The name Carruthers arises in Annandale, Dumfriesshire and alludes to an ancient British fort called Caer Rydderrch or Rhythyr, pronounced Ruther in ancient Cumbric, sited on Birrens Hill above what was to become the ancestral lands of Carruthers. Black asserts that the name originates from the ‘fort of Rydderch’, which appears to be a personal name. Current evidence would suggests he was a local Selgovae war lord from the local area.
The first recorded use of the name was William de Carruthers who gave a donation to Newbattle Abbey in Midlothian in the twelfth century during the reign of Alexander II. The family rose in the thirteenth century to be Stewards of Annandale under the Bruces also holding the titles of Keepers of Trailtrow Preceptory, Guardiand of the Old Kirk Ford as Hoddom and Foresters of Annandale. In 1320, Thomas Carruthers, the eldest of four brothers, received a charter of lands from Robert the Bruce for services to his family thus beginning the chiefly line of Carruthers of Mouswald. After bending the knee to Edward, Thomas lost his lands and they passed to his younger brother William, who became 2nd of Mouswald. The third brother John is believed to be the progenitor of the Howmains (Holmains) line and their youngest brother, Sir Nigel Carruthers, who died at the battle of Durham in 1346, rose to become Chancellor to Robert, Steward of Scotland in 1344. Black also narrates the career of Nigel de Carruthers, a cleric who was Rector of Ruthwell in 1380 and rose to become Canon of Glasgow Cathedral in 1351. Mouswald became a barony in the 14th century during the time of John Carruthers, 6th of Mouswald, Captain of the Royal Castle at Lochmaben. Sir Simon, second son of John, was Warden of the West March when he was killed at the Battle of Kirtle in 1484.
The Mouswald line ended with Sir Simon Carruthers 10th of Mouswald and 5th Baron after he was killed in a border raid in 1548. The Mouswald lands passed to the Douglas of Drumlanrig after the marriage of one of the Mouswald heiress’s and the tragic death of the other. The family of Holmains, being the senior house took over the mantle of chiefs from 1548 forwards to this present day.
During the age of the Border Reivers, Carruthers were included in the roll of unruly clans in the West Marches in the 1587 Act of Parliament. In 1563, John Carruthers of Holmains was indicted along with Edward Irving of Bonshaw and several others for an assault Kirkpatrick of Closeburn and slaying several other sundry persons. Holmains continued to prosper and their lands erected into a free barony in 1542. John Carruthers son and heir to John 5th, was killed at Solway Moss in 1542, while George Carruthers , his younger brother inherited the lands and titles. In 1704 he was Commissioner to Parliament for Dumfriesshire. In 1672 after the Lord Lyons Act, John carruthers, 9th of Holmains registered the chiefly arms of Carruthers, and moved the residence from Holmains to Kirkwood House.
The estates of Holmains were lost when a financial disaster overwhelmed the family in 1772. However, William the 3rd son of John Carruthers 5th of Holmains received a charter in 1552 from his father for the estate of Dormont in Dumfriesshire, which the family holds to the present day. Lieutenant Colonel Francis Carruthers served in Egypt and in the Boar War and was Assistant director at the War Office from 1915-1919. He was a Brigadier in the Royal Company of Archers (the monarch’s bodyguard in Scotland) and Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries. The Chiefship remained dormant for 2010 years, after the death of John Carruthers, 12th Holmains and 8th Baron, who died in 1809. In an attempt to find the living chiefly line and after over 12 years of research by Dr George Carruthers, an armiger of the family, the senior of the line was found and a petition was presented to the Lord Lyon and in 2019. After analysis of the claim, he confirmed Peter Carruthers of Holmains , the 4 x Great Grandson of John 12th the last Laird of Holmains, Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers and granted supporters befitting his status as a Chief, of two fallow deer bucks rampant, to his arms. Peter Carruthers holds a heriditary seat on the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs.Carruthers historically has 13 arms listed to its name to include the Chief’s, all are registered in Scotland, 5 in ancient armorials. Since 1672, 8 of these arms, all taken from the Arms of Holmains with at least two differences, are listed in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings of Scotland, kept under the auspices of the Lord Lyon. Currently there are 6 living armigers (individuals with arms), including the chief, registered.