(And the Carruthers)

As I research the Carruthers family in Scotland I find more and more about our Border Reivers and begin to understand just how difficult it must have been to live back then. I did come across an old book showing how some of our earlier Carruthers were quite the rascals but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’ll start off with the explanation of what a ‘Privy Council’ is that way when I refer to it you will know what I’m talking about.  I found this information at the National Records of Scotland.

One of  Robert I’s  Lord Chancellor of Scotland was a man by the name of  Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath (later Bishop of the Isles) 1308–1328 Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath, lived from about 1260 to 1331. He is best remembered as the man who oversaw the drafting of the Declaration of Arbroath, seen by many as one of the most important and influential documents in history. Bernard’s origins are the subject of academic disagreement. A history written in 1726 identified him with “Bernard de Linton”, whose name appears as the church minister at Mordington in the Scottish Borders on the long list of the Scottish “great and good” giving allegiance to King Edward I of England in the “Ragman Rolls” of the 1290s. It is now more usually agreed that Bernard, Abbot of Arbroath, was actually Bernard of Kilwinning, who had briefly been Abbot of Kilwinning Abbey in 1296.


Arbroath Abbey
Arbroath Abbey

Either way, the man we are interested in served as Chancellor of Scotland in 1306, and again from 1308 to 1328, and was Abbot of Arbroath Abbey from 1310 to 1328. He went on to serve as Bishop of the Isles from 1328 until his death in 1331.

Declaration of Arbroath
Declaration of Arbroath

The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter addressed to Pope John XXII and signed by most of the great and good of early 14th Century Scotland. It was dated 6 April 1320 and its aim was to get the Pope to overturn the 1305 Papal recognition of England’s supremacy over Scotland, and the excommunication of Robert the Bruce: both of which had followed Bruce’s murder of John Comyn in Greyfriars Church in Dumfries. The document drew on legal and historical arguments made by Baldred Bisset which had won papal favour for the Scottish cause in the years around 1300, and listed atrocities committed by the English. It also went much further, introducing the idea of a king who could only rule with the approval of his people, and said that in Scotland it was the people themselves who were sovereign, and not the monarch as in England.

Kilwinning Abbey
Kilwinning Abbey

The Declaration is perhaps best known for its ringing and oft quoted reference to freedom: “…for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

The Declaration of Arbroath, and the (since lost) parallel letters to the Pope from Robert the Bruce and the Scottish Bishops did gain the lifting of Robert’s excommunication. It also led to Papal intervention that brought about the Treaty of Edinburgh & Northampton of 1 March 1328, under which the English King Edward III recognised the Kingdom of Scotland as a fully independent nation in return for £20,000 Sterling. The peace only lasted five years, but the Declaration of Arbroath is seen by many as having a much more lasting impact, influencing both the Magna Carta in England and the US Declaration of Independence.


The Privy Council of Scotland was a body that advised the monarch.

In the range of its functions the council was often more important than the Estates in the running the country. Its registers include a wide range of material on the political, administrative, economic and social affairs of Scotland. The council supervised the administration of the law, regulated trade and shipping, took emergency measures against the plague, granted licences to travel, administered oaths of allegiance, banished beggars and Gypsies, dealt with witches, recusants, Covenanters and Jacobites and tackled the problem of lawlessness in the Highlands and the Borders.

Like the Parliament, the Council was a development of the King’s Council. The King’s Council, or curia regis, was the court of the monarch surrounded by his royal officers and others upon whom he relied for advice. It is known to have existed in the thirteenth century, if not earlier, but has left little trace of its activities.

By the later fifteenth century the council had advisory, executive and judicial functions though surviving records are mainly confined to the last. It is at this period that the ‘secret’ or privy council makes its formal appearance when, in February 1490, parliament elected 2 bishops, an abbot or prior, 6 barons and 8 royal officers to form the king’s council for the ostensioun and forthputting of the King’s authorite in the administracioun of justice.

The Lords of Secret Council, as they were known, were part of the general body of Lords of Council, like the Lords of Session and Lords Auditors of Exchequer. After 1532 much of the judicial business was transferred to the newly founded College of Justice, the later Court of Session. The council met regularly and was particularly active during periods of a monarch’s minority. A separate register of the privy council appears in 1545 and probably marks the point at which the secret council split off from its parent body.

After 1603 James VI was able to boast to the English Parliament that he governed Scotland with my pen. The council received his written instructions and executed his will.[1] This style of government, continued by his grandsons Charles II and James VII, was disrupted during the reign of Charles I by the Covenanters and the Cromwellian occupation. There are gaps in the register during the upheavals of 1638–41 when the council was largely displaced by an alternative administration set up by the Covenanters and during the Cromwellian period, the council ceased to act at all.

After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Charles II nominated his own privy councillors and set up a council in London through which he directed affairs in Edinburgh, a situation that continued after the Glorious Revolution of 1688–9. The council survived the Act of Union but for one year only. It was abolished on 1 May 1708 by the Parliament of Great Britain and thereafter there was one Privy Council of Great Britain sitting in London.[2] [3] [4]

Until 1707, The Privy Council met in what is now the West Drawing Room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. It was called the Council Chamber in the 17th century.

The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland (1545–1689) was edited and published between 1877 and 1970 by John Hill Burton, David Masson, Peter Hume Brown and Henry Macleod Paton.

