Rutherford Surname Genealogy
a Scottish border clan name. The name
from a place-name in Roxburghshire on the south bank of the river
between Melrose and Kelso. A village there, then called
Rothersfurth, was burnt
and razed by an English army in 1545 and has disappeared from the map. The origin
of the Rutherford name is thought to have been the Old English hryther meaning “cattle” and ford, “a river crossing.”
Rutherford Resources on
- History of the Rutherford Surname
- Rutherford Rutherford
History and genealogy.
- Clan Rutherfurd/Rutherford
Rutherford clan website.
- Rutherford DNA Project
Rutherford name in Roxburghshire on the Scottish borders probably dates
the 12th century (although there is no evidence that Robertus Dominus
Rodyrforde of that time did exist).
Three Rutherfords swore fealty to Edward I of England in the
of 1296, including Sir Nicholas de Rutherford who was considered the
the Rutherford line.
the lawless Border times of the 14th to 16th centuries they were a
well-known for their raids into Northumberland.
They allied themselves with the larger Douglas and Home clans in
James Rutherfurd gained possession
of Edgerston, south of Jedburgh and close to the English border, in
1448. Thomas Rutherfurd, the Black Laird
Edgerston, turned the tide in the fighting against the English at the Battle of Reidswire in
remained in Rutherfurd possession until 1915 when the last laird sold
and emigrated to Kenya.
of Jedburgh were well-known as ‘lorimers’ or saddle makers. In
the 1630’s came Adam Rutherford of Hall, the forebear of Rutherfords
in Virginia, who was a maltman and burgess of Jedburgh. There
were cadet Rutherford lines at
Hunthill and Hundalee nearby (although these had mainly died out by the
century). Indeed, except for Edgerston,
much of the
other Rutherford lands had been ceded through marriage to the Earl of
The Hunthill line did contribute the Rev. Samuel
Rutherford, a leading Presbyterian in the 1650’s, and the Rev. John
a Presbyterian minister at Yarrow in Selkirkshire in the 1680’s. His son John moved to Edinburgh and became an
eminent physician there. His grandson
Daniel was a scientist famous for his isolation of nitrogen in 1772.
Rutherfords were still most
numerous in Roxburghshire by the time of the 1881 census in Scotland. But many had dispersed elsewhere by then. Some had crossed the
border into Northumberland, others had gone to Ireland and to
America and elsewhere.
Much of this ground was covered
in Kenneth Rutherford Davis’s 1987 book The
Rutherfords in Britain which corrected many of the errors found in
earlier Rutherford books.
Ireland. Captain James
Rutherford was brother to the Presbyterian leader Samuel Rutherford.
His son John was a captain in King William’s army at the Battle
Boyne in 1689 and was granted lands in county Down (where he died in
1740). Two of John’s sons emigrated to
The Rev. Samuel Rutherford was a Presbyterian minister who was banished
from Scotland in 1689 and settled in county Monaghan.
His three sons all came to America, settling
in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and later in Lunenburg county, Virginia.
David Rutherford left
Scotland with his brother John shortly after the dissolution of the
Scottish Parliament in 1707. David settled in Fermanagh and
Dublin where he started a wholesaling business and acquired an
born in Fermanagh in 1794, worked
in the Dublin firm until he enlisted in the British Army in 1814. He was granted land
in Canada but never went. His son Adam
and wife Jane did though.
America. The first Rutherford to come
to America was John Rutherford who arrived at Elizabeth City, Virginia
on the Warwick. However,
the line to him and from him is not
Robert Rutherford had come to America in 1730 with his parents
from Roxburghshire in Scotland when but an infant.
in Virginia where he organized Rutherford’s
Rangers at the time of the French and
Indian War. In his later years he was a
staunch friend of George Washington and one of Virginia’s delegates
rallied to the American cause.
Subsequent Rutherfords of his line moved to Knox county,
then further west.
Other Rutherfords in America came via Ireland, having fought
with William of Orange or having left Scotland because of their
faith. The most prominent of these was
Griffith Rutherford who arrived in America in 1739 (his parents dying
voyage) and settled in North Carolina.
He was a Brigadier General in the Revolutionary War and an
figure in the early development of Tennessee (where he died in 1805).
county was named after him.
grandson James Rutherford moved to Texas in 1830
where he established a medical practice in an area now known as
Cockville. Another grandson John arrived
in Texas in
Lamar county was formed in 1842, he was
elected its Chief Justice by the Republic of Texas Congress. He was a surveyor, a farmer, and the first
schoolteacher in Honey Grove. In his
latter life he kept a diary which painted a vivid picture of farm life
Texas after the Civil War.
Rutherford came around the year 1817 from Northumberland in
England to Northumberland county in Ontario.
Rutherford had been a shepherd who herded his flock on the
Cheviot hills. On landing at Quebec,
sailed up the St. Lawrence river into Lake Ontario and traveled west to
Northumberland county, Ontario where he located 100 acres as a
built his log cabin. For ten years he
worked on his land before returning to England for a partner in life
Many Rutherfords came to farm in Brant county, Ontario.
William Rutherford, for instance, came to
South Dumfries township around 1830; while James Rutherford arrived
Rutherfords headed later for the Canadian West. Agnes
Rutherford kept a journal of her family
journey from Selkirk in Scotland to Manitoba in Canada in 1882, where
their home in the Tarbolton district. The
family story was narrated in Agnes Florence’s 1982 book Andrew
and Agnes Rutherford. Alexander
Rutherford, the son of Scottish
immigrants to the Ottawa area in 1855, came west in 1886, became
politics, and served as the first Premier of Alberta in 1905.
Australia and New Zealand. James
Rutherford arrived at the Victorian goldfields in the 1850’s
America. He did not discover gold, but
instead developed Cobb & Co. as the leading coaching company in
in the second half of the 19th century.
James and Martha Rutherford
had been early colonists to New Zealand, James arriving at four years
Perth in Scotland in 1843. Their second
son Ernest, born in 1871, excelled in science and studied at the Cavendish
Laboratory at Cambridge University.
There he became known as the father of nuclear physics.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Daniel Rutherford, an uncle of the novelist
Sir Walter Scott, was the Scottish chemist famous for his isolation of
Ernest Rutherford was the
New Zealand-born physicist, a director of the Cavendish Laboratory at
University, who is considered to be the father of nuclear physics.
Margaret Rutherford was a well-known English
character actress. Her stage and film
career spanned from the 1930’s to the 1960’s.
Select Rutherfords Today
- 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
in Scottish Borders)
- 9,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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