William Ruffin

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William Ruffin

Also Known As: "Guliemus Ruthven", "Ruffine"
Birthplace: Treyford, Sussex, England
Death: January 9, 1674
Isle of Wight County, Virginia Colony
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Ruffin and Robert Ruffin's wife
Husband of Elizabeth Ruffin
Father of Robert Ruffin, of Rich Neck Farm
Brother of Robert ll Ruffin and Katherine Bathe

Managed by: Scott David Hibbard
Last Updated:

About William Ruffin

William Ruffin

  • born: before 18 Oct 1638
  • We have a christening record of William Ruffine, son of Robert Ruffine (and wife) of Treyford in Sussex County England. It is dated 14 Oct 1618
  • died: 9 Jan 1674 Isle of Wight, VA (intestate - without a will)
  • married: ca 1645 to Elizabeth Jewry


  1. Robert. Married Elizabeth Prime, widow of Joseph Watkins

William Ruffin listed a passenger on ship Assurance, leaving from Gravesend England on July 24, 1635, Master of the ship was Isaac Bromwell.

It is now thought (although not conclusively proven) that William Ruffin came from England, possibly Sussex County. When William arrived in Virginia, he was an eighteen-year-old commoner who signed his name with an X.


  David Alexander Ruffin writes,

"William Ruffin accumulated immense landed property on the South side of the James River by importing laborers into the country, that sort of service being remunerative at that time by a grant of so much land per capita."

From The William and Mary Quarterly, Volume 18. Page 218


This family begins with 1 William1 Ruffin, who appears in the records of Isle of Wight County at a very early period.

William Jewry in his will dated June 1, 1651, left a legacy to "Robert Ruffin, son of William Ruffin." In June, 1677, 2 Robert1 Ruflin, of Surry County is mentioned as heir and administrator of William Ruffin deceased.

William Ruffin married before 1651 and had one son - Robert Ruffin. His wife is thought to have been the daughter of William Jewry. [was Jewry confabulated with William Gowrie?]

In British records, Bishop Burnet remarks that "William Gowrie of Ruthven lived and died 'beyond the seas,' became a great chemist and being addicted to alchemy it was given out that he had become a great chemist and 'had found the Philospher's stone.'

From: Virginia Historical Genealogies, pg. 262

Thought to be the fourth son of William Ruthven, who was Earl of Gowrie, a Scottish nobleman, executed for his enmity to Mary, Queen of Scots, when William was only 3 years old.

Arrested as a child and carried to Cambridge England and imprisoned in 1620 by King James of Scotland. He escaped in 1635. At the age of 18, William embarked for Virginia at Gravesend, England , July 24, 1635 aboard the ship Assurance. Master of the ship was Issac Bromwell. This was when the name was changed from Ruthven to Ruffin, so the English Government could not find him.

The earliest record of him in this country appears to be his signature as witness to the will of Edward Chetwyne in Isle of Wight County Sept 7, 1649. This first signature was "Gulielm Ruffin." According to family tradition, his name was originally "William Ruthven." Apparently he had Latinized it, in accordance with the fad in those days, especially among the University gradutates; some weight is given to this surmise from the fact that the name "Ruffin" is not found abroad. Gulielmus soon reverted to "William" but the "Ruffin stuck.

In 1666 William Ruffin patented 750 acres of land in Isle of Wight County, "at ye Cypress Swamp, adjoining Ambrose Bennett."

In 1668 William Ruffin sold to Thomas Pope 450 acres out of 900 acres patented by him and Robert Coleman.

In 1670, William Ruffin assigned 200 acres to Mrs. Katherine Thornton (b. 1634), with reversion to her two children, Arthur Whitehead and Rebecca Thornton.

Ruthven myth

Seen as Birth: June 4, 1613 Gardyne Castle, Near Friockheim, Angus, Scotland

"He fled Scotland with his brother Patrick at the time his brothers, John and Alexander, were murdered at Gowrie House 5 August 1600. Received his education in Europe, and sailed to America in 1635. He made his home in Isle of Wight Co., VA, and changed his name to Ruffin. He was our first Ruthven/Ruffin ancestor in America"

From Ruffin Family: Sussex vs Ruthven

"in the past there had been much thought that all the Ruffin family in the USA began with the one William Ruthven, the fourth son of William RUTHVEN, who was Earl of Gowrie, a Scottish nobleman, executed for his enmity to Mary, Queen of Scots, when young William was only 3 years old."


April 2015

Appears to have been confused with another William Ruthven. Disconnected from parents William Ruthven alias Ballindean & Christian Barclay

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William Ruffin's Timeline

October 14, 1618
Treyford, Sussex, England
October 14, 1618
Treyford, Sussex, England
Age 27
Isle of Wight, Virginia
January 9, 1674
Age 55
Isle of Wight County, Virginia Colony