Knights Templar First Headquarters

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The first headquarters of the Knights Templar, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Crusaders called it the Temple of Solomon and it was from this location that the Knights took their name of Templar. The Carruthers have two chevrons on their crest for the two crusades they fought in.

This is the same Temple that were in both Jewish and Islamic tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered up his son in sacrifice.

Same Temple where King Solomon built the First Temple almost 3,000 years ago. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, but 70 years later Jews returning from exile built the Second Temple on the same site. King Herod refashioned it into an edifice of great splendor.

Same Temple where in Muslim tradition, the place is also identified as the ” furthermost sanctuary”.

Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70, the area of the Temple was deliberately left in ruins (first by the Romans, then by the Byzantines). This desecration was not redressed until the Muslim conquest of the city by the Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab in 638. He ordered the clearing of the site and the building of a house of prayer.

Some 50 years later, the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock to enshrine the outcrop of bedrock believed to be the place of the sacrifice on Mount Moriah. He (or his son, the Caliph al-Walid I) also built in 1033 the large mosque at the southern end of the Haram, which came to be called al-Aqsa after the Koranic name attributed to the entire area.

After the conquest of Jerusalem by the crusaders, the Dome of the Rock was converted into a church and called Templum Domini (the Temple of the Lord) and al-Aqsa became a church called Templum Solomonis (Solomon’s Temple). They were reconverted into Muslim houses of worship after Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1187 and have remained so ever since.

This is our Carruthers history. William the Conqueror was so pleased with all the Carruthers who came home from the crusades, he gave us our royal colors and chevrons. The Carruthers have never turned their backs on their God and their County.

 

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society

P Carrothers

Carrothersclan@gmail.com

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Don Carrithers

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Donald George Carrithers (September 15, 1949) is a former professional baseball pitcher. Carrithers pitched in all or part of eight seasons in Major League Baseball from 1970 until 1977.

Carrithers was drafted out of Lynwood HS (Lynwood, CA) in the 3rd round of the 1967 Major League Baseball Draft by the San Francisco Giants. After working his way up through their farm system, he made his major league debut at the age of 20 in 1970, pitching 11 games with an ERA of 7.36. Carrithers started the 1971 season back in the minors, but was called up in June and was in the majors for good.

Over the next three seasons, Carrithers bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen for the Giants, but various injuries limited him to no more than 25 appearances in each season. On May 14, 1972 he gave up Willie Mays’s 647th career homerun. His performance was below average in each season as well, and just before the 1974 season, the Giants shipped him off to the Montreal Expos in return for catcher John Boccabella.

Carrithers met with more success in Montreal, but injuries still hampered him. After two seasons of performing well in limited action, in 1976 Carrithers stayed healthy enough to throw 140 innings, his career high. However, his performance suffered a setback, as he went only 6–12 with an ERA of 4.43. The Expos became the second team to be frustrated by Carrithers, and they sold him to the Minnesota Twins the following spring. After yet another injury-filled campaign in which Carrithers made it into only 7 games, his career was over at the age of 28.

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society

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History of the Kirking of the Tartans: is it really Scottish?

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Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society International

 

HISTORY OF KIRKING OF THE TARTANS

This Sunday all over the world many churches will observe the Kirkin’ o’ th’ Tartans, a celebration of Scottish heritage and culture.

What is The Kirking of the Tartans?

Etymologically it simply means:

  • Kirking, from the Scots word kirk which means church, in this usage it means “blessing.”
  • Tartans are the traditional plaid emblems of Scottish clans represented in unevenly spaced colored lines and rectangles on woven wool cloth.

Historically, the story is a bit more varied. The popular legend goes as follows:

On July 25, 1745, the young Prince Charles Edward Stewart, “Bonnie Prince Charlie” returned from exile in France and landed at Lochnanaugh in Scotland where he began to enlist the Highland Clans for an unsuccessful attempt to dethrone George II of England and to restore the Scottish throne to the Royal House of Stewart.

Following Prince Charlie’s defeat, the Act of Proscription — to subdue the vanquished Highlanders — banned the wearing of any sign of the Tartan, forbade any speaking in Gaelic, outlawed Scottish music, dancing, or the playing of the pipes.

During the 36 years following the Disarming Act of 1746 when the Hanovarian English government strictly enforced this ban, during the Sunday service Scottish Highlanders would touch the hidden piece of tartan cloth under their clothes when the minister gave the benediction or kirkin’, thus rededicating themselves to God and their Scottish heritage.

