Clan Carruthers

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Dunning a Family link to a Carruthers Fisherman?

Our ongoing DNA research is backed by solid Genealogy much like a hand in a glove. As such when we are presented with information from both forms of study which link together, and also fit the history of the area, we know we need to research it further to rule out any mistakes, and we do.

Good research requires time committment and the tenacity of the researcher to wish to ensure total accuracy. This prevents, mistakes and helps us build a more accurate map of who we are as a clan and family, taking us from our beginnings in Annandale, Scotland, to the family of the present day.

Here is a study by one of a very competant individual showing a step by step approach to a family line with some surprising results.

A study on Theophilus Downing aka “The Fisherman” and his children.

By Steve Colburn, Director of DNA research, Clan Carruthers y-DNA Project.


My investigations began initially to look into the genealogy of the Dunning family here in the US and progressively its connections to the Scottish Border family of Carruthers. My genealogical research supported by my own yDNA testing, shows that I am a direct descendant of Benjamin DUNNING b.1647.

As part of my many years involved in DNA studies, I have felt there was a disconnect with Benjamin and his siblings being Hannah and Theophilus.

There is documentation supporting some of this, however, much of it is accepted speculation.

In this study I will gather the known clue’s to this family and rate them as being, Strongly Conflicting, Moderately Conflicting, Moderately Supportive & Strongly Supportive.

Strongly ConflictingModerately ConflictingModerately SupportiveStrongly Supportive


• There are two distinct surnames in the Massachusetts Colony in the 1600’s that many claim to be the same family

• DUNNING (aka Duninge)

• I believe they are two distinct families and will attempt to prove it in this presentation

The Children

  • We will first look at the “suggested/transcribed” relationship between Theophilus DOWNING/DUNNING and his “supposed” children, Theophilus Jr., Hannah, and Benjamin.
  • The first record we will research is the Salem Birth record of Theophilus DOWNING and define the document as written.
  • You will see in the birth record we can determine the Date of baptism and the Church, which will lead me to the correct Church for the original records.

First Church of Salem Facts/Findings

• Upon review of the Church records

  • There is one DOWNING Family recorded as “Members” of the First Church of Salem. They are:
    • Emanuel & Lucy (Winthrop) DOWNING
    • Joined the Church in 1638
  • We find five “DOWNING” births recorded in the Church records at a similar time frame.
  • NOTE: There are no DUNNING members of the Church.

First Church of Salem Massachusetts

Emanuel DOWNING & Lucy Winthrop

  • Parent for John DOWNING and Dorca(s) DOWNING is listed as Eman DOWNING
    • Eman is short for Emanuel who was married to Lucy Winthrop
      • Lucy Winthrop is sister of John Winthrop (Governor of Mass. Bay Colony) – This is a well known family with a lot of “clout” in the Colony.
  • Parent for Theophilus and Hannah is listed as “Sister” DOWNING
    • This indicates the Mother is a member of the Church.
      • This is most likely Lucy the wife of Emanuel
        • In 1642 Emanuel went to England for a short stay and returned the following year.
        • Again, In 1644 Emanuel went to England for a short stay and returned the following year.
        • This makes sense that “Sister” DOWNING is the parent as Emanuel was traveling.
        • There are many documents in England that list Theophilus DOWNING b.1642 in Salem, Massachusetts as the son of Emanuel & Lucy.
    • There is no mention of Hannah, however, by the church record I would argue that Hannah is in fact the youngest child of Emanuel and Lucy.
    • Following is the issue for Emanuel DOWNING and his 2nd wife Lucy Winthrop.

Emanuel & Lucy DOWNING Children

Theophilus DOWNING & Elin

• Parent for Benjamin is listed as “Elin: DOWNING”,

This is very odd for a few reasons:

  • The mothers name indicates she is a non-member, otherwise she would be listed as “sister”,
  • DOWNING indicating she is claiming a “DOWNING” as the Father?
  • For the parents of Benjamin DOWNING parents we will reference “The Essex Antiquarian”

Theophilus & Elin DOWNING Child

  • Benjamin DOWNING bapt. 17 Nov 1646

Church Records Review

  • Conclusion by reviewing these records
  • Theophilus and Benjamin are NOT brothers and there is no Theophilus Jr.
    • Theophilus DOWNING is the son of Emanuel & Lucy
    • Hannah DOWNING is the daughter of Emanuel & Lucy
    • Benjamin DOWNING is son of Elin and another DOWNING male who is Theophilus
  • So are Theophilus and Benjamin brothers as many claim?
Clue – 1aStrongly ConflictingModerately ConflictingModerately SupportiveStrongly Supportive
Salem Birth RecordsX

