THE CARRUTHERS FAMILY
AN INTERESTING RECORD.
By THE VERY REV. JOHN GTLLESPIE, LL.D.
The founder of this family
was one Ruther. who is believed to have come to this country at the time of
the Norman conquest, and to have settled at a place called Carruthers in the
parish of Middlebye. He built a fort there on the height above the site of
the ancient hamlet of Carruthers, and to this fort was given the name of
Caer-ruthers (from the Saxon name Caer. a fort), that is the fort or
stronghold of Ruther. At the time surnames were adopted this came to be that
of the family, and it is found under a variety of farms, such as Carruyers,
Carrudders. Caerruthers. Carruthers, etc. Carruthers was a separate parish
until 1609. when it, with Middlobie and Pennersax, were united into one
parish. The property of Carruthers seems to have remained in the possession
of the family for a comparatively short period, for we lind it ere long
owned by the Earl of Bothwell.
However, so early as 13U6, Robert Bruce gave a charier to Thomas, son of
John de Carruthers, of the lands of Musfolds (Mouswald) called Tretwayts.
The same king gave the same Thomas a further gramt of lands in the valley of
Annan which belonged Io Robert de Applingden in right-of his wife. Johanna,
daughter of the said Robert de Applingden. on payment at Lochmaben of one
penny, at the festival of John the Baptist. This was no doubt some place
celebratede for its apple trees, probably about. Applegarth, which means an
enclosure of apple trees. Thus the family settled at Mouswald at the
beginning of lhe fourteenth century, and shortly thereafter built the old
tower at Mouswald Place, the remains of which are still standing. This
continued to be the residence and headquarters of the chiefs of the family
for nearly three centuries. The property was apparently not an extensive one
at first, but it was frequently added to by grants from successive
sovereigns until the possessions of ihe family were not only numerous and
extensive, but were also situated in all parts of Annandale. AIxmt a quarter
of a century after the family settled at. Mouswald the Holmains branch of
the family was founded, the history of wlvich we shall trace by-and-by.
The first accession was made in 1349. when David II., as Lord of Annandale,
gave a charter to William de Carruthers of the land of Middleby and
patronage of said church, then in the hands of the Crown by the forfeiture
of Thomas de Lindesay. who had taken part with the Engl’sli against his
natural sovereign David II. Another large addition was made in 1411. when
Archibald Earl of Douglas. Lord of Galloway and Annandale, gave to Simon de
Carrutlvus of Mouswald, his shield bearer, a grant of the following
lands:—Lands of Mouswald. Middleby. and Dornock. with the patronage of the
said parish churches: the lands of Holland Hill, Logan tenement. Hodholut (Hoddom).
Tunyrgath (Tundergarth), Wetwood, and Rocklif. all holden of the grantor,
and rendering as follows, viz.. Mouswald. Hetland Hill, and Logan tenement,
three silver pennies yearly, and for the rest the services use and wont. The
place called Logan tenement, in this charter wa< in the neighbourhood of
Moffat, and comprised the farms of Craigbeck. Breconside. Logan Woodhead.
Logan Woodfoot. and Crofthead. The estate was called the Procornal or Logan,
and on it are still to be seen the remains of a small keep called the Cornal
From a deed dated 3lst Angust. 1439. we learn that John de Carruthers, laird
of Mouswald. had lent John Hallidav of Hodholm the sum of £10 when the
latter was in difficulties, or, as it is expressed in the document, “in his
greto myser,” and in consequence thereof John Halliday wadsets (a Scotch law
term for a mortgage or pledge of real property) to Carruthers his lands
called Holcroft, a cotelaud. which was sometime William of Johnstone’s, and
two oxgang of land which is called lhe Tynkler’s lands in the tenement, of
Hodholm. In 1449 Elizabeth Dinwoodie, widow of Andrew de Carruthers. gave a
grant to John de Carruthers of the lands of Hont-Quhat (How-what). Stanneras,
and Wamfra, and this grant was confirmed by the King's license and
consequent charter. Thus at this early date the family got possessions in
the parish of Wamphray where there is still a branch of the family.
