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Robert Rutherford Sr. (abt. 1734 - 1814)

Colonel Robert Rutherford Sr.
Born about in Nottaway River, VAmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married 2 Jun 1794 in Union County, South Carolinamap
Descendants descendants
Died in Newberry, South Carolina, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 22 Jul 2014
This page has been accessed 1,730 times.


Robert Rutherford Sr. is a member of Clan Rutherford.
Colonel Robert Rutherford Sr. participated in the American Revolution

Colonel Robert Rutherford b. 4/1734 Nottaway River, VA d. 23 Jan 1814 SC. Buried with wife Dorothy in the family cemetery in Newberry Co, SC

  1. Dorothy Ann Brooks 1736-1792 married in Hobb's Hole, VA 1752
  2. Frances Birt - 3 Jan 1794 Union Co SC
Children listed in DAR record

Robert was a member of the first Provincial Congress held at Hillsboro, NC, a delegate from Chattam County 8/20/1775. Robert Rutherford was colonel in the revolutionary war and served under General Nathaniel Greene. He first saw South Carolina during the war and bought 250 acres of land in Newberry County, SC 12/18/1778. He settled at Liberty Hill 9 miles east of Newberry in 1780.

Col. Robert Rutherford, as one of the early settlers and prominent citizens of Newberry District, deserves a prominent place in thesketches which we are now attempting. Would that I had the honor of knowing him intimately, then I might have done something like justice to his name. A friend who knew him intimately, and who felt for himall the esteem which gratitude creates, has given to me the benefit of his recollections. Still our united endeavors will present a very imperfect attire Such as it is, it is better than none, and therefore it is presented.

He was born in April, 1734, in the State of Virginia, and served his apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade, at Hobb's Hole, in the neighborhood of which place he married his first wife, Dorothy Brooks. How long he resided in Virginia is not known; ho removed to Chatham County, N. C., where he became colonel of the county, and this gave him the title which he bore to his death.

Before the Revolution, or perhaps before 1780, he removed to South Carolina, and settled in Newberry District, nine miles east of the town, at a place which he called Liberty Hill. What part he bore in the Revolution is not known; that he was a whig, and perhaps an active one, is shown from the position which he maintained in society after its close. He was for many years a member of the Legislature. He was appointed a County Court Judge at the very beginning of the system in 1785, and continued to act till 1791.

In 1791, or 1792, he was called upon to experience that greatest misfortune which can befall a man in this world-the death of his wife and the mother of his children. He had a largo family of children by her, one of whom was Mrs. Elizabeth Nance, heretofore spoken of; and another, William Rutherford, long well known as a citizen of the eastern part of the district In 1795, he married the widow, Frances I Harrington, of Union; by her ho had no children. Her children, however, received a father's care and attention.

In 1790, he started one of Whitney's Cotton Saw Gins; this is believed to have been the first put in motion in the upper part of South Carolina. This great invention is what has made cotton the subject of universal trade, and the commercial agent which now very much governs the monetary affairs of the world. Before the discovery of the saw-gin, cotton was separated from the seed by the slow process of the fingers, or the roller-gin. It was therefore little regarded, except for domestic consumption. But when it was found that by the saw-gin thousands of pounds of seed-cotton could in the day be picked and baled up for market, it became matter to which industry could be profitably applied. The cotton saw-gin has given to the Southern States the supremacy which they now enjoy as producers. In a day of sectional hatred, it ought to be remembered-gratefully remembered-that Whitney, the inventor of the cotton saw-gin was a Yankee. Great as was his invention, it benefited him little; his patent was violated and justice denied to him everywhere, except in South Carolina; here he was paid by the Legislature for his invention, and his patent made free to the public,. This model gin stood in the Secretary of State's room until after 1820.

About 1809, Col. Rutherford built in the neighborhood of the town of Newberry, where his step-son, Y. J. Harrington, Esq., afterwards lived, and there he died in 1814, in his eightieth year. Col.Rutherford was, I should think, about five feet eight; more remarkable for his ponderous heavy grey eye brows, than any other feature which is remembered.

He was a man of great energy of character-"whatever his hands found to do, he did it with his might." This was shown by the success which attended him during life; he succeeded in whatever ho undertook. As a merchant, planter, and public undertaker, ho was tried and not found wanting. He was one of the first cotton planters in Newberry, and aneminently successful one. He was one of the Commissioners of Public Buildings with Daniel Parkins, Edward Finch, Isaac Kirk and Hugh CP Neall, appointed in 1799. Under their direction and jealous supervision, was constructed the courthouse and gaol, which preceded those now in use. In 1805 he built the Newberry Academy; to this institution he was a large subscriber.

The friend whose pen gave me the benefit of a short sketch of the colonel's life and character, says: "He had a heart open as day to melting charity, which he never withheld from any, (except a drunkard,or a lazy person.) Those gentlemen of elegant leisure, he utterly abominated. "Work Sonny," was his injunction to such. One of his observations may here be very well chronicled: He said people often said "it was too dry or too wet to work." God, he said, gave the seasons-it was man's duty to work-"work dry, work wet"-and he never failed to find that "God gave the increase." When a poor woman, Mrs.Myers, was left with a house full of little children, in very difficult, if not destitute circumstances, by the death of her industrious husband, John Myers, Her rope maker, the colonel sent his negroes, horses and ploughs, and cultivated her crop. To deserving young men, especially his step sons, he extended a helping hand inplacing them in situations to live and do well.

His last wife was a very pious lady, who belonged to the Methodist communion. The colonel made. no profession of religion; yet he was always seen at meeting with his excellent lady, although he had no great liking for the shouting and other violent excitements, which were perhaps more common then than now. On some occasions, about the commencement of the last war, he was at a camp meeting, and just as a good deal of excitement was getting up, and as a popular preacher was about to offer to sinners the opportunity of risking for pardon, the colonel, who occupied a seat in the midst of the congregation, rose to make his way out. The preacher seeing this, called on all who felt that they were sinners and needed a Saviour's pardoning love, to come forward and kneel down. The colonel was still receding; again he invited Christians to kneel down, still the colonel was erect; at last, said he, "let all who are Republicans kneel." This, as the story goes, brought the old gentleman down! He could not bear to be counted as an enemy to the country, under whose glorious stars and stripes he had grown to competence and honor, and had been blessed with countless blessings. Might not many an one, at the present time, imitate the colonel, and bending down in the presence of the King of kings, ask him in mercy to avert that worst of all evils-disunion.

Col. Robert Rutherford was born on 1 Apr 1734 in Essex, Virginia to parents James Rutherford and Margaret McMahon. He married first Dorothy Ann Brooks on 22 Apr 1752 in Essex, Virginia. Children: Johanna, Robert, Mary, Thomas Brooks, Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, Nancy Ann, John Spearman, Robert, John, William Brooks, Sarah (Sallie), Dorothy Ann Joyce. After his wife Dorothy died in 1793 he married second Francis Burt (Widow Harrington) on 3 Jan 1794 in Union, South Carolina. He died on 23 Jan 1814 in Newberry, South Carolina.

Robert served in the American Revolutionary War. He was a carpenter. He was a member of the House of Burgesses in Virginia and the First North Carolina Provincial Congress. He was a judge in the county court in Newberry, South Carolina. In 1796 he established a cotton gin in South Carolina.


