James Guthrie was of Scot-Irish ancestry. There is no original documented evidence of his parents’ identities, birth date, birthplace, or exact date of death. Secondary sources and written family histories have provided estimates and shaped conclusions.
He married Elizabeth (nee Unknown) ‘late in life’ and was about 50 at the time of his second son’s birth in 1770 when the family was living near Baltimore, Maryland. Their marriage likely occurred in Northern Ireland, but no proof has been found at this time. Elizabeth’s maiden name was neither Reins nor Dunlap as is erroneously listed in several online family trees.
It remains undetermined if any of James & Elizabeth’s children were born in Northern Ireland or if they were all born in Maryland and North Carolina. They had two sons and six daughters.
The family moved from Maryland to Orange County, North Carolina by 15 March 1781 when one recalled hearing the cannon fire occurring at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Any involvement in the Revolutionary War by this branch of the family is unknown. The two boys would still be children, and their father James would be about sixty at the time of this battle.
1785: Purchased 440 acres in Orange & Caswell Counties on the Hico River.
1786: Purchased 62 acres in Orange County on the Hico River.
1790: Patented 123 acres in Orange County on the Hico River.
James was apparently a farmer. During his lifetime he owned 585 acres on the Hico River. He had 6 horses, 16 cattle, 15 sheep, 22 hogs, and 4 geese.
The family was also very religious, likely of the Presbyterian faith, and also literate. In addition to 1 large and 2 small Bibles, there were 8 other books noted in the inventory of James Guthrie’s estate taken on 5 Jul 1801, along with a few pairs of spectacles. One son and several grandsons became ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
1805: Sons James & Robert of Sumner County TN sold 200 acres on S. Hico River located in Caswell County, NC
1810: Widow Elizabeth Guthrie & sons-in-law John Madden & Alexander McMinamy sold 323-1/2 acres in Orange County, NC.
The story of James Guthrie of Maryland and North Carolina was published in Laurence R. Guthrie’s book ‘American Guthrie and Allied Families’.
Details were taken from Rev. Allen Washington Guthrie’s family sketch of Tennessee and Missouri relatives. Digital images of LRG’s notes for this family have been preserved by the Family History Library. See: Descendants of James Guthrie, Maryland and North Carolina. They include letters from descendants as well as Family Record Sheets.
Scot-Irish farmers of the Presbyterian faith.
The Guthrie DNA Project identifies them as Guthrie Family Group 2A - Branch A. Genetic similarities make them closely related to Branches E and H.
Branch H’s family origin story names John Guthrie & Jane Stuart as probable parents to that branch progenitor. This couple lived in or near Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
DNA suggests that James Guthrie (Branch A) is most likely a younger son or a grandson of John Guthrie & Jane Stuart.
John Guthrie was reportedly a Scottish Covenanter who was forced to flee to Ireland due to religious persecution. Jane Stuart, was said to be an Irish descendant of the Royal House of Stuart.
CONFIRMED HAPLOGROUP: R-Z30233
Branch A's Progenitor: James Guthrie c1720IRE-1801NC
Robert Wesley and William Gerald share a common ancestor: James Guthrie Jr, the son of James & Elizabeth.
Robert David is a descendant of James & Elizabeth's son Robert.
James Guthrie, Sr the common ancestor of all three participants. Since James & Elizabeth had only two sons, James and Robert, both lines have been verified by DNA. Keep in mind that their sons had numerous male offspring, so if your branch of the family does not exactly match that of a participant, you still need a DNA test to verify your genetic lineage.
Branch A participants have a unique genetic marker in their DNA not found in any other group participants. DYS-464a with a value of 15. The majority of GFG2 have a value of 14 at this marker. This marker could be helpful in the future for other Branch A descendants. It had to be present in the DNA of James Guthrie Sr since descendants from both of his sons, James Jr and Robert, have the same genetic marker. It is unknown whether James Sr was the first male Guthrie to possess this genetic mutation or if it might be helpful in identifying earlier generations.
Branch A Descendants have similar genetic mutations as Branches E and H, indicating they share a more recent common ancestor than the one shared by the overall group.
DYS534 = 14 (Group Mode = 15)
Descendants of all three branches share this particular genetic marker compared to the group mode result. This marker was likely inherited from the same source and represents a Pattern of Inheritance. Based on the estimated birth dates and location for the three branch progenitors, the likely conclusion is that they were brothers or otherwise closely related.
Robert Guthrie of Branch E was born in Ireland about 1700-1710.
John Guthrie of Branch H was born near Londonderry Ireland on 29 Jun 1708 to parents John Guthrie & Jane Stuart.
James Guthrie of Branch A was born in Ireland about 1720.
Born: c1720 (unproven estimate)
Location: Northern Ireland, probably near Londonderry (unproven)
Marriage: Elizabeth c1760-1763 (unproven estimate)
Death: Nov 1800 - May 1801 (proven range, probably in 1801)
Location: Orange, North Carolina, USA
Burial: Unknown location in Orange or Caswell, North Carolina, USA
Born: 1743 (unproven)
Location: Ireland (unproven)
Sons: James & Robert
Daughters: Ann, Mary, Margaret, Martha, Jean, Elizabeth
Death: After 1810 (proven estimate)
Location: Orange, North Carolina, USA (unproven)
Burial: Unknown location in Orange or Caswell, North Carolina, USA
Unlike most of the other genetic matches of the MD/PA Group, this branch has no documented connection to Pennsylvania. Branch A went from IRL to MD to NC before spreading out to TN, MO, AL, TX and CA.
