The Ruthven Family and the Gowrie Conspiracy

These notes are based on lectures given by Rhoda Fothergill – they were made by a local resident of Perth – Alan Darling – and have been passed to this website.

The Ruthven family were of Viking origin and were granted the lands of Ruthven and Tibbermore in the reign of David I (12th century). William – 4th Lord Ruthven received the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots at Loch Leven Castle. He was present at the coronation of James VI, her son, at Stirling. He became Treasurer of Scotland. In 1581 he was created the 1st Earl of Gowrie. In 1584 he was beheaded for his part in the Raid of Ruthven when the young James VI was held prisoner.

William left a large family:

James, 2nd Earl of Gowrie

John, 3rd Earl of Gowrie (and last)

Alexander, Master of Ruthven

William Ruthven

Patrick Ruthven

And daughters:

Mary (m. Earl of Athol)

Margaret (m. Earl of Montrose)

Sophia (m. Duke of Lennox)

Elizabeth (m. Sir Robert Gordon)

Jean (m. Lord Ogilvy of Airlie)

Beatrice (m. Sir John Hume) Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Anne

Lilias Maid of Honour to Queen Anne

Dorothea (m. John Wemyss of Pittencrieff)

Barbara Maid of Honour to Queen Anne

Their homes were Gowrie House (Perth), Ruthven Castle (Huntingtower), Scone Castle, Duteton Castle, Trochrie Castle.

John, 3rd Earl of Gowrie was born in 1578: Alexander Ruthven was born in 1581. They both attended Perth Grammar School where their tutor was Mr. William Rhynd. They went to Europe – Padua University in 1594. Alexander returned in 1597 and John on 20th May 1600.

5th August 1600 – The Gowrie Conspiracy:

After hunting at Falkland the King, James VI, came to Gowrie House where apparently an attempt was made on his life. “Gowrie Conspiracy, a remarkable and much disputed episode in the reign of James VI of Scotland; the story goes that Alexander Ruthven and his brother, the Earl of Gowrie, enticed the king to come to Gowrie House in Perth on the 5th August 1600 for the purpose of murdering or kidnapping him, and that in the scuffle Ruthven and Gowrie perished. Historians have failed to trace any motive incriminating the brothers, while several good reasons have been brought to light why the king might have wished to get rid of them.”

To find out more about The Gowrie Conspiracy see this great You Tube video by Bruce Fummey: