Guthrie Genealogy



FAMILY LEGENDS of BRANCHES B, F, & I:  The Three Brothers Theory

The Story of Robert, John & James Guthrie.

(Note: These are NOT the same Robert, John & James from Branches A, E, & H above) 

So the theory goes....   

Two brothers, Robert & James, came directly to America from Edinburgh, Scotland. The third, John, first went to Ireland before moving to CT. Until a familial relationship can be established through DNA testing, these three brothers are designated as the progenitors of their individual family branches. Robert Guthrie is Branch BJohn Guthrie is Branch F. James Guthrie is remains undesignated as there is no current participant in the DNA Project representing his line. UPDATE 10/2012: James is Branch I.

We are introduced to the Three Brothers Theory in the pages of 'American Guthrie and Allied Families' by Laurence R. Guthrie. The author himself admits to making some presumptions and speculating on the connections of this particular Guthrie family.

In fact, Branch B's progenitor, Robert Guthrie & his wife Miss Darlington, are on pretty shaky grounds themselves, clinging tentatively as they do to the 4 sons identified as theirs by LRG's book: James, William, Adam & John. We've got matching DNA for presumptive sons James & William, proving that they share a common ancestor. (See Branch B: GRG and Branch B: DLD). We also have a DNA match for the descendant of Robert Guthrie of Washington County, PA who is believed to be the son of Adam Guthrie. (See Branch B: EJG). A verified descendant of Adam has currently volunteered to participate in the DNA study, so we will be able to verify that relationship when the results come in. (UPDATE Branch B: PPG) Still need participants representing Robert Guthrie & Miss Darlington's son John.

Laurence R. Guthrie didn't develop all of these theories on his own. He used research-based findings, but also drew upon stories given to him by the people submitting their family histories and by those who had already published them. The 'Records of the Guthrie Family, of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Virginia' by Harriet Nancy Dunn and Eveline Guthrie Dunn, is one such example.

Dunn & Dunn: "On account of religious persecutions under which the family suffered, James, John and Robert Guthrie decided to leave Edinburgh and seek security and repose in the New World." The book goes on to tell us about John Guthrie, the son of John Guthrie, who married Abigail Coe, of Stratford in June 1727. Some of their many descendants are outlined in the book, one of which is Dr. Samuel Guthrie, the American chemist and inventor who discovered chloroform. Another famous descendant of John & Abigail (Coe) Guthrie is Great Britain's Winston Churchill. DNA testing has recently revealed a match between a descendant of John & Abigail and the remainder of the MD/PA Group. (See Branch F: CWG)

The man identified by LRG as the brother named James Guthrie, who married a Miss Bussell/Bissell, is the third of the three brothers. This family appears in Chester County, Pennsylvania. "It is said by some of the descendants that their branch of the family was pure Scotch, with the exception of one Irish strain which was introduced when the ancestor, who migrated to Ireland about the year 1700, married an Irish lady, the daughter of an Irish lord. (This actually sounds like the Origin Story for Branch H). Reportedly, James and his brothers initially lived in Boston before moving to Connecticut and then onto Pennsylvania. Amongst James' descendants is Isaac Newton Guthrie, whose family by what I am certain is mere coincidence, ended up in Sumner County, Tennessee in the 1800s, which is the one of the main homesteads of the Branch A Guthrie family.

This origin story provides very little in the way of proven connections between the three brothers and the paper trail does not provide any additional support. 

Robert Guthrie was supposedly born in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland in 1699, but where is the proof of that in connection to the Robert Guthrie who is the father of those 4 sons: James, William, Adam & John? 

John Guthrie's DOB is unknown, but his origin story places him in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland prior to moving to Ireland and later America, but where are the documents proving his existence? 

James Guthrie was supposedly born in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland in 1703, and then lived in Boston, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, but the Boston document would make him significantly older than trees indicate. The PA documents LRG attributes to him actually pertain to his 'son' James. So, did this man actually exist?  

Documented family legend is the only thing available in traditional research to suggest that Branch B's Robert Guthrie has any connection to Branch F's John Guthrie of Connecticut or to James Guthrie of Chester County Pennsylvania. Unless some heretofore undiscovered documentation comes to light proving the relationships between the three brothers, DNA matches amongst the descendants are the closest thing we will have. DNA testing won't prove that they are brothers, but it will prove that their descendants share a common ancestor. It will also give credence to the Origin Theory.

If the family legend is true, then some of the details to be found in the story help explain when Branch B left Scotland to come to America, and which lineages may or may not have stopped in Ireland for a time.

So how do we prove or disprove it? Research and DNA testing. 

Traditional Research: We need to look into John Guthrie's origins in Scotland, Ireland and Connecticut. Can we find some facts? The same goes for James, and for that matter, Robert.

DNA Testing can settle the matter instantly. Are they related or not? DNA will reveal it.


Two or Three direct male Guthrie descendants of James Guthrie & Miss Bissell. See update for 10/2012 below.

A direct male Guthrie descendant of Robert's presumed son Adam Guthrie. Update 1/2011: Descendant is a match for our group: GFG2A. 

A direct male Guthrie descendant of Robert's presumed son John Guthrie. 

UPDATE 07/2011: James Guthrie & Miss Bussell are credited with several sons, one of whom was named Thomas Guthrie who married Mildred Howell. DNA testing of two men from this family line indicate that they are NOT a match for GFG2. A new group, the Thomas/Mildred Group, was formed to represent their line. Further DNA testing is needed on descendants of the other sons to determine whether or not they share the same Thomas/Mildred DNA. Detailed analysis suggests that the two cousins tested may have Vaughn DNA rather than Guthrie DNA resulting from a paternal event or adoption sometime in the late 18th or early 19th century. Since these cousins descend via the line of Thomas Jr & Lucy Wood, we need DNA from descendants of 2 or 3 of Thomas & Mildred's other sons to verify whether the DNA matches the MD/PA Group.

UPDATE 11/2011: Breaking up is hard to do. Looks like this "hypothetical family" may indeed have some problems. A comparison of Y-67 and Y-111 DNA results shows a difference between descendants of "son" Adam & William compared to "son" James' descendants. Adam & William's two representatives are a perfect match, but James' descendants show some variances. Could it be that the brothers were not brothers at all? All of the participants are definitely MD/PA Group matches, meaning that they do share a common Guthrie ancestor. 

UPDATE 10/2012: A descendant of James Guthrie & Miss Bissell's 'son' James Guthrie & Ann____ is a match for GFG2.