DOWNING and the “Fisherman“ title

  • The DOWNING name is well known in the Colonies and was not interchanged with DUNNING.
    • I can imagine some of the confusion is due to translations of early records
    • Many people on Ancestry web sites just copy and paste results without verifying connections which exacerbates the issue.
  • I have found two DOWNING’s with the Title “The Fisherman” and both were granted land
    • Theophilus DOWNING “The Fisherman”
    • Richard DOWNING “The Fisherman”

“The Fisherman”

  • Theophilus “The Fisherman” DOWNING was granted Land in 1642
  • Richard“The Fisherman” DOWNING was granted land in 1684. This Richard is the son of John DOWNING (Brother of Theophilus DOWNING) who is son of Emanuel DOWNING
    • Richard is the nephew of Theophilus“ The Fisherman” Downing.
  • References:
    • Marblehead town records
    • Essex Registry of Deeds, book 7, leaf 68
    • See mortgage from Mr. DOWNING to the commoners, dated Aug. 10, 1685, and recorded in Essex Registry of Deeds, book 7, leaf 50
    • Marblehead town records
  • Excerpt from the book about “Fishermen” and why they were granted land.
    • “…The enactment of 1639 was even more stringent: “No man shall fell any timber upon the Common to make sale of, neither shall any man fell any tree for fuel without leave from the Constable under penalty of (a fine) for such tree felled for timber or firewood, and if any man shall fell timber for their own use, and remove it not from off the Commons or cleave it or saw it not within one year after the felling of it, it shall be lawful for any man to make use of the same.”
    • The “Commoners would grant land to Fishermen as… “Fishermen were allowed to cut wood from the commons for house building and fuel, and each boat’s crew had leave to feed one cow on the Common

Theophilus & Richard being related

  • Theophilus was granted land in Salem, Massachusetts & Lived in Marblehead
  • Richard was granted and in Marblehead, Massachusetts
  • Many families passed their trade to family members.
  • There is no record of Theophilus “The Fisherman” DOWNING as being related to Emanuel DOWNING, however, the Trade, Location and name make a strong circumstantial argument.
  • Coincidentally, Emanuel did name his son Theophilus
Strongly ConflictingModerately ConflictingModerately SupportiveStrongly Supportive
The FishermanX


  • Here we will look at “two” Benjamin’s that existed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
    • Benjamin DOWNING bapt. 17 Nov 1646
      • Son of Theophilus DOWNING “TheFisherman” and Elin
      • The DOWNINGS traveled frequently between England and the Colonies
      • I cannot find any other records on this Benjamin DOWNING
    • Benjamin DUNNING born. 17 Jan 1647
      • Son of Theophilus DUNNING and Hannah Lindell
      • Profession – Sealer of Leather (Noted in 1682)
      • He is also listed as a Tithingman (Noted in 1684)
  • The first mention I have of DUNNING is the “Millennium File”
    • Benjamin DUNNING b.17 Jan 1647
    • This is the only file I am finding on Benjamin DUNNING in Salem, MA

Benjamin DUNNING b. 17 Jan 1647

  • The “Millenium File” has a birth record of Benjamin DUNNING b. 17 Jan 1647 to Theophilus DUNNING and Hannah Lindell.
    • On page 73 of the “Founders and Patriots of America Index” we also see that Theophilus DUNNING who marries Hannah arrives in Salem on13 Mar 1642
    • Note: He CANNOT be the father of the so called Theophilus Jr. as he was baptized 13 Jan 1642.
    • This also supports that Benjamin and Theophilus are not brothers

The Two Theophilus’

  • Ref: VIRKUS, FREDERICK A., editor. Immigrant Ancestors: A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1964. 75p. Repr. 1986.
  • Much of his research has been disputed and proven to be false.
    • Two References to Theophilus Dunning from Frederick Virkus:
      • 1st Reference: Theophilus Dunning arrival in America Jun 1642
        • I trust this reference as it is pulled from “ U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2010.”
      • 2nd Reference: Theophilus Dunning arrived in 1642 known as “The Fisherman”
        • I believe this is not accurate as this is pulled from: “The abridged compendium of American genealogy : first families of America : a genealogical encyclopedia of the United States, Vol 5” This version was edited by Frederick Virkus.
  • Previous evidence suggest the Theophilus DOWNING was “The Fisherman” and is a separate person from Theophilus DUNNING.

More Confusion

  • There are two different references to the same person in the “New England Marriages prior to 1700” reference.
  • Theophilus Dunning and Theophilus Downing
  • Lets take a look at the record…

New England Marriages Prior to 1700

  • I contend that DOWNING and DUNNING are the same person and that this is actually Theophilus DOWNING “The Fisherman” as his wife’s name is Ellen
  • The child b.1642 is not Theophilus, as that is the son of Emanuel and Lucy.
    • There is a different unnamed child in 1642
  • Are these the same person.
Strongly ConflictingModerately ConflictingModerately SupportiveStrongly Supportive
Marriage Records 1700X

The Three Families

(Having worked through the genealogy, using DNA to augment the research is the most accurate way to confirm a family tree. However it is chicken and egg, as one definately needs the other, and all grounded on the sold history of the family concerned ed.)

