Family & Ancestry
The Rutherfurd Family
Q. People have speculated on the internet that you have used some of the Rutherfurd family history in your novels. Is that true, and does the Rutherfurd family have a long history?
A. The Rutherfurds descend from Nicol de Rutherfurd, a feudal magnate who quarrelled with King Edward I of England and joined the rebellion of Wallace, a.k.a Braveheart, who was said to be a kinsman of Rutherfurd's wife. I didn't write any of the Braveheart movie though. In the eighteenth century, my ancestors' branch of the Rutherfurds went out from Scotland to Carolina. Their story is told in a book published long ago by Yale University Press entitled Journal of a Lady of Quality. One of this family entered the British navy and was asked by Nelson to command HMS Swiftsure at the great Battle of Trafalgar. I did make reference to this in Sarum. The Swiftsure was built at Bucklers Hard in the New Forest - there's a model of that shipbuilding in the museum there - and oblique reference to this appears in The Forest. Sadly that particular man left no surviving children, but - typically Rutherfurd - I descend from both his brother and his sister. In the nineteenth century the family went to New Zealand where I have so many cousins that when my publishers proudly announced the excellent sales achieved there, I had to tell them they'd only been selling to the family so far!
Q. No other family history in your books?
A. Not in a specific sense, except for a small reference in London. One side of my family were brewers in Kent. They did well in the nineteenth century and set themselves up in various manor houses. One of those, a small but beautiful house overlooking the Weald, called Boughton Monchelsea Place, is briefly featured in London under the name of Bocton.