Mistaken Identities

Have you been barking up the wrong family tree? A new topic can be found in the TIDBITS section designed to help you with the most common misidentification errors. We all want to trust what we find out there, especially when it seems to come with lots of added details and links to previously unknown generations, but sometimes it is just plain wrong. An error copied a hundred times can start looking like the truth because you see it everywhere. It can even creep into computer algorithms and show up in seemingly legitimate places like Ancestry’s ThruLines when more than one person has the same (wrong) info in their tree. Let’s try to clear up a few of the biggest issues.

Add your own Mistaken Identities
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Stand your ground and argue a case if you have evidence to support a different story.

Current Hot Topics

Copying a Theory Over Again and Again Tends to Make it Sound Real…Even if it’s Not.

John Guthrie (variants: Gutteridge, Guttrey, Guthrey, & others) who married Elizabeth Baskett, lived in Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, Virginia, and died there in 1706, has no documented middle name or title. The identities of his parents and location of his birth in Scotland are not found in the CCP Register or Vestry Books. In other words, “Captain John Montrose Guthrie” is a made up name, or at the least an incorrectly assigned one.

Online trees frequently attach John Guthrie of Middlesex, VA to parents James Guthrie & Elizabeth Auchterlonie or Auchtersorny. James is also frequently listed as James Montrose Guthrie. There is a birth/baptismal record in the OPR for Jhon Guthrie, son of James Guthrie and Elizabeth Ouchterlony on 9 Aug 1661 in Arbroath. However, there are a number of infants named John Guthrie born in Scotland within a reasonable estimated birthdate range who could be John Guthrie of Middlesex. Neither his DOB nor age is found in the Christ Church Parish records in Middlesex County, Virginia. There are about 10 infants named John born in Angus and quite a few more elsewhere in Scotland within a 20-year span. Too many to narrow it down to one couple without other evidence. There are no clues within the CCP Register or Vestry Books to suggest the identity of his parents. 

What is the source of the middle name ‘Montrose’? It is not in any original documentation associated with John Guthrie of Middlesex, VA. There were Guthrie families living in Montrose, Angus, Scotland, but none known to be associated with this man. It is not even the location of the marriage of James Guthrie & Bessie Ochterlony, nor the location of the birth of their son, John, both of which occurred in Arbroath. The baptismal record does not list a middle name.

There is also no known evidence supporting a title of captain. John Guthrie’s documented occupation per the CCP records is a planter. He is not the Captain Guthrie/Guttrey found in multiple colonial Virginia entries, who was the master of the Ewe and Lamb, a merchant vessel that also transported convicts to the colonies. See Blog entries on Tidewater Virginia Families and Colonial Prisoners and Convicts.

Unless we’re talking reincarnation 200 yrs later…. this is not the same man.

This name keeps popping up as an alternate to John Guthrie of Middlesex, VA (1689VA-1733VA) son of John Guthrie and Elizabeth Baskett. There is indeed a John Howard Paul Guthrie who was born to a John Guthrie and his wife Elizabeth…. in 1881 England. Not this man. The 1881 birth/baptismal record is often found attached to John Guthrie, a man born about 200 years earlier, in multiple trees.

Please select the correct ancestor for your tree.

Elizabeth Dunlap died at sea on the way to Virginia in 1774 along with her husband, James Guthrie. She was not the same woman as Elizabeth (MNU) who was married to the James Guthrie living in Orange County, North Carolina. These are two separate couples.

James Guthrie (bef.1715-1774) was born in Scotland. His father was also a James Guthrie, who sent him to Ireland to live with his uncle, John Guthrie, a lawyer living in County Cork. There he married Elizabeth Dunlap, and they had several daughters, Margaret (FNU Walker), Betsey (never married), Jennie (FNU Jennings), Mary (Jacob Bilderback), and 1 unidentified (FNU Walker), and only one son, Adam Guthrie (Hannah Polke). James, Elizabeth, and their daughters set sail for Virginia in 1774. Both parents died on the journey, and daughter Betsey’s leg was injured. Adam had remained in Ireland with his great-uncle to become his heir, but was soon sent to Virginia join his sisters. He eventually settled in Kentucky.

