Rutherfordiana/The Problem

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This article is one of a series dealing with a problem in Wigton Walker Genealogy related to the ancestry of Katherine Rutherford (c1682-1738) wife of John Walker II (c1682-1734). An index to these articles is provided below:

Index to Articles
The Problem
Family Tree Source Material Extracts
Person Articles A Comparison of Sources
Bibliography Rutherford Timeline
Resources White Descendancy
DISCUSSION Working Conclusion

This particular article describes the essential nature of the problem, breaking it up into a central "Genealogical Element", and a parallel "Historical Element".

Genealogical Element. Simply put, the genealogical element is whether or not Katherine Rutherford (c1682-1738) was descended from or related to the Rev. Samuel Rutherford (?-?) aka "The Divine" and/or the Rev. Joseph Alleine (1634-1668). It should be emphasized that the real problem is NOT to show the relationship between Katherine and Rev. Samuel Rutherford and Rev. Joseph Alleine, but to determine what evidence can be cited to support these family relationships. Those relationships are arguably most completely described in "Descendants of John Walker of Wigton Scotland" by Emma Siggins White, published in 1902. White is widely accepted as providing a definitive description of these relationships. The relationship she describes, with some additional details added by other researchers, is shown in the accompaning graphical depiction of the family tree. However, there are reasons to question whether the relationships shown are in fact correct. Reasons for those questions include:
1. White herself was pursuaded only that Katherine was related to these two individuals, not that she was descended from them.
2. There seems to be little primary evidence supporting the connections.
Both Rev. Samuel and Rev. Joseph are well known ecclesiastics of the early 17th century; their writings are in print even today. It is possible that the fact that they are both well known may have encouraged some to forge a connection where one did not exist.
The connection to Rev. Joseph seems particularly implausible, given the fact that he was a Puritain and from southern England, while Katherine was a Presbyterian from Wigtonshire Scotland.

Historical Element. There are several elements of the family history, apart from genealogical connections, that are frequently described. These include:
Katherine's family is said to have obtained land in Ireland as a reward for their services during the Williamite War. (See also Battle of the Boyne c1690).
Katherine's father is sometimes said to have been a minister in Scotland, serving at the University of St. Andrews in Edinburgh as did the Rev. Samuel Rutherford, who in some accounts is identified as his uncle.
There is also a modern theory that his father was James Rutherford (c1605-c1668) aka "residenter of Utrecht" brother of Rev. Samuel Rutherford, who served in the Dutch army in Holland around 1650, and there married Margaret Gladstein (various spellings). This implies that John Rutherford was born in Holland and (perhaps) there met and married Isabella Alleine.
While the main concern of this series of analysis is the identification of the primary evidence supporting a description of Katherine Rutherford's ancestry, an analysis of the historical context of the family is also useful. Evidence supporting any of the above events in the family history would be helpful in explaining and supporting the family genealogy. Surprizingly, most of the historical elements presented above do not seem to have an obvious underpinning in primary sources. For the most part, these elements have been presented by various authors without presenting any evidence to show that they are factual. For example, it is frequently stated that Katherine's family secured land in Ireland as a result of their services in the Williamite Wars; yet no documentation seems to be provided to a) show they participated in the Williamite Wars, b) received land in Ireland, or c) were in fact present in Ireland prior to say 1705. Establishing the sources of information for these elements would help confirm the family genealogy. Contrarywise, if these elements can not be confirmed, or (worse) can be refuted as untrue, the credibility of the familly genealogy would be severely harmed.
The following specific questions need answers in order to confirm the commonly described family history for Katherine's Rutherford and Alleine ancestors.
1. Did Katherine's ancestors received land in Ireland for their participation in the Williamite Wars?
2. Was John Rutherford a minister at St. Andrews?
3. Where did John Rutherford and Isabella Alleine, live, meet and marry?
Was it in the Netherlands? If so how did Isabella come to be in the Netherlands?
Was in in southern England? If so how did John come to be in southern England?
Was it in Scotland? If so, how did John and Isabella both come to be in Scotland?
Did they marry in Wigton? What brought them together in Wigton?
Did they marry in Ireland? If so why were they in Ireland
If they were living in Ireland, why did they marry in Wigton?

It is possible to frame suitable explanations for each of these questions of the "It could have happened this way" type. The problem here is not in coming up with an explanation of the "How Could This Have Occurred?", but in coming up with primary evidence that it actually did occur. It matters not how much sense a particular explanation makes to us. The issue is showing that the events actually occurred...and for that, primary evidence is needed.

Why Worry about the Historical Elements? One of those who is particularly dubvious of the genealogical information has observed that there's no point in being concerned with the events in Ireland, Scotland, England, and the Netherlands if there's little evidence to support the Katherine's genealogy as commonly presented. I understand that point. If the genealogy is wrong to begin with, then the historical trappings surrounding that genealogy are meaningless. However, since we do not know at this point where the historical trappings come from, that conclusion may be premature. Its possible that the the genealogical elements as commonly described are wholly wrong, but that the historical trappings are footed in fact. That is, its still possible that the historical elements really do describe the family history, even if the commonly described genealogy is wholly in error. For this reason it is worthwhile pursuing the basis of the historical elements.

More importantly, however, if you assume the genealogical elements are basically sound, if not fully understood, then understanding the historical elements becomes even more important. In this case, the historical elements may give us critical clues as to where we might expect to find information about Katherine's family. If Katherine's parents never left Scotland, than there would be little reason for us to look for them in Ireland, or even the Netherlands. That's a key "if". We do not know where they were living prior to John and Katherine's marriage. They might well have grown up in Scotland, or in Wigtonshire, or in the Netherlands, or in Ireland---depending on which source of information you choose to accept, and how you choose to interpret that source. In short, because we do not have a solid understanding of the history of Katherine's family, we have difficulty determining where to look for them in the primary records. One of the things we'd like to be able to do is narrow that field of search. Or if we are unable to narrow the field of search, at least prioritize where we look.

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