A curious wrinkle in this legend is that many people in Scotland don’t know this so-called “history” about the Kirkin’. It is difficult to find an unbroken line of history tracing the practice back specifically to this origin in the mid-18th century.

A more recent and better documented version of the story is that this began as a Scottish-American custom:

The Kirkin’ o’ th’ Tartans service was created or “revived” during World War II by Reverend Peter Marshall, perhaps best known by the biographical book and film A Man Called Peter — who was originally from southwest Scotland and at one time pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. In 1943 he was the first Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. In order to encourage Scottish-Americans to sign up to fight on behalf of Great Britain, Peter Marshall recreated the Kirkin’ o’ th’ Tartans ceremony to try to instill pride among Scottish-Americans in their Scottish homeland. The ceremony was at that time held in Presbyterian churches of Scottish heritage across the US. Today, the celebration is not limited to Presbyterian churches, but is found in Episcopalian, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and other denominations across the world. Now, in present day celebration, the Highlander patriotism, faithfulness, and strong independence are remembered by the displaying of tartans and public parade of the clans to the sound of the bagpipe.

While often celebrated on Reformation Sunday near the last Sunday in October — to connect it with the anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Door on October 31, 1517 — Kirkin’s are also celebrated at other times of the year, as on St. Andrew’s Day — the patron saint of Scotland — on November 30, and Tartan Day on April 6. In 1954, the Kirkin‘ service was moved to the National Cathedral (Episcopal) in Washington — home of the Episcopal diocese of Washington — where it is still held to the present day.

In churches, and even at Scottish Highland Games, the Kirkin’ is celebrated by Scots — and those who would be Scots — accompanied by prayer, scripture, preaching, blessing, bagpipe, and of course, the singing of Amazing Grace.

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society International

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How the Carruthers attained Theave Castle.

Battle of Arkinholm 1455 capture of Earl of Ormond 730

 

Battle of Erkinholm, 1455, The Capture of the Earl of Orma

The Battle of Erkinholme is more commonly referred to as the Battle of Arkinholm, albeit it’s known by some as the Battle of Langholm, primarily because it was fought where the town of Langholm now stands. More accurately, the battle was fought on the outskirts of present day Langholm, opposite the lower return of a distinctive Z-shaped bend in the river Esk, which flows through the town, at least according to The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. The Battle of Arkinholm was fought on 1 May 1455 during the reign of King James II of Scotland..  The battle is noteworthy for having pitched two sides of the Douglas family at each other’s throats, but then again, that sort of thing wasn’t so unusual in mediaeval Scotland or elsewhere, for that matter.

 

The two sides of Douglas were known as

the ‘red’ and the ‘black’. The chief line as they say, of the Douglases was the ‘black’ line, represented by the Earls of Douglas, whereas the ‘red’ line was represented by the Earls of Angus. Both branches were descended through bastardy, with the Earl of Douglas descending from Archibald ‘the Grim’, an illegitimate son of Sir James Douglas, and the Earl of Angus stemming from an illegitimate child of William, the 1st Earl of Douglas. That made the main protagonists in the conflict at Erkinholme third cousins so, despite the name, the family ties weren’t that close.

Although a small action, involving only a few hundred troops, it was the decisive battle in a civil war between the King Jame II  and the Black Douglases, the most powerful aristocratic family in the country. As the king’s supporters won it was a significant step in the struggle to establish a relatively strong centralised monarchy in Scotland during the Late Middle Ages.

 

The Black Douglases had already suffered some losses before the battle. The king’s supporters had taken their castle at Abercorn, and some allies such as the Hamiltons had defected. The head of the family, James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas, had gone to England to rally support, but his three younger brothers were at the battle.

On the ‘red’ side was George Douglas, the first Red Chief of Douglas, the 4th Earl of Angus, Lord Douglas, Abernethy and Jedburgh Forest. Opposing his was James Douglas, the 9th  Earl of Douglas, 3rd Earl of Avondale, a man who would become the last of the ‘black’ Earls of Douglas. Earlier in their history, in 1448, the two sides of Douglas, under the leadership of George and James’ predecessor, the 8th Earl, had rode and fought together in a retaliatory campaign through the territories of their hereditary English-based foes, Percy and Neville. However, by 1455, things had changed dramatically.

