Legends, Myths, & Skeletons

Related or Unrelated ?

The concept of surnames initially became popular in the Roman Empire and expanded throughout the Mediterranean and Western Europe. Surname styles vary from culture to culture, but in England it developed during the Middle Ages using a clan, occupational or residential name after the given name. Surnames are also typically patrilineal being handed down from or inherited from the father.

There are many versions of the GUTHRIE surname including GUTHERIE, GUTHARY, GUTHREE, GUTHERY, GUTHREY, GUTHRY, GUTTERY, GUTTREY, GUTTERIDGE, GUTRIDGE, GUTHRAE, MACGUTHRIE, and more. Are these simply common spelling variations, or are there other cultural or mythic influences at play?

Here’s a little Scottish folktale someone spun long ago…


King David I and his queen were shipwrecked on the Bervie Brow.  Seeing a local fisherman on the beach, the king asked him to ‘gut two’ fish for him.  When the man generously offered to ‘gut three’ fish, the king delightedly declared, ‘Well, Gut-three forever thou shalt be!’

[Source: Angus Folklore]


Raithlin Island is the northern most point of Northern Ireland sitting about two and a quarter miles from the mainland, and is also the closest point to Scotland being about 11 miles from the Mull of Kintyre. Robert the Bruce once used the island for refuge after his defeat by the English at Perth in 1306 during his struggle for the Scottish crown. Our interest in this small island takes place far before his time. [Source]

To find our connection we must go back to the Irish Bronze Age 4000 years to roughly 2026-1534BC. A man died and was buried in a cist (pronounced ‘kist’), which is a stone built tomb typical of the time. He and other skeletons were unearthed and their remains tested using High Quality methods. The skeleton with the best preserved Y-DNA, identified as Raithlin1 matches that of Guthrie Family Group 2A indicating shared direct paternal ancestry.

Raithlin1 is considered to be the earliest known Celtic arrival in the British Isles. He lived at a time long before surnames were introduced to the area, so we cannot say that he was a GUTHRIE, but he was a direct ancestor or the brother of a direct ancestor in the GFG2A ancient ancestral tree.

Raithlin1 Haplotree Results: Z30233+ and FGC3903-
GFG2A Kit#24607 Results: Z30233+ and FGC3903-

Raithlin1 “probably had a light hair shade (61.4%) and brown eyes (64.3%). However, each Rathlin genome possessed indication of at least one copy of a haplotype associated with blue eye color.”

Also interesting to note is that Rathlin1 was a genetic carrier of hemochromatosis, known as the ‘Celtic’ disease. It is an inheritable recessive genetic disorder that causes excessive retention of dietary iron. The markers for this disease are found commonly (11%) in the modern Irish population. As it happens, RWG (Kit#24607) has also had testing done at 23andMe to include genetic health data, which showed that the marker for hemochromatosis was present.

[READ REPORT] Cassidy, Laura M. “Neolithic and Bronze Age Migration to ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome.” PNAS, vol. 113 no.2, dos:10.1073/pnas.1518445113

[READ REPORT] Keith, Arthur. “77. Report on Human Remains from Cist Graves, Rathlin Island.” Man, vol. 29, 1929, pp. 98–100., http://www.jstor.org/stable/2789039.

[READ REPORT] Tildesley, M. L. “78. Archaeological Evidence for the Date of Cist Graves, Rathlin Island.” Man, vol. 29, 1929, pp. 100–104., http://www.jstor.org/stable/2789040.

Robert the Bruce and Rathlin Island. [ARTICLE]


Guthrum consolidated his rule as king over the other Danish chieftains of the Danelaw (Danish-ruled territory of England). He set out with his armies to conquer Wessex, which was under the rule of the Anglo-Saxon King Alfred.

Guthrum was ultimately defeated at the Battle of Edington in 878. His army was able to negotiate a Peace Treaty known as the Treaty of Wedmore. The treaty created borders and established provisions for peaceful relations between the English and the Vikings.

The pagan Danish king assumed the name Æthelstan when he converted to Christianity in 879. He ruled over East Anglia 879-890.

Guthrum’s recorded history is primarily due to his interactions with Alfred the Great. He appears in several works of fiction and on screen, including the Netflix original television series The Last Kingdom.

One of his Danish bynames is “Gorm den Barnløse” which means “Gorm the childless”, which suggests that he had no issue.

Do GUTHRUM, his name, or his Danish origins have any relation to one of our Guthrie Family Groups?


Genetics and the Danelaw [SOURCE]


‘Irish Pedgrees, or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation’ by John O’Hart indicated that MACGOTHFRITH (anglicized GUTHRIE and MACGUTHRIE) is a stem of the GUTHRIE of BREFNEY FAMILY.

Feargal was a brother of Cathal (or Charles) on the O’Reilly pedigree, and was an ancestor of MacGothfrith.

The lineage goes MacGothfrith > Feargal > Cathal Dubh > Gothfrith > Muirchearthach > Feargal > Donchadh > Niall MacGuthrie

This lineage is mentioned by Tennessee researcher Penelope Johnson Allen in her genealogy publication ‘Leaves from the Family Tree’. She asserts that Adam Guthrie of Ireland, Virginia & Kentucky (d.1827KY) is a direct descendant of Niall MacGuthrie. No evidence was presented in the article, and the direct descendants of Adam Guthrie and Mary Anderson have not yet presented the project with an eligible candidate for Y-DNA testing.

Is there any truth to the connection? To date, I have not routinely searched for the variation MACGUTHRIE within the project’s Autosomal DNA results. This suggests I should start. Any MacGuthrie’s out there?

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