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White, 1902 indicates that the Wigton Walker line is related to Rev. Samuel Rutherford (c1600-1661) and to Rev. Joseph Alleine (1634-1668), through Katherine Rutherford (c1682-1738), wife of John Walker II (c1682-1734). Samuel Rutherford was a well known member of the Presbyterian clergy, and author of the work Lex Rex, a treatise significant in the evolution of the limitation on the rights of the monarchy. Alleine was a member of the Puritan clergy, and well known for his Alarm to the Unconverted, a work still in print today. These relationships are frequently questioned as unsupported by primary source material. The main purpose of this set of collective articles is to provide information about what has been written about these relationships.

This particular article focuses on identifying and charcterizing the specific sources of information that have been used by various authors to develop the idea that Katherine Rutherford was descended from, or related to Rev. Samuel Rutherford and Rev. Joseph Alleine. Ultimately, the goal is to identify the primary sources that have been used to advance this view, and to use that to validate the connection between the Wigton Walkers and the Rutherford and Alleine lineages.

Index to complete set of articles

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


There are a dozen or so documents that are commonly cited as bearing on this problem. For discussion purposes these sources have been grouped into three sets.

Set A includes relatively recent family histories that are frequently cited relative to the connection between the Wigton Walker line, and the Rutherford and Alleine lines. These sources are properly considered to be tertiary sources.

Set B include early sources that make mention of the Rutherford-Alleine connection to the Wigton Walker line, and are clearly of a secondary source nature.

Set C: Are considered to be either primary sources or as close tobeing primary sources.

These sets of references are discussed in the following subsections.

Analysis of Set A

1. WKR, 1986:
2. KRD, 1987:
3. Davey, 1957: The Gathering of the Clans, Part 1: The Rutherford Story
4. White, 1902: Descendants of Johh Walker of Wigton Scotland.

The documents included in this set are clearly tertiary sources, at least with regard to the Walker-Rutherford-Alleine (WRA) problem. That is, they are substantive family histories that have relied to a greater or lesser extent on secondary sources. Each of these sources addresses (or in one case, is said to address) the WRA problem, and affirms a connection between the Reverends Samuel Rutherford, and Joseph Alleine, and the Wigton Walker lineage. While there are some differenes between the relationships described in these works, the following provides an overall representation of the relationship between the Rutherfords, Alleine's and Walkers, as described in these works.

Image:James Rutherford (1605-1668) Relations.png

There are several relations in this chart that are of interest:

1. They identify Katherines father as John Rutherford, son of James "residenter of Utrecht"

2. They show Rev. Samuel Rutherfod aka "The Divine", as the brother of James

3. They show descent from the Rev. Joseph Alleine through his daughter Isabella Alleine who married John Rutherford, son of James the residenter of Utrecht.

We would like to know the how these authors reached their conclusions regarding these relationships. Sources used by these authors can be summarized as follows:

KRD: This author provides provides no information whatsoever with respect to the sources used to ascertain the relationship between the Walkers, Rutherfords, and Alleines. He may have relied on the earlier WRD, or perhaps even earlier works such as White, 1902, but he himself makes no statement about where he obtained the information on these lines. While his work is undboutedly valuable for many Rutherford researchers, when it comes to this particular set of family connections, the absence of any attempt to document sources of information leaves us somewhat frustrated. (See A note on sources). For purposes of this problem, KRD can be dismissed from consideration.
WKR: Turning to WKR we find the situation only slightly improved. This author sites a single source for a portion of the information given. He points to Davey, 1957:7 for the specific information that "Rev. John Rutherford...married a grandaughter of the Rev. Joseph Alleine, author of The Alarm of (sic) the Unconverted." No other information about these families is similarly sourced. The fact that other relations stated by WKR remain unsourced, is again frustrating.
An attempt has been made to verify the information that WKR says is found in Davey's work. This work is not readily available, and has not been examined in its entirety. However, a copy of page 7, where the information is said to be contained was provided by another researcher. Based on that examination page 7 makes makes no mention of the supposed connection to Rev. Alleine. Others assert that the information is not located elsewhere in this document. If that is the case, and there is no obvious reason to believe otherwise, then this is a simple error on the part of WKR. Unfortunately, it leaves us with two documents (WKR, and KRD) which tell us nothing about their sources of any of the information of interest for present purposes, plus a third document (Davey, 1957) which does not actually speak to the subject here considered. Ultimately, these three works have no practical value for verifying the ancestral connection between the Wigon Walkers and the Rutherford and Alleine lineages.
White, 1902: The information provided in White, 1902, which speaks to the WRA problem, is much more substantive than the information provided the other sources considered in this set. This is understandable given its focus on the Wigton Walker lineage. for most people it is arguably the most important source of information on the Rutherford and Alleine connection to the Wigton Walkers. White discusses her sources for these connections in several places in her Descendants of John Walker of Wigton, Scotland, as well as in a brief, but separate note, White, 1903. Her specific thoughts on this subject are given in a separate article to which the interested reader may refer (See White's Comments on the Rutherfords

White, in distinction with the other sources considered under Set A, makes it clear what sources she used to reach the conclusion that Katherine was related to both Samuel Rutherford, and Joseph Alleine. In particular she cites Houston, 1854, Howe, 1845, McPheeters, 1842, The Joel Walker Record, and the The Rutherford Family Bible and as her primary sources of information on the Rutherford and Alleine connection. These sources will be examined in detail under Sets B and C.

