James Guthrie & Elizabeth Dunlap

The Family Focus is on . . .

JAMES GUTHRIE & ELIZABETH DUNLAP
~ Scotland / Ireland ~

Death is the hallmark of this Guthrie family’s entry into America. Tragedy struck on the voyage from Ireland claiming the lives of both James Guthrie and his wife Elizabeth Dunlap in 1774. The ship encountered a storm that sent it off course finally arriving in Norfolk, Virginia after three months at sea. Whether they died by accident, illness, or starvation is unknown.

Their story is revealed in correspondence with Rev. Lawrence R Guthrie, author of ‘American Guthrie and Allied Families’. (See the Appendix, p721, ref: 428) It begins with James Guthrie, the father of our subject, living in or near Edinburgh, Scotland on the eve of the Scottish Revolution of 1715. He decided to send his only son and heir, James Guthrie, then a young child, away from certain danger.

The boy’s uncle, a barrister named John Guthrie, resided in County Cork, Ireland, which is the largest and most southeastern county. A ‘belted knight’ took the boy, along with certain estate papers, out of Scotland. The Scottish rebellion failed, James Guthrie died, and by consequence of his treason against the crown, the estate was confiscated. His son remained in Ireland with his uncle.

James Guthrie married Elizabeth Dunlap in Ireland. They had 6 children: Mary, Adam, Jennie, Elizabeth, Margaret, and one other daughter whose name is unknown.

When James decided to take his family to America, his uncle asked that Adam remain behind. Apparently John Guthrie had no sons to inherit his own estate, and he wanted to make Adam his heir. With the permission of his parents, the boy remained in Ireland when they set sail for Virginia.

The storm changed everything. When Adam learned of his parent’s death ‘he was so unhappy about his mother and wept so much’ that his uncle promised to send him to America on the first vessel in which he had any friends. The boy joined his orphaned sisters in Virginia, but they were not alone. It is likely that they had relatives or family friends on the ship that brought them from Ireland.

Their uncle, James Dunlap, had lived in Augusta County, Virginia. He died by December 1779 when Adam Guthrie and a James Brown were named as his nephews and heirs at law. It may have been Dunlap’s presence there that drew the family to Virginia in the first place.

Adam Guthrie lived with his eldest sister Margaret and her husband until he ‘ran away’ to the western frontier of Kentucky where he became an Indian fighter and a politician. He settled in Nelson County and married Joanna ‘Hannah’ Polke by whom he had 3 sons and 5 daughters. Their son James Guthrie (1792-1868) became the 21st United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Franklin Pierce, and a Kentucky State Senator.



Origin Theories:

One key revelation within this story is that the events were set off in 1715 at the time of the Jacobite rising when James Stuart attempted to regain the throne of England, Ireland, and Scotland for the House of Stuart.

“The Fifteen Rebellion, was a serious affair. In the summer of 1715 John Erskine, 6th earl of Mar, an embittered ex-supporter of the Revolution, raised the Jacobite clans and the Episcopal northeast for “James III and VIII” (James Edward, the Old Pretender). A hesitant leader, Mar advanced only as far as Perth and wasted a considerable amount of time before challenging the Duke of Argyll’s smaller force. The result was the drawn Battle of Sheriffmuir (November 13, 1715), and at the same time the hopes of a southern rising melted away at Preston.” {Encyclopedia Britannica}

See: Jacobite Timeline

From the sound of it, James Guthrie Sr was probably a jacobite on James Stuart’s side. Although his religious leanings are unknown, his cause increases the odds that he was also of the Catholic faith, which might be a possible reason why his brother was living southeastern Ireland rather than the protestant plantations in the north.

The story also suggests that James Guthrie Sr came from a landed family, and that those estates were confiscated as a result of his participation in the uprising. Finding a family with sons named James and John is a search for a needle in a haystack, but we do have a clue in that James Guthrie reportedly lived in or near Edinburgh, so that could be Midlothian or a nearby region.



Mistaken Identities:

Here’s a valuable hint for folks new to genealogy. Your ancestors are not interchangeable with people of the same name. Common sense, right? A quick look at source material is an easy way to avoid a drastic error. One person’s simple mistake often leads to a long trail of errors when others copy, paste, and attach their way into a patchwork family tree that doesn’t belong together. Such errors can pop up so often they begin to look legit. James Guthrie & Elizabeth Dunlap and family are a prime example.

