Guthrie History

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Robert the Bruce

Guthrie ancestry is strongly tied to the history of Scotland. Long before Guthrie Castle was built in 1468, Robert the Bruce was busy fighting for Scottish freedom.  Robert the Bruce is the matriarchal ancestor of Guthries descending from the marriage of Alexander Guthrie, 2nd of Guthrie and Margaret Lyon of Glamis. Robert Bruce was the heroic King of Scots, who despite set-backs, secured Scotland's independence from England. His attempts to capture Stirling Castle led to his famous victory at Bannockburn in 1314. King Edward III of England finally agreed that Bruce was King of an independent Scotland in 1328. Today, many Guthries share this famous ancestor with HM Queen Elizabeth.

William Wallace

A little research over the centuries since Malcolm Canmore ruled Scotland, reveals: Guthrie – the King’s Falconer; Guthrie – the Herald sent to Europe to seek the liberator William Wallace ("Braveheart"); Guthrie – Commander of the King’s body guard, builder of Guthrie Castle in 1468. Guthries were religious leaders in the time of Martin Luther and champions of Presbyterianism against the Roman church, ready to back up their beliefs with their lives. James "The Martyr" was a Guthrie, executed for his beliefs in Edinburgh in 1661 and referred to by Oliver Cromwell as "the little man who refused to kneel."

Guthries in General

Most American Guthries can trace their lineage to pre-Revolutionary War immigrants from Scotland. Northern Ireland was also a stepping stone for many of our migrating ancestors. James I, who assumed the English throne in 1603, planned to colonize the Emerald Isle with loyalist settlers from England and Scotland. The Scots saw this as an opportunity to improve themselves economically and to follow their Presbyterian faith without interference from the Church of England. The resulting prosperity of the former Scots became their downfall.

English merchants saw the new industry as a threat, so The Staple Act of 1663 was enacted to prohibit direct Irish exports for most goods. In 1699, it was expanded to prohibit export of goods anywhere except to England and Wales. The Test Act was established by Queen Anne during this period, requiring all officeholders to take the sacraments as prescribed by the Church of England.

The strong Presbyterian faith caused many to respond by crowding into ships bound for America. Since money was not available to pay for passage, the majority came as indentured servants. This arrangement bound the servants for a term of 4 to 7 years. At the expiration of this time, the individual was given clothing, farm tools and usually some land. The arrangement was considered no more demeaning than a normal apprenticeship.

At first, the immigrants avoided the southern colonies with their "Established" Church and New England with its "Puritanical" ways. Central Pennsylvania was the favored haven and future jumping off point for further migration. To satisfy their hunger for land, these settlers seldom observed legal proprieties. Their clannish ways made them poor neighbors for either the whites or the Indians. It was truly observed that "the Scots kept the Sabbath and anything they could get their hands on!"

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