John Carruthers 3rd Laird of Holmains
(Abt 1425-1476)
John Carruthers 4th Laird of Holmains
(Abt 1450-Bef 1523)
John Carruthers 1st Baron of Holmains
(Abt 1485-1580)


Family Links

1. Blanche Murray

2. Janet Jardine

John Carruthers 1st Baron of Holmains 134

  • Born: Abt 1485, Holmains, Dumfries, Scotland
  • Marriage (1): Blanche Murray on 22 Jun 1525 in Annandale, Dumfries, Scotland
  • Marriage (2): Janet Jardine about 1541 in Dumfries, Scotland
  • Died: 19 Aug 1580, Little Dalton Kirk, Dumfries, Scotland aged about 95

bullet  General Notes:

In June 1525, John Carruthers, the fifth Laird, resigned some of his lands, clearly by way of jointure and obtained a new Crown Charter in favour of himself and his wife conjointly. The lady, whom he must have married some years prior to this date, was Blanch, daughter of Sir John Murray of Cockpool, but little else is known of her.

In 1532, he made an addition to the family estate, purchasing from Richard Carsop of Birkrmyre, his cousin (consanguinus), the 5-merk land of Birkmyre in the town of Cummertrees. In 1532, he took steps to rectify an omission in his titles and was infeft heir to his grandfather in the lands of Daltonheuk, Blaberryward, called Bengalhill and the Isle in the Water of Annan together with the 10 land of Blawat on precept from the Earl of Bothwell. Early in 1539, the Laird was called on to deal with a problem that had been ignored by his grandfather. It has been recounted how, to recoup himself for a Royal fine in 1502, his grandfather had apprised the lands of the defaulters for whom he had been surety, assigning some of the lands to the Crown, but refraining from being infeft in the rest.

His grandson tried to repair the omission, but the Clerk of the Signet declined to issue the brief on the ground that the defaulters were all dead, so the grandson had to obtain a decreet of the Lords of Council for infeftment. In this way, the lands of at least four of the defaulters came into the hands of Holmains, until such time as they were redeemed-some were never redeemed. These lands were 3 merks of the lands of Thornick and a 10/- land of Murthwate belonging to Robert Graham and a 10/- land of Hennelland belonging to Thomas Moffat of which Holmains obtained a Crown Charter on March 20, 1538/9; a 2-merk land of Ecclefechan belonging to Richard Latimer and a 20/- land of Pennersax, belonging to David Bell. Though he had been infeft in 1523, it was not until 1541 that he completed his feudal dues when 20 was paid to the Treasurer for the ward, relief, &e., of his lands granted to John Carruthers of Holmains.

The fifth Laird inherited a goodly estate and was able to put one hundred armed followers in the field, whereas both Wamphray and Mouswald could only muster eighty. Both Mouswald and Wamphray were baronies, and Holmains may well have desired a similar status. Accordingly, in 1542, he obtained a new Crown Charter that recited at Iength all his lands and erected them on his resignation in to the Barony of Holmains, in favour of himself and his heirs male in tail. The Charter gives the names of no less than seven of his sons. Amongst the lands recited in this charter are the 40/- lands of Rammerscales and Greenlands.

This charter illustrates the dangers to which all early titles are liable, namely, misdescription of the lands conveyed, for it can be demonstrated that Greenlands did not at that date belong to Carruthers, and that Rammerscales instead of being a 40/- land was a 5-merk land. Rammerscales Greenlands and Harthwat were all granted in 1419 by Archibald, Earl of Douglas, to Michael Ramsay of Sipland, a property on the outskirts of Kirkcudbright. His descendant John Ramsay, on December 16, 1541, sold the 5-merk lands of Rammerscales to John Carruthers, retaining Greenlands and Harthwat.

