French Huguenots

Time to think outside the box. Do any of our Guthrie lineages have French Huguenot ancestry? According to the tales told by the elders of one family, the answer is yes. Determining whether or not there is substance to the old family legend will take some digging. Descendants want to know if we have been looking in the wrong place for their ancestral ties. How about France?

The Guthrie surname is believed to have originated Scotland. Among those who possessed the name were men of religious passion who stood up for their principles whether or not the Crown approved. Some charged with treason lost their heads. Others were dispossessed of lands and livelihoods being forced to flee Scotland along with their families.

Could some of our Guthrie ancestors have ended up in France?


Before discussing the details about the Guthrie family in question or how they may or may not be connection with Huguenot origins, let’s review how it is possible that people of Scottish origin could end up living in France.


Way back in 1295, an alliance was made between Scotland and France in order to control the numerous invasions of the English. The alliance stipulated that if either Scotland or France was invaded by England, the other country would also go to war against England. This relationship continued for 265 years until it ended with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh in 1560. (Wikipedia) (Historic UK) (Bonnie Scotland and La Belle France)


“Scottish emigration to European destinations began to become significant in the seventeenth century and was caused by a number of factors. Scotland was then a poor country on the fringe of Europe and many of those settling abroad were economic migrants heading for opportunities in the burgeoning cities of the continent. A significant number were soldiers of fortune—mercenaries attracted by opportunities in continental armies. Some were political or religious refugees seeking sanctuary, while others were scholars advancing their education in continental universities. Scots merchants, factors, and pedlars could be found throughout north-west Europe by 1700.” (St Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research)

One writer tells us that many Scots chose to stay in France being free to do so as a stipulation of the Auld Alliance. “Scottish soldiers flowed one way, and wine flowed the other.”

There seems to be many reasons a family of Scottish origin would migrate to France.


The Protestant Reformation during the 16th century was a “religious, political, intellectual, and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe.” There was a call for the redistribution of religious and political power away from papal authority.

Huguenots were French Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who followed the teachings of John Calvin. The first Huguenot church was created about 1555 in Paris. By 1562 there were two million Huguenots in France and over 2,000 churches.

Religious wars began in France. At the order of Catherine de Medici, the St Bartholowmew’s Day Massacre of 1572 resulted in the murder of around 70,000 Huguenots across the country. Such violence continued until the Edict of Nantes in 1598, which ended the civil war, granting Huguenots certain freedoms. During the reign of Louis XIV the persecution of the Huguenots escalated again as the king ordered troops to seize Huguenot homes and force them to convert to Catholicism. Protestantism was made illegal.

Consequently, French Huguenots were forced to flee to Germany, England, Scotland, America, and South Africa. (

The Very Reverend Thomas Guthrie FRSE DD (1803-1873) wrote during a journey to Paris on 26th April 1864:

“Louis XIV, by revoking the Edict of Nates, ruined the cause of the Reformed Church and the interests of France. Seventy thousand Huguenots emigrated to the Low Countries, and, while thousands came to us across the channel, only the dregs remained; and when these facile souls were driven into the Popish churches from sheer terror, that great scoundrel Bossuet, who prostituted his brilliant talents to the basest purposes, extolled his licentious master for the deed, as a grad defender of the true faith and conqueror of heresy. The Roman Catholic Church and the Bourbon race reaped, in the cruelties and horrors of the Revolution, what they sowed in the massacre of St Bartholowmew and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Revolution merely overthrew what through all manner of vice had already become decayed—like an old tree, its heart eaten out, and little else left than a shell.” (Autobiography)

America was another major port of refuge for the Huguenots. Beginning in 1624 they began to arrive en mass in New York and New Jersey, but Huguenot communities also developed in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina.

Robert Guthrie/Guttery c1750SC – 1799GA & Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ MNU
Children: 1) Leroy (m. Letty Rylee)
2) Nelly (m. FNU Reaves)
3) William (m. Hannah Johnson)
4) Thomas (marital status unknown)
5) John (m. Polly Rylee)
6) Elizabeth (m. Daniel Harrison Maddox)
7) Molley (m. James Young)

Robert Guthrie/Guttery may (or may not) have been born in the area of Charleston, South Carolina. There is also the possibility that he was an immigrant or the son of an immigrant. It is presumed that he married in South Carolina around 1770. The family moved to Wilkes County, Georgia around 1778 after Robert paid fees for over 900 acres of land, so he was not without resources. Elbert County formed in 1790 after which Robert, Betsy and family are documented there.

Robert Guthrie may indeed have been born in South Carolina as one origin story reveals. Two Scottish prisoners were transported to SC after the Scottish Rebellion in 1716. Either of these men could potentially be the father of Robert Guthrie/Guttery, but the scenario would seem to rule out a link to the French Huguenots.

  • Robert Guthrie, captured at Preston, transported on the Wakefield , 21 Apr 1716
  • John Guthrie, captured at Preston, transported on the Susanna, 7 May 1716

Robert Guthrie may have been born in America to one of the northern branches of GFG2A and migrated to South Carolina.

