Chartres the Northern French city famous for its Gothic cathedral is claimed as the origin of this name. One of the sons of a Lord of Chartres was believed to have come over to England during the Norman conquests and it is believed that one of his descendants traveled north to Scotland with David I, settling in the Borders. In a charter dated 1174 to the Abbey of Kelso (pictured above) there appears the name ‘de Carnoto’ which may be a Latin version of the name.
Gosford House, Longniddry, East Lothian. Gosford is the seat of he clan and was built by the 7th Earl of Wemyss between 1790 and 1800
In 1280 Alexander III appointed Sir Thomas de Charteris as Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. Later in 1296 Andrew de Charteris’ name appears on the infamous Ragman’s Roll. however like many who swore allegiance to Edward I he turned to the cause of Scottish freedom. This cost him the family estates. Andrew’s son William continued in the family support for the cause of independence by supporting Robert the Bruce, indeed he was with Robert when he stabbed Comyn at the church of Minorite Friars in Dumfries in 1306. The loyalty to Scotland was further assured when Sir Thomas Charteris was appointed ambassador to England. Sir Thomas fell at the Battle of Durham in 1346.
Sir Robert Charteris, the eighth Laird was challenged to a duel in 1530 by Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig. The contest was observed from the castle walls by the King who had to send men to separate the opponents such was the ferocity of the duel.
The chiefship has long been disputed by another branch of the family that settled in Perthshire. They came up against the powerful Ruthvens and when Patrick, Lord Ruthven, who was elected Provost of Perth was struck from office with John Charteris of Kinfauns was appointed in his place Charteris had to attack the city of Perth to gain entry. Charteris had to give up and the Ruthvens retained the title until 1584.
Sir John Charteris of Amisfield supported the Covenant but was not prepared to take arms against Charles I and was imprisoned at Edinburgh for two years. After this he joined up with the Marquis of Montrose fighting at Philiphaugh in 1645. His brother Alexander Charteris also followed Montrose and was captured and executed in Edinburgh 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
Colonel Francis Charteris was survived by a daughter who later married the Earl of Wemyss Her second son, Francis, inherited the estates and assumed the name and arms of Charteris.