Analysis of Set B

Set B includes the following sources:

5. Houston, 1882 Rev. Samuel Rutherford Houston, Brief Biographical Accounts of Many Members of the Houston Family, dated 1882
6. Houston, 1854 Unpublished family history, quoted by White, 1902:50
7. Grasty, 1871 Memoir of Rev. Samuel McPheeters, by Rev. John S. Grasty, dated 1871
8. Howe, 1845 Historical Collection of Virginia by Henry Howe, 1845

As noted in the analysis of Set A, WKR, KRD, and Davey, 1957 do not provide anything useful in the way of identifying the sources for information on the relationship between the Wigton Walkers and the Rutherford-Alleine lineages. Only White, 1902 identifies her sources of information. The above sources are either cited by White, 1902 and 1903, or are cited by the sources White used. The following examines these sources from the perspective of where they obtained the information which White made use of.

Houston 1854. White, 1902:150 quotes Houston, 1854 as stating:

I have it from several authentic sources that Rev. Samuel Rutherford, author of Rutherfords Letters, was closely related to Rev. John Rutherford, father of Katherine, who married John Walker.

Houston identifies with fair precision his general sources for information on the Walker-and Rutherford families, listing a half dozen different sources, most of whom appear to be family relations, including in particular his 83 year old mother.

Rev. R.C. Walker and Elder J.A. Walker, sons of Elder Thomas H. Walker, of New Providence Church;
Dr. Zachariah Walker, of Brownsburg, Va.
Major Alexander B. Stuart, of Rockbridge
my mother, Margaret Walker Houston, age 83 years
Three aged sisters of Col. Archibald B. Walker
W.L. Moore, son of James Moore of Tazewell County, VA (brother of Mary Moore of Raleigh Co Va)
and from a Mss left by Dr. Wm. M McPheeters, of North Carolina.

Thus it is clear that Houston gathered information, either by interviews or correspondance with a number of family members. He is thus relying on family oral tradition for much of his information. It would be very helpful if he had indicated exactly what information he obtained from each of these sources. Unfortunately, in the snippet quoted by White, 1902, we have no more detailed information. As a result, we are unable to say how or if most of his sources contributed to the idea that the Walker family was descended from or closely related to Rev. Samuel Rutherford. This may have been a commonplace family tradition, but we do not know that the persons cited above told him any such thing. The exception to this is the citation of a manuscript by William McPheeters. This document survives, makes reference to the Rutherford connection, and is evaluated under Set C.

Houston, 1882: Houston also wrote a comprehensive account of his family, some 28 years after he prepared his initial manuscript. In the later work he tells us about the same thing as he related in the 1854 MS, at least as far as the connection to Rev. Samuel Rutherford is concerned:

[Samuel Rutherford Houston] is the oldest son of the family, and was born March 12th, 1806, at Rural Valley, Rockbridge Co., Va. He was named after his famous ancestor, Samuel Rutherford, one of the "Westminister Divines", from whose brother, or brother's son, his genealogy has been traced on the maternal side (Margaret Walker); the Walkers having emigrated to America from Wigton, Scotland (vide Memoir of Dr. S.B. McPheeters, by Dr. Grasty p. 17).

Interestingly, Houston no longer cites his immediate relatives as his source of information, and does not make mention of the McPheeters 1842 MS. Instead he refers to a "Memoir of Dr. S.B. McPheeters", prepared by Dr. John Grasty. This work is discussed immediately below.

Grasty, 1871

Grasty's Memoirs are undoubtedly very useful for those interested in the personal history of Rev. Samuel B. McPheeters. However, as far as the connection to the Rutherfords is concerned they provide little enlightenment, as what Grasty has to say on the subject is a verbatim transcription of a portion of an earlier work by the Rev. William McPheeters, which White 1902 also drew upon as a source. (The interested reader may compare the relevant portions of Grasty's text with the McPheeters document. As it turns out Dr. S.B. McPheeters is the son of William McPheeters. Presumably Grasty was given a copy of the William McPheeters 1842 MS, and simply it into his Memoir of SB McPheeters. It is thus sesen that when we look at Houston, 1882, the information that's given related to the Rutherford lineage is ultimately derived from the same source as his 1854 Family History: McPheeters, 1842. The William McPheeters MS is discussed in more detail under Set C, below.

