Carruthers Clan Crest Badge :

Clan Badge

Within a belt and buckle on a Wreath of the Liveries, a Seraphim Volant Proper, with the motto Promptus et Fidelis (Ready and Faithful)


We are a proud and ancient riding family of the Scottish Borders. Historically, the principal strongholds of our riding family were Mouswald (home of our last Mouswald chief), Holmains (senior in line, who took on the chiefs mantle after Mouswald), Dormont, Wormby, Isle and Rammerscales to name but a few. Carruthers as a Clan, lived, loved and rieved in the most dangerous and violent region of the region, that of the West March, during a time that has been described as ‘Scotland’s Wild West’. They originated in the Parish of Middlebie, in Annandale in what is now Dumfriesshire in Southwest Scotland.

According to the renowned Scottish historian George F Black, the name was derived from the old Brythonic fort (Caer) of Rydderch (Rythyr) This is further augmented by family legend from the House of Carruthers of Dormont “that the Carruthers may be descendants of Cohen, king of Cumbria (or Old King Cole) as he became known because one of his sons, Rhideris built a castle or Caer near Ecclefechan”. The remains of the Caer can be seen on the Carruthers farm, on the Dormont estate. Although, like most border families there would have been both Norse and Norman influence on the bloodline, it seems that ‘Carruthers’ are strongly Brythonic in origin, going back to approximately 500AD in the western borderland of Scotland.

Surnames themselves never came into use until the 12th Century and the first recordings of our name or territorial designation ‘Carruthers’ was William de Carruthers (of Carruthers) who made a donation to the Abbey of Newbattle in the reign of Alexander II of Scotland (1215-1245), with a churchman, Simon de Carruthers in the parish of Middledbie. There are many instances thereafter of our name being mentioned, to include; Stewards of Annandale to the Bruce’s, Commissioners and Wardens of the West March, High Chamberlains, Chancellors, Advisors and Commissioners to the King of Scots, knights and Barons of the realm, Directors of the War Office, Brigadier Generals in the British Army and Colonels in the Indian Army, politicians, explorers, scholars and sportsmen to name but a few. Carruthers were also one of the 17 Border Clans mentioned in the Roll of Unruly Clans in 1587 issued by James VI of Scotland, just prior to the Lowland Clearances.

Carruthers of Mouswald:

The Chiefly House of Carruthers was that of Mouswald. It is believed to have originated with the sons of John de Carruthers, who was mentioned in 1320, when his son Thomas received a parcel for the lands in same year. The Baronetcy was titled to Mouswald in 1452, by King James II. The ancient Mouswald arms are to the left.

Mouswald Arms

The line of Carruthers of Mouswald survived 228 years, until Sir Simon Carruthers, 10th of Mouswald and 6th Baron, was killed in a border raid in 1548. His two daughters, Janet and Marion were put under the charge of James Douglas of Drumlanrig, who by fair means or foul ended up with the Mouswald lands. The tragedy of Marion Carruthers is well known in the West March, where she ‘fell’ to her death from the battlements of Comlongon Castle in 1565. 

Ancient Mouswald

The Ancient Arms of Mouswald were changed as they were too much like the Maclennan’s to the west of the clan. Simon’s registered Arms, see left, also mirrored another family, that of the Broons/Brouns and were also subsequently changed.

Carruthers of Holmains:

Holmain Arms

After the demise of the last Chief of Mouswald, the   Chiefship passed to the next senior line of Holmains who were descended from Thomas’s younger brother and former Chancellor to King David II.  It was his son who received the Charter to the lands in 1361.   However, it wasn’t until John, 5th of Holmains that they finally received their Baronetcy.  

In 1563 a feud broke out between Carruthers of Holmains and the Kirkpatricks of Closeburn. John Carruthers, who was to become 7th of Holmains, was indicted, along with the Chief of the Irvines of Bonshaw, Edward Irvine for wounding Roger Kirkpatrick of Closeburn and slaying several of his relatives and retainers. However, the feud was amicably settled afterwards and no penalty was enforced that records show.

In 1585, George Carruthers, 6th of Holmains along with Edward Maxwell of the Isle was put to the horn for failing to appear before the Privy Council for failing to underlie the law. It is assumed this was because he had supplied a troop of cavalry along with his son Charles, who was a Coronet of the mounted garrison at Threave Castle where his father was Captain, to Lord Maxwell. All though the bloody feud between the Johnstones and Maxwells, Holmains played a considerable part in supporters of the latter, both on and of the field.

In 1672 after Lyons Act, which required all worthy men to have their Arms registered with the Lyon Court, the Arms we now recognise as Carruthers and seen above were recorded.  The Chiefs Arms are blazoned as;

Gules, two chevrons engrailed between three fleur-de-lis Or: Above the shield is placed a helmet befitting his degree with a mantling Gules doubled Or and on a wreath of his liveries is set for the Crest, a Seraphim volent Proper, and in an Escrol over the same this Motto, “Promptus et Fidelis”.

Arms belong to an individual and not a family, and these Arms have been passed down through patrilineal descent from father to child. Holmains continued leading the clan until financial disaster in 1772, under John Carruthers 12th of Holmains and 8th Baron, when they lost their lands and the family seat, which was now in Kirkwood House.

The Holmains line is continued by a descendent of John the 12th, Dr. Simon Peter Carruthers.

Carruthers of Dormont:

Dormont Arms

Carruthers of Dormont are still on Carruthers land, in Annandale, Dumfriesshire, having held it since 1552. They are descended from the youngest brother of John 5th of Holmains, named William 1st of Dormont. Their Arms are to the left.

It is interesting to note that in the feud between the Johnstones and the Maxwells, Dormont favoured the cause of the former and both Christie Carruthers of Dormont and his brother Hobie were mentioned in 1594, as being involved in the slaughter of John Lord Maxwell. 

It wasn’t until 1913 that Maj. Francis Carruthers 11th of Dormont registered their arms as can be seen above, but as a Cadet line they have placed a bordure around the shield of Holmains and reduced the chevrons to chevronels. Major Carruthers served in campaigns in Egypt and South Africa and was also a member of the Queens Bodyguard in Scotland; the Royal Company of Archers (RCA), holding the rank of Brigadier. He was also Assistant Director at the War Office.

The Dormont Arms were matriculated in 1993 when James Andrew Carruthers 13th of Dormont took the same arms of his uncle.

Clan Carruthers today :

A fully constituted Clan Society, Clan Carruthers Society-International (CCSI) was formed in January 2017, after advice received in 2016.  The groundwork however, had been going on since 2007, initially with the formation of a facebook page. The main purpose was to bring our family together and build on the background genealogical research with a view to becoming an official clan in our own right. The Society was therefore set up to represent the Border Reiver family of Carruthers on both the home and international stage and support the confirmation of a Chief by the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh.

As each official clan has its own tartan, the Red Carruthers was registered in 2017, for use by all those of our name.  Currently the CCSI have recognised two Chieftains, both senior descendants of our Chiefly Line as alluded to above, both residents of the United Kingdom:

Simon Peter Carruthers (Holmains) and James Andrew Carruthers (Dormont)

As genealogical evidence exists to support the route we have taken, we could not have a gathering and simply elect a chief, as genealogy supersedes a Derbhfine in Scottish Clan Law. Therefore as of February 6th 2019 all evidenced information has to be before the Lyon Court, after which our final hearing will take place to confirm the right of an individual to bear the Chiefly arms of Carruthers and thus confirm a Chief of our Name. We will keep you informed.

This small summery of our history has been complied by Dr George Carruthers FSA Scot, Convenor of the Clan Carruthers Society (International).