There is some uncertainty about the leadership of the royal army. By some accounts it was led by George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus, head of the Red Douglas family, a senior aristocrat, and third cousin to the Earl of Douglas. However other accounts  who? describe it as a force of local Border families, Johnstones, Carruthers, Maxwells, and Scotts, who had previously been dominated by the Black Douglases but now rebelled against them, led by the Laird John Johnstone of Johnstone in Annandale, who succeeded his father 1455.

A significant fact for Angus was his ties with the Royal House of Stewart, which were closer than that of his rival from the ‘black’ line. Through his grandmother, Angus was a  great-grandson of Robert III and when push came to shove, he allied himself with his king, James II, also a cousin, but closer by a couple of degrees. George Douglas had no choice but to declare for one side or the other as neutrality wasn’t an option for the Earl of Angus. Who knows what might have happened if the 4th Earl had aligned his Angus ‘red’ with the Douglas ‘black’. Instead of a long line of Stewart (latterly Stuart) Jameses, we might’ve had an Archibald I or a William II and the entire interbred dynasty of European monarchies could have been otherwise than that we know.

A major incentive to rebellion for the 9th Earl of Douglas on the other hand, was the brutal murder of his brother, the 8th Earl, whom he succeeded because of that infamous event. Yet another ‘black’ day in Scotland’s history had occurred when William Douglas had been murdered by his King, James II, in person, at Stirling Castle, despite assurances of safe conduct. Amazingly, James II was involved in the murders of two Douglas Earls. The first as a bystander during the ‘Black Dinner’ of the 24th of November, 1440, when the 6th Earl was killed, and the second as the primary perpetrator of the murder of William Douglas, on the  22nd of  February, 1452.

When James Douglas found out he was the brand new 9th Earl, he denounced his brother’s murderers and took up arms against the King and his cronies. The new Douglas Earl promptly attacked Stirling, perhaps rashly, but famously driving a horse through the town with his brother’s safe conduct notice attached to its tail. The whole of Douglasdale rose in rebellion, but James suffered a blow when some major allies, including James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton, defected. Nevertheless, he was supported by a bevy of surviving brothers: his twin (younger by a few minutes), Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Moray; the younger Hugh Douglas, Earl of Ormonde; and John Douglas, Lord of Balvenie.

 

James Douglas, the 9th Earl, didn’t participate in person at the Battle of Arkinholm as he had gone south to drum up some support from Henry VI. His place at the head of the Black Douglases was taken by his twin, the Earl of Moray, with his brothers, Hugh and John. The Douglas Douglases attempted to advance their struggle and appeared in arms throughout their border territory, however, before they got as far as Langholm, they had already lost their castle at Abercorn. The writing was on the wall.

 

The ensuing Battle of Arkinholm was a small action, involving only a few hundred troops on either side, but it was a definitive defeat for the Black Douglas brothers. Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Moray, was killed in the battle and his head was presented to the King. Hugh Douglas, the Earl of Ormonde, was captured and executed shortly afterwards, but John Douglas, Lord of Balvenie, escaped to England, there to join the 9th Earl.

 

The Douglas Archive throws some doubt on whether or not the 4th Earl of Angus actually led the Royal Army as per some sources. The information on The Douglas Archive website refers to other accounts describing “a force of local Border families, Johnstones, Carruthers, Maxwells, and Scotts, who had previously been dominated by the Black Douglases, but now rebelled against them.” Those rebellious Douglas adherents were possibly led by the Laird John Johnstone of Johnstone in Annandale. Other accounts, less trustworthy, suggest that the King’s supporters were led by Lord Maxwell.

 

Soon after Arkinholm, the last stronghold of the Black Douglas branch, Threave Castle in Galloway, fell to the King, which he turned over to Thomas Carruthers.  Later, in the summer of 1455, the Black Douglases were attainted and had their estates declared forfeit to the crown. Following the acts of attainder, their lands were divided amongst their rivals, with Angus receiving the lion’s share. Interestingly, the forfeited 9th Earl of Douglas outlived his erstwhile rival, the 4th Earl of Angus. James Douglas was captured a number of years after the Battle of Arkinholm and banished to Lindores Abbey, where he died in 1488. George Douglas died on the 12th of March, 1463, at Abernethy.

 

Aftermath

After the battle the Douglas, Earl of Angus (Red Douglas) was awarded the Douglas Lordship of the Black Douglas, along with the original possessions of his ancestors in Douglasdale.

