Our Viking Ancestors, Uncategorized

The Old Salt

The Old Salt


old salt



The Old Salt was a special man who came along in a time
when he was needed most.

A time that is now gone forever.
When men believed and sacrificed, when hero’s walked the earth in mass.

When patriotism was not just a word
by what men lived and judged the worth of each, 
a man who lived a life most of us cannot comprehend. 

An era now gone as this warriors tour of duty ends at this station, 
and begins anew in the heavenly fleet. 

Sail on Sailor into your unaccompanied tour,
we salute you.

What greater honor, that when a man moves forward, 
he leaves behind in each of us the best of what he was. 

A defender, protector, supporter, victor, a warrior, 
the last of the breed from an era when ships were made of wood
and men were made of steel.

The Old Salt has reported for duty that takes him away from us for now. 

Those of us who remain behind,
remember, and will continue to remember, 
because he now resides forever in our hearts.

As I look up at night, I envision The Old Salt,
a beret draped just above the eye, 
as he draws upon his pipe, 
quietly he waits.
The guardian of heaven’s gate.

Author: Mac McGovern

Carruthers history, Scotland History, Uncategorized

Hadrians Wall

Hadrians Wall


Hadrian’s Wall (known in antiquity as the Vallum Hadriani or the Vallum Aelian) is a defensive frontier work in northern Britain which dates from 122 CE. The wall ran from coast to coast at a length of 73 statute miles (120 km). Though the wall is commonly thought to have been built to mark the boundary line between Britain and Scotland, this is not so; no one knows the actual motivation behind its construction but it does not delineate a boundary between the two countries. While the wall did simply mark the northern boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain at the time, theories regarding the purpose of such a massive building project range from limiting immigration, to controlling smuggling, to keeping the indigenous people at bay north of the wall. Its military effectiveness has been questioned by many scholars over the years owing to its length and the positioning of the fortifications along the route. Regarding this, Professors Scarre and Fagan write,
Archaeologists and historians have long debated whether Hadrian’s Wall was an effective military barrier…Whatever its military effectiveness, however, it was clearly a powerful symbol of Roman military might. The biographer of Hadrian remarks that the emperor built the wall to separate the Romans from the barbarians. In the same way, the Chinese emperors built the Great Wall to separate China from the barbarous steppe peoples to the north. In both cases, in addition to any military function, the physical barriers served in the eyes of their builders to reinforce the conceptual divide between civilized and noncivilized. They were part of the ideology of empire. (Ancient Civilizations, 313)
hadrianswall2The suggestion that Hadrian’s Wall, then, was built to hold back or somehow control the people of the north does not seem as likely as that it was constructed as a show of force.
This seems to be the best explanation for the underlying motive behind the construction of Hadrian’s Wall. The Romans had been dealing with uprisings in Britain since their conquest of the region. Although Rome’s first contact with Britain was through Julius Caesar’s expeditions there in 55/54 BCE, Rome did not begin any systematic conquest until the year 43 CE under the Emperor Claudius. The revolt of Boudicca of the Iceni in 60/61 CE resulted in the massacre of many Roman citizens and the destruction of major cities (among them, Londinium, modern London) and, according to the historian Tacitus (56-117 CE), fully demonstrated the barbaric ways of the Britons to the Roman mind. Boudicca’s forces were defeated at The Battle of Watling Street by General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus in 61 CE. At the Battle of Mons Graupius, in the region which is now Scotland, the Roman General Gnaeus Julius Agricola won a decisive victory over the Caledonians under Calgacus in 83 CE. Both of these engagements, as well as the uprising in the north in 119 CE (suppressed by Falco) substantiated that the Romans were up to the task of managing the indigenous people of Britain. The suggestion that Hadrian’s Wall, then, was built to hold back or somehow control the people of the north does not seem as likely as that it was constructed as a show of force. Hadrian’s foreign policy was consistently “peace through strength” and the wall would have been an impressive illustration of that principle. In the same way that Julius Caesar built his famous bridge across the Rhine in 55 BCE simply to show that he, and therefore Rome, could go anywhere and do anything, Hadrian perhaps had his wall constructed for precisely the same purpose.