  • DAR record
  • Northampton NC Deed Book 4 page 26: Robert Rutherford of Northampton NC to Samuel Clark of same. 4 Oct 1766, 100 pbs VA money for 425 acres Ralph Rachell, William Shorter, Capt John Moore, Robert Rutherford and his wife Dorothy Rutherford. Wit: Thomas Short, Thomas Barrett, William Short. Nov court 1766.
  • Northampton County NC Deed book 4 page 248, Robert Rutherford, his wife Dolly, William Malone and his wife Lucy of Chatham County NC to Thomas Williams of Northampton County July 4, 1768 for 30 pounds proclamation, 140 acres excepting 1/2 acres, joining Turner, Thomas Hodges, Robertson, John, Jelk Swamp, Megwigan. Robert Rutherford, Dorothe Rutherford, William Malone, Lucy Malone all signed. Wit: William Ragland, Joseph Crump. March Court 1773. CC: Willie Jones
  • Chatham County NC Deed Book (A or B) Page 31 August 5th, 1771 Robert Rutherford and Dorothy his wife to John Birdsong, of the county of Northampton, 300 pbs. for 425 acres on both sides of Harlan's Creek. joins Aaron Harlan. signed Robert and Dorothy Rutherford Wit by James Wilkinson, John Wilkinson and Edward Waddell.
  • Chatham County NC Deed Book (A or B) page 173 Nov. 18, 1778 William Alston of Halifax County NC to John Auld of Anson county NC for 500 pds. For 212 acres joins the land of Mial Scurlock whereon the Court House now stands and the land of Zachariah Harman. Land which the said Alston purchased of JOHN HARRINGTON as heir at law to his Father CHARLES HARRINGTON D'cd. Another tract of land that the said William Alston purchased of ROBERT RUTHERFORD adjoining the aforesaid land on Robertson's Creek of 45 acres. Wit: Matthew Ramsey and Mial Scurlock signed William Alston
  • Newberry County SC Deed Book A page 87: South Carolina 96th District Dec. 5, 1778 Isaac Morgan and Ann his wife of the 96th District to Robert Rutherford of Chatham County NC for 900 pds. SC currency for 250 acres in the fork between the Broad and the Saluda Rivers on a fork of second creek called Horse Branch, Adj William Dawkins, Daniel Horsey, and "new Irish". signed Isaac Morgan WIT: Thomas Smith, Thomas Mathis, George Linam.
  • Union co SC Deed Book B page 877: Nicholas Corry, David Smith and Frances Harrington, of Union County exrs & extx of the estate of John Harrington D'cd to Robert Rutherford of Newberry County, a negroe woman named suck about 27 years old, 3 June 1794. signed Frances Harrington, Nicholas Corry, David Smith, Wit Jeptha Harrington, Jeremiah Leary. Proved June 3. 1794 in Union county by oath of Nicholas Corry, J.P. Recorded June 17, 1794
  • Union co SC Deed book B page 878: June 2, 1794 Robert Rutherford of Newberry SC, Esqr, and Fanny Harrington of Union county, widow of John Harrington D'cd, John Rutherford and Thomas Mathews, trustees marriage settlement, whereas a marriage is intended to be had and solemnized between said Robert Rutherford and Fanny Harrington. Signed Robert Rutherford, Frances Harrington, David Smith, Nicholas Corry. Certified by Nicholas Corry, J.P. June 3, 1789 and Recorded Aug. 18, 1794
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Genealogical Research Databases, database online, ( : accessed 10 November 2019), "Record of Colonel Robert Rutherford", Ancestor # A098717.
  • North Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution; Location:Durham, NC, USA; Date: 1932, Colonel Robert Rutherford enlisted Chatham, North Carolina, USA.
  • NARA, Revolutionary War Service Records and Pensions (Name: National Archives;), NARA, Revolutionary War Service Records and Pensions - National Archives
  • O'Neall, John Benton & Chapman, John A, The Annals of Newberry (Location: Newberry, South Carolina; Date: 1892;), Col. Robert Rutherford.
  • The History of Newberry County South Carolina, Vol 1, by Thomas Pope, p 66

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Robert by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Robert:

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Rutherford-3599 and Rutherford-1279 appear to represent the same person because: same find a grave on both profiles
posted by Teresa Downey

Unmerged matches › Robert Rutherford (1734-1814)

R  >  Rutherford  >  Robert Rutherford Sr.

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