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The Ruthvens are said to be of Norse origin taking their name from the lands of Ruthven, Rannoch in Perthshire. The Ruthvens increased their strength by an early marriage to a Cameron heiress and in 1487, Sir William of Ruthven was created a peer. Patrick, 3rd Lord Ruthven took a leading part in the murder of David Rizzio, Mary Queen of Scots Italian secretary at Holyrood Palace in 1566 at the instigation of Lord Darnley the Queen's husband. Darnley was let off the charge of murder so Ruthven was forced to flee to England where he died soon afterwards. However despite the obvious threat a Ruthven bore, the 4th Lord, William found favour with the young King James VI and was created Earl of Gowrie in 1581. The next year though he was with the Presbytarian earls in the Raid of Ruthven when the 16 year old King James VI was seized and held prisoner in Ruthven Castle Perth for nearly a year. This incident was said to be in defence of the religion of the kingdom but in reality it was to get rid of the King's favourites, the Duke of Lennox and Stewart and the Earl of Atholl. The King pardoned the Earl of Gowrie for his part but on Arran's ascendancy to the King's favour they were again declared traitors. Already Gowrie was in correspondence with his accomplices Mar and Glamis. They planned to capture the King and Stirling Castle; however, he was captured and beheaded before the plan was enacted. John the 3rd Earl was killed with his brother in the "Gowrie Conspiracy". The true explanation of this incident has never been uncovered but the official version is that the Earl and his brother were attempting to kill the King and in the alleged rescue of the King from their clutches both men were killed. It has always been suspected that this was a royal plot to be rid of these undesirable subjects. However following the conspiracy the peerage was extinguished and the name and arms of Ruthven were abolished. Only in 1641 was an Act passed making it lawful for the Ruthvens of Balindean to assume the name again. A third brother had escaped and assumed the title of Lord Ruthven as did his heir but in the 17th century the line failed. The Ruthvens of Freeland became the senior representatives becoming Lord Ruthvens of Freeland. Sir Alexander Ruthven was created Lord Gowrie of Canberra on his appointment as Governor-General of Australia and in 1945 he was made Earl of Gowrie thus reviving the ancient title of his ancestors.



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