GFG2C: Guthrie-Caldwell


YDNA and Family Finder (Autosomal DNA) testing has been reported for a new project member who descends from Robert Guthrie & Eliza Jane Caldwell. He is only the second representative for this Guthrie line with its earliest known ties in Pennsylvania and Ohio. We now have a male Guthrie who descends from son William and one who descends from son Robert Caldwell Guthrie. This participation provides genetic evidence for the direct paternal line going all the way back to Robert Guthrie’s generation.

Kit 320661 (Y-111 markers)
Robert Guthrie/Eliza Jane Caldwell > William Guthrie/Eleanor Evans > Francis Guthrie/Matilda Stuart > William Scott Guthrie/Martha Angeline Newell (GGP)

Kit 929316 (Y-37 markers)
Robert Guthrie/Eliza Jane Caldwell > Robert Caldwell Guthrie/Jane Cunningham > David Guthrie/Margaret Moore > Joseph Gordon Guthrie/Sarah Jack (GGP)


Back in the 1930s, ‘American Guthrie and Allied Families’ author put forth several theories on which Guthrie lineages belonged together based on his research, their residence within the same region, and correspondence with descendants. He stated that any misplacement of a lineage would likely do no harm as it was his belief that they were all interrelated. This was long before DNA testing revealed that people of the Guthrie surname come from numerous genetic backgrounds, but there is also some truth to his findings. Most of the lineages attached to the theoretical families are indeed related. However, there are still a few mysteries to be solved.

My Related/Unrelated post on Robert, John, & James: Ironmongers of Edinburgh discusses some of our challenges when reconstructing a family tree without enough data. Author Laurence R. Guthrie proposed that James Guthrie, one of the 3 designated brothers originally from Scotland, had married an unidentified Bissell. Their family was theorized to consist of James Guthrie 1731-1799PA & Ann (MNU), William Guthrie 1735PA-1829PA (Unmarried), Thomas Guthrie 1744PA-1837KY & Mildred Howell, and finally Robert Guthrie 1752PA-1815OH & Eliza Jane Caldwell.

Descendants of James Guthrie 1731-1799PA & Ann (MNU) are genetically matched to Guthrie Family Group 2A. The Guthrie-Bissell line is designated as Branch I. Should the theoretical family group be completely accurate, all other direct male descendants should also match the YDNA profile for GFG2A. Herein lies our problem.

Designated son William Guthrie had no heirs. He bequeathed his property to the children of his brother James and to unidentified sisters.

The project has two closely related descendants of Thomas Guthrie 1744-1837 & Mildred Howell who have been placed in subgroup GFG2B. Their YDNA does not match any established group, and appears to be the result of a genetic mismatch in an earlier generation. We need more Guthrie-Howell descendants to prove whether this line does indeed belong to GFG2A or if the full line going all the way back to Thomas Guthrie is representative of other YDNA.

Robert Guthrie 1752-1815 & Eliza Jane Caldwell’s line has been in the same boat as his designated brother Thomas Guthrie. Until now, we had only 1 direct male descendant to represent the family line, and his YDNA showed a genetic mismatch not only to GFG2A, the expected/theorized group, but to any of the established Guthrie Family Groups. This subgroup was labelled GFG2C.

Genetic Mismatches May Be Caused By:
1) Family Tree Errors or Missing Links
a) There may be other Guthries out there with the right YDNA to reveal a more distant genetic ancestry and family tree. We don’t have the documents to prove ties between lineages.
b) Wrong theories. These ideas are there to be researched not taken as fact.
c) Research mistakes. Similar names frequently lead to mixed up lineages.

2) Adoption
a) The adoptee could be related to neither the Guthrie father nor the spouse. The child assumes the Guthrie surname and information about the adoption may or may not be known to subsequent generations.
b) The adoptee could be the child of the spouse from a previous marriage. The child assumes the Guthrie surname and information about the adoption may or may not be known to subsequent generations.
c) Most cases do not involve any documentation. The child is simply folded into the family structure.

