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Ruthven Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: DEID SCHAW (deeds show)

The lands of Ruthven in Perthshire take their name from the Gaelic, ‘Ruadhainn’ meaning; ‘Dun uplands’. The first of this name mentioned in the historical record is ‘Swain, son of Thor, of Ruthven’, who is recorded as giving lands, including Tibbermore, to the Monks of Scone between 1188 and 1199. His grandson, Sir Walter Ruthven, was the first to adopt the name. His son, Sir William, led thirty men to help Sir William Wallace at the siege of Perth. After Perth was recaptured in 1313, King Robert I appointed Sir William to be sheriff of the royal burgh.

Sir William Ruthven of Balkernoch, a descendant of William the sheriff, spent three years in England as a hostage for the ransom of James I. His great-grandson was created a Lord of Parliament in 1488, as Lord Ruthven. Patrick, third Lord Ruthven, was implicated in the murder of David Rizzio. The following Lord Ruthven was Treasurer of Scotland during the minority of James VI and in 1581 was created Earl of Gowrie. A year later Gowrie and several other nobles abducted James VI to remove him from the influence of the regents, the Earls of Arran and Lennox. Gowrie was later arrested and beheaded for treason in 1584. John, the third Earl, was alleged to have practiced black magic. On his return to Scotland in 1600, he and his brother, Alexander, were killed at Perth in a mysterious affair which became known as the Gowrie Conspiracy. They were declared by Parliament to be traitors, and their very name was decreed out of existence.

Patrick Ruthven served as a mercenary for the King of Sweden. A capable soldier in the Thirty Years’ War, he was especially prized as a negotiator, apparently because he could drink vast quantities of alcohol without getting drunk, thus ensuring favourable agreements while his counterparts were inebriated. He served in Britain during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, rising to become Earl of Forth and Earl of Brentford in the English, although by the end of his life he had become a hopeless alcoholic. Because of the decrees against the name and house of Ruthven in 1600, a large number of Ruthvens changed their name. One branch descended from the earls became the Trotters, who settled in County Down. In the twentieth century, Alexander Ruthven was appointed Governor General of Australia in 1936, and when offered a peerage declared he would only accept if he was created Lord Gowrie, thus recovering the forfeited title. The present earl is a noted art connoisseur.

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Family Crest Motto: DEID SCHAW (deeds show)

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