This couple is frequently swapped for my ancestors from GFG2A-Branch A, James Guthrie c1820IRE-1801NC & Elizabeth MNU. My James Guthrie came to Maryland a little before this couple set sail for Virginia. His wife’s maiden name remains unknown. They left the Londonderry, Northern Ireland area probably arriving in Baltimore, Maryland during the mid-late 1760s, and were definitely there by 1770. Their children were James, Mary, Ann, Robert, Margaret, Martha, Jean, and Elizabeth. Neither James nor Elizabeth died at sea. They and their children moved to Orange County, North Carolina. This family is fairly well documented in Probate, Property, and Court Records. Also contrasting the current couple, my family line includes several Cumberland Presbyterian Ministers.

Adam Guthrie, the son of James Guthrie & Elizabeth Dunlap should also not be confused with Adam Guthrie of Ireland/Virginia/Kentucky who married Mary Anderson. That man was born in Ireland between 1740-45 and died in Cumberland County, Kentucky on 20 Aug 1827.



The Family of James Guthrie & Elizabeth Dunlap:

JAMES GUTHRIE
Parents: James Guthrie (Born: Scotland – Died: About 1715 Scotland)
Born: Before 1715 (Still a ‘young’ child in 1715)
Location: Scotland
Married: Elizabeth Dunlap in Ireland, possibly County Cork
Occupation: Unknown
Died: 1774
Location: At Sea en route to Virginia
Buried: Unknown, presumably at sea


ELIZABETH DUNLAP
Parents: Unknown, Brother – James Dunlap
Born: 1700s (Est.1717-1734)
Location: Scotland or Ireland, presumably
Children: Margaret, (Unidentified Daughter), Elizabeth, Jennie, Mary, Adam
Died: 1774
Location: At Sea en route to Virginia
Buried: Unknown, presumably at sea


CHILDREN:

MARGARET GUTHRIE
17??IRE – 17/18?? KY

Margaret Guthrie was the eldest of James & Elizabeth (Dunlap) Guthrie’s children. She married a ‘Mr Walker’ of Augusta County, Virginia. They had no children.

Her brother Adam Guthrie came to live with them, but she was unkind to him. This reportedly prompted him to leave for the western frontier of Kentucky.

Family Finder / Autosomal DNA Participants: N/A


(UNIDENTIFIED DAUGHTER) GUTHRIE
17??IRE – 17/18??

This unidentified daughter also married a man of the Walker surname. They moved to Kentucky. No further details.

Family Finder / Autosomal DNA Participants: No


ELIZABETH GUTHRIE
17??IRE – 17/18??

Also known as Betty or Betsey. She was injured by a heavy chest during the sea voyage to America. Her kneecap was broken. The leg never healed properly leaving her lame the remainder of her life. She never married.

A relative corresponding with author LRG wrote, “I well remember Aunt Betsey, a very small, feeble old lady, who was very lame and spent much of her time in studying the Holy Scriptures.

Family Finder / Autosomal DNA Participants: N/A


JENNIE GUTHRIE
17??IRE – 17/18??

Jennie Guthrie married a Mr Jennings and moved to Indiana.

Family Finder / Autosomal DNA Participants: No


MARY GUTHRIE
c1762IRE – 1830KY

Mary Guthrie was born about 1762 in Ireland, probably in County Cork. She married Jacob Bilderback about 1786. They lived in Shelby County, KY. Did Mary travel west with her brother Adam to Kentucky, or did she marry in Virginia and then head west with her husband?

Bilderback Children: 7
Elizabeth Bilderback (1787), Adam Guthrie Bilderback (1788), Lydia Bilderback (1789), Mary Bilderback (1792), Sally Bilderback (1796), Daniel Bilderback (1797), Rachel Bilderback (1800)

Family Finder / Autosomal DNA Participants: Yes
Kit B3984
James Guthrie/Elizabeth Dunlap > Mary Guthrie/Jacob Bilderback > Lydia Bilderback/George W Moss > Mary Lydia Moss/Jonathan Davis > Elizabeth Davis/William Robert Wilson > Charlotte Wilson/William Henry Jones > Jane Jones/Snodie B Winfrey (GGP)


ADAM GUTHRIE
1762IRE – 1826KY

Adam Guthrie was born in County Cork, Ireland, probably at the home of his great-uncle, John Guthrie. The latter was a barrister and the one-time ward of his father, James Guthrie. When his parents decided to move to Virginia, it was decided that 12-year old Adam would remain behind to be groomed as heir to his great-uncle’s estate, but the unexpected death of James and Elizabeth (Dunlap) Guthrie on the voyage to America prompted Adam Guthrie to head to Virginia.

