Adam Guthrie & Mary Anderson

The Family Focus is on. . .

~ Ireland to Virginia to Kentucky ~

This month in Guthrie Genealogy we are delving into the family history and DNA matches for Adam Guthrie (d.1827KY) and Mary Anderson. 

Family Focus write ups include Origin Theories, Mistaken Identities, Family History and Documentation, Analysis of YDNA & Autosomal DNA results, and a summary with some Conclusions and Recommendations. You are encouraged to discuss the content, add historical data and sources, argue theories or present your own.

This family is currently in an Ungrouped Guthrie Family status, which means there is no documented proof if its connection to an established Guthrie Family Group, nor do we have a direct male descendant in the YDNA portion of the project. 

There are several participants in the Family Finder/Autosomal DNA project, so this Family Focus will include a comparison of their results to determine if they skew toward any particular group.

This is your chance to add details to this family’s collected documentation, discuss current theories and develop new ones.

Origin Theories:

Adam Guthrie has Irish origins. 

Based on the birth dates of his children born in the 1770s, he was most likely born in the 1740-1750s.

In the 1930s,  Penelope Johnson Allen of the Tennessee State Genealogical Records Department published a series of articles in the Chatanooga Times entitled ‘Leaves from the Family Tree.’. One of her entries was about Thomas Guthrie, a son of Adam Guthrie and Mary Anderson. The author claims this Guthrie line is of Irish origin descending from Fergus, King of Connaught down through the centuries to Niall MacGuthrie, the surname being Anglicized to Guthrie and Godfrey.

‘Leaves From The Family Tree’
Penelope Johnson Allen

Allen quotes John O’Hart’s book ‘Irish Pedigrees; or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation’, 1892 (5th edition), Volume 1.

Precisely how Adam Guthrie is connected to Niall MacGuthrie from the Middle Ages is unknown. Nor does it seem likely that any documentation to prove it would be forthcoming. The article does not reveal whether this connection to Irish royalty is one of family tradition or if it stems from an assumed relationship based on the potential origins of the name itself.

Y-DNA testing of this line could provide some clarity on its origins. There is always a possibility that such a family legend could be true. It is also possible that down through the centuries some of these Irish-born Guthries populated parts of Scotland.

Documented Family History:

Adam Guthrie is said to have arrived in Augusta County, Virginia during the latter half of the 18th century settling in the Scot-Irish community there.

I do not have any documents that confirm his American immigration, arrival or settlement in Augusta County, or removal to other parts of Virginia. Please share your data if you have proof of Adam’s residence in Virginia.

One Guthrie family with known connections in Augusta, Virginia is John Guthrie & Martha Gilkeson of GFG2A-Branch H, a lineage that first came to Pennsylvania from Londonderry, Northern Ireland. We do not have YDNA representation from Adam’s line to prove a familial connection to GFG2A, but we will take a look at Autosomal Results further below.

Adam Guthrie married Mary Anderson of Virginia with whom he had James (1777), George W (1780), Elizabeth Mary ‘Polly’ (1784), Nancy (1786), and Thomas (1789). These are the names listed in the 1825 will of Adam Guthrie (Guthery).

They settled in Fincastle County, Virginia. This county was created in 1772 from Botetourt County, the boundaries of which extended at the time all the way to the Mississippi River. Fincastle County was abolished just 4 years later and divided into three new counties—Montgomery, Washington, and Kentucky. 

After a few more divisions and a Revolution, the State of Franklin was briefly created and abolished. Adam Guthrie happened to be living there at the time. He appears on a list of residents petitioning for release of obligations, taxation, and duties to the North Carolina government. (Vol. 22, pp.705-714, North Carolina State Records) His signature appears on the back of the petition as ‘Adam Guthery’. He is the only one of the Guthrie surname on the petition.

During the 1785 constitutional convention held in Greenville split participation contributed to the collapse of the State of Franklin in 1788.

The Territory South of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Southwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States between 26 May 1790 until 1 June 1796, when it was admitted to the USA as the state of Tennessee.

Adam Guthrie received a land grant in 1793 for 123 acres along the north bank of the French Broad River in old Greene County, North Carolina, which is now Sevier County, Tennessee.

At the time of his death, Adam Guthrie still owned the east Tennessee plantation, which he willed to his daughters, Polly and Nancy.

Two of Adam’s sons, James and George, removed to Cumberland County, Kentucky about 1809 and the remainder of the family followed. The family crossed the Cumberland Mountains and settled along Illwill Creek in the region of the Upper Cumberland River, which is present day Clinton County, Kentucky just north of the TN-KY state line.

The Mapcarta site shows “Illwill Creek is a stream and is nearby to Pierce Hollow and Boys Island. Illwill Creek is Southeast of Guthrie Bluff (a cliff with an elevation of 807 feet).”

