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The Arms of the Earls of Carryck

Achievement of the Earls of Carryck

To produce plausible, fully-rounded characters an author will often compose substantial back-stories that shape their novels without actually appearing in them. In her best-selling series, of which the first titles were Into the Wilderness and Dawn on a Distant Shore, Sara Donati wove a hidden tale that created the fascinating situations in which her characters fought for their lives, but one of which readers are only dimly aware. The arms of one of her principal characters tell some of this story, and Miss Donati has kindly allowed us to publish it.

The introductory pages of the second book, Dawn on a Distant Shore, feature a family tree showing the descent of the 4th Earl of Carryck from the 5th Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, his great-great-grandfather killed in the service of Charles II, but the backstory begins several generations earlier with Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. (In this summary the historic characters will be printed in black and the fictional characters will be left in blue.)

Glenorchy’s elder brother was the ancestor of the Earls and Dukes of Argyll, and his own eldest son was the ancestor of the Earls of Breadalbane. (He himself is recorded in history as one of the cleverest and most unprincipled rogues of his century, at a time when clever and unprincipled rogues were active everywhere.) From his third wife, Margaret Robertson, he had a daughter Margaret who married David Johnstone of Carryckcastle, from which marriage there was an only child, Catriona, and from his fourth wife he had a son, John Campbell of Auchreoch, who was killed at Flodden in 1513.

John Campbell of Auchreoch had a bastard son, John Campbell, who was badly wounded at Flodden, escaped, and was nursed back to health by a girl, mute from birth, Mary Scott, with whom he fell (as very sick patients tend to do). Her father also had been killed at Flodden and she was in the care of her great-uncle, Walter Scott of Ballerlaw, who, when he learned that the two wished to marry, settled his estate on them on condition that John Campbell took the name of Scott. (Such arrangements were not then uncommon.)

Let us look at the heraldry so far.

Arms of Buccleuch Arms of Scott of Ballerlaw (fictional)
Later Arms of Scott of Ballerlaw (fictional)
Scott of Buccleuch,
the Chief of the Scotts
Scott of Ballerlaw,
a distinct branch from early times,
differenced by a buckle and a change
in the tincture of the bend’s charges
John Scott of Ballerlaw, formerly John Campbell, Bastard of Auchreoch, adds a second buckle to mark a break in the male bloodline
The idiosyncratic addition of the second buckle (above right) reminds us that the laws of heraldry as we interpret them today were not yet, in the early sixteenth century, set in concrete. The new John Scott of Ballerlaw remembers he was born a Campbell and seeks to be not quite a Scott. (This Campbell link is a critical factor in the story.)

The new Laird of Ballerlaw and his wife, Mary, have a son, Robert, who marries his first cousin once removed, the heiress Catriona Johnstone of Carryckcastle. Subsequently he is created Lord Scott of Carryckcastle by James V, and the following year he entails his lands on his successors in that title, which failing to his nearest heirs bearing the name of Campbell and of the blood of his paternal grandfather John Campbell of Auchreoch.

Let us now look at Catriona’s arms

Arms of Johnstone cadet (fictional)
Arms of Johnstone cadet (fictional)
Johnstone of that Ilk ~ the undifferenced arms
An early branch makes the chief black, and another cadet line then makes the cushions silver.
Johnstone of Carryckcastle ~ yet another cadet line replaces one cushion with a crescent.
The eldest son of Robert Scott and Catriona, Robert, 2nd Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, quarters his mother’s arms ~ with Scott of Ballalaw in the 1st and 4th quarters, and Johnstone of Carryckcastle in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. He marries Jean Scott of Balweir; their son, the 3rd Lord, marries Flora Johnstone of Craigieburn; and their son, the 4th Lord, marries Mary Scott of Glenkerry, whose son, the 5th Lord begins the family tree printed in Sara Donati’s second book.

The 8th Lord, Roderick Scott, 3rd Earl of Carryck, marries Appalina Forbes, an heiress whose arms we shall next consider.

Carryck arms (fictional)
Arms of Forbes cadet (fictional) Arms of Forbes cadet (fictional)
Arms of Lord Forbes Arms of Forbes cadet (fictional)
Lord Forbes
Chief of Clan Forbes ~
the undifferenced arms
An early branch replaces a charge with another, a mullet for a bear’s head
. . . . . subsequently another cadet charging the border with red mullets.
A younger son later takes a bordure argent for difference . . . . .
The marriage with Appalina brings into the family not only the Agardston estates, but also her father’s shipping fleet and her unmarried brothers’ fortune made from trading in the American colonies, both ingredients essential to the story. However, our interest is in the Forbes of Agardston arms which Alasdair Scott, the 4th Earl of Carryck and 9th Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, places in the 3rd quarter.

The composition of the Earl of Carryck’s arms reflect the changes down the centuries and offer a good example of how many of the arms of our older families have developed. It should be noted that the 2nd and 3rd quarters are the arms brought in by heiresses, not just arms of families with which the Carryck lords have married.

Later Arms of Carryck (fictional)
A glance at the full achievement at the head of this page, or on this pop-up page, will bring up some other points. The slughorn or warcry Pro Deo is an abbreviated Pro Deo et rege (for God and my king) which reflects the family’s religious and political sympathies. The motto on the compartment (the grassy mound at the foot) is In tenebris lux (light in the darkness), a traditional Scott motto that would have accompanied the Scott of Ballalaw arms. The sinister supporter, the white stag, is gorged with two red-buckled gold straps, a theme taken from the pronominal arms. The helm is that of a peer and the coronet that of an earl. The crest of an arm and hand grasping a spur as if it was a weapon (which, of course, at close quarters it is) has a theme similar to that of many Johnstone crests.

Dawn on a Distant Shore book cover
Into the Wilderness book cover Lake in the Clouds book cover
Sara Donati’s brilliant trilogy may be ordered from Amazon in North America by clicking on the following titles ~

Into the Wilderness . . . . . . . . Dawn on a Distant Shore . . . . . . . . Lake in the Clouds

But Europeans may order from Amazon in the United Kingdom by clicking instead on the following links ~

Into the Wilderness . . . . . . . . Dawn on a Distant Shore . . . . . . . . Lake in the Clouds

Lake in the Clouds in both North America and Europe is currently available in hardback only. The first two books are out of print in hardback and are available only in paperback.

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