Y-DNA Data

  • The Y-DNA chromosome is nearly identical from son, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on through the generations, a Y-DNA line can be traced back hundreds, or even thousands of years. This is used to determine family lines, migration paths of ancient ancestors, etc.
  • There is a “DOWNING Family” Y-DNA Project that covers the family in New England and Europe. It is worth noting that all DOWNNG males tested positive for R-M269 Haplotype
  • The “DUNNING Family” Project has two Haplotypes, R-M269 and I-M253.
    • These two families cannot be related as they are entirely different SNP’s *The R-M269 Haplotype goes back to England pre-1700’s
      *The I-M253 Haplotype goes to back to Scotland pre-1700’s


  • Benjamin DUNNING b.1647 is I-M253 Haplotype and test positive for
    • I-CTS11603 & I-FT191896 – This is a Scottish families haplogroup
    • I-Y6851 – This is the Haplotype of Benjamin DUNNING b.1647
  • The DUNNING Y-DNA project does connect Benjamin DUNNING b.1647 to all three of his documented sons
    • Benjamin DUNNING b.1679
    • John DUNNING b.1681
    • Michael DUNNING b.1685
    Note: See FamilyTreeDNA for more information on Y-DNA and Haplotypes.

Y-DNA Results

  • We have not been able to triangulate any Y-DNA Dunnings of the I-M253 Haplotype prior to any DUNNING before Benjamin Dunning b.1647, which indicates he could be the first with that surname with a different father, or his Father could be the first DUNNING of this line.
  • At this same timeframe as Benjamin Dunning in Salem, MA we find a new Y-DNA Match. This match is to the Carruthers.
  • This Carruthers family is from Annandale, Dumfriesshires in Scotland.
  • The Y-DNA Marker for all descendants of Benjamin DUNNING b.1647 is I-Y6851 which is downstream of I-BY18922. All male descebdents of William de Carruthers c1150, the first recorded use of the name, carry this marker, as do all the descendents of Benjamin Dunning.
    • All tested male DUNNINGS that descend from Benjamin Dunning b.1647 carry the markers of the Carruthers family, indicating that Benjamin’s father is more likely than not a Carruthers.
Clue #1cStrongly ConflictingModerately ConflictingModerately SupportiveStrongly Supportive
Y-DNA EvidenceX


  • I believe from all the data discussed here, that Benjamin DUNNING b.17 Jan 1647 is the son of Theophilus Dunning who arrived in America 13 Mar 1642
  • Theophilus Dunning is probably the son of a Carruthers male from the Dumfriesshires region of Scotland
  • As we receive more Dunning and Carruthers males for Big Y-700 testing the data and its mapping is becoming far more clear, as well as correlating a very accurate mapping of Carruthers, we are locating the true lineage of Benjamin Dunning b.1647 in Salem, Massachusetts and his familial links with the Carruthers family from Annandale, Dumfrieshire in Scotland
  • I always welcome discussion and challenges to this data as this is just a theory and hope to find more information on this family.


We have been studying our history, genetics and genealogy for quite a few years now, and have only began sharing some of the information. This is partly due to the plagiarism and misuse that exists and partly due to the need to be totally accurate in our presentations. We hope to inform as correctly as possible, with the evidence we have regarding who we are and where we come from, and we hope that our family enjoys the journey.

For this reason the information as seen above suggests two things:

  • We have highly competent researchers on board who are tencious in their search for the truth.
  • Because of this, our researchers are coming up with some fascinating and factual information on the Carruthers Family.

We know through our continued in-depth research that the claims of Carruthers being Irish, Viking, Norman, Roman, Royalty or even related to Caratacus, a celtic warlord during the time of the Roman Invasion in what is now southern England, do not hold any validity.

As a family line, we could strongly argue that we fought battles in our ancestral home of Annandale as Celts against the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Gaels and the Vikings, and as Scots and Reivers, the English and on many an occasions against other Scots. We were recognised by the Scottish Monarchy and rewarded, fought and died for our kith and kin, our lands and our country, and served in many roles of high status both at home and abroad. Our name is deeply interwoven with the history of Annandale, of Dumfriesshire and of Scotland and we rode for 300 years as Reivers being named in the 1587 Act as such.

Therefore surely we must all be aware that there is no need to over polish an already brightly polished jewel, but simply to keep on examining it, looking for different facets and continue to admire its true beauty!

(ie Don’t over exaggerate something to make it more exciting, when good research proves it is exciting enough in its own reality) Mills, McLean 1965

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