1600-1661. Scottish pastor and theologian. He was born of farming stock at Nisbet in Roxburghshire, and gave evidence of grace and of spiritual insight in boyhood; his mind was always sensitive to spiritual impressions. He entered Edinburgh University in 1617, graduated M.A. in 1621, and two years later after a competitive examination was appointed professor of Latin language and literature in the university. Some unpleasantness in his relations with his colleagues that may have been connected with his marriage led him to resign his office and study theology. He was ordained at Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1627 and exercised a fruitful ministry there until 1636, when he was deposed from office for Nonconformity and ordered to be confined to prison at Aberdeen during the king's pleasure. From there came his famous Letters to former parishioners and friends at Anwoth. These 365 letters are classics in the field of devotional literature. Released from prison in 1638, he returned to Anwoth for eighteen months before being appointed professor of divinity at St. Andrews.
In 1643 he went to London as one of the Scottish commissioners to the
In 1647 Rutherford was appointed principal of St. Mary's at St. Andrews, and later, rector of the university. He was preeminent in Scotland as a scholar and leader. He was well known on the Continent and in 1648 and 1651 declined appointments to Dutch universities.