Hadrian’s Wall Gate

Emperor Hadrian (born Publius Aelius Hadrianus in 76 CE) ruled the Roman Empire from 117-138 CE. His building projects, especially in Greece, are legendary and his penchant for ambitious monuments is exemplified in his eponymous wall. The work was begun in stone (unlike other fortifications which began with timber) in the east and proceeded westward across uneven terrain to create an impressive reflection of the power of Rome. The wall was originally 9.7 feet wide (3 metres) and 16-20 feet high (six metres) east of the River Irthing, all built of stone, and 20 feet wide (6 metres) by 11feet high (3.5 metres) west of the river, made up of stone and turf, stretching 73 miles (120 km) across the breadth of the land. This ambitious building project was completed within six years through the labour of the Roman legions stationed in Britain. Plans for the construction of the wall were in place prior to Hadrian’s visit to Britain in 122 CE and, perhaps, construction had already begun before the traditional date assigned for the initial work on the wall, possibly as early as 118 CE. There were between 14-17 fortifications along the length of the wall and a Vallum (a ditch purposefully constructed of earthworks) which ran parallel to the wall. The Vallum measured 20 feet (6 metres) wide by 10 feet (3 metres) deep, flanked by large mounds of tightly packed earth. It is this composition of the site which has given rise to the traditional interpretation of the wall as a defensive work built to repel invasion from the north.

Hadrian’s Wall Milecastle 37

millecastleThe Vallum was built after the construction of the wall and the forts as evidenced by its deviation from existing ruins and the clear indication of causeways across the ditch at intervals which correspond to established fortification sites. When the Antonine Wall was constructed further north (in c. 142 CE by Emperor Antoninus Pius) the Vallum appears to have been partially filled in for easier passage. The Antonine Wall was built after Hadrian’s Wall had been abandoned as an outpost and was positioned further to the north in present-day Scotland between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. The Antonine Wall was perhaps constructed to serve the same purpose as Hadrian’s Wall but is thought to have functioned more pragmatically than the earlier construct. Hadrian’s Wall is thought to have been plastered and white washed so that it would be a shining beacon of the might of Rome, visible from considerable distances. The Antonine Wall does not suggest this same grandeur nor, in spite of the many fortifications along its route, the same intent in design and construction. Emperor Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161-180 CE) drew the Roman legions back from the Antonine Wall to Hadrian’s Wall under his reign and fortified the garrisons in his efforts to maintain the boundaries of the Empire. Hadrian’s great monument to Rome’s might continued as an impressive affirmation until 410 CE when the Roman legions left Britain. Activity around and along the wall seems to have continued as evidenced by archaeological finds but a disciplined Roman presence after 410 is not signified.

Following the Roman withdrawal, large portions of the wall were carried off for personal building projects by the local inhabitants. Huge sections were removed to provide paving for British troops heading north on muddy tracks to quell the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 CE. Hadrian’s Wall may have disappeared entirely were it not for the efforts of one man, the antiquarian John Clayton (1792-1890 CE) who, in 1834 CE, began buying the land around the wall in an effort to preserve it. Clayton’s excavations and enthusiasm for the site kept what remains of Hadrian’s Wall intact and, in 1987 CE, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Today it is under the care of English Heritage commission and is cared for largely by volunteers who recognize its immense historical significance.
Editorial Review
This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.                     Joshua J. Mark


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Carruthers history, Our Viking Ancestors, Uncategorized

Viking Boat Burial Reveals its Secrets

Clan Carruthers LLC                       Promptus et Fidelis


Viking Boat Burial Reveals its Secrets


Six years after discovering and excavating the first Viking boat burial site discovered on the UK mainland, archaeologists have provided a glimpse into some of the mysteries this rare burial reveals.

Post-excavation photograph of the burial site. (Credit: Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2017)

Originally unearthed in 2011, the site in Swordle Bay, Scotland, was the first undisturbed Viking boat burial found on the UK mainland. After six years of work, Ardnamurchan Transitions Project’s findings were recently released in an in-depth report in the Journal of Antiquity, revealing, among other things, the growing relationship between Scotland and the Viking world at that time.

Viking boat burials themselves were extremely rare. Only practiced for the deaths of prominent individuals, the ritual used a boat as a coffin for the body and burial goods. Discovered under a low-lying natural mound close to the shore, this particular site was small, measuring approximately 17 feet by 5 feet, and thought to have contained a row boat that was accompanying a larger ship.

Other artifacts from the burial site. The sword (top); the sword in situ (below); the mineralized textile remains (right); detail of the decoration after conservation (left). (Credit: Pieta Greaves/AOC Archaeology).

After excavating the site, archaeologists were able to reconstruct the steps of the burial. A boat-shaped depression was first dug into a natural mound of beach shingle. The boat was then inserted into the ground, and the body was placed inside, along with the grave goods. Stones were place inside and around the boat. As part of the closing of the site, a spear and shield boss (the round or convex piece of material at the center of a shield) were deliberately broken and deposited.

