The surname Ruthven comes from the
Gaelic Ruadhainn, the area of Perthshire north of Loch Rannoch. The
family are sometimes said to have Norse origins.
In 1487 Sir William of Ruthven married
a Cameron heiress and was given a peerage as Lord Ruthven.
Patrick, 3rd Lord Ruthven was leader
of the Protestant Lords of the Congregation who deposed the Regent Mary of
Lorraine in 1559, mother of Mary Queen of Scots. In 1566 he was leader of
the lords who burst into Mary's private quarters and murdered her servant
Rizzio before her eyes. Ruthven fled to England as the repercussions of the
event unfolded and died within a few months.
The 4th Lord Ruthven
was created Earl of Gowrie and had much in common with his father when dealing
with the monarchy! He headed the Gowrie Conspiracy where nobles imprisoned
James VI in 1581 and took over the government in his name. James has held
in Huntingtower near
Perth. On his escape James had the Earl beheaded.
In 1600 James took further retribution
on the family when he accused the 3rd Earl and his brother of attempting
to murder him and both Ruthvens were killed during the alleged rescue of
James. The true events will never be known. James was skilled at framing
and disposing of opposition and the Ruthvens had a record of being assassins!
The surname and titles of Ruthven were
extinguished by James VI and it was over 300 years before the earldom of
Gowrie was restored to the Ruthvens.