He lived in Augusta County, Virginia with his eldest sister Margaret and her husband, a Mr Walker. She was reportedly unkind to him, which led to his interest in the western frontier of Kentucky. It was during his journey west that he met Edmund Polke and his family. He also fell in love with Hannah Polke, and some say that he married her on the journey somewhere along the Monangahela River. Kentucky records the marriage in Bardstown, Nelson, KY on 11 or 25 Nov 1778. Consent for his daughter’s marriage to Adam Guthrie was signed by Edmond Polk on 11 Nov 1778.

They settled in Nelson County, Kentucky. Adam became involved in the local militia and earned the title of ‘general’. They frequently skirmished with the native population in the now six to seven state area. “He was an active and energetic man, and bore a distinguished part in the struggle with the Indians for that flourishing region.” Guthrie was also in the Battle of the Saline, which was fought ten or twelve miles west of Shawneetown, Illinois.

“Peace being made with the Indians, General Guthrie turned his attention wholly to civil pursuits and became so far a politician as to represent his county in the Kentucky Legislature eight or ten years, to the entire satisfaction of his constituents and of his fellow citizens in general. He was a man of strong practical sense, and was much esteemed for that, as well as for the fidelity with which he adhered to friendships formed in the hour of trial and danger.” (Source: Portrait of Eminent Americans)

Guthrie Children: 8
Elizabeth Guthrie (1789), Edmund Guthrie (1791), James Guthrie (1792), John Berry Guthrie (1794), Mary ‘Polly’ Guthrie (1796), Sarah ‘Sally’ Guthrie (1798), Nancy Guthrie (1800), Hannah Guthrie (1801)

Y-DNA Project Participants: No
Family Finder / Autosomal DNA Project Participants: No



Documented Family History / Historical Highlights:

1701: ACT of SETTLEMENT PASSED by PARLIAMENT
Act of Settlement passed by Parliament in June of 1701, said that if William III and Princess Anne, Queen Mary’s sister, died without heirs, the throne should pass to Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James I, and to her heirs, if they were Protestants. The house of Hanover ruled Great Britain from 1714 as result.

1701: DEATH of JAMES II (JAMES VII of SCOTLAND)
At the death of the deposed King James II in September of 1701, King Louis XIV of France recognised his son as James III, called the ‘Old Pretender’, as the rightful King of Scotland (James VIII).

1714: DEATH of QUEEN ANNE
Queen Anne, who had succeeded William III to the throne, died without an heir in August of 1714, therefore George, Elector Hanover was crowned King George according to the Act of Settlement of 1701.

1715: JAMES GUTHRIE – (THE HEIR) – SENT TO IRELAND
Sometime before September 1715, the time of the Jacobite uprising, James Guthrie sent his son, namesake, and only heir, James Guthrie, to live with his brother, John Guthrie, a barrister in County Cork, Ireland. A ‘belted knight’ took the boy and the family’s estate documents to Ireland.

1715: THE FIFTEEN REBELLION
The Jacobite uprising in September of 1715 Braemar, Scotland and northern England was led by John Erskine, the Earl of Mar.

1715: JACOBITE DEFEAT at the BATTLES of SHERIFFMUIR and PRESTON
November 1715

1715: JAMES FRANCIS EDWARD STUART ARRIVES IN SCOTLAND
December 1715
The would-be king landed in Scotland at Peterhead and joined the Jacobites at Perth

1715-1716: DEATH of JAMES GUTHRIE – (THE JACOBITE)
My cursory searches have found no lists of Jacobite dead much less any that include the name James Guthrie. The family story reveals that he died as a cause of the rebellion, and that his lands were confiscated. That indicates that he was on the losing side.