  • Branch K is not the only line from GFG2A with SC connection.
  • Branch B’s William Guthrie & Elizabeth Barnett and family moved from PA to the Waxhaws Settlement by 1771. They have a son named Robert Guthrie (1756PA-1838TN) who married Mary Taylor. This couple also had a son named Robert Guthrie (1790KY-1846MO) who married a woman by the name of Matilda Hill Maury. More on this couple coming up!
  • All of the Branch B men have established sons named Robert Guthrie, so it does not appear that Robert directly descends from that part of the family. The same goes for the men of Branch C. Our Branch B participants do not have the genetic mutations unique to Branches E, G or H, which also have PA connections.
  • If Robert was born to one of these other GFG2A branches his placement is not apparent.

Robert Guthrie/Guttery may have been a direct immigrant to South Carolina.

  • Is there any evidence for the theory?
  • Did he come to America from Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, or France?


Descendants of son William Guthrie/Guttery match Guthrie Family Group 2A. Designated as ‘Branch K’. William Guthrie was married to Hannah Johnson.
Descendants of son John Guthrie originate from Barnett Y-DNA. Designated GFG2E. John Guthrie was married to Polly Rylee). Unknown if John was adopted into this family or if his biological father was a Barnett.
Details in the Y-DNA markers can sometime reveal if one branch of a family is genetically closer to another. The only genetic clue is found in a shared genetic mutation with a Branch C participant. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough data to draw a conclusion.
There are 19 Autosomal DNA Kits in the project”
Kit 145134 – 96% British Isles, 3% Eastern Europe, +Trace Results
Kit 180856 – 93% British Isles, Other Trace Results
Kit 267695 – 91% British Isles, 5% Iberia, +Trace Results
Kit 296490 – 60% British Isles, 34% West/Central Europe, 4% East Europe, +Trace
Kit 298996 – 81% West/Central Europe, 15% British Isles, 4% Scandinavia, +Trace
Kit 313149 – 86% British Isles, 11% Southeast Europe, 2% Scandinavia
Kit 319668 – 39% West/Central Europe, 34% British Isles, 23% Scandinavia, +Trace
Kit 328691 – 37% West/Central Europe, 27% British Isles, 26% Scandinavia, 4% Southeast Europe, 3% East Europe
Kit 335428 – 86% British Isles, 8% West/Central Europe, 3% Southeast Europe, +Trace
Kit 384880 – 45% Scandinavia, 38% British Isles, 8% Iberia, 6% SE Europe, +Trace
Kit 417309 – 50% Finland, 29% British Isles, 11% Iberia, 8% East Europe, + Trace
Kit B45118 – Not Available
Kit B236599 – 71% West/Central Europe, 24% British Isles, 4% SE Europe, +Trace
Kit B299547 – 48% British Isles, 40% Scandinavia, 9% Asia Minor, +Trace Results
Kit B432966 – Not Available
Kit B521091 – Not Available
Kit B573752 – 51% West/Central Europe, 19% Scandinavia, 15% British Isles, 10% East Europe, 4% West Africa, +Trace Results
Kit MK58329 – 99% British Isles
Kit N58410 – 96% British Isles, +Trace Results

Each genetic company breaks down ethnicity estimates based on their unique systems and admixtures that compares your DNA to individuals from distantly-related populations. They compare all of your inherited DNA to people who have similar findings and create estimates of where your relatives may have originated.

Our prehistoric ancestors did not have the same modern map that we do today, and they migrated from one region to another. People with the same or similar genetic backgrounds may be found in more than one place, or overlapping with another. That is the case with France. The bulk of the country falls into the West/Central Europe category, but northern France can also be found in the British Isles category. The Norman Conquest brought an influx of DNA from the region into England, so that makes a lot of sense.

Although interesting to peruse, the Ethnic Origins of GFG2A-Branch K descendants don’t shed any light onto the mystery about potential French Huguenot connections.


Are there any references to people of the Guthrie surname in connection to French Huguenot ancestry?


Are they associated with GFG2A?


Here’s how…

Documents, chiefly unpublished, relating to to the Huguenot Emigration to Virginia and to the Settlement at Manakin-town, with an appendix of Genealogies, presenting data of the Fontaine, Maury, Dupuy, Trabue, Marye, Chastain, Cocke, and other Families, Edited and Compiles for the Virginia Historical Society, R. A. Brock, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1962.

A Partial List of the Descendants of John de la Fontaine, Presenting Data of the Fontaine, Maury, and other Family Names.