Illwill Creek and Guthrie Bluff
Illwill Creek Crosses the Tennessee-Kentucky Border

1820 Census of Cumberland County, Kentucky
1 – Male 45 and over
2 – Females 26 – 44

Mary (Anderson) Guthrie’s death is given as 1824. Adam wrote his will in 1825, but his death was on 20 August 1827 in Cumberland County, Kentucky.

Last Will and Testament of Adam Guthery

In the name of God, amen, I, Adam Guthery, of the state of Kentucky and County of Cumberland, being sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given unto God, calling unto mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, Doth make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say Principally and first of all I recommend my soul into the hands of almighty God, that gives, and my body I recommend to be buried with a decent christian burial at the direction of my Executors, nothing doubting but at the general Resurrection I shall receive the crown? I again by the mighty power of God, and as touching such worldly Estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life, I give and dispose of in the following manner and form to-wit: 

I first give to my son JAMES GUTHERY, one gray mare that he has now in his possession and to GEORGE GUTHERY, one cow; and to THOMAS GUTHERY a plantation on which he now lives, and to POLLY and NANCY GUTHERY the Plantation on which I now live; also a plantation in east Tennessee on French Broad River on which I formally lived; also the balance of my stock, farming utensils and household furnature to be equally divided between E. Polly and Nancy and if anything can be recovered on an obligation I now hold on John Anderson of forty pounds, it is to be equally divided among all my children. 

I also appoint THOMAS GUTHERY and GEORGE C. CRAFT the executors of this my Last Will and Testament and I do hereby utterly Disallow, revoke and Disannull all other testament, wills, legacies by me in anywise before made. Willing and confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament. 

In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal this 1st day of May in the year of our Lord 1825. 

Adam Guthery (Seal) 
In Presence of 
Michael Craft 
William Craft 

State of Kentucky, Cumberland County Sct. 

I, Milton King, Clerk of the County Court for said county do certify that the within will of Adam Guthery, deceased, was proved in open court at the present August term by the oath of Michel Craft and William Craft, the two subscribing witness there to be recorded and I have truly recorded the same together with this certificate in my said office, this 20th day of August, 1827. 

Milton King

Referenced Family Sites:

Adam Guthrie and Mary Anderson – Pioneer Family of East Tennessee
Site Owner: Floyd L Owsley

Genealogy Report: Descendants of Adam Guthrie
Site Owner: Ronald Scott Guthrie

Mistaken Identities:

While researching ancestors and claiming earlier generations as your own, it is equally important to rule out people of similar names and locations. Two men named Adam Guthrie are frequently misidentified as this man.

Adam Guthrie is not…
Adam Guthrie, son of James Guthrie & Elizabeth Dunlap
Adam Guthrie, son of Thomas Guthrie & Jean Duncan

James Guthrie and Elizabeth Dunlap had only 1 son, Adam Guthrie, born on 1 October 1762, who initially remained behind in Ireland as the only heir to his uncle John. The parents died on the voyage to America leaving their daughters under the care of relatives in Virginia. Afterward, Adam Guthrie arrived in America. He too has a connection to Augusta County, Virginia. He married Hannah Polke in Nelson County, KY in 1788. They had 8 children and remained in Nelson, KY the rest of Adam’s life.

Thomas Guthrie and Jean Duncan’s arrival in America is well-documented. They came from the Orkney Islands of Scotland with their children. They did have a son names Adam born about 19 April 1761. This family arrived in Savannah, GA in Sept. 1774 aboard the Marlborough as indentured servants to Thomas Brown. They moved to Abbeville, SC. Son Adam Guthrie is presumed to have died before his father as Thomas Guthrie did not name him in his will written in 1797.

The Guthrie DNA Project:


Important Reminder Matching Y-DNA results prove direct descent from a common paternal ancestor. A single Y-DNA test by a representative of your family line can conclusively identify your Guthrie Family Group.


Important Info Autosomal DNA results matches you up with relatives who share segments of ancestral DNA. It’s up to you to determine exactly how they are related because they could share any of your ancestors, close or distant, and potentially share surnames that are only coincidentally the same as yours. Autosomal DNA tends to be more of a ‘clue provider’ than a conclusive form of genetic testing unless the volume of results allows us to triangulate data and obtain multiple matching DNA segments.

Individuals who have AncestryDNA tests should have those results analyzed in addition to their Family Finder / Transferred Autosomal DNA tests. The sheer volume of matches at Ancestry will help to determine whether your results skew toward one Guthrie Family Group versus anther.

For privacy reasons, I can’t show you the names of the matches for direct comparison between each kit, but I will list their Guthrie ancestral line and any associated Guthrie Family Group.

