Carruthers Family History at Rammerscales
Rammerscales was an estate that was in the Carruthers family from December 16, 1541 until 1756.
In 1541, John Carruthers of Holmains was consolidating his land in preparation for getting his estate raised to the level of a Barony. (The Barony was established in 1542.) Rammerscales had been granted in 1419 by Archibald, Earl of Douglas, to Michael Ramsay of Sipland. His descendant, John Ramsay, sold Rammerscales to John Carruthers, 1st Baron Holmains, in 1541.
John Carruthers, 1st Baron Holmains, was the progenitor of several lines of the Carruthers family. His eldest son John, by wife Blanche Murray, was killed in the battle of Solway Moss in 1542. Son George, became the 6th Laird and 2nd Baron Holmains. Son William, received the lands of Dormont in 1552. Son Simon received Rammerscales in 1557. For other sons and daughters of John Carruthers, see the section on Holmains.
Simon had two sons: John and Alexander. John, who inherited Rammerscales in 1600, made several additions to the estate. John, 2nd Laird of Rammerscales was dead by 1655, leaving the estate to his grandson, Robert. The three children of John, 2nd Laird Rammerscales were John, William, and Marion. Marion married James Young of Broomrig in 1625 and died in October, 1674. John Carruthers, younger of Rammerscales, died by 1647, before his father. Therefore, Rammerscales passed to his oldest son Robert, 3rd Laird Rammerscales. John, younger, married in 1632 Janet, daughter of the late Robert Johnstone of Wamphray. Their children were Robert (the 3rd Laird), William, John, and Janet (who married in 1664 to Robert McClellane of Barscobe).
Robert Carruthers, 3rd Laird Rammerscales, married prior to 1660 Mary Carruthers, daughter of James Carruthers, younger of Holmains. Mary died in January, 1685. Robert then married in 1687 Margaret Dalziel, daughter of Robert, Earl of Carnwath. Robert's children were Robert, William, and Violet (married in 1714 to Gavin Johnstone of Elshieshields).
Robert, 4th and last Laird Rammerscales, received the estate from his father in 1694. He married, prior to 1730, a lady named Penelope Sharp. His two children were Robert and Henrietta. Henrietta married John Marshall, minister of Tinwald. Robert, the 4th Laird, was seriously involved in the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745. In 1715 at the Lochmaben horse races, a Lochmaben crowd watched Robert and other landowners drink a toast to the Jacobite King. After the 1745 uprising, his support for the Jacobites caused his estate to be confiscated to pay his fines and debts. He ended up dieing abroad.
There were a large number of creditors from whom George Muir took over their claims. In turn, he sold Rammerscales in 1756 to Dr. James Mounsey, the late First Physician and Councillor to the Empress of Russia.
Other HistoryJames Mounsey was born at Skipmyre, three miles from Lochmaben. His mother was the sister of Rev. William Steele, minister of Lochmaben. Mounsey studied medicine at Edinburgh University. He was invited by Prince Kantemir, the Russian minister in London, to serve in the naval hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Russians were ruled by Peter the Great's niece Elizabeth, who encouraged scientists to immigrate. He was appointed Physician to the Land Militia and and 1756 set up a private practice in Moscow. In 1761, he became Head of the Medical Chancery, but when his patron Empress Elizabeth died in December of that year, Mounsey returned to Scotland hastily. Elizabeth's successor, Peter III, ruled only six months before he was killed in a coup d'etat, orchestrated by his German wife, Catherine. Catherine the Great went on to become one of Russia's greatest rulers.
Once home in Scotland, Mounsey organized a fake funeral at Lochmaben, in order to deceive his old enemies and keep Russian assassins from finding him.
Mounsey commissioned and built the present square sandstone mansion. Used to the treachery of the Russian court, he ensured that each main room had two exits. He is known as the person who introduced rhubarb to Britain, to be used for medicinal purposes. He died in Edinburgh, February 2, 1773. His tomb lies just inside the gate to the Old Church Yard, in Lochmaben. Mounsey's three sons, James, Paul and Thomas, were all soldiers, who did not wish to live at Rammerscales.
After Mounsey's death, the Newall family became tenants of the house. Major William Newall lived at the house through 1797. By then, Mounsey's soldier sons had all died and his three daughters sold the estate for £7,700 to James Bell, a Glasgow sugar merchant descended from a local Between-the-Waters family, whose grandmother was Mary Carruthers, of Hardriggs (1728-1808).
James Bell lived at Rammerscales until his death in 1807. He and his brother William had the company of their niece Mary and her husband Donald Macdonald living at the house. It was their son, William Bell Macdonald (1807-1862) who eventually inherited the estate. William Bell Macdonald graduated in languages from Glasgow University and became well known as a linguist proficient in German, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, but above all, in Coptic. He published a grammar and self-tutor book on the Coptic language and built up a library of 6,000 books. He also studied medicine and served as a naval surgeon in the Mediterranean and as a commissioner of supply for the Fleet. He was succeeded by his son William (1845-1923), a major in the Scots Guards, who spent years with his regiment in India. He was succeeded by his son William Malcolm Bell Macdonald (b. 20 Jun 1884) who had a son Alan Malcolm Macdonald (b. 31 Mar 1914)
The Carruthers family at Rammerscales had operated a saw mill since Rammerscales is a largely timbered estate. The saw mill is still operational today.