The author begins with a biographical sketch of John de la Fontaine, born into the French nobility about 1500. The family were Huguenots. He, his wife, and eldest son were martyred at his paternal estates in Maine (France) in 1563. The line proceeds to his 2x great-granddaughter, Matilda Hill Maury who married Robert Guthri

John de la Fontaine
Rev James Fontaine married Anne Elizabeth Boursiquot
Children: James, Aaron, Mary Anne, Moses, Elizabeth, Peter, John, Francis

Matthew Maury married Mary Anne Fontaine
Children: James, Mary, Abraham

Rev. James Maury married Mary Walker
Children: Matthew, James, Leonard Hill, Anne, Mary, Catherine, Walker, Elizabeth, Abraham, Fontaine, Benjamin, Richard, Matilda Hill

Richard Maury married Diana Minor
Children: Mary, E., Matilda, Walker, Elizabeth, Richard, Matthew Fontaine

Matilda Hill Maury married Robert Guthrie
Children: Eliza, John, Matthew, Robert (listed in this source)

Matilda Hill Maury
Born: 23 Dec 1797 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia
Married: 18 Jan 1816 in Williamson County, Tennessee to Robert GuthrieChildren: Mary Diana, Eliza L, Harriet, (infant son), Richard M (died infancy), John Minor, Matthew Fontaine, Nathaniel, Robert Maury, Cornelia Jeanetta, Maury, Richard

Robert Guthrie
Grandparents: William Guthrie b.1713-30PA – d1778SC and Elizabeth Barnett
Parents: Robert Guthrie 1756PA – 1838KY and Mary Taylor
Born: 2 Mar 1790 in Lincoln County, Kentucky
As a descendant of the Branch B line of GFG2A, this Robert Guthrie’s family is associated with the Three Brothers origin story, which tells of the ironmongers from Edinburgh. So there are no obvious Huguenot ties on the Guthrie side of this family equation. Through their Maury and Fontaine ancestry, this family does have a strong connection to the French Huguenots.

Could the same sort of story apply to GFG2A-Branch K? Perhaps that Guthrie family also married into it.

There is a connection between Charleston, South Carolina, where Robert Guthrie/Guttery of Branch K was rumored to be born or at least said to have lived, and the French Huguenot Church.

In April of 1680, the ship Richmond arrived in Charleston with 45 French Huguenots aboard. Four hundred fifty more would settle the Low Country of South Carolina by 1700.

The South Carolina Encyclopedia indicates the Lord Proprietors originally intended to draw Huguenots to the colony to develop silk, wine, and olive oil production publishing pamphlets in cities where large numbers of refugees congregated. The promise of cheap land, commercial opportunities, and religious freedom drew them to Carolina. The majority of Huguenots settled in the colony between 1684 and 1688. Those who came during this period founded three communities before 1690, the most important of which was Charleston, where a congregation was founded in 1680 and a church built in 1687.


Source: Guthrie & Guttery and Allied Families, compiled by Mrs John McQueen Guttery, Jasper, AL, 1956, Oklahoma Historical Society.

This is interesting because the author is the wife of a GFG2A-Branch K descendant of Robert Guthrie/Guttery. She mentions the difficulty in researching her husband’s ancestors because of the presence of the De la Gootrie name found in South Carolina. Reportedly, the De La Gootrie family were descendants of a Guthrie family with ancestral ties in Scotland. They had fled from Scotland to France due to religious persecution in their homeland and settled in the Bordeaux region. At some point, they migrated with other Huguenot families to America.

See Message Board Discussion Thread
Tony Fuller, editor of Huguenot Families, Huguenot Society of Great Britain & Ireland, writes “There is a record of the Guthrie family being supporters of Primerose’s evangelical mission in France (c1607) but it caused such an uproar that the Guthries had to quit France and they then seem to fade from the Scottish and English Huguenot records.”

He further states that there are no Guthries of any variant spelling in his database of Huguenot surnames. He also doubts the veracity of a “Gootrie” spelling in France. Phonetic spellings of the Guthrie name come in all forms, both legitimate and contrived. I do not have a copy of Mrs Guttery’s book, so I cannot tell if she listed any particular sources.


With the resources available at my fingertips (meaning that I have not gone to France or translated any French documents on the Huguenots) I find no evidence of an established Guthrie Family Group or lineage living in France or possessing direct ties to the French Huguenot Church. If you have some info, please share it. Family legends are usually based in some form of truth. You just have to dig deep enough to find where its original source.

That said, there is still a lot we do not know about how GFG2A-Branch K arrived in South Carolina, whether by birth, migration, or immigration. The Huguenot families are noted to have quickly married and assimilated into the established society. There is also some controversy or lack of evidence about the identity of Robert Guthrie/Guttery’s wife Elizabeth. Perhaps her side of the family contains the Huguenot history that persists in the family legend.

That seems to have been the case with the collaterally related family of Robert Guthrie and Matilda Hill Maury from GFG2A-Branch B. Her ancestors were among the first Huguenot settlers in Virginia, which means that those Guthrie descendants do have Huguenot ancestry. Just not on the Guthrie side of their tree.


Smith, H. (1917). The Orange Quarter and the First French Settlers in South Carolina. The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 18(3), 101-123. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from

McClain, M., & Alessa Ellefson. (2007). A Letter from Carolina, 1688: French Huguenots in the New World. The William and Mary Quarterly, 64(2), third series, 377-394. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from

Bugg, J. (1953). The French Huguenot Frontier Settlement of Manakin Town. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 61(4), 359-394. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from

Kingdon, R. (1980). Why Did the Huguenot Refugees in the American Colonies Become Episcopalian? Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 49(4), 317-335. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from

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