In 1546, four years after the creation of the Barony of Holmains, John Ramsay gave a thirty-eight year tack of the 2-merk lands of Greenlands to Carruthers. In November of that same year Ramsay granted to Carruthers the 7-merk lands of Harthwat, Boddome and Pottisaker. All these lands were held by Carruthers from Ramsay whose immediate superior was the Crown, and it was not till 1562 that William Ramsay resigned the superiority which was granted to John Carruthers, grandson of the Laird of Holmains. The grant included Rammerscales and amounted to a 10 merk land. In 1542 occurred the disastrous rout of Solway Moss. It is difficult to believe that Holmains was not in that fight at which his eldest son may well have perished, for many of the local Lairds fell or were taken prisoner that day. Two years later he is referred to as in residence at Holmains. The English were carrying on a series of raids on a practically defenceless Border. They had things all their own way for the most part, but every now and then the defenceless Scot hit back hard. It was a curious position, for the two countries were not at war and the respective Wardens were in regular official correspondence. Nevertheless, a state of active warfare prevailed. John Musgrave of Bewcastle had been stationed in that Castle with an armed force, "the nearest strength to Scotland ". He had indeed only just been appointed Constable. He had probably entered Scotland on a light-hearted raid which misfired, for he was taken prisoner by a band of Irvings and Bells. The actual captor was David Irving of Trailtrow, servant of Holmains, in company of Robert Irving, brother of Jenkyn and William Bell. David Irving at once brought him back in triumph to Holmains. The Constable of Bewcastle was an important person and at once the machinery of diplomacy was set in motion. On May 28, 1544, Lord Wharton, the English Warden, wrote to Robert Maxwell, eldest son of the 5th Lord Maxwell and then Scottish Warden, to arrange for Musgrave's release. Maxwell as Warden was Keeper of Lochmaben Castle and at once made enquiries. He found Musgrave at Holmains and removed him to Lochmaben where he was allowed some freedom. Maxwell promised to send him to Carlisle, but seems to have procrastinated. Perhaps the ransom offered was insufficient. David Irving must have received a windfall. For many a long year after Solway Moss, there was chaos on the Border. Most men made haste to make their peace with England and only Drumlanrig remained staunch. Most of the surviving Scots changed sides with a remarkable facility as opportunity offered. John Carruthers of Holmains seems to have held out until the battle of Pinkie must have extinguished ail further hope. The renegade Lennox and his ally Wharton, the English Warden, captured Annan (September 1547), whereat "the country was stricken in such fear that the next day all the Kilpatricks, and the Jardines, the Lairds of Kirkmichael, Aplegirth, Closebum, Howmendes (and) Nuby came and received an oath of obeisance as subjects to the King of England ". For this he was declared a traitor by Parliament the following year, but such were the kaleidoscopic conditions that by 1553 Holmains was completely restored to favour and figured as Steward Depute of Annandale for Sir John Maxwell of Terregles. Two years later, he had his lands burnt by the Grahams of Esk, " he pure inhabitantis of the toun of Annand" also suffering at their hands. In 1563, a feud broke out between the Carruthers and the Kirkpatricks of Closeburn. The circumstances in which it arose are not recorded, but a fight ensued in which Roger Kirkpatrick of Closeburn was wounded and several of his relatives and retainer, slain. For this, Holmains and his followers were summoned to appear before the Justice Ayre, Sir James Hamilton of Crawfurdjohn, being surety for the execution and indorsation of the Letters. The surety, however, failed to execute, not of malice prepense, but deliberately on the advice of Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, the Warden, in the hope of coming to an agreement betwixt the parties. The Justice Ayre, however, amerced the surety in 1,000 merks for his failure, whereat Closeburn, who had amicably settled his differences with Holmains, successfully petitioned the Crown to discharge the surety and not enforce the penalty. Manslaughter was not considered a very serious offence in those days and amicable settlement could readily be secured by a cash compensation of which in this case no record survives. lt was in the lifetime of this fifth Laird that, for the first time, reference occurs to the lands of Mekill Daltoun. Little Daltoun had been Holmains property since the earliest of that Carruthers branch. Mekill Daltoun, however, had been Grierson property since 1409/ 12 when it was granted to Gilbert Grierson by Archibald, Earl of Douglas. In 1552, Gilbert Grierson of Dalton granted the 20 land of Meikill Dalton to John Lindsay of Barcloy. The grant included Kirkwood and Dormont and the advocation of Mekill Dalton Kirk, and it was subject to a wadset dated October 2, 1544, in favour of John Carruthers of Holmains. Pending redemption, Holmains was in possession, for the Griersons were resident at Castlemaddy in Carsphairn, and the Lindsays were well-to-do burgesses of Edinburgh. The Lindsays attempted to oust the Carruthers, who at once appealed to the Privy Council, claiming to have been " kindly tenants" of Meikle Dalton past memory of man, and to have held a tack of that kirk for forty years. Holmains, who was represented by his son George, pleaded that if they were evicted the tenure of all kindly tenants on the Border would be imperilled, which would be contrary to public policy. With picturesque licence it was stated that Dalton was within 6 miles of England, and that Carruthers was subject to continual military service and liable to maintain horses and warlike gear for the defence of the realm, a heavy obligation not imposed on those farther inland. It was further declared that within the last few years, Holmains had lost a son and no less than twenty-eight friends and relatives in defence of the realm. The Privy Council decided to set up a "Court of Kyndnes" to investigate the claim of Holmains, and if it were well founded he was to be allowed to continue his possession." It is evident that Holmains substantiated his claim and in 1605, the Lindsays were quite willing to sell their interest to Holmains for 2,400 merks. In this manner, a substantial area of land, approximately the bulk of the now extinct parish of Mekill Dalton, was added to the Holmains Estate. John Carruthers of Holmains was now well on in years, and his position was such that in 1567 he was summoned to Edinburgh with other leading Border Lairds to advise the Regent anent "the establishing of universall justice and quietness within the boundis of the said West Marche. He was still not too old, however, to participate in a fight and was in the affray at Cockpool with Scrope's raiders in 1570. The same year, he signed the Band of Dumfries promising allegiance to James VI. He died on August 19, 1580, at a great age, for he must have been born in the latter part of the Fifteenth Century. His testament directed that he be buried at Little Dalton Kirk. The aged Laird was twice married. By his first wife, Blanche Murray, he had seven sons and perhaps some daughters. The name of his second wife, Janet Jardine, is only preserved in his Testament as she was one of his executors, but a document amongst the Holmains Charters indicates who she was. She may be identified with Janet Jardine, relict of Cuthbert Murray of Cockpool, his own brother-in-law. Cuthbert died in January 1541, and in the following June, Janet Jardine called on the sheriff to divide as between herself and her young son, Charles Murray, her late husband's lands as to ascertain her lesser (secunda) terce of those lands. This document, reposing amongst the Holmains Charters, clearly establishes her identity.


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

He was awarded the title of 5th Laird of Holmains, succeeded his grandfather in Holmains, Dumfries, Scotland in May 1523

He was awarded the title of 1st Baron of Holmains in Holmains, Dumfries, Scotland in 1542 Charter granted

He served in the military in 1547 in Scotland. With 162 followers, John was compelled to surrender to the English after the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. He was amongst those chiefs who were declared traitors by the Parliament of Scotland in 1548.


John married Blanche Murray, daughter of John Murray and Unknown, on 22 Jun 1525 in Annandale, Dumfries, Scotland. (Blanche Murray was born in 1505 in Annandale, Dumfries, Scotland and died in Scotland.)


John next married Janet Jardine about 1541 in Dumfries, Scotland. (Janet Jardine was born about 1504 in Cockpool, Dumfries, Scotland and died after 1542 in Dumfries, Scotland.)

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