1716: JACOBITES DISBAND
February 1716
James Francis Edward Stuart left for France and the Jacobites disbanded.

1733-1750: MARRIAGE of JAMES GUTHRIE & ELIZABETH DUNLAP
Ireland, probably County Cork

This is a very rough estimation of a date range for the marriage of James Guthrie and Elizabeth Dunlap. The only birth date established for one of their children is Adam Guthrie in 1762. He is likely the youngest of the children in the family, or one of the youngest. His mother Elizabeth was probably no more than 45 at the time of his birth. That give us an estimated DOB for her of about 1717. If she was no younger than 16 at the birth of her first child and had her children about 2 years apart, she would have been about 28 at Adam’s birth, which would make her DOB about 1734. So, Elizabeth was probably born 1717-1734. If she was at least 16 at her marriage, the estimated range would be 1733-1750.

1735-1752: BIRTH of DAUGHTER – MARGARET GUTHRIE
Ireland, probably County Cork

This is a very rough calculation of Margaret Guthrie’s DOB. She is identified as the eldest child of the family. Were the girls all still minors at the time of their passage to America? Did Margaret’s marriage to Mr Walker occur in Ireland or Virginia?

1737-1754: BIRTH of UNIDENTIFIED DAUGHTER
Ireland, probably County Cork

This daughter also married a Walker.

1739-1756: BIRTH of DAUGHTER – ELIZABETH GUTHRIE
Ireland, probably County Cork

Betty / Betsey broke her knee during the big storm and her leg never recovered. She never married.

1741-1758: BIRTH of DAUGHTER – JENNIE GUTHRIE
Ireland, probably County Cork

Jennie Guthrie married a Mr Jennings and moved from Augusta County, VA to Indiana.

1743-1760: BIRTH of DAUGHTER – MARY GUTHRIE
Ireland, probably County Cork

Online trees list her DOB as 1762, which is the same as Adam’s. Since he has the full day and month as well as the year, his is likely to be more accurate. Nothing in the family story suggests they were twins.

Mary Guthrie married Jacob Bilderback about 1786, probably in Augusta County, Virginia. They settled in Spencer, Shelby, Kentucky and raised a family of 7 children.

1762: BIRTH of SON – ADAM GUTHRIE
County Cork, Ireland on 1 October 1762

Adam Guthrie is the only son of James Guthrie and Elizabeth Dunlap.

1774: AMERICAN IMMIGRATION
Colonial Virginia

About 1774, James Guthrie decided to move his family to Virginia. Their only son Adam Guthrie remained behind in County Cork to serve as John Guthrie’s heir. The rest of the family boarded a ship bound for America. The fateful decision would lead to the death of James and his wife. A storm blew the ship off course resulting in its delayed arrival three months later. Both James and Elizabeth died at sea. Some weeks or months later, Adam Guthrie was sent to Virginia by his uncle.

1779: HEIRS-AT-LAW
Augusta County, Virginia, USA on 21 Dec 1799

James Brown and Adam Guthrie granted certificates as nephews and heirs at law of James Dunlap, dec’d, who served as a lieutenant in Capt Hogg’s Company of Rangers and was destroyed by the enemy (Indians) in 1758. {Source}

1788: PROPERTY PURCHASE
Nelson County, Kentucky on 10 SEP 1788

John and Arabella Ash, for 100 pounds, conveyed to Adam Guthrie 218 acres on Ash’s Creek, where David Evans formerly lived.

1788: MARRIAGE of ADAM GUTHRIE & JOANNA ‘HANNAH’ POLKE
Nelson County, Kentucky

Sometime in the late 1780s, Adam Guthrie made a decision to leave for Kentucky. His elder sister was unkind to him, but his brother in law, a Mr Walker, encouraged him to find his own path by traveling to the frontier lands in Kentucky. On the way, he met up with the family of Edmund Polke.

On 11 Nov 1788, Edmund Polke wrote a consent for his daughter to marry Adam Guthrie. Their marriage was recorded in Nelson County, Kentucky on 25 Nov 1788 by William Taylor, minister.

Consent to Marry
Marriage Bond
Marriage Record – Nelson County, Kentucky

Adam and Hannah were parents to 8 children: Elizabeth, Edmund, James, John Berry, Mary, Sarah, Nancy, and Hannah.

