Carruthers was first found in what is now Dumfriesshire, where they were seated from very ancient times in and around the parish Middlebie.s Historically, the principal strongholds of the Clan were Mouswald, Holmains, Dormont, Little Dalton and Rammerscales and a few others. Carruthers as a Clan, lived and reived in the most dangerous and violent part of the Scottish borders, that of the West March.
The most accepted origin of the surname of Carruthers suggests that it arose in Dumfriesshire and it appears to be alluding to the ancient Briton fort called Caer Rydderch or Rythyr. This hypothesis was promulgated by the historian George Fraser Black who asserted that this means fort of Rydderch, with Ryderch appearing to be a form of personal name.
The 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. A well researched piece on the origins of the name can be founfd on the Society page:-
The consensus is that the family existed in the area well before the Norman Conquest and although the surname was only first recorded in the 3th Century, the area from which we hail was well known as Carruthers. This is confirmed by the first mentioned of the name; Carruthers of Carruthers. There is however, a train of thought that we were originally Norman knights (hence the fleur-de-lis on the coat if arms and affiliation with the family de Brus [Bruce]), which would correlate with the usage of ‘de‘ meaning ‘of‘ or ‘from‘ as a prefix of early members of the Carruthers family. The suggestion is that they came over during the conquest with the arrival of Duke William of Hastings in September 1066, and integrated into local families of rank in the borders of Scotland. There are however no Norman knights listed, who accompanied William or otherwise on any ‘Norman’ names list researched, with a name that would suggest being a precursor to our own and no evidence, confirmed by our own research is available to support this theory.
According to historians, that surnames only really came into play in and around the 13th century when people started paying a personal tax. This tax, the earliest known being in 1275, was taken from non-churchmen being called a lay subsidy and was paid on all movable property to help fund the army in times of war. It was around this period that people began being recognised by what they did for a living, or where they came from.
EARLIEST RECORDED USAGE:
The well reserched publication ‘Records of Carruthers’ by the Rev A. S. Carruthers and R.C Reid shows 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 was named in 1351 as Chancellor to Robert, High Steward of Scotland in 1344. Robert was later to become King Robert II in 1371 (progenitor of the Stuart Royal Line), under David II, last in the male line of the House of Bruce.
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 Stewert (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 chronicles is that Carruthers were a highly respected family in their region.
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 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, 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 OF MOUSWALD:
The Carruthers of Mouswald, therefore the Barony and the Carruthers Chiefly line, came to an end with the death of Simon Carruthers, who was killed in 1548 during a border raid, and his daughters were placed under the guardianship of the Clan Douglas with the lands being passed to the Douglas’s of Drumlanrig and the marriage of the Carruthers heiress. In the Annals of the Johnston Family it states:
Simon Carruthers of Mouswald at his death, circa 1548, left no son but two daughters, Janet and Marion, who were judicially acknowledged co- heiresses of Mouswald. Immediately on the death of their father, or on 13th August 1548, Queen Mary granted to Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig the ward and arrangement of marriage of these youthful co-heiresses. Their mother was a sister of Charles Murray of Cockpool, who was an influential proprietor in Annandale. He appears to have been jealous of the gift of the ward and marriage of his two nieces having been bestowed by Queen Mary on his neighbour, Sir James Douglas. The laird of Cockpool set himself to thwart the benefit of the gift to Douglas, at least in reference to the younger of the co-heiresses Marion, (and in order to not be married to someone not of her choice) she ended her life by committing suicide while residing with him at his castle of Cumlongan (over the highest wall of the castle tower and fortalice). When Sir James Douglas received the gift of the ward and marriage of the two daughters of Simon Carruthers they were barred from succeeding to their paternal landed inheritance by an entail.
Acting in their ‘interests’ he paid John Carruthers, a claimant to the Mouswald line, a sun of £2000 to give up his claim to the lands.
CARRUTHERS OF HOLMAINS (HOWMAINS):
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 George became the 6th of Holmains and 2nd Baron.
The Carruthers of Holmains, which became the chiefs after the demise of the House of Mouswald, continued to prosper and in 1542 their lands were erected into a free barony. From Electric Scotlands piece on Carruthers it is stated that: On May 19, 1563, John Carruthers of Holmends (properly Holmains or Howmains), George and William his sons, Edward Irvine of Bonshaw (Chief of Clan Irvine, Close Allies of 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.
After the Lyons Act of 1672 was enacted, where all those bearing Arms in Scotland, had to be deemed worthy of doing so, John the 9th of Holmains registered what is now recognised as the Carruthers Chiefs Arms. The House of Holmains carried a combined set of Arms using the ‘ancient’ and ‘Mouswald’ arms and recorded the same: Gules two chevrons engrailed between three fleur de lis Or.
The Carruthers estate of Howmains 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 in 1807.
The Holmains line still exists however, and it is from here that a Chief was confirmed on the 19th of August 2019 by the Lord Lyon. Dr S. Peter Carruthers of Holmains, is Chief of the Name and Arms of Carruthers. This Decision followed nearly 20 months of proceedings before the Lord Lyon, including two hearings of the Lyon Court in Edinburgh. The last of which was held on March 2019, at which Dr Carruthers was represented by Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw, Bt, QC.
On 26th November 2019, supporters were granted to the Chiefs Arms.
HISTORICAL REFERENCES OF CARRUTHERS’ REIVER ACTIVITY:
One William Carruthers in Clonhede, was, 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,’ and 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 Mousewald 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.
CLAN OR FAMILY:
Although this is a decision for our Chief, there is no doubt that the Carruthers family were landed gentry and much respected. According to Clan Douglas and in William Fraser’s; The Douglas Book (vol 3), there are found a number of charters given to members of the Carruthers family by Archibald Earl of Douglas, lord of Galloway and Annandale.
There are 77 predominant family names who can claim to be Reivers, also known as Riding Surnames or “Graynes”, Carruthers being one of them.
In an Act of the Scottish Parliament of 1597 there is the description of the “Chiftanis and chieffis of all clannis… duelland in the hielands or bordouris” – thus using the word clan and chief to describe both Highland and Border Fmilies. The act goes on to list the various Border ‘Clannis’ and Carruthers is listed under the West Marches.
The Clan were dispersed by James 1st of England 6th of Scotland, after the Union of the Crowns, 24 March 1603, along with many other reiver families out of the Marches and to other parts of Scotland, Ireland and the colonies, hence the widespread use of the name Carruthers around the globe.
Although the Carruthers name has spread through both chosen and forced migration to the four corners of the earth, they have in particular spread to North America. It is recorded, according to the House of Names website, that many Scots moved there due to the ample space and importantly the lack of persecution as Clan or Families that existed back home in Scotland. It is also suggested that many Scots fought against the English by taking part in the American War of Independence to gain this freedom, and thus played an integral part in the formation of both Canada and the USA.