The next step which falls to be noticed was an important one for the family,
and shows the important position which it had attained. We have seen that
one property after another had been acquired until they had possessions in
Annandale from Moffat in the north to Dornoch in the south. In 1452 these
were consolidated by the erection of them into a barony, called the Barony
of Carruthers or the barony of Monswald. The charter constituting them into
a barony was granted by James II. to John de Carruthers, and the only lands
mentioned in it which are not specified in previous deeds are those of
Cummertrees. It docs not lie within the scope of the present paper to
particularise the advantages which flowed from the erection of a property
into a barony, but we may remark that they were very considerable.
John de Carruthers seems to have been succeeded by his son. Sir Simon
Carruthers, who married a daughter of Douglas of Drumlanrig. He was "Warden
Defender of the Westorn marches, and was killed at the battle of Kirtle in
1484. This is believed to have been the Sir Simon whose statue, composed of
red freestone, is in the churchyard of Mouswald—his lmad pillowed, his feel
on a lion, and his hands in the posture of supplication. There was also at
one time in the same churchyard a statue of his wife. but the material of
which it was formed being freestone or other stone of a light colour, the
villagers were animated by such a utilitarian spirit that they gradually
broke it up and used it for ornamenting their hearth-stones and door-steps.
Tho next incident which calls for notice in the history of the family is
rather of an amusing character, and will help to relieve the foregoing dry
details. It was a sort of breach of promise of marriage case! We are apt to
regard such processes as purely modern institutions: but they are not so,
for there was a breach of promise case in the Carruthers family so long
since as 400 years ago. The circumstances were these:— Simon de Carruthers,
eldest, son of Archibald de Carruthers of Mouswald, or—as he would be styled
according to modern phraseology— Simon Carruthers, younger of Mouswald, was
engaged to be married to Eufame (Eufamia). daughter of John Lord Carlyle,
who resided in the castle of Torthorwald. and was the owner of the
surrounding property. We do not know whether it was the custom in those
times for young ladies’ fathers to pay over to their prospective sons-in-law
a portion of their daughters’ dowry before the marriage took place, but at
all events this was done in this particular instance. for Lord Carlyle paid
to the father of the bridegroom 400 merks Scots, which is equivalent to £22
3- sterling. But the father having died, the marriage, for some unexplained
reason, did not take place, and Lord Carlyle raised an action against Mr
Simon for repetition or repayment, of the £22 3s. This may appear at the
present day a small sum to make a fuss about, and indeed it may seem a small
dowry for a Lord to give with his daughter. But that, relatively to the
value of money in those days. Miss Carlyle was not "a penniless lass with a
lang pedigree.” may be inferred from the fact that upwards of a century and
a quarter after this happened—viz., in 1617—the annual value of the whole of
Annandale was less than four times that amount, or exactly £85 10s. Lord
Carlyle sought only the repayment of his money and did not sue the faithless
young laird for any sum as solatium for his daughter’s wounded feelings.
Tndeed. from the fact that the pecuniary transaction was between the
parents, and from what we know of the fashion of Jie times in these matters,
it is probable the projected marriage was a purely family arrangement, and
that there was no feeling in the matter. The case was three times before the
Court, and at length, after the proverbial ”law's delay,” decreet was given
against the defender for the money.
An addition was made to the Mouswald property in 1499 in the grant bv Adam
de Kvrkepatrick of Pennersax (Pennersaughs in Middlebie), with a precept of
James IV. for passing a charter in favour of Simon de Carruthers of Mouswald
and his heirs for the lands of Pennersax and patronage of the church. It was
probably this grant which led to the murder of the Laird of Mouswald in
1504. The accused parties were Stephen Johnstone and Thomas Bell of Currie
(probably one of the Bells of Middlebie clan). The Laird of Castlemilk
became surety in £100 Scots—this is £8 6s 8d sterling—for the appearance of
Bell. But when the day of trial came round neither of the accused parties
appeared; consequently they were denounced at the bar as rebels, and the
Laird of Castlemilk had to pay the amount lodged in socurity.