Lord President of the Privy Council

The President of the Privy Council was one of the Great Officers of State in Scotland. The Lord Chancellor presided over the Council ex officio, but in 1610 James VI decreed that the President of the College of Justice should preside in the Chancellor’s absence, and by 1619 the additional title of President of the Privy Council had been added. The two presidencies were separated in 1626 as part of Charles I’s reorganisation of the Privy Council and Court of Session. The Lord President of the Council was accorded precedence as one of the King’s chief officers in 1661, but appeared in the Estates of Parliament only intermittently.

There is a partial roll of the year 1587, from a period preserved in the records of the Privy Council, of which I transcribed that part relating to the Borders. It contains the title only. But I have added the surnames in parenthesis. The Rolls of the Names of the Landislordis and Baillies duelland in the Borders and in the Hielandis quhair broken Men hes dwelt and presently dwellis.

Borders, Middle March.

Earle Bothuile {Bothwell), Laird of Phairny-hurst {Ker),^ Earl of Angus {^Douglas), Laird of Bukcleuch (Scott), Sherif of Teviotdale {Douglas of Cavers), Laird of Bedroule (Turiibull), Laird of Mynto {Turnbull), Laird of Wauchop (Turnbull), Lord Heries {Harries, afterward Earl of Nithsdale), Laird of Howpaislott {Scott), George Turneble ofHalroule, Laird of Littledene {Ker), Laird of Drum-lanrig {Douglas), Laird of Chisholme {ChisJiolme), Laird of Johnnstoun {Johnstone), Laird of Apilgirth {Jar dine). Laird of Holniendis (Carruthers), Laird of Graitnay {Johnstone), Lord Heries {sic-bis). Laird of Dynwyddie {of that Ilk, or Maxwell), Laird of Lochinvar {Gordon). There is another list of the same period in the privy council records of only eighteen names, all of which are recorded in these lists except only ” Moff- ettis” and ” Latimers.” The following is that part relating to the Borders,  of the commencement and all but completion of an  intended role of the names of the landed proprietors over the whole of Scotland in 1590, from the records of the privy council.

Annanderdaill. Johnnstoun {of that Ilk), Apil-girth {Jardine), Holmendis  (Carruthers), Corheid {Johnstone), Frenscheland {French), Bodisbeik {Hew-itt?), Wamphray {Johnstone), Dynwoddie {of that Ilk, or Jardine or Maxwell?), Elscheschelis {John-stone), Halathis ( ), Cokpule {Mtirray), Nubye {Johnstone), Wormombye {Irving), Corrie {Johnstone), Castelmylk {Stewart or Maxwell), Boneschaw , Brydekirk-Carlile {Carlyle of Bridekirk), Locarby {Johnstone), Purdoun {Purdo)  of Glendenning?), Glencors {of that Ilk), Reidkirk {Graham), Blawatwod {Graham), Gillisbye (Gra-ham), Wauchop-Lindsay. Roxburgh and Selkirk. Cesfurd {Ker), Grene-heid {Ker\ Littleden {Ker), Sir John Ker of Hirsell, Fawdounsyde {Ker), Gaitschaw {Ker), Corbett {Ker), Garden {Gradon-Ker?), Schaw of Dalcoif, Quhitmore {Whitmore), Quhitmurehall  {Ker), Sunderlandhall {Ker), Lyntoun (Ker), Yair , Phairnyhurst  Ancrum, Robene Ker of Newtoun, Andro Ker of Newhall, Thomas Ker of Caveris, Wat Ker of Lochtour, Andro Ker of Hietoun, James Ker of Lyntellie, Mackerstoun {Macdougal), Steidrig {McDowell of Stodrlg), Mow {of that Ilk), Riddell {of that Ilk), Edmestoun {Edmondstone), Mungo Bennet of Ches- teris, William Kirktoun of Stewartfield, William Anislie of Fawlay, Overtoun {Fraser), William Mader of Langtoun, Hundeley {Rutherford), Vlm {Rut her ford), Edzarstoun Rutherford), eorge Rutherfud of Fairnyngtoun, David Rutherfurd of the Grange, Johne Rutherfurde in the Toftis, Johnne Rutherfurd of the Knowe in Nysbit, William Ruth- erfurd in ittleheuch, Walter Turneble in Bedroule, John Turneble of Mynto, Hector Tumble of Wau- chop, Tumble of Halroule, George Tum-ble of the Toftis, Hector Tumble of Bernehillis,
Walter Tumble of Bewlye, Tumble ofBelses, James Turneble of the Tour, Tum-ble of BuUerwall, Edward Lorane of Harwood, James Douglas of Caveris, sheriff, William Douglas of Bonejedburgh, Tympenden {Douglas), Johnne Doug-las of Quhitrig, Gavin Eliot of Stobbis, Well Eliot of Harthscarth, tutour of Reidheuch, Will Eliot of
Fallinesche, Robin Eliot of Braidley, Mangertoun {Armstrong), Quhittauch {Armstrong), Bukcleuch {Scot), Wat Sc^t of Goldelandis, Robert Scott of Allanhauch, Howpaislott (Scot), Glak {Elphinstone), Eidschaw (Scot), Syntoun (Scot), Lard of Hassinden , Walt Scott of Chalmerlane.



Published by Clan Carruthers Society - USA

We are all passionate about where we came from and where we're going. We set this website/blog up so we can all share our family stories along with the history for future generations.

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