Thomas Carruthers, the 2nd son of John Carruthers the 3rd Laird of Holmains, received a charter for the lands of Corry on 23 July, 1484, for his services at the Battle of Arkinholm.  The lands of Corry were forfeited from George Corry for implication of him in the Albany-Douglas invasion.

 

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Mouswald

mouswald1904

 

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society International

Mouswald

 

At one time it was believed that William de Carruthers was the first Carruthers mentioned in recorded history when he made a donation to the Abbey of Newbattle during the Reign of Alexander II (1215-1245).We now know that there are other Carruthers that are older than this.  It was actually his great-grandson, Thomas Carruthers, who was the 1st Laird of Mouswald, having received the charter for Mouswald around 1320.

 

For his earlier support of Robert the Bruce, Thomas Carruthers had received a charter for all the lands of “Musfald et de Appiltretwayt cum pertinenciis”.  This Thomas also received in the same year, a charter of half of all the lands, with pertinents, which belonged to “Robert de Applingdene in valle Anandie”, due to his marriage to one of Robert de Applynden’s daughters, Joan.  These lands formed the kernel of what was to become just 4 generations later, the 1st Carruthers Barony – Mouswald, which is located just a few miles south of Dumfries.

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With Edward Balliol ceding the land  of Dumfries to Edward III after the defeat at Halidon Hill, Thomas Carruthers accepted an office under Edward III of England and relocated there, leaving his Mouswald land to his next oldest brother, William, now 2nd Lord Mouswald.  Thomas is assumed to be the founder of the Carruthers family in England, where the family appeared at an early date in Cumberland, Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire.

 

William’s great-great-grandson John, the 6th Laird of Mouswald, became the 1st Baron Mouswald. This John was also at one time the Captain of Lochmaben Castle.

The 1st generations of Carruthers from William de Carruthers, down through the end of the Mouswald line at generation 13 with Janet and Marion Carruthers. Here the Mouswald family became extinct in the male lineage and the Mouswald estates were lost.  The Holmains line from William de Carruthers is shown on this chart through George Carruthers, the 6th Laird of Holmains and 2nd Baron Holmains.  Also included is the genealogy from John, 5th Laird of Holmains and 1st Baron Holmains, to the 4 brothers who came to America and settled in Pennsylvania.

Many descendants of this line are also in Canada.

 

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society International

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Excerpts from : John Carrothers

 

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Rammerscales

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Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society Internaional

I have done several family history charts with different members, and all three have connections to Rammerscales.  I thought I would share this with everyone.

 

 Rammerscales was an estate that was in the Carruthers family from December 16, 1541 until 1756. 

In 1541, John Carruthers of Holmains was consolidating his land in preparation for getting his estate raised to the level of a Barony.   (The Barony was established in 1542.)  Rammerscales had been granted in 1419 by Archibald, Earl of Douglas, to Michael Ramsay of Sipland.  His descendant, John Ramsay, sold Rammerscales to John Carruthers, 1st Baron Holmains, in 1541. 

John Carruthers, 1st Baron Holmains, was the progenitor of several lines of the Carruthers family.  His eldest son John, by wife Blanche Murray, was killed in the battle of Solway Moss  in 1542.  Son George, became the 6th Laird  and 2nd Baron Holmains.  Son William, received the lands of Dormont  in 1552.  Son Simon received Rammerscales in 1557.  For other sons and daughters of John Carruthers, see the section on Holmains.

Simon had two sons: John and Alexander.  John, who inherited Rammerscales in 1600, made several additions to the estate.  John, 2nd Laird of Rammerscales was dead by 1655, leaving the estate to his grandson, Robert.  The three children of John, 2nd Laird Rammerscales were John, William, and Marion.  Marion married James Young of Broomrig in 1625 and died in October, 1674.  John Carruthers, younger of Rammerscales, died by 1647, before his father.  Therefore, Rammerscales passed to his oldest son Robert, 3rd Laird Rammerscales.  John, younger, married in 1632 Janet, daughter of the late Robert Johnstone of Wamphray.  Their children were Robert (the 3rd Laird), William, John, and Janet (who married in 1664 to Robert McClellane of Barscobe). 

Robert Carruthers, 3rd Laird Rammerscales, married prior to 1660 Mary Carruthers, daughter of James Carruthers, younger of Holmains.  Mary died in January, 1685.  Robert then married in 1687 Margaret Dalziel, daughter of Robert, Earl of Carnwath.  Robert’s children were Robert, William, and Violet (married in 1714 to Gavin Johnstone of Elshieshields).

