John Rutherford


Spelled and referred to variously, a Captain then Major John Rutherford served in New York during the mid-eighteenth century. A printed compilation from British army rolls identified him as a captain in the New York forces who was commissioned on December 31, 1741. A John Rutherford was commissioned a major in the 62nd Regiment (under the Earl of Loudoun) in January 1756.

While a prominent operative in the Albany area from the 1740s until his death in 1758, we have yet to fix this officer's residence and/or ascertain his specific connection to the city of Albany. However, he was associated/connected with/to regional magnate William Johnson whose published papers associate Rutherford with a number of Albany notables including mayor Edward Holland and John Henry Lydius. A member of the governor's Council since the 1740s, he also was present at Indian conferences held in Albany.

Family-based resources tell us that he was born in April 1712 and was the eldest son of Sir John Rutherfurd - Lord Edgerston and his wife Elizabeth Cairncross. Thus, he represented Selkirkshire in 1730 and Roxburghshire (Teviotdale) 1734-41 in Parliament. Perhaps he married Eleanora Elliot in Edinburgh, Scotland in November 1737. That marriage produced at least three children. Perhaps it was daughter Janet who became an Albany resident.

He is said to have served as captain of a "New York Independent Company" under Edward Braddock in western Pennsylvania in June 1755.

John Rutherford is said to have been killed at Ticonderoga in July 1758.

Unlike many of those of his station, he does not seem to have patented land in the province of New York.

At this point, our comprehension of this John Rutherford's life beyond the military is sketchy at best. Please indulge our intention to learn more about him.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of John Rutherford has no CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from Internet-based resources. Begin with his Wiki page. A younger same-named individual was visibly prominent in New York City. Perhaps he was a kinsman.

Fellow officer Walter Rutherfurd (1723-1804) appears to have been John's younger brother and to have served at Ticonderoga as well. Walter Rutherford was a trader in the firm of "Rutherford & Duncan," recruited potential settlers, and later was the proprietor of an estate in New Jersey. Perhaps he married the daughter of James Alexander.

Overall, this feeble offering represents a first attempt to connect him to the world of the people of colonial Albany - a place where he he did indeed spend time! Old friend and fellow early New York enthusiast Tom Burke first pointed me to consider this individual. Upon reflection, his story bring up questions of who attended the so-called "Indian" conferences in Albany and what was the British army doing in the colony in peace time. More pointedly, we have not yet comprehended the nature and extent of the royal presence at places like the Albany fort.

The most often encountered overview source for "British officers serving in America" likens the designation "New York" to the Four Independent Companies of New York - two of which sometimes were stationed at Albany.

silently posted summer 2016; last updated 10/11/16