Kit 215404
Adam Guthrie c1740IRE-1827KY > George W Guthrie Sr c1780-p1840IL > Mary Ann Guthrie 1803KY-p1880 > Elizabeth Sidwell (4xGGM)

Guthrie Matches: 16
9 of 16 matches are to Established Guthrie Family Groups
7 of 16 from Ungrouped Guthrie Families

GFG1A: 1 match
GFG2A: 6 matches (67%  Established Groups / 32% of All)
GFG4: 1 match
GFG11: 1 match

Matches 1 and 16 are siblings. They share a genetic segment on Chr 14.

Matches 10 & 12 are siblings (also found on my family’s results – GFG2A-Branch A)

Match 11 is to another descendant of Adam Guthrie & Mary Anderson

Matches 13 & 14 are 2nd-4th cousins descending from Frederick Guthrie & Mollie Louallen. These matches are linked to the participant’s maternal tree, which is his non-Guthrie side.

Impression: Skews to GFG2A

Kit 215404

Kit 243531
Adam Guthrie c1740IRE-1827KY > Thomas Guthrie 1789-c1840 > Robert Henderson Guthrie 1820KY-1881TN > Mary Elizabeth Guthrie 1845TN-1921TN (2xGGM)

Guthrie Matches: 27
17 of 27 matches are to Established Guthrie Family Groups
10 of 27 from Ungrouped Guthrie Families or No Available Tree

GFG1A: 2 matches
GFG2A: 9 matches (53% of Established Groups / 33% of All)
GFG2C: 1 match
GFG4:   3 matches
GFG7:   1 match
GFG9:   1 match

Match 1: Brother to this participant. Shares genetic segments on all chromosomes. Also shares DNA with multiple other matches

Matches 2, 6, 12, 16: Share DNA segments with this participant on Chromosome 19. Three are known GFG2A descendants. Match 16 has no tree.

2 = Blue, 6 = Red, 12 = Turquoise, 16 = Orange

Matches 3 & 5 are father and son who descend from Susannah Guthrie & John Lee of VA.
Matches 15 & 18 descend from Robert Guthrie of Block Island, Rhode Island. They do not share DNA with each other.
Matches 24 and 26 are sisters/half-sisters.

Impression: Skews toward GFG2A

Kit 243531

Kit 286576
Adam Guthrie c1740IRE-1827KY > Thomas Guthrie 1789-c1840 > Robert Henderson Guthrie 1820KY-1881TN > Mary Elizabeth Guthrie 1845TN-1921TN (2xGGM)

29 Matches to People of Guthrie Ancestry
18 of 29 to Established Guthrie Family Groups
11 of 29 to Ungrouped Guthrie Families or No Available Tree

GFG1A: 6 matches (33% of Established Groups / 20% of All)
GFG2A: 4 matches (22% of Established Groups / 14% of All)
GFG2C: 1 match
GFG4: 4 matches (22% of Established Groups / 14% of All)
GFG9: 1 match
GFG10: 1 match

Match 1: Sister to the participant. Shares multiple Guthrie matches.

Impression: Inconclusive

Kit 286576

Kit B13639
Adam Guthrie c1740IRE-1827KY > George W Guthrie Sr c1780-p1840IL > Mary Ann Guthrie 1803KY-p1880IL (3xGGM)

25 Matches to People of Guthrie Ancestry
11 of 25 to Established Guthrie Family Groups
14 of 25 to Ungrouped Guthrie Families, No Available Tree

GFG2A: 3 matches (27% of Established Groups / 12% of All)
GFG3A: 1 match
GFG4:   2 matches
GFG5:   4 matches (36% of Established Groups / 16% of All)
GFG6:   1 match

Matches 4, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18 are common to the participant’s mother’s kit, which is her non-Guthrie side.

Some of the more important matches for this kit may be in the Ungrouped and No Tree categories. 

Match 2 is from the same line as the participant, but he also shares DNA with Match 3, who is a male Guthrie. If that male Guthrie happens to share the same Guthrie line, he would be a perfect candidate for Y-DNA testing to confirm Adam Guthrie’s family group of origin.

Match 3 also shares some DNA with Matches 10, 21, and 23. One has no tree, one is from an ungrouped lineage, and the last is from GFG5. They all share different DNA with the participant than Match 3, so they could be related to him in different ways than to the participant.

Impression: Inconclusive

Kit B13639

Kit B50304
Adam Guthrie c1740IRE-1827KY > George W Guthrie Sr c1780-p1840IL > Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Guthrie 1803KY-p1880IL

9 Matches to People of Guthrie Ancestry
3 of 9 to Established Guthrie Family Groups
6 of 9 to Ungrouped Guthrie Families / Unavailable Trees
3 of 6 Ungrouped to his own line

Matches 7 & 8 are father and son.