3) False Paternity
a) An infant born into a Guthrie family whose biological father is not a Guthrie
b) There are many different reasons why this might occur, both consensual and non-consensual, so it’s best not to judge our ancestors when we don’t know their situation.
c) The parties involved might not be certain of the paternity of the child, or be unaware of it.

4) Assumed Surname
a) Immigrants with similar surnames sometimes changed their names upon arrival.
b) Name changes occurred when assuming a new identity.
c) Those who owed allegiance to an overlord sometimes assumed the name of their clan chieftain

5) Feudal Laws
a) The laws of Scotland allowed a female to inherit the lands and title of her father if her husband assumed the family name. Their descendants would be Guthrie by name, but genetically of non-Guthrie origin.

Chances are that many of these circumstances resulted in children born into a Guthrie family and raised as Guthries whether or not their biological paternity was known. Descendants have both an historical Guthrie family and a genetic paternal line to research and discover.


Both YDNA participants from GFG2C match the same genetic profile.

Kit 320661 has tested at the Y111 marker level, while our latest participant is testing out the DNA waters with a Y37 marker test.

They match 100% at the Y37 level. No genetic mutations.

This conclusively proves that William Guthrie and Robert Caldwell Guthrie had the same biological father, which documentation identifies as Robert Guthrie.

It confirms my belief based on multiple autosomal DNA matches for Kit 320661 with other descendants of the Guthrie-Caldwell line that the same genetic history was intact going back to Robert Guthrie’s generation.


Robert Guthrie had to come from somewhere. Whether he was an adoptee or simply had a different biological father than the rest of his family will probably never be known.

YDNA matches can sometimes reveal the surname of the man most likely to be the biological father. In some cases, there is a prevalent surname that comes up on the list of matches. Other times the genetic matches are to men of multiple surnames.

Kit 320661 is our best bet for assessing possible matches because he has tested at the Y111 marker level. Matches at that level are conclusively related no matter the difference in the surname. He has 2 matches to men with Y111 marker tests by the names Smith and Todd. Both have several genetic differences suggesting the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) is distant.

Smith claims ancestry from the Netherlands between the 1600s to the 1800s.
Todd does not have a public tree for comparison.

Looking at the Y67 marker level, there are 27 genetic matches.
Those surnames with the most matches are:
Todd (6), Thompson (2), Buck (2)

Robert Guthrie might actually belong to that theorized Guthrie-Bissell family…. or not. Proving that would probably require the discovery of some documentation we currently do not possess.

He could also potentially belong to some as yet undiscovered Guthrie Family Group in Scotland. Only time will tell if we receive a genetic match to GFG2C from a family line that does not trace their origins back to Robert Guthrie and Eliza Jane Caldwell.


There is always a chance that we can find a clue in the Autosomal DNA tests, but this type of test needs a lot of data for comparison in order to triangulate results. Having a genetic match to someone with Guthrie ancestry does not prove you share that same Guthrie ancestry. You need to share the same DNA segment with more than one person from that line. The more descendants who participate in the project the better. The more data we have the more likely it is that we can find matching DNA segments.


Because of COVID-19, Family Tree DNA and other companies recommend you delay sending new samples in. If you have already tested and want to add your results to the project, you can transfer data to FTDNA and join the Guthrie DNA Project by completing a request form. If you need further guidance about how to transfer your data, please contact me directly.

Genealogy research and adding to your family tree is a great way to pass the time during this period of social distancing. Get in touch with those long lost cousins and compare research notes.

I will continue to process new Guthrie DNA Project members, create family match reports, and assist with questions you have about your Guthrie lines. Please understand that there may be some delays in responding to emails and posted questions in the days and weeks to come. My daily schedule remains somewhat flexible at the hospital where I work, but that could change. If you catch me when I’m there, I will not be able to respond right away. Every new join request is manually processed, so I promise to get back to you asap.

Genealogy is a fantastic distraction, and I think we all need some of that right now. Stay safe. Stay at home. Don’t eat all of your snacks in one go. Wash your hands. We’ll all get through this together even if we’re apart.

1 Comment »

  1. Yay cousin, you are making progress! Exciting Now just find my Guthrie tied to the Mayflower !!!

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