James Guthrie (abt.1720-1801) was born in Ireland, probably to John Guthrie and Jane Stuart who reportedly lived in or near Londonderry. His wife was also named Elizabeth, but her maiden name has never been discovered in family documentation. They came from Ireland in the 1760s first settling in Baltimore, Maryland and later in Orange County, North Carolina. This couple’s children were: James (Jane Smith), Mary (Alexander McMenamy), Ann (John Shannon), Robert (Mary Smith), Margaret (John Forrest), Martha (FNU Barnett), Jean (John Madden), and Elizabeth (Robert Patton). James’ widow Elizabeth died sometime after 1810.

Note that trees also edit in other incorrect surnames for our dear Elizabeth (MNU) associated with other men named James Guthrie.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Name error. Parent error. Location error.

Lucy Guthrie, born in North Carolina about 1765, has been popping up in various trees as part of my GFG2A Guthrie family, when in fact there is no evidence of James & Elizabeth (MNU) Guthrie having a daughter by that name. Trees bypass this well-documented fact by merging Lucy with their daughter Elizabeth and conveniently identifying their ancestor as Elizabeth Lucile Guthrie. This is an obvious error easily proven by multiple records identifying the siblings.

Elizabeth Guthrie, daughter of James & Elizabeth (MNU) Guthrie of Orange County, North Carolina married Robert Patton on 28 July 1803 in that location. They initially moved to Robertson County, Tennessee where her two brothers had settled on the Robertson-Sumner border, and between 1814-1818 moved to Gallatin County, Illinois where they remained. Elizabeth was the mother of ten children with her husband Robert Patton. She died between 1830-1840 and is buried in the Patton Cemetery in Illinois.

Lucy (Guthrie) Vinson is also not the same woman as Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Guthrie, the daughter of James Guthrie and Elizabeth Dunlap, whose parents died at sea on the way to America in 1774. Betsy severely injured her leg during the voyage. She is documented by other family members as remaining a spinster having never married. “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.” (American Guthrie & Allied Families, Appendix, p.721) Also note that the children of James Guthrie and Elizabeth Dunlap settled in Virginia, not North Carolina.

Lucy Guthrie is shown to have married William Vinson on 22 Jan 1787 in Wake County, North Carolina. (Not even the same county where my Guthrie family lived.) The 1790 census of North Carolina shows the household of a Lewry Guthrie listed on the same page as households of Reuben Vinson, Saml Vinson, and Wm Vinson. It seems to make far more sense that Lucy Guthrie is a daughter or relative of Lewry Guthrie from the same area as the Vinson family she married into.

William & Lucy (Guthrie) Vinson and family lived in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Illinois. William is documented as a pioneer settler of DeWitt County, Illinois in 1829. The wife of William Vinson, presumably Lucy, was enumerated with him as a 60-69 year old during the 1830 census of Mackinaw, Tazewell, Illinois.

Were there really two Guthrie-Norwood marriages?

Thomas Guthrie 1732SCT-1797SC & Jean Duncan’s family came from Orkney, Scotland in Sep 1774 to Savannah, Georgia as indentured servants. They eventually settled in South Carolina. Their 8 children include 3 sons: Adam (1761-bef. 1797), Thomas (1762- bef. 1797), and John (c1764-aft.1830). The latter is believed to have married a Jean Norwood. Was she actually a Norwood? They had a large family many of which remain unidentified.

Robert Guthrie 1773NC-1856TN married Jane Norwood (Note that she had erroneously been identified by a family researcher as Martha Jane Norwood, who has since identified and corrected the mistake.) Robert is frequently added as a son of Thomas Guthrie & Jean Duncan, above, but Robert’s family line belongs to a genetically unrelated Guthrie Family Group.

Are there really two Norwoods named Jean & Jane? Census and court records name Robert’s wife as Jane. The Norwood father’s will names his Guthrie daughter as Jean. The Norwood Bible Record lists an “X”.

Pick the Right Ancestor for your Tree.

Adam Guthrie b1740-45 in IRE – died 1827 in KY was married to Mary Anderson. This couple had 5 children: James (1777), George W (1780), Elizabeth Mary (1784), Nancy (1786), and Thomas (1789). This particular family has now been confirmed as a match to GFG7, but Adam’s parents remain unidentified.

