parish of Carruthers in Annandale, Dumfriesshire, South-west Scotland. The Rydderch in question was not it seems Rydderch Hael, but rather a local war leader/king of the same name. The Selgovae, the tribe inhabiting the area and who built the fortifications sitting on Birrens hill, were there in the latter part of the Roman occupation around 400AD.
Progressively, Scottish surnames became in vogue, initially in the upper echelon of Scottish society and definately in the Scottish lowlands and borders in and around around the 12th century. This was heavily influenced by the Normans who were invited into the country by David I who gave them land and titles for their support. Those who owned the land initially became ‘of’ or ‘de’ Carruthers, mirroring such as ‘de’ Bruis (Bruce), while those who worked or lived on it becoming known as ‘in’ Carruthers. This progressed to simply being Carruthers as the surname became much more frequently used by lairds, tenants and workers alike to define who they were.
Carruthers Chief – at a glanceChief’s Arms: Gules two chevrons engrailed, between three fleurs de lis Or. Supporters: Two Fallow deer bucks rampant. Crest: A seraphim volant Proper Motto: Promptus et Fidelis (ready and faithful) Badge: Gorse (Ulex europaeus) Lands: Western Scottish Borders Origin of Name: Topographical – from the Brythonic, Caer Rydderch (fort of Ruthers)
Clan Chief: Peter Carruthers of Holmains, Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers. Carruthers of Holmains (more below) was confirmed as the first Carruthers chief in 210 years in August 2019. The official judgment of the Lord Lyon and final decision with additiments can be read here.
This of course brings Carruthers from armigerous status i.e. no chief, to official recognition as a clan/ family and a ‘Noble Incorporation’ in Scots law.
Clan Crest Badge
Crest Badge: Seraphim volant Proper, encircled by a belt and buckle on which is inscribed to Chiefs Motto: Promptus et Fidelis. The Seraphim is the crest of the Chief’s Arms.
The belt and buckle indicate the clansman’s fealty to the Clan Chief. It is not the personal crest of the bearer.
The seraphim on the chief’s crest always follows the religious and heraldic depictions of the same, that being: six wings, the two uppermost and lowermost crossed in saltire, the middle pair extended as in flight and in the centre sits an angelic face.
This depiction of the crest was continued by Major F J Carruthers of Dormont, when he matriculated the Dormont arms from the chiefly arms of Holmains in 1913. However his shield was differenced with chevronels and a gold border to depict a cadet line. Carruthers of Dormont are still Lairds of the Dormont estrare in Annadlae, mainting the links with the Ancerstral lands of Carruthers.
Clan Plant Badge
Plant Badge: The Common Gorse (Ulex europeaus) is a large, robust, evergreen shrub, covered in needle-like leaves with distinctive and fragrant bright yellow flowers. It can reach 2.5 meters high, which is much larger that its cousins western gorse (Ulex galli) and dwarf gorse (Ulex minor). Although Common Gorse blooms six months of the year, from January to June, the others will bloom July to November, therefore between the different species some gorse is almost always in flower, hence the old country phrase: “When gorse is out of blossom, kissing’s out of fashion”.
Our plant was chosen to reflect our family and its history as:
- It is prevalent in the ancestral lands of Carruthers.
- The stunning colour of the flower mirrors the yellow on the arms (shield) of our chiefly line; Carruthers of Holmains.
- It was also used to corral and feed cattle owned or reived by our ancestors at home and on droves.
- Burning it kept them warm on those cold, dreary nights.
- Gorse also thrives in the harshest of conditions, just as our forebears did.
- While its long, sharp spiked leaves are reminiscent of the ‘lang spears’ or ‘prickers’ famously used by the Border Reivers, reputedly some of the finest light cavalry in Europe in their day.
Prior to our Chief being confirmed in 2019, Carruthers were traditionally listed as a sept of Bruce and as such we were permitted to use their tartan. However, all Bruce tartans are Bruce tartans whatever the prefix or suffix ie ancient and do not belong to Carruthers.
Accepting that no records of any clan/family designated tartan has been found prior to the early 1800’s, and again like other Scottish Border families who never wore it, Carruthers was late to the table. We never had any tartan registered to the name of Carruthers until 2017.
The Carruthers tartan as with all other Scottish clan/family tartans, is registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans a Scottish Government agency based in Edinburgh and part of the National Records of Scotland. It carries the Registers code STR 11700, and is listed there as the official clan/family tartan of Carruthers, recognised and adopted as such by the Chief in 2019.The design was specially commissioned for us by Dr George Carruthers of Fife, to in part reflect our links with Bruce but also to define who we are and whare we came from. The meanings of the colours in our tartan reflect this and are as follows:
- The green, purple and lilac represents the colours of the countryside in our ancestral lands in Annandale, Dumfriesshire in southwest Scotland;
- The red represents the blood spilt by Carruthers in defence of our family, lands and country before, after and during their times as Border Reivers;
- The subtle white stripe is in recognition of our family’s historic support for the Jacobite cause and the Royal House of Stuart.