Pre-excavation photograph after initial cleaning. (Credit: Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2017)

The ship, along with the human remains, decayed in the acidic soil long ago, but the grave artifacts remained, offering a glimpse into the possible origins of the deceased as well as the reach of Viking culture. A single copper alloy-ringed pin with three bosses—a style found in Ireland—was also found, believed to have originally been fastened to a burial coat. There was also a copper alloy drinking horn, thought to be Scandinavian in origin. Other grave goods included a sword, an axe, a sickle (found mostly in Scotland), a whetstone (probably Norwegian), flint strike-a-lights and two teeth—molars from only identified human remains. Hundreds of metal rivets that once held the vessel together, some with wood shards, were also discovered.

The Viking's teeth. (Credit: Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2017)

An isotopic analysis of the teeth (the lower left first and second molars) revealed further information. The individual likely lived on, or close to, the coast, as indicated by an increase in consumption of marine proteins between the ages of 3 and 5. While marine protein was rarely consumed by humans in Britain, it was popular in Viking-era Norway. Further analysis of the teeth narrowed down the place of origin to eastern Ireland, northeastern mainland Scotland, Norway or Sweden.

The weapons included in the burial point to a warrior status and the artifacts and their internment infer high status, but the gender cannot be confirmed. While it is likely a male burial, some of the goods, such as the sickle, are more commonly associated with females. Current Viking’s scholarship points to a number (albeit smaller) of female warriors, as well as the discoveries and excavations of female boat burials.

 Some of the artifacts recovered from the burial site (clockwise from the top left): broad-bladed axe, shield boss, ringed pin and the hammer and tongs (Credit: Pieta Greaves/AOC Archaeology).

While there is still more to learn from this rare burial site, an important finding was revealed in the variety of grave goods from multiple geographic locations: The growing relationship between Scotland and the Viking world at that time.


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Carruthers history, Scotland History, Uncategorized

Lairds of Dormont : The Sketchy Family History.

Clan Carruthers                                                            Promptus et Fidelis


Lairds of Dormont :

The Sketchy Family History.


Beyond doubt, people who have worked on the Carruthers Family History, agree that the Dormont line is very frustrating.
This is the shakiest family descendant line in the Carruthers family. It has given some great minds of genealogy and family history a true headache.
It has been a true migraine, with spins and turn, assumptions, illegal children, marriages and divorces in the 1600..
We had many long discussions in the late 1980’s and through the 1990’s about this line, and when we thought we had one problem or situation solved, another appeared. We could only laugh at the calamity or errors.
History is changing fast with all the new technology, DNA testing, archeological hords being uncovered daily.
Cambridge and Oxford have come forward with new collections that are contradicting a lot of what was oral history.
DNA has also disproved much of the oral history passed down and what we have believed for a long time. At this point the DNA on record stops at Christopher.  This does not mean there are people after him with DNA, just that at this time there is no tie.  Remember, live DNA testing, like you find at 23 and me, FTDNA, and such, is only positive for two generations in each direction as a connection to the recipient.
Many of us have worked for decades on the Carruthers Family History, and what we thought was correct once, is now being proven wrong,or different.
This is not being written as to show any answers.  Absolutely not!
There are too many twists and turns to get any answer correct.
This line has always been, and remains SKETCHY.

Lairds of Dormont

1.  William Carruthers   1525 – 1592

 Was his name really William or was it George 1525 – 1592,  some people are now questioning this.

Received land charter from Simon, 9th Laird of Mouswald, 4th Baron,  his father of Corsopeland.    There are many on ancestry.com that show Williams father as Simon.  

We also have:  William Carruthers 1st of Dormont who received from his father John Carruthers 5th of Holmains the charter of Corsopeland 5th Nov.1552.

He later received the charter of Nether Dormont.   Jim Carruthers July 2006

On geni and family search, which I believe came from an old Rootsweb entry :  John Carruthers the 5th Laird of Holmains is now listed as 1634 – 1694.     

According to this entry his father was 90 years old at the time of John’s birth.  

 Genealogy is confusing enough, but this shows the confusion that exists.  Dont look at one source, dont believe everything that is online either.

We personally look at his father as John Carruthers  1494 – 1580, but dont trust that either!  LOL




2. Christopher Carruthers  1550- 1619    m. Margaret Johnson   and Katherine Carlile


There is very little presented about Christopher.


3.  Francis  Carruthers    1575 – 1679    m.   Susan Maxwell, Mary Bell, and Joane Bailey

Francis had two sons, John the 4th Laird of Dormont, and Francis the 5th Laird of Dormont, so it is written.

Clan Mac Farlane also recognizes Francis , #196907
Some people may not recognize Francis, on Dana Nortons descendant chart, on their web page, they do not recognize Frances as a Laird of Dormont, and they might be right.  Hard to tell.
On the Carothers – Carruthers site, it does list Francis as the 3rd of Dormont.
Francis is one where there are very little facts about.  Some believe he was illegitimate.
We can not find any matching DNA, it doesnt mean it wont appear , but not now.
 Some believe he was of ill health, and gave all his possessions to his brother William, and not his sons John and Francis.