Impression: Inconclusive

Kit B50304

Kit B93071
Adam Guthrie c1740IRE-1827KY > George W Guthrie Sr c1780-p1840IL > Mary Ann ‘Polly’ Guthrie 1803KY-p1880IL

28 Matches to People of Guthrie Ancestry
12 of 28 to Established Guthrie Family Groups
16 of 28 to Ungrouped Guthrie Families / Unavailable Trees
5 of 15 Ungrouped to her own line

Match 1 is the participant’s sister

The mother of the participant, who has no Guthrie ancestry, shares DNA with matches 3, 8, 9, 11, 16, 17, 18, 19, 28, which could potentially rule them out as Guthrie matches. Unknown if they also share DNA with the participant’s father.

Matches 13, 15, and 18 are closely related to each other, a daughter, father, grandfather

GFG2A: 7 matches* (58% of Established Groups / 25% of All)
GFG3A: 1 match
GFG7:   3 matches
GFG8:   1

*Since the mother shares DNA with 5 of the 7 matches to GFG2A, it drops them down to only 2 matches on confirmed to be on the paternal side of the participant’s family. This makes the skew toward GFG2 inconclusive for this kit.

Impression: Inconclusive

Kit B93071


Two of the major groups with ancestral ties to Ireland are Guthrie Family Groups 2A and 6. There are others, of course, but these have a larger number of participants in the DNA project for comparison.

Overall, I feel that the results skew toward Guthrie Family Group 2A, but there are important matches to people of the Guthrie surname who have not added trees to their profiles. Those might provide stronger evidence one way or the other.

My sister and I personally have Autosomal DNA matches to quite a few descendants of Adam Guthrie & Mary Anderson. Matches via 3 of son James’ children and via 2 of son George’s children. This fact may make me a bit biased toward a GFG2A match because my Guthrie family is GFG2A-Branch A from the Londonderry area of Northern Ireland. The problem with that theory is that we have an Anderson ancestor from colonial Virginia. They were from Spotsylvania and Bedford Counties. If my Anderson line descends from the same Anderson line as Adam’s wife, Mary Anderson, my atDNA matches could originate from there rather than the Guthrie side.

It would be good to have more documented evidence of Adam Guthrie’s presence in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. If you have some general information, Court Orders, Land Records, or other forms of documentation, please share them with the group.


Y-DNA testing has proven the origins of the Adam Guthrie – Mary Anderson line as Guthrie Family Group 7.


  1. Interesting info. Wish you had info about my James Guthrie and his daughter Ann who married John Shannon

  2. Interesting Irish story of Guthfrith It is good that the Irish and the Scots have tapped into the Guthrum/Guthfrith names. We had discovered that Guthrum had an ancestor named Guthfrith in the 9th century. Now we have an additional story from the Irish 12th century,

  3. Laurence R. Guthrie mentions an Adam Guthrie who lived along Back Creek.
    I don’t have a copy of LRG’s book but as I recall he owned a slave and removed to Virginia.
    Can he be eliminated as a possible ID?

    • Yes, they are two different men of the same name. The Adam Guthrie who is associated with the Back Creek family is Adam Guthrie c1725PA-a1798PA who married Mercy Irwin. They lived primarily in Chester County, PA. This Adam Guthrie is one of the ‘presumed sons’ of Robert Guthrie & Miss Darlington of GFG2A – Branch B. Adam & Mercy also had a son named Adam Guthrie, but he lived in PA/OH.

      There is another Adam Guthrie, son of Branch B’s William Guthrie & Elizabeth Barnett, a grandson to Robert & Miss Darlington. He lived in PA in 1810, but dropped off the map after that. Another early Adam Guthrie was the son of GFG2A – Branch C’s Samuel & Mary (MNU) Guthrie. He died before 1775 probably in DE.

      There was also an Adam Guthrie who was a son of James Guthrie & Elizabeth Dunlap (an Ungrouped Guthrie Family). The couple died at sea and Adam was their only male heir. He lived in Augusta County Virginia and married Hannah Polke. They settled in Nelson County, KY. I can recall if he was a slave owner.

      Don’t forget that if you have access to Ancestry, many resources such as Lawrence R Guthrie’s ‘American Guthrie and Allied Families’ are located in the Card Catalog. It is fully searchable. Don’t skip the appendixes, which list many of the author’s sources. The book can also be found online at and for review.

  4. Thanks, Ann. That was quick.
    Yes. Enjoyed read through the Adam parsing last night.
    The GFG2’s are mighty complicated.
    I’ll check the Ancestry LRG later. Good to know!

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