Later in life he was known as “General Guthrie” presumably from his activities in the KY Militia on the frontier.

1792: KENTUCKY TAX LIST
Nelson County, Kentucky, USA

Adam Guthrie, No Township Listed

1800: KENTUCKY TAX LIST
Nelson County, Kentucky, USA

Adam Guthrie, No Township Listed

1800 – 1805: MEMBER of KENTUCKY LEGISLATURE

1801: PUBLISHED CERTIFICATES
Nelson County, Kentucky, USA on 4 May 1801

The following was published in Stewart’s Kentucky Herald (Lexington, KY) on 19 May 1801, 26 May 1801, and 2 June 1801 along with several other statements as ordered by the court regarding a duel between James Chambers and John Rowan, Esq.

1803: EXPIDITION to LOUISIANA – NEWSPAPER CLIPPING
The Raleigh Minerva (Raleigh, NC) on 19 Dec 1803, Monday, Page 2
[Source: Newspapers.com]

The same article was also found published in The Evening Post, New York, NY on Friday, 9 December 1803 – page 2. [Source: Newspapers.com] Also in the Republican Watchtower, New York, NY on 10 Dec 1803. [Source: GenealogyBank]

1807: MEMBER of KENTUCKY LEGISLATURE
Representatives elected in Nelson County 1807 State Elections:
Adam Guthrie and John Lilly
[Western World (Frankfort, KY), Thu., 13 Aug 1807, Vol 2, Issue 59, p2, GenealogyBank]

1808: MEMBER of KENTUCKY LEGISLATURE
Representatives elected in Nelson County 1808 State Elections:
Adam Guthrie, Charles Morehead, Walter Brashear
[Frankfort Argus (Frankfort, KY), Thu., 11 Aug 1808, Vol 1, Issue 29, p460, Genealogy Bank]

1809: NEWSPAPER CLIPPING
The Reporter (Lexington, KY) on 12 Jan 1809, Vol 1, Issue 50, Page 3
[Source: GenealogyBank]

1810: UNITED STATES FEDERAL CENSUS
Bardstown, Nelson, Kentucky

Adam Guthrie Household
1 – Male – 45 and over
1 – Female – 45 and over
1 – Male – 26 thru 44
2 – Females – 26 thru 44
3 – Males – 16 thru 25
3 – Females – 10 thru 15
1 – Female – Under 10
10 – Slaves
21 – Total Household Members

1826: DEATH of ADAM GUTHRIE
Nelson County, Kentucky on 31 Jan 1826

He was buried behind the Baptist Church in Bloomfield. If the Guthries of this line were ever of the Catholic faith back in Ireland, it seems that Adam Guthrie followed the Polke family religious leanings.

His wife Hannah is also buried beside him. She died on 17 March 1842.

1826: LAST WILL & TESTAMENT – PROBATED
Nelson County, Kentucky

Adam Guthrie’s will was recorded in Nelson County Will Book F, page 64. It was written 13 Apr 1825 and probated 13 Feb 1826. Those named within were his wife Hannah, son John, daughters Polly Minor, Sally Guthrie, Hannah King, and sons James, Edmond and John. He also named a Lucinda Smith and his sister Betsey Guthrie.


The Guthrie DNA Project:

This Guthrie family is seriously under represented in the Guthrie DNA Project. We currently have only one participant with an Autosomal test.

A male Guthrie is needed for a Y-DNA Test to confirm direct paternal line origins.

More descendants from this line who have or will participate in Family Finder / Autosomal DNA tests should also consider joining the project.

Kit B3984
James Guthrie/Elizabeth Dunlap > Mary Guthrie/Jacob Bilderback > Lydia Bilderback/George W Moss > Mary Lydia Moss/Jonathan Davis > Elizabeth Davis/William Robert Wilson > Charlotte Wilson/William Henry Jones > Jane Jones/Snodie B Winfrey (GGP)

This kit shows no evidence of triangulation between Guthrie families. No shared lineages or DNA segments between the matches to people of Guthrie ancestry. More data is needed for comparison.

Transfer your AncestryDNA results to FTDNA via their free transfer protocol in order to join the project. You can also provide ‘viewer’ access to the Guthrie DNA Project Admin (me) for your AncestryDNA results in order to obtain the same analysis.

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