William Carruthers of Nutholm who is definitely described as 
brother to Francis. In 1647 he was infeft by Francis in the 20- 
merk land of Meddilshaw and again in 1658. 4 These infeftments 
represented wadsetts for 3,200 merks. In addition he had been 
infeft b}^ John Maxwell of Castlemilk in a wadsett for 500 merks 
furth of the 3-merk land of Nutholm.

Arthur Stanley Carruthers write:

Francis Carruthers, third Laird of Dormont, was infeft heir to his grand¬ 
father William on January 7, 1619, in the 5-merk lands of Corsopelands, 17 
but not till 1634 was he infeft in the 5-merk lands of Nether Dormont 
and the mill thereof as heir to his father Christopher. 

Why is he mentioning that the property was handed over to Francis, grandson of William, when in fact it was suppose to be already turned over to Christopher, Francis father.
William supposedly died before Christopher, unless there is more to the story.  This gives credence to the group of people who believe that Francis was not the real Laird of Dormont.
number of other infeftments of Francis are recorded :—in 1643 in an 
annual-rent of 320 merks furth of the lands of Netherefield of Benga in 
Dryfesdale, for his life and in fee to James, George and Walter, his younger 
William is also listed as being married to Mary Bell.

4.   John Carruthers 1618 – 1670   m. Helen Carruthers and Katherine Herres 1639 – 1656

Is this the John Carruthers of Holmains who lived at Lochmaben, or is this the John Carruthers, son of William, brother of Francis.
in a backbond dated June 1, 1667, by John Carruthers of Hoimains to John 
Lindsay of Waucope it is specifically stated that Lindsay’s predecessors 
had disponed the £5 land of Little (Nether) Dormont to John Carruthers 
of Dormont
Again written by Stanley A Carruthers, why does he have to differentiate between John of Holmains, and John of Dormont.  It does make one think that John of Dormont could have been Willians son John.
(i) John Carruthers, who married in 1639 Katharine, daughter of Mr. 
Robert Kerries, minister of Dry jsdale. 25 She died in December 
1656, and her Testament 23 shows that she had five children : John
Carruthers, fourth Laird of Dormont, Robert, 27 Janet, Marion and 
So who is this John Carruthers m. Katherne, and had 5 children one being John the 4th Laird of Dormont, and not John 1618 – 1670 whose father was Francis 1575 – 1679.
 Could it have been Williams son John who married Katherine and gave birth to John the 4th Laird of Dormont.
 In many online articles and publications it states that John of Holmains was also the 4th Laird of Dormont.
It is rare to find anything that states John, the son of Francis.

5.  Francis   1619-1733     m Margaret Maxwell

In Stanley A Carruthers book, Francis is a ” mention”, others interprete his mem. as latin for “memory”.   Memory was nicely used to indicate the possibility of illegitimacy, without proof.


This next story involves a legal case that was finally closed after going before the House of Lords for a second time, almost 80 years after an illegitimate child was born.
Details of this story can be found in Records of the Carruthers Family, in Michael Robson’s book Surnames and Clansmen – Border Family History in Earlier Days,  along with the Court of Sessions records.

Extracts are provided below.

Francis, the 5th Laird of Dormont, succeeded his grandfather in 1725.  In 1731 he married Margaret, daughter of Sir Alexander Maxwell of Monreith.  In 1735 he made a post-nuptial contract of marriage to himself and his heirs male, whom failing the heirs male of any other marriage, whom failing to any daughter he might have by Margaret Maxwell.  A clause stipulated that if a daughter was excluded from the estate by any term in the deed, she should get £1,000 sterling. 


Margaret had a way of living beyond their means and the resulting financial hardship caused Francis to give up his life as a leisurely country gentleman and make some additional money.  His chosen path was in selling and delivering Galloway cattle, a potentially prosperous venture, but one that kept him away from home for extended periods of time.  During one extended absence trying to settle a lawsuit in England, he received word from home that “Mrs. Carruthers’s conduct with regard to a handsome stout fellow of a gardener named Bell at Dormont, was not a little suspicious”.   When he got home, it was obvious that his wife was “with child”.  He steadfastly exclaimed that he was not the father since he had been away from home for “nearly a whole year”.


