The Rutherford Family

From the village of Rutherford, near Maxton between Kelso and Selkirk, in the Borders.12th century.
There are several theories of how the Border name Rutherford originated.

One theory is that, at one time, a man of some standing safely escorted Ruther, King of Scots, across the Tweed when the river was in flood. The place was named Rutherford. The King rewarded the man with a gift of lands and decreed that henceforth he should be named Rutherford.

Another version is of a Scottish force which encountered an English force on the opposite back of the River Tweed. Both sides prepared for a fight and the English, the greater force, succeeded in forcing a crossing of the river and a violent battle ensued. Many fell on both sides but the Scots emerged as the victors and forced the English to retreat back into England, badly mauled.

The English named the place Rue-the-ford because of the heavy losses they had suffered there.

Possibly re-the-ford meant the same as Oxford, "horned cattle"

Do you know of other versions?

The village of Rutherford can be located by the River Tweed, between Selkirk and Kelso. Map ref: 74 64 30.

Try finding it on Multimap.

As a family spread from its source, by a strange Scottish custom the various branches that developed were often known as "------- of that Ilk." 

For example the Rutherford's of Rutherford would be known as the Rutherford's of that Ilk.
At the Battle of Otterburn,
a force led by Thomas Rutherford defeated the English and captured several of its officers.

The family had associations with Aikwood Tower.


The base of the Rutherfords was on the Scottish side of the Border near Hawick. They were frequently at feud with their powerful neighbours, the Kerrs.