Howe, 1845. According to Howe's Historical Collection of Virginia:

From a worthy pastor of a church in the Shenandoah valley...James Moore, Jr. was a lineal descedant of the Rev. Samuel Rutherford, of Scotland; the latter being a descendant of the Rev. Joseph Alleine, the author of the "Alarm to the Unconverted.

Thus we have a source telling us that the Wigton Walkers are related to both the Rutherfords and the Alleine's. While Howe provides little detail, the exact relationship he shows can not be correct. Rev. Samuel Rutherford can not be a descendant of Rev. Joseph Alleine, as the two are more or less contemporaries. (Additional discussion of this point is found in the article dealing specifically with Howe, 1845.) While incorrect, Howe does provide a source for his statement,noting that the information was provided by "a worthy pastor of a church in the Shenandoah valley". This "worthy pastor" could, in theory, be anyone of several individuals who are known to have been related to or otherwise would be familiar with the family history. Given the timing, it seems likely that the Rev. William McPheeters is the person referred to. Not only did he grow up in the area, and was related to the James Moore Howe refers to, but he himself left a family history detailing the Rutherford and Alleine relation to his family, McPheeters, 1842. (See Set C Analysis). His MS is addressed in Subset C. In any event, Howe a) is clearly inaccurate in his presentation, and b) does not clearly indicate how he knows that the Wigton Walkers are related to the Rev. Samuel Rutherford and Rev. Joseph Alleine.

Analysis of Set C

Only one of these sources, the Rutherford Family Bible, can be reasonably considered to be a primary source. The other two sources might be considered as close to being primary sources, but were written more than 100 years after the fact. Their utility as sources hinges on how effectively the authors identify their sources, and the specific information that they obtained from each. For example, if they quote specific letters from people who were contemporary with the events in question, then we might be able to accept that information as close to being primary sources. If, howver, they only tell us certain facts, but do not explain how they know those specific facts to be true, then they descend to being secondary sources.

The best that can be said of these works is that their authors knew individuals who could reasonable be expected to have had first hand knowledge of the parents of Katherine Rutherford. It is possible that the information they relate does in fact reflect an accurate knowledge of the Rutherford and Alleine family relationships with the Walkers. Unfortunately, each of these works is flawed in a way that prevents us from considering them to be definitive.

9. The Rutherford Family Bible
10. The Joel Walker Record
11. MS. left by Rev. William McPheeters dated 1842

The Rutherford Family Bible. The rutherford Family Bible is arguably the only primary source available to us today that speaks to the Rutherford family lineage. Unfortunately, this document begins with James, the brother of Katherine Rutherford and gives no clues as to their ancestry. The record of descent contained in the the bible is exceptional (spanning ten (check; also add link for criteria for using bible records) generations beginning with James, and ranging from roughly 1700 to the present day. Nonetheless, as admirable a record as it is, it does not answer our questions about the family connection to Rev. Samuel Rutherford and Rev. Joseph Alleine. Indeed, it does not even establish a solid link between Katherine and James. This work has not apparently been examined by anyone other than immediate family members, and we are reliant on what they can (or are willing) to tell us about its contents. They have made mention of an additional page in the bible that they describe as "almost completely illegible". That phrasing may indicate that something on that page remains legible. The possibility exists that modern techniques could reveal that information, and that this work may yet give us additional insight into the family prior to James Rutherford.

The Joel Walker Record. This work was compiled by Joel Walker about 1840. It was cited by White, 1902 as the primary source of information for the early family history of the Wigton Walker line. There are no known extant copies of the JWR, and all that we know of its contents is what is given by White, 1902. White provides little indication of the specific information which she obtained from this work. It may be that Joel Walker laid out the connection to the Rutherford's and Alleine's in detail; however, from what is in White 1902, we can not say that this is the case. Since the document itself is not extant, we can not cite it as a primary source, and the information provided by White, 1902 does nothing to confirm Katherine Rutherfords ancestry.

McPheeters, 1842. This document provides considerable information about the ancestry of Katherine Rutherford. Unlike the Joel Walker Record discussed above, the McPheeters document is available for examination. Both documents were written about the same time, and relied on family input rather than personal knowledge of the events described. As such, they are properly considered to be secondary documents. If McPheeters provides specific quotes from letters or other sources that could be considered primary, we might be able to utilize his presentation as a substitute for a primary source. However, if McPheeters only indentifies certain persons or documents as his sources, then it necessarily remains a secondary source. There is a subtle disction being made here. What we are concerned with is whether or not McPheeters discussion does in fact reflect what he was told. It is one thing for McPheeters to quote a specific source as saying "Katherine Rutherfords father was John Rutherford and Isabella Alleine, grandson of Rev. Samuel Rutherford, and of the Rev. Joseph Alleine". Depending on the person being quoted such statement becomes close to being a primary record, albeit one that has passed through other hands, and can not be seen in the original.

To the extent that McPheeters the specific information they obtained from specific sources, A long way to go....


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