Francis then decided to get rid of his wife by getting a divorce.   However, the questioning of the staff only provided him with suspicious circumstances, not the proof he needed at that time to justify divorce proceedings.  Undaunted, he decided to proceed anyway with the divorce action.  But, before the proceedings could be finished, after having been married ten years without a child, Margaret had a daughter, Elizabeth, on May 28, 1741.  Francis, naturally refused to acknowledge the child as his daughter.   But, since he was not divorced, the law said that the child was a legitimate heir.  Francis’ divorce from Margaret was finalized on January 6, 1742.  Not too long after delivering her child, though, Margaret fell ill and died.  While this death solved the expense problem, there still was an open question about inheritance of the child, and Margaret was no longer around to answer any questions.

Francis did not seem interested in marrying again and continuing to try to

have a male heir.  Under the previous entail, there was some question as to whether or not a male child by a 2nd wife would take precedence over a female heir by his 1st wife.  Therefore, Francis spent his energy trying to prove that Elizabeth was illegitimate.  But, his time away from home turned out to be 9½ months, and under the law, since he had been home within 10 months, the child was legitimately his.

He refused to see the infant Elizabeth, “alien to his blood”, and arranged for her to be brought up in Northumberland, in what Sir Walter Scott called the “wildest part of the Cheviot Hills” at the home of “an ignorant and low farmer” named Thomas Robson.  He was paid to bring her up as his own daughter and never let her know that she had any other father.  She was known as Betty Robson.  Francis apparently did provide money for her support every year.  However, like most Cheviot farmers, Robson spent his evenings drunk and, over the years let out more and more of the story.

Elizabeth, like her mother Margaret, turned out to be an exceedingly beautiful woman, with men courting her from all over the area.  In 1758, at the age of 17, she ran off with Henry Routledge of Cumcrook and Nether Hill.  They ran away to Edinburgh and got married.  Henry, aware of her circumstances, wrote to her presumed father, Francis Carruthers, for permission to marry, but he never answered.

Henry, although from a landed family, was a 4th son of a small estate burdened with debt, so he inherited very little.  Struggling at the poverty level, and pressed to pay off debts, the couple was desparate enough to approach Francis Carruthers for money.  They started with high demands, requiring part of the Dormont estate while Francis lived, and all of it at his death.  Getting nowhere with this demand, they eventually settled on signing a “Deed of Renounciation of all Claim upon the Estate of Dormont” for £650.  Immediately after this, Francis executed another document providing Dormont would go only to his male heirs, failing any then to his brother William Carruthers and his male heirs – finalized December 8, 1759.

Francis died in 1773 and his brother, William, headed the estate for the next 14 years.  William, and the next 2 generations after him, gained little from inheriting Dormont, since the estate was still in debt, almost to the extent of its whole value.

The Routledges were unable to make the £650 last very long.  They continued scraping by, now needing to also support 2 children, John and Anne.  Sir Walter Scott stated that Henry Routledge died in the Carlisle jail.  Elizabeth died in 1768, leaving the 2 children in dire circumstances.  The plot now thickens once again.  Given that Margaret Maxwell had been a sister to Sir William Maxwell, a cousin to the mother then took it upon herself to raise the 2 children.  The cousin, by this time, was known as the Duchess of Gordon.  The Duchess had John and Anne educated and procured a job for him in India.  She also arranged a good marriage for Anne, to Mr. Majendie, the Bishop of Bangor.

In 1806, John Rutledge returned from India.  He had prospered.  While visiting Cumberland, he is believed to have crossed to Dumfriesshire and stopped at an inn close to Dormont.   Here he learned, quite by chance, of his mother’s connection with the Carruthers family.  He at once raised an action to set aside the settlement of the estate made in 1759 by Francis. The two main questions were (1) was the deed of 1759 valid, seeing that it had not been challenged for over forty years; (2) did the discharge given by Elizabeth on receipt of the £650 exclude her heir’s rights to the estate under his grandmother’s marriage contract in 1735.  It took exactly 14 years to reach an ultimate decision.  By that time John Rufledge was dead,  but his sister, Mrs. Majendie, had continued the lawsuit.  The suit was heard in every court in Scotland, even argued twice at length, before the House of Lords.  At various times, the decision had been made in each party’s favor.  However, the final decision handed down in 1820, was in the favor of William Thomas Carruthers, grand-nephew of Francis, and the 8th Laird of Dormont.

Sir Walter Scott

Sir Walter Scott wrote these words, for he was the the records clerk for Dumfrieshire.
ince Sir Walter Scott was an author, could he have changed the persons real name to Francis, and it was really William all along.
The Court of Sessions wanted William Thomas Carruthers, grand nephew to take over the estate.
Sir Walter Scott wrote that he believed the courts were right.
Some believe that this has gone to Court of Sessions twice with the same results.

The original posting can be found at:

There are alot of us who originally got together in the 1980’s or 1990’s and worked on the Carruthers Family History, and now when we talk about this line, we bring up good times, and lots of laughter as we researched.
As it states in the Records of Carruthers by Stanley A Carruthers and Reid A Carruthers
"All the data contained in this Petition must be accepted with caution."
None of our postings are original or written by any board member in the Carruthers Clan LLC.
Part Two will be published next.