The last male member of the Mouswald family of Carruthers was Simon
Carruthers, who died in 154S. He is believed to have been killed in a Border
raid by the ”Thevis of the Marche.” He left two daughters but no son, and on
the 13th August. 1548. at the Abbey of Haddingtonn, Queen Mary granted by
letter of gift, ward and marriage of his two daughters to Sir James Douglas
of Druinlanrig. Questions arose whether the two daughters. Janet and Marion,
became co-heiresses of the barony, or whether it passed under an entail
executed in 1544 to the heir male, who is said at this time to have been
John Carruthers of Woodfoot. near Moffal. A lawsuit ensued, in which Sir
Janies Douglas was ultimately successful by bargaining for a small sum with
the heir male, who probably could noi carry on the contest, as appears from
a subsequent deed. The entail was set aside amd the young ladies became
co-heiresses, though, as events turned out, it would probably have been
better fur them had they lost the suit. Their guardian married in 1560
Janet, the elder of the sisters, to Thomas Rorison of Bardannoch, a
neighbour laird, and at the time Douglas got the lady to make over to
himself the half of Mouswald and the estates of Simon, her father. The
reasons given in the deed for the lady relinquishing her property rather
suggest a grasping intention on the part of the guardian, as they seem to
have been inserted to give a plausible appearance to the transaction. The
principal reasons assigned why she took the step are:—(1) That the property
was in such a troublous country that her father got little profit out of it;
(2) that he had been the means of defeating the heir male in the lawsuit;
(3) that he had brought up her and her sister, having provided them with "meit,
drink, and cleithing and other necessars her be the spaice of zeires bipast;"
and (4) he had found her a husband in the person oi Thomas Roreson, and had
undertaken to secure for them the five pound land of Drmnragane, with the
pertinents lying in the parish of Glencairn besides, to pay with the said
Janet in name of tocher to the said Roreson the sum of one thousand markis.
In addition, he became bound to keep her, her husband, and servants for the
space of two years after their marriage. Thomas Roreson. the gentleman
selected as Janet Carruthers' husband, was forfeited for coining at
Edinburgh in 1581. that is, 21 years after the marriage. Sir James Douglas
got a confirmation from the Queen of the deed.
Her guardian kept the other sister in close cuslodv. He offered her as a
husband John M'Math. son and heir of Jamie M'Math oi Dalpedder. She being
possessed of more resolution and spirit than her sister Janet, refused to be
married to the person offered to her as a husband. Douglas got her bound
over in 1563 that she would not marry "ane traitor or outlier broken man of
the country.” She was much befriended by her uncle Charles Murray of Cokpule,
who resided at Comlongau. Harassed oil every side by Sir James Douglas, she
is said to have committed suicide by throwing herself over the walls of the
Castle of Comlongan. There was a tradition that there was an element of foul
play in the ease. Sir James Douglas became possessed of the second half of
the barony of Mouswald, or of Carruthers, as it was variously termed, which
explains the Drumlanrig branch of the Douglases owning subsequently so much
properly in that part of the county.
We will return io the Holmendis family, who, in 1425. had got a confirmation
of their charters. John de Carruthers got a Brief of Perambulation of the
Lands of Blackwood in Ruthwell in 1476. Corrie of Corrie having joined the
rebellious Earl of Douglas, who was defeated at Lochmaben in 1434, his
estates were granted to Holmends. Probably-there was some limitation to the
grant, as these lands were shortly afterwards restored to the family of
Corrie, and, along with Newbie, carried into the family of Johnstone of
Annandale, by a marriage with the heiress of the Corries. His son John
married Blanche, daughter of Sir John Murray of Cockpule, about 1501. Their
eldest son got a renewal of his charters under the Great Seal on 21st May.
1523. but he died early, and was succeeded by his brother George. In
addition the lands formerly mentioned in their charters, those of Altowne
and Erischebank. or Archhank, near Moffat, and Copewood, in Dryfesdale. are
included in these charters of 1523. The Moffat lands were, however, sold, or
otherwise alienated, about 1546. In 1547, Holmends submitted to the army of
Henry VIII. which overran Annandale under Lord Wharton, and became bound to
the English king’s service with 162 men on his estates. There was a third
son. William, from whom the family of Carruthers of Dormont is believed to
be descended. We do not know who George’s wife was. but. in 1573. his son
John married Nicholas, sister to Sir Alexander Jardine of Applegirth.