The recognised chiefly line of the clan and family of Carruthers is seen as beginning in 1320 with Thomas Carruthers, 1st of the House of Mouswald. Thomas received his charter from Robert the Bruce for services rendered, although there is evidence of at least three generations of Carruthers owning the land of Carruthers prior to this and dating back to the early 1200’s.
The first recorded use of our name was William de Carruthers who gave a donation to Newbattle Abbey in the reign of Alexander II (1214-1249). The ‘de’ was from the Norman influence of the time and means; the owner of the land of Carruthers. He is presumed to have been the great grandfather of John Carruthers, father of Thomas, 1st of Mouswald.
The House of Mouswald existed for 228 years, growing in land and reputation. It became a barony under John 6th of Mouswald, 1st Baron (d. 1554) but the became extinct in 1548 after the death of Simon 10th of Mouswald, 6th Baron. Simon was killed during a border raid which, along with other Lairds, while attempting to clean up the debateble lands at the behest of the Crown. n its extinction, the chiefly line was passed to the next senior house, that of Holmains and John Carruthers, 5th of that line.
Holmains as a house were descended from John Carruthers (Kings Chancellor), Thomas’s second brother. Roger Carruthers, presumed to be John’s son, added to these lands through a further charter in 1361. Holmains, like Mouswald grew in size and importance and also became a barony but not until John 5th of Holmains, 1st Baron (d 1580).
It was John Carruthers 9th of Holmains, 5th Baron who in 1672 after the Lyons Act, registered the chiefy arms with the seraphim crest and motto, the former always carrying a face in the centre. There is evidence that these arms were used in full i.e, with the seraphim and motto, prior to 1672.
The Holmains line remained active until John Carruthers 12th of Holmains, 8th Baron death (1809) when the Chiefship became dormant. The hereditary chiefs of Carruthers therefore can trace their lineage back to 1320 and beyond.
Although there were those who could have laid claim to it, Carruthers had no chief for 210 years from the death of John 12th of Holmains. However, stimulated by the research and work of the Clan Carruthers Society (International), the Chiefship through the right to bear the Chiefly arms of our family, was petitioned for the first time with the Lord Lyon in 2017 and was finally confirmed, after two court hearings and a full analysis by the Lyon Court of the evidence provided, in 2019.
The current Chief is the 4 x great grandson of John 12th of Holmains, 8th Baron. This makes Dr Peter Carruthers of Holmains, 19th in the line of Carruthers chiefs going back to Thomas 1st of Mouswald in 1320 and Willian de Carruthers born circa 1185, over 800 years ago. The line can be seen in the genealogy chart above where Black on the chart shows all the Carruthers chiefs from 1320 to date, Blue on the Holmains line showing those prior to the Chiefship being passed to Holmains in 1548.
Dr. Carruthers parents, Charles and Molly were married in St Jude’s Church, South Kensington in London in 1951 and while working for a British tea company in India in 1954, their only child Simon Peter was born. After returning home to the UK with his family aged 6 months, Dr Carruthers known as Peter, spent his informative years in England where he was educated up to doctorate level.
Following the proud military tradition of the Carruthers family, Peter’s father enlisted at the beginning of the Second World War (1939-1945) and served throughout it as a Royal Marine Commando officer. He was repudedly one of the first to lead his men down of the ship he was stationed on, to liberate Hong Kong in 1945. After the Japanese conquest and the fall of Burma in 1942, his mother as a member of the British expat community in Burma, escaped through the infamous and treacherous Naga trail into India and unlike other, survived to play her part in the continuance of the Carruthers chiefy line.
He succeeds his fourth great-grandfather, John Carruthers, 12th of Holmains & Kirkwood, 8th Baron who died 1809, leaving the Chiefship dormant. John was the last recognised head of the Carruthers family and was the 8th Carruthers baron from the House of Holmains. As a direct descendant of the first chiefs of Carruthers, he could date his lineage dating back to the 13th century.
Peter is an agricultural scientist with further qualifications in management and theology. The Chief’s grandfather was Col. Nigel L Carruthers, 2x great grandson of John the 12th who was a serving officer in the British Army in India and his great uncle, Nigel’s brother, was the world renowned explorer Alexander Douglas Carruthers.
Our journey to confirmation of a Chief.Here is a simple synopsis of the journey to have our chief confirmed, alongside the route to Commander of no living member of the Chiefly line exists.
Carruthers arms and living armigers
Carruthers has 13 sets of Arms officially registered in our name both in the ancient armorials and the Register held by the Lord Lyon. With the enactment of the Lord Lyons Act of 1672, which made it illegal to bear arms in Scotland if not on the Register of All Arms and Bearings of Scotland, 8 Carruthers arms are registered to date, although we are advised there are two in the pipline in various stages of progression. To date and traditionally, all Carruthers crests have been angelic figures.
Of the 8 arms registered since 1672, including James of Isle 6th from the left, all are differenced from the Chiefly Arms of Holmains at least twice as is the way of Scottish Hearaldry. Of these only 6 belong to or were inherited by living members of the Carruthers family to include our Chief.