Preserving Our Past, Recording Our Present, Informing Our Future

Ancient and Honorable Clan Carruthers Int Society LLC


Carruthers history, Scotland History, Uncategorized

The Isle of Viking Women

Clan Carruthers                              Promptus et Fidelis


The Isle of Viking Women?

Women on the Isle of Man had more rights than on the adjacent isles up to modern times.

Image result for Manx women

Manx Women had the vote from 1881 – 37 years before the UK. This may be partly because of the inheritance of a Celtic / Viking legal system.

If you don’t live on the Isle of Man, then you may not know that the Island introduced Votes for (some) Women in 1881, 37 years before the UK, and pretty much the first place in the world. Nearly everyone who lives here knows that already. Possibly related to this is that Emmeline Pankhurst’s Mum was Manx. The roots for this progressiveness may lie in the Island’s Viking and Celtic past.

Vikings took control of this Island in the Irish sea in the 800s and used it as a naval base until the 1200s. The Norse established the Island’s parliament, Tynwald, in around the year 1000 (the name Tynwald is from Tingvollr: ‘assembly field’ in Old Norse). Other traces of Norse heritage include placenames and people’s names, dozens of carved runestone memorials to both men and women, and viking-age burials like the one of the ‘Pagan lady’ in Peel, full of grave goods from across the Viking world. Things weren’t so great for slaves, unfortunately, as in other societies of that time.

The Norse may have been bloodthirsty and warlike, but they did set up a legal system, which combined with Celtic traditions, has evolved up to the present day. Under Manx law, women had far more rights than their English counterparts. All through medieval times and to the modern period, a Manx woman could own land and goods, keep property through her marriage, and could bequeathe property as she wished. When a woman died her goods could not be plundered by the husband: the courts would step in to ensure her children inherited her goods, and would appoint her relatives as guardians. This is quite unlike English law, where a woman (and most of what she owned) was by default seen as the property of her husband, from Norman times up until the 1800s. Scotland and Wales both had more legal rights for women until about 1700 than the South of England: the North of England, with its Norse heritage, had customary but not official inheritance rights for women until about 1700.

Womens rights on the Island went backwards a bit in the late 1700s when the British Crown took control of the Island, but by Victorian times, and the suffrage struggles, Manx women were still used to having decent legal and customary rights.

This brings us to the Manx Pankhurst connection. Emmeline Pankhurst’s Mum, Sophia Craine, was born on the Isle of Man in 1843, and met and married a Robert Goulden of Manchester. Living in Manchester, they were both active in anti-slavery and women’s suffrage movements, with friends in the Isle of Man and Manchester working for the women’s vote. In the 1870s, Sophia took her daughter Emmeline to numerous suffrage events.

In 1880, the leader of the UK women’s movement, Lydia Becker of Manchester, visited the Island to instigate a demand for ‘Votes for Women’ amongst the Manx. Unexpectedly, she was completely successful, and in 1881 the Manx Parliament passed a law extending the right to vote to single or widowed women with property. The sudden success was probably helped by all the Island’s press being in favour – the most conservative newpaper at the time was run by a widow. Also there wasn’t a party system on the island, which may have helped (for complicated reasons, the British Liberals and Conservatives both felt that women having the vote could benefit their opponents). The Island’s small size probably helped – eg just having the one conservative newspaper, which by chance was run by a woman.

The debate in the Island’s Parliament was quite something. The proposal was led by a Mr Sherwood, who jollied his colleagues along with jokes: to paraphrase: ‘Of course, we could even have women members of Parliament, though we would have to widen the seats…’, ‘That would be broadening the franchise’….’If the bachelors of the Island don’t like single ladies having the vote, then they can always remedy the situation by marrying them!’

So a tiny country with its own parliament, and a Norse / Celtic legal system, led the way, in being one of the very first places in the world where women had the right to elect members of their parliament. Slightly ironic for somewhere called the Isle of Man.

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Carruthers history, Scotland History, Uncategorized

Middlebie Parish : Carruthers

Clan Carruthers                                                  Promptus et Fidelis


Middlebie Parish: Carruthersland. A beautifully restored church!