Robert, 4th and last Laird Rammerscales, received the estate from his father in 1694. He married, prior to 1730, a lady named Penelope Sharp. His two children were Robert and Henrietta. Henrietta married John Marshall, minister of Tinwald. Robert, the 4th Laird, was seriously involved in the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745. In 1715 at the Lochmaben horse races, a Lochmaben crowd watched Robert and other landowners drink a toast to the Jacobite King. After the 1745 uprising, his support for the Jacobites caused his estate to be confiscated to pay his fines and debts. He ended up dieing abroad.

Rammerscales Entrance to the Mansion todayThere were a large number of creditors from whom George Muir took over their claims. In turn, he sold Rammerscales in 1756 to Dr. James Mounsey, the late First Physician and Councillor to the Empress of Russia.

James Mounsey was born at Skipmyre, three miles from Lochmaben. His mother was the sister of Rev. William Steele, minister of Lochmaben. Mounsey studied medicine at Edinburgh University. He was invited by Prince Kantemir, the Russian minister in London, to serve in the naval hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Russians were ruled by Peter the Great’s niece Elizabeth, who encouraged scientists to immigrate. He was appointed Physician to the Land Militia and and 1756 set up a private practice in Moscow. In 1761, he became Head of the Medical Chancery, but when his patron Empress Elizabeth died in December of that year, Mounsey returned to Scotland hastily. Elizabeth’s successor, Peter III, ruled only six months before he was killed in a coup d’etat, orchestrated by his German wife, Catherine. Catherine the Great went on to become one of Russia’s greatest rulers.Once home in Scotland, Mounsey organized a fake funeral at Lochmaben, in order to deceive his old enemies and keep Russian assassins from finding him.

Mounsey commissioned and built the present square sandstone mansion. Used to the treachery of the Russian court, he ensured that each main room had two exits. He is known as the person who introduced rhubarb to Britain, to be used for medicinal purposes. He died in Edinburgh, February 2, 1773. His tomb lies just inside the gate to the Old Church Yard, in Lochmaben. Mounsey’s three sons, James, Paul and Thomas, were all soldiers, who did not wish to live at Rammerscales.

Rammerscales Wood Mill today 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Mounsey’s death, the Newall family became tenants of the house. Major William Newall lived at the house through 1797. By then, Mounsey’s soldier sons had all died and his three daughters sold the estate for £7,700 to James Bell , a Glasgow sugar merchant descended from a local Between-the-Waters family, whose grandmother was Mary Carruthers, of Hardriggs (1728-1808).

James Bell lived at Rammerscales until his death in 1807.  He and his brother William had the company of their niece Mary and her husband Donald Macdonald living at the house.  It was their son, William Bell Macdonald (1807-1862) who eventually inherited the estate.  William Bell Macdonald graduated in languages from Glasgow University and became well known as a linguist proficient in German, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, but above all, in Coptic.  He published a grammar and self-tutor book on the Coptic language and built up a library of 6,000 books.  He also studied medicine and served as a naval surgeon in the Mediterranean and as a commissioner of supply for the Fleet.  He was succeeded by his son William (1845-1923), a major in the Scots Guards, who spent years with his regiment in India.  He was succeeded by his son William Malcolm Bell Macdonald (b. 20 Jun 1884) who had a son Alan Malcolm Macdonald (b. 31 Mar 1914)

The Carruthers family at Rammerscales had operated a saw mill since Rammerscales is a largely timbered estate. The saw mill is still operational today.

Ancient and Honorable Carruthers Clan Society International

Written by : John Carrothers

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You Are A Border Reiver!

BorderReivers

 

If you are a Carruthers, then your family history, just like the astronaut Neil Armstrong’s, is  very well  intertwined with the Border Reivers. And, if you are a Carruthers then, you may be advised not to read on…

 

The story of the Reivers dates from the 14th century and continued through into the late 17th century. It concerns the border between the two sovereign countries of England and Scotland. In those days, this Border displayed all of the characteristics of a frontier, lacking law and order. Cattle rustling, feuding, murder, arson and pillaging were all common occurrences.

 

It was a time when people owed their tribal or clan loyalty to their blood relatives or families. And it was common for these families to straddle the Border.

 

The Reivers were the product of the constant English-Scottish wars that would often reduce the Border area to a wasteland. The continuing threat of renewed conflict offered little incentive to arable farming. Why bother planting crops if they may be burned before they could be harvested?