This Adam Guthrie is frequently mistaken for:

Adam Guthrie c1761SCT-bef.1797, son of Thomas Guthrie & Jean Duncan of GFG9. He is not mentioned in Thomas’ 1797 will and is believed to have died prior to that date. No known descendants.

Adam Guthrie 1762IRE-1826KY & Hannah Polke, son of James Guthrie & Elizabeth Dunlap. Adam was their only son. His children include James Guthrie (1792-1868), US Secretary of the Treasury / Kentucky State Senator. Others were: Elizabeth (1789), Edmund (1791), John Berry (1794), Mary (1796), Sarah (1798), Nancy (1800), Hannah (1801).

Two different genetically unrelated men.

George Guthrie (1750PA-1813PA) was the son of Robert Guthrie & Bridget Dougherty. He grew up in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and married Margaret Campbell. After his marriage he moved to Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Known Children: Sarah (1775), William Campbell (1780), Jane (c1790), (FNU Daughter), James (d.1803). George died in Hollidaysburg, Blair, Pennsylvania between October and November of 1813. Descendants include Rev. Laurence R. Guthrie, author of ‘American Guthrie and Allied Families’. This line is part of GFG2A-Branch E.

George Nelson Guthrie is estimated to have been born between 1830-1850 in Ireland. According to the ‘Guthrie Family History’ written by Henry Guthrie, George was one of 4 brothers. They lived in the NJ/NY area. His wife remains unidentified. George left with his family about the time of the Revolutionary War, but the remaining brothers stayed behind to fight and two of them became ‘high ranking’. The brothers’ identities are also unknown. George’s children settled in the Columbiana/Richland County areas of Ohio: William (1771), John Earnesst (1774), Richard (1777), Samuel (1792), Hannah (1794). It is unknown whether George made it to Ohio. Participants in the Guthrie DNA Project representing this line are designated as GFG14. The Y-DNA (direct paternal line) profile matches men of the Joyce/Joice surname.

No Middle Name Found in Documentation

GFG2A-Branch E: Robert Guthrie (c1700IRE-1782PA) of Carlisle, Cumberland, Pennsylvania who was married to Bridget Dougherty was a carpenter and cabinet maker. He can be found in various online trees with the middle name of ‘Wayne’, yet there has been no original documentation found listing him with a middle initial or middle name of any kind. Ditto goes for his son Robert Guthrie (1737-1808) who can be found in the same trees with the same use of the middle name ‘Wayne’ despite the lack of documentation. The name Wayne has not been found in general within GFG2A during the colonial period.

Wrong Mary.

There are a few trees out there that don’t bother to list an identity for Granville Grey Haggard’s wife. If there is any original documentation out there to suggest her name please share it. In the meantime, there are hundreds of trees listing his wife as the daughter of William Guthrie / Guttery & Frances Wilbourn of Christ Church Parish, who was born there in 1730. Just one problem. . . their daughter Mary died at a little over one month of age.

According to the Christ Church Parish Register
Mary daughter of William & Frances Guttery born March ye 26. baptized April ye 3 1730.
Mary daughter of William Guthrie dyed May ye 5. 1730.

William Guthrie / Guttery was twice married. First to Lettice Burk, in 1716 Christ Church Parish, Middlesex, Virginia, with whom he had 3 daughters. Lettice died in 1727, and William remarried to Frances Wilbourn in 1728, again in Christ Church Parish. They lived in the same location and their children are documented in the Christ Church Parish Register. Only one indication of a child named Mary for this couple, and her birth and death in 1730 are documented.

The wife of Granville Gray Haggard is usually listed in trees as ‘Mary Guttery’ and with the 1730 DOB of the Mary Guttery above from Christ Church Parish. An alternate birth location for Granville’s wife is listed as Stafford County, Virginia, which is the location he was born in 1728. The couple reportedly married in 1742 in Albemarle County, Virginia. Note this would indicate that Mary was only 12 at the time of the marriage, which is very young even by colonial standards. Mary is also referred to as his ‘Lady Wife’, which may be sourced from a record or family history that I have not seen yet. They had a large family and the wife died about 1762 in Albemarle, Virginia.

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