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Middlebie, a parish of SE Dumfriesshire, at its southern boundary containing Kirtle-Bridge village, with a station on the Caledonian railway, 5½ miles NNE of Annan, 16¾ NW of Carlisle, and 3¼ ESE of Ecclefechan, under which it has a post and telegraph office. Containing also Eaglesfield and Waterbeck villages, 7 furlongs and 3 miles NNE of Kirtle-Bridge station, and each with a post office under Ecclefechan, it comprises the ancient parishes of Middlebie, Pennersax, and Carruthers, united in 1609; was the seat of a presbytery from a period some time after the Reformation till 1743; and took its name, signifying the ‘middle dwelling,’ or ‘middle station,’ from a Roman camp, 5 furlongs SSE of the parish church, and midway between Netherbie in Cumberland and Overbie in Eskdalemuir, each about 10 miles distant. It is bounded NW by Tundergarth, E by Langholm and Canonbie, S by Half-Morton, Kirkpatrick-Fleming, and Annan, and W by Hoddam. Its utmost length, from E to W, is 77/8 miles; its breadth, from N to S, varies between 7 furlongs and 53/8 miles; and its area is 17,592 acres, of which 46¾ are water. Formed by two head-streams at an altitude of 570 feet, Kirtle Water flows 2½ miles southward through the interior, and then winds 5½ miles south-south-westward along the Kirkpatrick-Fleming boundary; whilst Mein Water, rising at an altitude of 780 feet, meanders 7 miles south-south-westward till it passes off into Hoddam on its way to join the Annan. Several burns, also rising on the northern border, run to either Kirtle or Mein Water; and Woodside or All-for-nought Burn, which traces the Half-Morton boundary, is one of the head-streams of the river Sark. Along Mein Water the surface declines to a little below 100, along Kirtle Water to a little below 200, feet above sea-level; and thence it rises, first gently, then more steeply, to 320 feet at the parish church, 809 at Howats Hill, 904 at Risp Hill, 1029 at Muckle Snab, and 1412 at Haggy Hill, whose summit, however, is 300 yards beyond the NE corner of Middlebie. The land thus, along the S and SW, is low and undulating; in the centre has considerable rising-grounds; and along the N and E is wild and hilly, terminating in lofty watersheds with Tundergarth and Langholm, and forming a transition tract between the agricultural valley of Lower Annandale and the pastoral heights of Upper Eskdale. The rocks include sandstone and great abundance of limestone, and were long supposed to include coal. The soil of the lower grounds is mostly clayey, but partly loamy or gravelly, and partly of many kinds in close proximity to one another; that of the higher grounds is chiefly of qualities best adapted for sheep pasture. Less than one-fourth of the entire area is in tillage; about 280 acres are under wood; and the rest of the land is either pastoral or waste. The Roman camp, which has given name to the parish, is at Birrens, 3 miles SE of the famous Roman station on Brunswark Hill; and it has left distinct remains of its fossæ, aggeres, and prætorium. In the Edinburgh Antiquarian Museum are five Roman altars, a sculptured figure of the goddess Brigantia, and three other Roman re, found at Birrens; as well as three circular mediæval silver brooches, discovered in 1849 in the ruins of the old church of Middlebie. Several peel-houses stood within the parish; and one of them, Blacket House, still stands, in a ruinous condition, with the date 1404 and the initials W[illiam] B[ell] above its outer doorway. Families of the name of Bell long predominated in the population of the parish, insomuch that the ‘Bells of Middlebie’ was a current phrase throughout Dumfriesshire, and one of the Bells of Blacket House figured in the tragical story of ‘Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lee,’ noticed in our article on Kirkconnel. Burns’s biographer, James Currie, M.D. (1756-1805), of Liverpool, received the rudiments of education at the parish school of Middlebie. Seven proprietors hold each an annual value of £500 and upwards, 13 of between £100 and £500, 4 of from £50 to £100, and 7 of from £20 to £50. Middlebie is in the presbytery of Annan and the synod of Dumfries; the living is worth £283. The parish church, 17/8 mile NNW of Kirtle-Bridge station and 1¾ NE of Ecclefechan, was built in 1821, and contains 700 sittings.

Scotlands Antiquarian Society


**  Many Carruthers, living and past, have worked so very hard to restore this church into the beautiful building you see in the picture above.   Thank you to all who worked on preserving something so precious.


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Landscape Genealogy - Carruthersland, Scotland History, Uncategorized


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Union Chain Bridge leaflet 2008


Captain Samuel Brown’s Union Chain Bridge over the River Tweed near Paxton is a majestic, extremely important and yet seemingly hidden, wrought iron suspension bridge. Some have described its design, and that of others, as a ‘web of iron,’ conjuring an image of a spider throwing its delicate, glimmering threads across a valley. It ‘unites’ England with Scotland and, completed in 1820, is fast approaching its 200th birthday.

The original crossing was a perilous ford, slightly downstream from where the bridge was eventually built. When the river was high there could be loss of cargo and even of life, and until the completion of the Union Bridge no other bridge crossed the Tweed between Berwick and Coldstream. In addition to the risk posed by the ford, it was a need to the transport coal and lime from Northumberland to Berwickshire where it was used in agriculture that further warranted the construction of a new bridge.

