Ruthven, said to have been the ninth in descent from Thor; and Sir William's grandfather, also named Sir William de Ruthven, received from Robert III a charter of sheriffship of St. Johnstoun [i.e. Perth], and also of Ruthven and other lands. The second Lord Ruthven was the son of the master of Ruthven; the latter, known as Lindsay until his legitimation on 2 July 1480, was the son of the first Lord Ruthven; he was slain at Flodden on 9 Sept. 1513. The second lord's mother was Catherine, born Buttergask. He succeeded his grandfather, the first Lord Ruthven, some time before 10 Sept. 1528, when the king bestowed on him the office of custodian and constable of the king's hospital, near the Speygate, Perth (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1513–46, No. 683). In February 1532 he, Lord Oliphant, and various barons in this district of Scotland were fined for not appearing to sit as jurymen at the trial of Lady Glamis at Forfar for poisoning her husband (Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, i. *158). He was admitted an extraordinary lord of session on 27 Nov. 1533; and on 8 Aug. 1542 he was named a member of the privy council (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1513–46, No. 2747). On 28 Aug. 1536 the king confirmed to him and his heirs the lands of Glenshie in Strathearn, erected into a free forest (ib. No. 1617).
At the parliament held at Edinburgh in March 1543, after the death of James V, Ruthven, who is called by Knox ‘a stout and discreet man in the cause of God,’ spoke in behalf of liberty being granted to the laity to read the Scriptures in the English tongue (Knox, Works, i. 98); and at the same parliament he was chosen one of the eight noblemen, two of whom were to have the charge of the young queen every three months (Acta Parl. Scot. ii. 414). On 24 July 1543 he signed a band to support Cardinal Beaton (Cal. Hamilton Papers, ed. Bain, i. 631), but his adherence to the cardinal seems to have been only temporary, for in 1544 he resisted by force of arms the cardinal's candidate for the provostship of Perth (Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 34; Knox, Works, i. 111–13; Herries, Memoirs, p. 15). Ruthven was appointed keeper of the privy seal in July 1546 (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1513–46, No. 3231; Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 35). On 24 Aug. of the same year he appeared before the privy council with Patrick, earl of Bothwell, as caution that Bothwell's ship, the Mary, and other four barks should not take any ships belonging to the Dutch, Flemings, or Hungarians (ib. i. 41). On 13 Sept. he obtained an heritable grant of the king's house of Perth, of which he was keeper. He died early in December 1552 (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80, Nos. 726, 735). By his wife Janet, eldest of three daughters and coheiresses of Patrick, lord Haliburton, with whom he got that barony, he had three sons and seven daughters: Patrick, third lord [q. v.]; James of Forteviot; Alexander of Freeland; Lilias, married to David, second lord Drummond—she was of high repute for her piety, and to her Robert Alexander in 1539 dedicated the Testament of William Hay, earl of Erroll, which he set forth in Scottish metre (printed Edinburgh 1571); Catherine, to Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy; Cecilia, to Sir David Wemyss of Wemyss; Barbara, to Patrick, first lord Gray; Janet, to John Crichton of Strathaird; Margaret, to John Johnstone of Elphinstone; and Christina, to William Lundin of Lundin.
[Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1513–46, and 1546–80; Reg. P. C. Scotl. vol. i.; Acta Parl. Scot. vol. ii.; Diurnal of Occurrents (Bannatyne Club); Lord Herries's Memoirs of the Reign of Mary (Abbotsford Club); Knox's Works; Douglas's Scottish Peerage, ed. Wood, i. 660.]
RUTHVEN, WILLIAM, fourth Lord Ruthven and first Earl of Gowrie (1541?–1584), second son of Patrick, third lord Ruthven [q. v.], by Janet Douglas, natural daughter of Archibald, earl of Angus, was born about 1541. On 4 April 1562 the queen conceded to him and his wife, Dorothy Stewart, certain lands in the barony of Ruthven which his father resigned in his favour (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80, No. 1413). With his father he joined the conspiracy against Rizzio on 9 March 1566, and on the queen's escape to Dunbar he accompanied his father in his flight to England. On the death of his father at Newcastle on 13 June 1566, he nominally succeeded him as fourth lord, but previous to this he had been denounced as a rebel and forfeited. Along with Morton, he was, however, through an agreement of Bothwell and the queen with the protestant lords, pardoned and permitted to return to Scotland, which he did about the end of December (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566–8, No. 872). Possibly he was unaware of the plot which was then being hatched against his cousin, Lord Darnley; and in any case there is no evidence that he had any direct connection with it. Nor was he present in Ainslie's tavern when, after Bothwell's acquittal of the murder, certain lords signed a paper recommending Bothwell as a suitable husband for the queen. Probably he was one of the few nobles who joined the band against Bothwell with a sincere