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This web site updated 11 Sep 2018

Steven D. Rutherford

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Rutherford on the Tweed

(picture by unknown)


Rutherford Tartan


Dear Cousins,

The Rutherfords are a clan without a lordship/chieftain at present as are our cousins the Douglases. Like the Douglases, we are also a sept of the Hume Clan. We Rutherfords will be celebrating our 500th anniversary as members of this noble clan on September 16th, 2003. In these days of dramatic change in Scotland, pray for a new Scottish king and a new Lord of Rutherford, until that day, we should all wear the Clan Hume tartan with pride.

The Rutherford Tartan and The Clan Hume/Home

Within the traditional land holdings of the Rutherfords of Roxburghshire there is a very controversial castle. It is called Floors castle and was built by a Kerr after he participated in the joining of the English and Scottish parliaments. This was the beginning of the de facto distruction of the Scottish state.This newly made "Duke of Roxburghe" built Floors castle to match his new status in 1721. His land and title were reward for his treachery against the Scottish state and people. It shouldn't surprise any Rutherford that this traitor was a Kerr.

Floors castle is where the nonsense about Rutherfords wearing the district tartan of Roxburghshire was born. We should remember our history as Rutherfords. First, we Rutherfords have always been the enemies of the Kerrs. Second, the Kerrs are not even Scots, they are of Nordic descent and are invaders in the lands of Rutherford. Why after a Kerr collaboration with the English to destroy Scotland itself would any God fearing Rutherford man, woman or child wear some rag that was the proof of the Kerr's betrayal? Accordingly, it's still a district custom to spit and curse when passing Floors castle. For a Rutherford, wearing their so-called "district tartan" is unthinkable.

It should be remembered that for 200 hundred years family/clan attire, songs and pipes were against the English imposed law in Scotland. This is why so many Rutherfords believe we do not have a tartan? They've been reading the English propaganda! At about the time the treachery was complete and the new "Duke of Roxburghe" had received his bribe, the English began to invent "regional tartans" with the sole intent of breaking down family/clan alliances, such as that between the Humes and Rutherfords. These district tartans are today nothing more than "tourist airport art". They are a laughing stock to any informed Scot.

The English have had their reasons for twisting Scottish history and warping Scottish culture. Scottish cultural survival has never been an English priority. Indeed, certain families such as the Halls, Bruces, Murrays, Douglases and the Rutherfords, have been on their "hit list" for centuries. Our very presence in the colonies is proof of the English goodwill toward we Rutherfords.

Yes, the tartan as it is understood nowadays was not originally part of Borders culture. The oldest known artifact of Scottish tartan is called the 'Falkirk Tartan' and is, by no stretch of the imagination, from the highlands. By the way, the Rutherfords are not lowlanders nor highlanders - we are Borderers.

Which brings to mind an old joke: "When God made the earth, the most beautiful part of all creation was Scotland. A garden of Eden without equal among all of the lands known to man. God explained to the Scots that the air would be clean, the water clear, the women beautiful, the heather sweet, the oxen healthy and the whiskey strong in their chosen land and all for free!? One dubious Scotsman [who indeed was only born yesterday but was, none the less, a true Scot] asked, "What's the downside, Lord?" "Well, nothing............."God explained slowly, "just watch out for your new neighbors, lad."

Well, with such an authorative warning, maybe our clan motto should have been "Watch out for you new neighbors" instead of "Nec sorte, nec fato"? I mention God's warning for a simple reason. As the highlanders stood hundreds of miles away from these "new neighbors" and we Rutherfords lived nose to nose with them, our cultural artifacts, such as the tartan, are not the same as those the luxury of distance afforded the highlanders. The "period of pacification" of the Borders families/clans made it possible for the highland customs to be maintained when Borders culture was being systematically destroyed. It was the Rutherfords, Humes, Pringles and Scotts who lived eyeball to eyeball with the English and suffered the most for it. The highland clans did not face the fury of protracted English hegemony as did the Border clans. Therefore, their distinct ways of dressing and their culture at large, which have become "Pan-Scottish" in a sense, only exist because many of their Borders and lowland cousins were cleared and killed acting as a buffer zone between them and the English.The hollow attempts of the English to regulate our culture, whether it be with invented district tartans, outlawed names or clearings, haven't worked.

Our union with the Clan Hume began following the reign of Henry VIII when his thug the Earl of Hertford destroyed many Rutherford land holdings, abbeys, churches and the town of Rutherford itself during the so-called "Rough Wooing". Lord Thomas Rutherford, 3rd son and eventual heir of James Rutherford [1460 - 1517] was one of the first Lords of Rutherford to make an alliance with the Humes. The Humes are the only family to have held the wardenship of a Scottish march through all of Scottish history. Lord Thomas Rutherford served as bailie for Sir Patrick Home of Polwarth after 9/16/1503. This connection became a tradition of the Eastern Scottish March, the Humes were the wardens and the Rutherfords were the bailes of the March. We are also strongly connected by treaty and marriage to the Black Douglases. These two clan alliances were joined when the heiress of the Black Douglases married Lord Hume. Our present chief is David Douglas-Home, the 15th Earl of Home. There is no current chief of the Clan Douglas. Like the Clan Rutherford, the Douglases are today one of the many septs of the Clan Hume.