In 1585 John Carruthers of Holmends was captain of a troop of cavalry, and
his son Charles a cornet in Lord Maxwell's army, which went to Stirling.
About 1597 John Carruthers granted Creive and Crossdykes to Armstrong. son
or nephew of the celebrated Kinmont Willie.
John Carruthers was succeeded by his son John, who married, in 1604, Agnes,
daughter of George Douglas of Parkhead. Their second son James married
Margaret, daughter of Sir James Lockhart of Lee. in 1635. and from the
second son of this James the family of Carruthers of De.nbie is descended.
The eldest son of John and Miss Douglas married Helen, daughter of Sir John
Grierson of Lag. and secondly, Margaret, daughter of Callender of Craigtown.
His son George married a cousin from Denby, and their oldest son married
Rachael, daughter of James Douglas of Dornock. The son of John and Miss
Douglas, also John, the last Carruthers of Holmends. succeeded in 1734, and
married Charlotte, daughter of Sir Robert Laurie of Maxwelton. They had
seven daughters, but no son. and Holmends sold the estate to Mr Macrae.
The Dormont Family.
William, the third son of
John, who succeeded to Holmends in 1523, got a charter from his father of
the land of Corshopeland. His son Christopher- got the lands of Hardgrave.
from Sir James Johnstone of Dunskellie in 1592. He had previously in 1585.
in the Holmends troop of cavalry. accompanied Lord Maxwell to Stirling, and
is mentioned in the Act of Parliament enumerating the gentlemen pardoned.
However, after the gift of Hardgrave, he seemed to have become a partizan of
the Johnstone family, and assisted them against Lord Maxwell at the battle
of Dryfe Sands in 1595. He also helped the Johnstones in the burning of
Lochmaben kirk, and his name appears on the list of those pardoned. His son
Francis was returned heir to his father in 1619. Francis’ son John married
Katherine Harris and from their third son Robert, the late Dr Carruthers of
Inverness is said to be descended. Francis’ eldest son John married twice,
and his only son married Miss Beil, heiress of Winterhopehead. John
Carruthers died in 1722, and was succeeded in Dormont and Winterhopehead by
his son Francis, who married, in 1731, Margaret, daughter of Sir Alexander
Maxwell of Monreith, but they had no family, and he left the estates to his
brother William, who married Henrietta, daughter of William Aikman, Esquire
of Carney. Their eldest, son, William Aikman Carruthers, Esquire, was twice
married. There was no issue from the first marriage, and he married secondly
Mary Anne Arthington. heiress of Arthington Hall, Yorkshire. He was
succeeded by the late William Thomas Carruthers, Esquire of Dormont and
Arthington, who married Susan, daughter of Maclachlau of Maclachlan. and
they had one sou. William Francis Carruthers, of Dormont. who was also
possessor of Holmends and other lands anciently belonging to his family. He
marred Madeline, second daughter of Frederick Turner, Esq., and their son,
Major F. J. Carruthers, is now (1905) owner of the property.
The Denbie Family.
William Carruthers, second
6on of James, laird of Holmendis. and Miss Lockhart of Lee, seems to have
got Denbie from his oldest brother in 1680. He married Miss Irving, heiress
of Braes, and was succeeded by his son John, who had four successors in the
direct line, all called John. The last of these, the late Col. John
Carruthers, had three daughters, and one of them married the late Sir
Richard Hetherington, and their eldest, son. Dr John Hetherington
Carruthers. R.N., succeeded to the estate. It has been sold to Mr Murray of
The Braes Family.
William, the second son of
William Carruthers. first, of Denbie, and Miss Irving of Braes, succeeded
his mother in that estate. He was succeeded by his son. Captain F.
Carruthers, whose son Francis sold the property to the late William Curl.
Enquire. A branch of 1he family was settled at Wormombie or Warmanbie, but
it became extinct 'Omc years ago.