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
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