Charteris

Origins of the Name

Chartres, the French city famed for its cathedral, is claimed as the origin of this name. William, a son of the Lord of Chartres, is said to have come to England with the Norman Conquest, and his son or grandson came north to Scotland with the retinue of David I. One of the earliest references to the name is found in a charter to the Abbey of Kelso around 1174, where the name appears in its Latin version, de Carnoto.

 

 

Origins of the Clan

One of the earliest references to the name Chateris is found in a charter to the Abbey of Kelso around 1174, where the name appears in its Latin version, de Carnoto. In 1266 a charter of confirmation provides evidence of four generations: Robert de Carnoto, knight, is said to be the son of Thomas, who was himself son of Thomas, son of Walther. Sir Thomas de Charteris was appointed Lord High Chancellor of Scotland by Alexander III of Scotland in 1280, the first person to hold this office who was not also a clergyman.

 

 

Wars of Scottish Independence

Andrew de Charteris rendered homage to Edward I of England in the Ragman Rolls of 1296, but soon took up arms to fight for Scotland’s independence, for which later his estates were forfeited to Balliol, the English-sponsored King of Scots. During the Wars of Scottish Independence his son, William, was an adherent of King Robert Bruce and was with him when John Comyn was slain at Dumfries in 1306. Sir Thomas Charteris was appointed Lord High Chancellor by David II of Scotland.

 

 

16th Century & Clan Conflicts

Feud with Clan Kilpatrick 1526, A feud appears to have developed between the Charterises and the Clan Kilpatrick of Kirkmichael. In Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials of Scotland it is recorded that in March 1526 John Charteris of Amisfield, his brother and his two sons were charged with the murder of Roger Kilpatrick, son of Sir Alexander Kilpatrick of Kirkmichael.

Dual with Sir James Douglas of Clan Douglas 1530, A more noble dispute occurred in 1530, when Sir Robert Charteris, the eighth Laird, fought a duel with Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig from Clan Douglas in what was said to have been one of the last great chivalric contests. It was fought with all the observance of a medieval tournament with heralds and the king himself watching from the castle walls. The joust was apparently fought with such fury that Charteris’ sword was broken and the king had to send his men-at-arms to part the combatants.

Battle with the Clan Ruthven 1544, In 1544 the Ruthvens who held considerable sway over Perth from their nearby Castle of Huntingtower, often disputed the authority of the Charterises, which led to a bitter and bloody feud. In 1544 Patrick, Lord Ruthven, was elected Provost of Perth, but at the instigation of Cardinal Beaton, who suspected Ruthven of Protestant sympathies, he was deprived of the office, and John Charteris of Kinfauns was appointed in his stead. The city declined to acknowledge Charteris, and barred the gates against him. Charteris, along with Lord Gray and Clan Leslie, gathered their forces and attacked the town. They were repulsed by the Ruthvens who were assisted by their neighbours the Clan Moncreiffe, and Charteris was forced to flee. The Ruthvens remained Provosts of Perth until William Ruthven, Earl of Gowrie, was executed in 1584. In 1552 John Charteris had been killed by the earl’s heir in the High Street in Edinburgh.

 

 

17th Century & Civil War

The Clan Charteris led by John Charteris of Amsfield initially supported the Covenanters however they refused to take up arms against King Charles I, for this John Charteris was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle for two years. When he was released he joined the Royalist James Graham the 1st Marquess of Montrose where the clan fought at the Battle of Philiphaugh in 1645. John’s brother Alexander Charteris also followed Montrose and was captured and executed in Edinburgh Castle in 1650. Alexander met his end at the hands of ‘the maiden’ Scotland’s own guillotine. This gruesome device is still on display in Edinburgh’s Museum of Antiquities.

 

 

Branches of the Clan

Another branch of the Charteris family which long disputed the chiefship with their Dumfriesshire cousins were the Charterises of Kinfauns in Perthshire. They are said to have received the lands of Kinfauns as a reward for supporting the cause of Robert the Bruce against the English.

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