According to family accounts published in LRG's book, James Guthrie, Sr. came to America from Ireland. This information is corroborated in a family history written by his grandson, Rev. Allen Washington Guthrie. This branch reportedly originated in Scotland, but spent 1-2 generations in Ireland having been (according to my father's very vague telling) 'chased out of Scotland' for religious reasons. James Guthrie had reportedly married 'late in life' to Elizabeth (LNU), but there is no verification in any original documentation whether this marriage took place in Ireland or in America, and therefore no actual proof that any of their eldest children were born in Ireland.
There is also no actual proof of James Guthrie Sr's date of birth. His grandson, Rev. Allen Washington Guthrie, reported that James was 'about 50 years of age' in 1770 making his approximate birth year 1720.
This makes it difficult to determine James Guthrie's exact relationship to the Branch E and H progenitors. James might be their younger brother if he was actually older than 50 in 1770, or possibly a nephew. In either case, it appears that he remained in Ireland much longer than they did, arriving in America about 1760-1770.
According to the origin stories about potential brother/uncle John Guthrie, his parents were John Guthrie (b1682) a Scottish Covenanter who fled to Ireland because of religious persecution, and Jane Stuart, an Irish descendant of the Royal House of Scotland. Their story does seem to fit with the sketchy tidbits reported to me by my father. Importantly, the story gives us the names of the probable common ancestors for Branches A, E & H, and the location they lived: Londonderry, Ireland.
James & Elizabeth were living "near Baltimore, Maryland" where their second son Robert was born in November of 1770. There are very few Guthrie families found in colonial Maryland. This one is not listed in the 1776 Maryland Colonial Census, suggesting that they had already moved on to NC by that time. They settled on the South Hico River in Orange County, North Carolina, most likely having traveled there by way of the colonial route known as The Upper Road. The Guthrie property was close to the borders of Caswell & Person when those counties were formed.
The Upper Road (aka The Carolina Road or Rogue's Road) began in Fredericksburg, Maryland and passed through Hillsboro, NC.
The family remained in NC until the children grew to adulthood.
James Guthrie (c1720-1800/01) & Elizabeth (LNU) (c1743-after 1810): 2 sons and 6 daughters.
There is no proof of James Guthrie, Sr.'s participation in the Revolutionary War. LRG's book indicates that James' descendants believed he took part. Based on the estimate of his DOB, James would've been in his mid fifties. There is no known documentation on the matter. Wife Elizabeth died before laws were passed allowing widows of Revolutionary War soldiers to receive a pension.
The family legend goes that two brothers married to two sisters travelled on horseback over the mountains to settle in Tennessee. Robert Guthrie had married Mary Smith in January of 1791, and James Guthrie Jr followed suit by marrying Mary's sister Jane Smith the following month in February of 1791.
Settlement of the Cumberland area of Middle Tennessee began not long after the close of the American Revolution, but 'Indian troubles' continued through the 1790s. By the time Robert & James and their wives were crossing the mountains and passing through the Cumberland Gap most of the strife with the Native American population in the region had already settled down. The Founding of the Cumberland Settlements, The First Atlas 1779-1804 by Doug Drake, Jack Masters, & Bill Puryear, is a fantastic resource for these early times. It includes trail maps that show the routes settlers took to get into the region, including an old trail first travelled by the Long Hunters which passes close to the property purchased by the brothers along the Robertson-Sumner County borders.
Back home in North Carolina, James Guthrie, Sr died sometime between November 1800 and March 1801 when his will was written and later proved in court. The will names his children and identifies several grandchildren named for him. All but two of his daughters had married by this date. An inventory of his estate indicates that he owned 6 horses, 16 cattle, 15 sheep, 22 hogs and 4 geese. There were also 3 bibles, 8 small books and 3 pairs of spectacles among his belongings. At the time of his death he possessed at least 523-1/2 acres of land.
The family was reared under a Presbyterian influence, though there is no documentation to show which church they attended. The Guthries' neighbor, David Mitchell, was mentioned in James Guthrie Sr's will. The Mitchells attended Upper Hyco Church, which was later renamed Grier's Presbyterian Church. David Mitchell and family are buried in the Old Grier's Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Several of James & Elizabeth's descendants became Cumberland Presbyterian Ministers.
After James Sr's death, his widow Elizabeth remained in North Carolina at least until 1810. After that we lose track of her. She may have died in North Carolina or traveled with one of her married daughters to the Cumberland region of Kentucky or Tennessee. She sold her share of the property in 1810. Her sons had already sold off their NC inheritance of 100 acres each on the Caswell side of the border in 1805 via a representative. Most, if not all, of the Guthrie children moved with their spouses the the region of Middle Tennessee or Kentucky by 1815.
Sumner County, Tennessee became the hub of activity for our Guthries. James & Jane and Robert & Mary's families grew to adulthood there. Farming was their primary occupation, but religion continued to play a key role in their lives. Robert became one of the early ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Three of Robert & Mary's sons, and one of James & Jane's sons, also became ministers.
With the next generation, the family lines begin to diverge and another emigration takes place. This time from Tennessee to Missouri. One branch to Alabama and then to Texas and from there to California.
James Guthrie (c1765-<1862) & Jane Smith (1775-c1859): 6 Sons, 5 Daughters