Perthshire Scotland > Scottish Clans & Families > Ruthven

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.

HuntingtowerThe 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.

 

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