Therefore, Rutherfords who know their genealogical/historical connection with Scotland and the Clan Hume universally wear the Hume tartan. Don't expect some 18 year old clerk named Campbell who works in a tourist tartan store to help you. They won't know the Rutherford history when they rummage through a tartan book and tell you with great fanfare, "You should wear the Roxburghshire district tartan."..........which they just happen to have a in stock?!

History of the Hume Clan

Along the border between Scotland and England flows a river from which a lot of woolens get their name - the Tweed. Just north of the river in Berwickshire is the ancient home of Clan Home (always pronounced Hume).

This gridiron between Scotland and England was the site of many battles, and during certain periods, almost constant raids between the two countries. Because of its position, the Humes became "peacemakers," above local family quarrels and as wardens of the eastern marches, it was their duty to suppress the lawless elements in a lawless land.

The family of Home itself has its roots far back in the lineage of the royal families of Scotland and England. Malcom II, King of Scotland(A.D.1005-1034), had one child, Bethoc, who married Crinan, Lay Abbott of Dunkeld. To this union were born two children: Duncan, King of Scotland(A.D.1034-1040), and Maldred, who married Aldgatha, daughter of Uchtred, and grandaughter of King Ethelred of England. Egbert was the first King of United England (A.D.827-828). His second son, Alfred, known in history as Alfred the Great, was later King of England. Egbert was a direct ancestor of Ethelred the Unready, King of England (A.D.968-1013). In the year 1002, he married Emma, the sister of Richard, Duke of Normandy, a lady who was known as the "Flower of Normandy." Egbert was the last of the six early Saxon kings. Elgiva, the fifth child of Etherlred, married Uchtred, Prine of Northumberland. Their daughter, Aldgatha, married Maldred and Aldgatha had a son, Cospatrick, Earl of Northumberland, who fought at the Battle of Hastings. His grandson, Cospatrick III-William, married Ada, daughter of King William, the Lion of Scotland. She brought with her to the marriage, as her estate, the lands of "Ihom" or Home.

Home lairdships:

Homes of Wedderburn
Homes of Polwarth
Homes of Marchmont
Homes of Manderston
Homes of Blackadder
Homes of Ninewalls
Home of Broomhouse
Home of Coldingknows
Home of Simprin,

Home sept names:


Until his death on October 9, 1995, the Chief of the present Clan Home was Lord Home of the Hirsel who lived near Coldstream, Scotland. He was the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, and upon his death, his eldest son, David Douglas-Home, became the 15th Earl of Home and, thus, Chief of Clan Home.


The Town and Parish of Rutherford

The town of Rutherford, Scotland lies just south of the Tweed River between Melrose and Kelso just off highway A699 in Roxburghshire, Scotland. Rutherford is about 6 to 7 miles north of Jedburgh. As others have noted in this forum, Rutherford today consists of only a few houses.

The town name of Rutherford or Ruderforde first appears in a charter of William the Lion shortly after 1165. A settlement at this location is no doubt of great antiquity. The nearby moor of Rutherford has the vestiges of a Roman encampment, with a Roman causeway. In its glory days, Rutherford had a hospital dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene. Ofcourse, in the centuries prior to the reformation, Rutherford, like all of Scotland, was Catholic. Hospitals in those days were as much an inn as a hospital and were frequently run by the church or chivalric groups such as the Order of Saint John. The mission of Saint Mary Magdalene's Hospital was to take in travellers and care for the poor and sick of the area. In those days, there was no church at Rutherford, only a chapel within the hospital. The chapel churchyard did have a cemetery. In 1296 the master of the hospital swore fealty to Edward I "Longshanks" of England as did the Abbys at Jedburgh, Melrose and Dryburgh. These were the days of Sir William Wallace's fight against the English for Scottish independence. The"fealty" swore was achieved at the point of a sword. Later when Scotland had won its freedom and the English were out of Rutherford, King Robert the Bruce granted the newly created hospital to the protection of the Abbey of Jedburgh. As of yet, no archealogical work has been done on the former site of the town or its hospital. In about 1770 the cemetery was ploughed under. The gravestones were broken up and thrown into field drains by a farmer. In 1296 there was no parish attached to Rutherford, however, Rutherford was to become a parish of its own at a later time. The present parish of Maxton comprises the ancient parishes of Maccuston/Mackiston and Rutherford. After its distruction by the English, Rutherford was absorbed into Maxton parish, a small town to the west of Rutherford..