 

The reviving (raiding or plundering) of livestock was however a totally different matter, and so it became the principal business of the Border families.

 

The Reiver came from every social class from laborer to peer of the realm. He was a skilled horseman and fine guerrilla soldier, practiced in the fine arts of arson, kidnapping and extortion. There was no social stigma attached to reviving, it was simply an accepted way of life.

 

It is said that the wife of one famous Border Reiver demonstrated that her larder was empty by serving her husband his spurs on a plate instead of his dinner. The message was clear either mount up and go reviving, or go hungry.

 

Reiving was simply a way of earning a living. Scottish Reivers were just as likely to raid other Scots as to raid across the English Border. Scots and English would even join forces to raid on either side of the Border. The victims of reiving could be anyone from outside the immediate family.

 

Raids were planned like military operations and could involve gangs of armed men and last for days. More modest raids might involve no more than a short moonlit ride, a quick plunder from a small farm followed by a dash home for breakfast.

 

The Reiver rode a small sturdy pony known as a hobbler, which was noted for its ability to cover great distances over difficult ground at high speed. On his head the Reiver would typically wear a steel bonnet and a quilted jacket of stout leather sewn with plates of metal or horn to protect his body. Although the Reiver carried a variety of weapons including sword, dagger and axe, his preferred weapon was the ‘lang spear’ or Border lance.

 

The central governments of both England and Scotland attempted in vain to establish law and order across the Border, however a borderer would owe allegiance to England or Scotland only when it suited him or his family.

 

When England and Scotland were at war, it could become very much a Border affair with Reivers providing large numbers of cavalry. The battles of Otterburn (1388), Flodden Field (1513) and Solway Moss (1542) are all linked with the Reivers.

 

With the exception of the Scottish Highlands, the Borders were the last part of Britain to be brought under the rule of law.

 

It was only following the Union between England and Scotland in 1603 that a concerted effort was made by James I (VI of Scotland) to rid the Border of Reivers. However, between the death of Elizabeth I and the crowning of James I in March, several Scottish families launched massive raids into Cumbria, claiming to believe that when a monarch died the laws of the land were automatically suspended until the new king was proclaimed!

 

James I, who now ruled over a new kingdom called Great Britain, was furious with his Scottish subjects for relieving his new English subjects in Cumbria of some 1,280 cattle and 3,840 sheep and goats. James issued a proclamation against ‘all rebels and disorderly persons’.

 

James decreed that the Borders should be renamed ‘the Middle Shires’ and in 1605 he established a commission to bring law and order to the region. In the first year of the commission’s existence it executed 79 individuals and in the years which followed, scores more were hanged.

 

Other Reivers were encouraged to leave and serve as mercenaries in the armies of continental Europe. With thanks to Lord Acheson and his brother,the Carruthers, Beatties, Armstrong’s and the Grahams were singled out for special treatment and were banished to Fermanagh in Ireland. Some continued as outlaws and became known as ‘Mosstroopers’.

 

By the early 1620’s peace had arrived in the Borders, possibly for the first time ever.

 

Some view the Border Reivers as loveable rogues, while others have compared them to the Mafia. Whatever your opinion their legacy remains in the fortified dwellings called pele towers, their ballads and their words now common in the English language such as “bereave” and “blackmail”: greenmail was the proper rent you paid, blackmail was “protection money”!

 

The rescue of Kinmont Willie Armstrong

 

Three of the most celebrated Reivers of all time were Kinmont Willie Armstrong, Wat Scott of Harden and Geordie Burn. The night before he was hanged in 1596, Geordie Burn admitted that ‘he had lain with above forty men’s wives… and that he had killed seven Englishmen with his own hand, cruelly murdering them; that he had spent his whole time in whoring, drinking, stealing and taking deep revenge for slight offences’.’

 

Kinmont Willie prided himself on his large-scale raids, targeting whole areas rather than individual farms or villages. He would ride at the head of some 300 Reivers, known as ‘Kinmont’s bairns’. One of the most famous incidents in Border history involves the rescue of Kinmont Willie from Carlisle Castle on 13 April 1596.

 

On 17 March 1596, a truce-day was held in the Borders, so that Scots and English could meet to negotiate deals and treaties. On the Scottish side was one William Armstrong of Kinmont or ‘Kinmont Willie’ – perhaps the most notorious of all the Border Reivers.

