Guthries of Menmuir & Cortachy, Angus, Scotland
From the time before their own remembrance men and women of the name Guthrie have lived in Angus. Not all can claim family ties to castle-builders with ancient titles. The surname also belongs to merchants, prominent ministers tending to their parishioners, and to prosperous tenant farmers who raised stock and cultivated the lands. One such man continues that agricultural legacy today. His genetic (Y-DNA) profile is a match for a great-grandson of the Reverend Thomas Guthrie, D.D. (1803-1873), noted preacher and philanthropist, whose descendants continue to gather at his statue in Edinburgh during their ‘Guthrie Gatherings’ every few years.



Scottish Devine (Episcopal Minister) / Philanthropist

The Very Reverend Thomas Guthrie FRSE DD was born at Brechin, Angus, Scotland. He was one of the most popular preachers of his day in Scotland, associated with many forms of philanthropy, especially in matters of temperance and Ragged Schools, of which he was a founder. He was made Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland in 1862. His own writings indicate that his Guthrie ancestors were farmers of Brechin rather than directly related to the Guthries of Guthrie. Y-DNA of a direct descendant confirms the family does not match the genetic profile of GFG1A.


John Guthrie (born c1725 – died 1820) and Helen Wyllie / Resided in Knowhead, Menmuir

David Guthrie (born 1759 – died bet. 1841-51) and Elspet Christie / Resided in Hyndhaugh, Cortachy


The autobiography of Rev. Thomas Guthrie provides some insight into his ancestry confirming his family line back to his grandfather, John Guthrie, a tenant farmer in Knowhead. He also tells of his great-grandfather David Guthrie, but there is little information provided to identify him. David Guthrie was a tenant of the Earl of Panmure, who had lost both title and estates for his part in the Rebellion of 1715. Thirty years later, in 1745, prior to the battle of Culloden, the Duke of Cumberland and his forces passed through the area gathering horses from the nearby farms. Having done a favor in some previous year for Mr Willison, a preacher in the Kirk of Scotland, whose Presbyterian principles and Jacobite leanings were not in accordance with the feelings of the people in Brechin, David Guthrie wrote to Willison who in turn wrote to the Duke of Cumberland. The Guthrie horses were returned to the farm.

Note that the History of Brechin changes the story of the Duke of Cumberland and the Guthrie horses by naming the man who solicited Willison’s help as being John Guthrie, tenant of Kincraig. This creates a bit of a grey area in Rev. Thomas Guthrie’s family history.

If Rev. Thomas Guthrie is correct, the father of John Guthrie of Knowhead is named David. Did the ‘History of Brechin’ author simply latch onto the name of Thomas’ grandfather, John? Is Kincraig the place that John grew up prior to settling in Knowhead during his married life?

We now have a 2nd genetically related line for comparison proven by YDNA testing. This family also traces their line back to a man named David Guthrie. This one is more recent, born in 1759, and married to Elspet Christie. This family lived in Hyndhaugh in Cortachy.

The paper trail is patchy in places, but appears to lead back to the Most Recent Common Ancestors of our participants as being David Guthrie in Cookston & Balbirnie Mill and his wife Janet Stewart.

This couple had: John (1682), David (1683), Jean (1684), Alexander (1687), Janet (1690), Isobell (1692), James (1696), Marie (1700), James (1701), Elizabeth (1703), and Robert (1705).

Speculative Connection: David Guthrie, born 1683, living in Kincraig, which is quite near Balbirnie Mill, could be father of John Guthrie of Knowhead, and therefore the great-grandfather David Guthrie mentioned by Rev Thomas Guthrie.

There are several other paths for John Guthrie of Knowhead to be connected as a grandson of David Guthrie and Janet Stewart, but none of them would allow for John’s father to be named David. If the History of Brechin is correct about the name, the John’s father could have been John Guthrie born in 1682. Alexander (1687) could also be in the running as his youngest documented child was born just a couple of years before John. The two youngest sons, James (1701) and Robert (1705), are probably out of the running because while they were men in 1745, they were still boys during the 1715 Rebellion and would not have been the ancestor Rev Thomas Guthrie described as planning to ride out with the Earl of Panmure.

Our 2nd line is that of David Guthrie, a farmer in Cortachy. He married Elspet Christie on 21 Nov 1786 in Cortachy.

Speculative Connection: Old Parish Records for Cortachy list a David Guthrie baptized on 27 April 1759 whose father is Robert Guthrie in Bogside. The marriage and birth records available leave us with an incomplete picture of Robert’s family. It appears that he was twice married: Margaret Nicoll (1731) and Helen Addieson/Eddieson (abt. 1754). The latter couple was also associated with Craigtown in Tannadice, which may be where Helen’s family lived, and Glenmoy.

David Guthrie/Jean Stewart > [John/David/Alexander] > John Guthrie/Helen Wyllie > David Guthrie/Clementina Cay > Rev. Thomas Guthrie/Anne Burns (Participant’s GGP)

David Guthrie/Jean Stewart > Robert Guthrie in Bogside > David Guthrie/Elspet Christie > James Guthrie/Margaret Ogilvy > John Guthrie/Marjory Lindsay > Andrew Lindsay Guthrie/Margaret Ann Edward (Participant’s GGP)

There are representatives of John Guthrie/Helen Wyllie descendants among our Autosomal DNA project participants from Australia and the USA.

We also have descendants of David Guthrie and Ann Skair in the project. This David Guthrie was in Burnside. He was the son of Alexander Guthrie (1687) in Balfour and therefore grandson to David Guthrie and Janet Stewart.

Is This Your Piece of the Puzzle?

Consider helping everyone out by sharing your knowledge about your family line. There may be only a handful of people in your immediate family, but hundreds or thousands more around the globe who share your more distant Guthrie ancestry. A little bit of research can potentially provide someone with the clue they need. Contact Ann if you have info to share, want to write an article, or collaborate to create one.

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