The bridge and the River Tweed from the north

Fortunately, there were important acts of parliament which, from the 17th up until the 19th century, encouraged the improvement of infrastructure, including the Union Chain Bridge. Turnpike Trusts were created with powers to collect tolls for maintaining the principal roads and bridges in Britain. The £7,700 needed to construct the Union Bridge was provided by Berwick and North Durham Turnpike Trust. This amount was roughly one third of what it would have cost to build a masonry bridge and the construction time of just 11 months was significantly less too.

Once the Trustees were able to fund a bridge, all they needed was a method and this is where fate came into play. Captain Samuel Brown RN, a retired naval captain, was developing, with much determination and fervour, wrought iron chains and links at a works he had set up at Millwall on the Isle of Dogs. Brown’s invention, which he in turn tested and patented, lent itself completely to the construction of a suspension bridge – and he knew it. So much so he built a 105 ft long replica to prove his theory.

With Brown’s confidence, ambition and determination to succeed, the Union Chain Bridge could come into being. One would imagine the activities of others, such as Thomas Telford, could only spur him on. Although work on Telford’s Menai Bridge began before work commenced on the Union Bridge, the Union Bridge was completed first, making it, at 449ft/137m, the longest iron suspension bridge in the world when it opened. It was also the first bridge of its type to carry vehicles.



Brown had turned to the production of wrought iron chains after being affected by the

loss of the Royal Navy ships which had broken free from their weak hempen ropes. Together with his main financier and collaborator, his cousin Samuel Lennox, Brown ultimately supplied rigging chains to the Royal Navy until 1926. Lenox had an iron works in Newbridge, South Wales and it was from here that the fabric of the Union Bridge came.

It was with great celebration and fanfare that the Union Chain Bridge was opened on the 26th July 1820. Some of the most important engineers of the day were present, including the Scottish civil engineers Robert Stevenson and John Rennie. Its strength was demonstrated with a procession of loaded curricles followed by 600 eager spectators.

At 146 metres (480ft) the span of the suspension chains were several times larger than anything for many years. The bridge’s deck was made from timber, with a span of 120metres (390ft). The bridge is embedded into the rock on the English side, but hung from a free-standing support tower on the Scottish side. This design was finalised with consultation from both Rennie and Stevenson.

Looking towards EnglandTo pay for its upkeep tolls were collected at a small house on the English side of the bridge. In 1883 this collection of tolls ended, and so in 1884 The Tweed Bridges Trust became its new custodians. In 1903 additional cables were added in order to strengthen the bridge. Later, in 1955 the toll house, which housed a family across only two rooms, was deemed unsuitable for habitation and was demolished, although the foundations can still be seen.

Unfortunately, and possibly because Brown was a pioneer working with what were new technologies, most of his other constructions eventually failed. Both his Trinity Chain Pier at Newhaven, Edinburgh and his Brighton Chain Pier were destroyed by a storms. His railway suspension bridge across the Tees had to be replaced.

What cannot be doubted is the influence of Brown’s patented inventions. It is interesting to note that Brunel’s design for the Clifton Suspension Bridge borrows much from Brown’s Union Bridge design and that Brown himself entered the competition for the Clifton Bridge, coming third behind two designs submitted by a young Brunel. The famous photograph of Brunel taken in 1857 shows the engineer posing in front of chains produced by Brown Lenox & Co.

Until the 1970s the bridge existed with little maintenance – apart from the additional steel wire cable – but in 1973 a detailed inspection was carried out by the county surveyor. The importance of the bridge both to local users and to the history of civil engineering as a whole prompted the commencement of repair work in May 1974. The bridge was closed for 6 months and the entire deck was replaced.

Floods from 13th august 1948 at the Union Bridge, known to most people as the Chain Bridge

Today, the bridge is maintained by Northumberland County Council. It is a Grade 1 listed building, and it has received no major attention since its 1974 overhaul, apart from the replacement of some fractured hangars in 2007. It is estimated by Scottish Borders Council that a complete refurbishment of the bridge would cost £4.7 million (£2.35 million from either authority).

A depiction of the bridge commissioned by the trustees and painted before its completion by Alexander Nasmyth can be seen on display at Paxton House. It was presented as a gift to Samuel Brown in recognition of his great achievement.  Nasmyth’s painting has recently been joined at Paxton House by the only known portrait (by an unknown artist) of Samuel Brown, on loan from Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton and Hove.

Preserving Our Past, Recording Our Present, Informing Our Future

Ancient and Honorable Clan Carruthers Int Society LLC