 

As Willie was riding home to his tower at Morton Rigg, just north of Carlisle, a band of Englishmen broke the truce and apprehended him. Kinmont Willie was escorted to Carlisle in chains.

 

Willie had been a prisoner of the English for almost a month when the Keeper of Liddesdale, Scott of Buccleuch, decided to launch a rescue attempt. ‘Bold Buccleugh’ and his party of about eighty men entered the castle on Sunday 13 April and rescued Willie from the English, who were under the command of Sir Thomas Scrope, 10th Lord Scrope of Bolton Knight of the Garter (pictured left). Buccleugh had bribed a member of the garrison to leave a door unbarred.

SirThomasScrope

Together Buccleugh and Willie made good their escape with Scrope in hot pursuit. Scrope was so angered by the audacity of the rescue that he vented his anger by burning the towns of Annan and Dumfries to the ground, capturing two hundred prisoners whom he marched home ‘naked, chained together on leashes’. This caused a major diplomatic incident, Queen Elizabeth was furious with Scrope.

 

It was also said that north of the Border, James VI of Scotland was so terrified that Buccleugh had ruined his chances of succeeding Elizabeth on the throne of England that he ordered Buccleugh to hand himself over to the English.

 

And as for  Willie, he was never apprehended again and is said to have died of old age in his bed. The tale of his escape recorded forever in the Ballad of Kinmont Willie:

 

Ballad of Kinmont Willie

 

O hae ye no heard o’ the fause Sakelde?

O hae ye no heard o’ the keen Lord Scroope?

How they hae ta’en bauld Kinmont Willie,

On Haribee to hang him up?

 

Had Willie had but twenty men,

But twenty men as stout as he,

Fause Sakelde would never the Kinmont ta’en,

Wi’ eight score in his company.

 

They band his legs beneath the steed,

They tied his hands behind his back.

They guarded him, fivesome on either side,

And they led him through the Liddel-rack.

 

They led him through the Liddel-rack,

And also through the Carlisle sands;

They took him tae Carlisle Castle,

To be at my Lord Scroope’s commands.

 

“My hands are tied, but my tongue is free,

And whae will dare this deed avow?

Or answer by the Border law?

Or answer tae the bauld Buccleuch?”

 

“Now haud thy tongue, thou rank reiver.

There’s never a Scot shall set thee free:

Before ye cross my castle gate,

I trow ye shall take farewell of me.”

 

Now word has gane tae the bauld keeper,

In Branksome Ha’, where that he lay,

That Lord Scroope has ta’en the Kinmont Willie,

Between the hours of night and day.

 

And here detained him, Kinmont Willie,

Against the truce of Border tide.

And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch

Is keeper on the Scottish side?

 

“Had there been war between the lands,

As well I wot that there is nane,

I would slight Carlisle Castle high,

Though it were built of marble stane.”

 

“I would set that castle in a lowe,

And sloken it wi’ English blood.

There’s never a man in Cumberland,

What kent where Carlisle castle stood.”

 

“But since nae war’s between the lands,

And here is peace, and peace should be;

I will neither harm English lad or lass,

And yet the Kinmont shall be free.”

 

And as we crossed the Debatable land,

And tae the English side we held,

The first of men that we met wi’,

Whae should it be but fause Sakelde?

 

“Where ye be gaun, ye broken men?”

Quo’ fause Sakelde; “Come tell to me?”

Now Dickie o’ Dryhope led that band,

And there never a word of lear has he.

 

And as we left the Staneshaw-bank,

The wind began full loud tae blaw;

But ’twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet,

When we came beneath the castle wa’.

 

They thought King James and a’ his men

Had won the house wi’ bow and spear;

It was but twenty Scots and ten,

That put a thousand in sic a steir!

 

And as we reached the lower prison,

Where Kinmont Willie he did lie,

“O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,

Upon the morn that thou’s to die?”

 

Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,

We bore him doon the ladder lang;

At every stride Red Rowan made,

I wot the Kinmont’s airns play’d clang!

 

He turn’d him on the other side,

And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he.

“If ye na like my visit in merry England,

In fair Scotland come and visit me!”

 

All sair astonished stood Lord Scroope,

He stood as still as rock of stane;

He scarcely dared tae trew his eyes,

When through the water they had gane.

 

“He is either himsel’ a devil frae hell,

Or else his mother a witch maun be;

I wadna hae ridden that wan water,

For a’ the gowd in Christendie.”

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