During the reigns of Saint/Queen Margaret and Saint/King David [mother and son] abbeys were created at Kelso, Melrose, Dryburgh and Jedburgh. These were strategically placed defences from English invasions. This defensive line across the Cheviot Hills also included the smaller parishes, such as, Rutherford, Roxburgh, Makerstoun and Maxton. The Cheviot Hills are a region of heathered moorlands and smoothly rounded hills divided by deep glens. The area looks much like the Palouse Hills of southeastern Washington state; rolling hills and small streams. The Tweed River itself has formed a traditional barrier against the English. Hadrian's Wall to the south had been the border between Scotland and England even in Roman times, but the English have pushed it back to the Tweed itself in the area downstream from Rutherford. Rutherford's postion as a key fording area on the Tweed made it very important militarily. If Jedburgh Castle fell, Scotland's next southeastern line of defence was Rutherford. Edinburgh is only 40 miles or so north.

Jedburgh and the surrounding area of Roxburghshire

Jedburgh has always been the political, religious and military center of "the lands of Rutherford". Jedburgh was made a royal burgh in the reign of Saint/King David I and after Scottish independence received a charter from Robert the Bruce. Central to the town of Jedburgh are the old red sandstone ruins of the Augustinian Abbey of Saint Mary, standing on the high left bank of the Jed River. Lands, churches, houses, and valuable fisheries, on both sides of the border, were bestowed on the abbey by David I, Malcolm IV, William the Lion, and other royal and noble benefactors. Alexander III chose to be married in the abbey church to Yolande de Dreux in 1285. The town also has been called Jedward, Jedworth, Jethart and Jeddart. Scotland's style of hanging them first and trying them afterwards is known as "Jeddart Justice," a term which originated when Sir George Home/Hume summarily strung up a gang of reivers during the reign of James VI. [don't worry - no doubt they were Kerrs!?]

The Reivers

For several centuries there was always some sort of fighting in the Cheviot Hills. This was the notorious period of the border reivers. As a result, fortified farmsteads known as pele castles sprang up throughout the area. Near to Rutherford are the famous castles/peles of Roxburgh, Smailholm Tower, Ferniehirst, Cessford and Traquair House. There were significant Rutherford towers at Hundalee, Hunthill, Edgerston and Rutherford itself.

These "wars" were not officially declared wars between England and Scotland but a perpetual series of cross border raids that pit one clan against another. Often there was no regard for "nationality". This was clan against clan and the concerns of Edinburgh and Westminster had little to do with the steel bonnets on the Cheviot Hills. International politics also created friction on the Scottish border. England and France were constantly at war and Scotland was France's ally. In this way, Scotland was always caught in the middle. For centuries the English and Scots took turns invading each other. To complicate things even more, the French were Catholic and the English were Protestant with the Scots historically torn between the two. Many Rutherfords were among the Scottish soldiers who went to France to fight the English. As a result, the lands of Rutherford and the surrounding areas became a lightening rod for English cruelty and revenge.

A Heritage of English Distruction: "The Rough Wooing"

By 1297, English troops led by Sir Richard Hastings had so plundered and wrecked the abbey at Jedburgh that, in 1300, it was declared uninhabitable and the canons fled to Thornton-on-Humber. They hadn't even started rebuilding the abbey when it was ravaged again in 1410, in 1416 and in 1464. Reconstruction began in 1478 and the tower was partly rebuilt by 1508. But then, English troops led by the Earl of Surrey torched the place in 1523, another English force led by Lord Evers burned it down again in 1544 and the Earl of Hertford led more English troops to destroy the abbey for a third time not too long afterwards.

Later the English warden Sir Ralph Eure, invaded Scotland southwest of Rutherford eventually losing a great battle at Ancrum Moor. The battle of Ancrum Moor was fought between the parishes of Maxton and Ancrum in 1543 at Lilliard's Edge. This place is named for a young woman of the name of Lilliard who fought with great bravery along with the Scots, and who lies buried in the field of battle. In this effort, the English commander, Sir Eure thought he had gained the cooperation of the Rutherford clan. The Rutherfords had agreed to fight with the English on the English side of the border in order to redress compliants against the Carrs/Kerrs. In fact on September 30, 1543 the Earl of Suffolk thought it unwise to mount a winter campaign north of the border with 10,000 English troops because of the threat of the Rutherfords at Hunthill, Hundalee and Edgerston. However, Sir Eure proceeded anyway making the fatal mistake of burning out dozens of border towns and then attempting to enter Rutherford country near Jedburgh. Jedburgh itself was burned to the ground and Adam, George, and Gawen Rutherford were taken prisoner.

From the times of Lord Thomas Rutherford of Edgerston, third son and eventual heir of Lord James Rutherford who lived from about 1460 to 1517, the Rutherfords had been allies and members of the clan Hume. Lord Thomas Rutherford even served as the bailie for Sir Patrick Home/Hume. Lord Thomas' son and heir was Lord Robert Rutherford of Edgerston who
lived from about 1490 dying sometime before October of 1544. Lord Robert was the leader of the dominant Rutherford line at the time of the Hertford invasion. He's honored among the Rutherfords for defending Edgerston from Walter Kerr of Cessford. For his efforts, he was declared an outlaw.

The English were pressing their campaign into Scotland in 1544 when the Rutherfords then joined their former rivals, the Kerrs, and defeated the English at Ancrum Moor. Ancrum Moor is a stone's throw from both Rutherford and Jedburgh. The battle was fought in February and Sir Ralph Eure, the English warden was killed. John Rutherford of Edgerston also died at this battle. Now the English thought they had been betrayed by the Rutherfords, but to the contrary, the Rutherfords had not agreed to fight for the English in Scotland. They had agreed to fight across the border in England and only against their enemy the Carrs/Kerrs. This was in return for the safety of the Rutherford family and the Rutherfords had kept their end of the bargain. From that point on, the English gave no quarter to anyone named Rutherford or Hall and thus began our Rutherfords ancestor's flight from Scotland.

The Distruction of Rutherford

Lord Robert Rutherford was to learn what many of our ancestors were to learn in America and throughout the empire; "never trust the English!" During the last months of his life, Lord Robert saw our ancestral village of Rutherford "spoiled" by Henry VIII's thugs in July of 1544. Two months later the town was "destroyed" on September 9th,1544. The rest of the village was burnt, razed and cast down between September 9th and September 13th, 1544. On September 16th Hundalee was "razed and brent".

Two days later, after burning four Rutherford estates, the Rutherford Lords of Hunthill and Hundalee rode out to meet and remind the English army of its covenant with them. The English called the Rutherfords liars for obeying the Scottish governor's command to attack at Ancrum Moor. Lord Robert reminded them that they were in Scotland now and the items of their covenant with the English had been strictly kept. Hertford then agreed to spare the already burned Rutherford estates. Lord Robert had hoped to "ride both horses" and had failed. The English responded by sending another even larger force of foreign mercenaries the following year, cutting deep into Scotland sacking Edinburgh itself.

A Living Legacy of English Terror

Nowadays, these times are not forgotten on the Borders. Today every Border town celebrates this turbulent past by holding a Common Riding every year. Varying in style and content from one community to the next, they are all basically commemorations of the ancient need to ride the marches or "boundaries" of their communities for security purposes. The "riding clans" such as the Rutherfords, Scotts, and Kerrs ride out on horseback with banners flying. Toasts are drunk, ancient local customs are rehearsed, and everybody has a good time! The Common Riding was originally a military exercise to secure the town's defences. The Common Ridings are also called "ride-outs." Ride-outs are led by "principals" whose "troops" follow on horseback around the town's outer limits. Ride-outs symbolically ensure that no rival clan has shifted the stone fences that formed local borders. Every July in Jedburgh, they have a rideout on "Festival Friday". Participants go riding to Ferniehirst Castle, the ancestral home of the Kerr family and then out to Jedburgh Castle There they present the new 'Callant' to the Kerr family and then ride back to town in great ceremonial style.

Another surviving tradition from that time is called "The Hand Ba' Game". It is celebrated on Candlemas [February 2nd] and comes from the troubles of 1549 when a few Scots played a post-battle football game with the severed heads of some Englishmen. Candlemas is a day of celebration in the town, culminating in a football game between the 'uppies' and the 'doonies'. Nowadays, a leather ball replaces the Englishman's head. In the good old days, they'd often captured an Englishman, cut his head off and kick the head around the town like a football. The boundaries of the game stretch from Castlehill, which is up on high ground, to Townfoot, down at the bottom. In this way, the town of Jedburgh is divided into the 'uppies' and the 'doonies' to form teams. English volunteers are still always welcome!


1. "An historical and descriptive account of Roxburghshire"
by Alexander Jeffrey
published in Edinburgh by Fraser & Co. in 1836

2. "The Rutherfurds of that Ilk and their Cadets"
by Thomas H. Cockburn-Hood
published in Edinburgh at 1884

3. "The Rutherfords in Britain: a history and guide"
by Kenneth Rutherford Davis
published by Alan Sutton Publishing of Gloucester in 1987

4. "The history and antiquities in Roxburghshire and adjacent districts"
by Alexander Jeffrey
published between 1855 and 1864 by T.C. Jack

5. "The Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland"
edited by John Marius Wilson
published in 1868

6. "Rutherford, Scotland: history and origin of Rutherford"
by Bruce Rutherford
Rutherford genforum - February 26, 1998 - 19:48:52

Gary Rutherford Harding