James Guthrie, the son of the Laird of Guthrie, Forfarshire, was born 1612. He was educated in St. Andrews at St. Leonard’s College. Although he began his ministerial career as a friend of prelatic episcopacy, by the time of the signing of the National Covenant, in 1638, he was already numbered amongst those of the anti-prelatic party. In 1642, he was settled as the pastor of the church in Lauder, Berwickshire, where he showed himself to be a warm adherent to the cause of the National Covenant and the covenanting party. He was present at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1644 through 1651, the year in which the Protester/Resolutioner controversy reached its pitch and brought a breach in the church. In this controversy, Mr. Guthrie was an adherent to the stricter Protester minority and, when there was a separation, he remained with them. In November of 1649, Mr. Guthrie was transferred to be the minister of Stirling, where he would remain for a decade.
In 1650, Mr. Guthrie was one of those who, with Patrick Gillespie, withdrew from the royalist cause (seeking the restoration of Charles II.) through the Western Remonstrance. Additionally, he denounced General John Middleton as an enemy of the Covenant and advocated his excommunication from the church. Middleton, who sided with Charles at the Restoration, in 1660, never forgave him. When Charles II. ascended the throne, in 1660, Guthrie and several others petitioned the king to remember his status as a Covenanter. In 1661, with Middleton presiding, Guthrie was arraigned for high treason. The six counts included his signing of the Western Remonstrance. He was ordered to be hanged on June 1, 1661, at the cross of Edinburgh. There he died the first minister to be martyred for Christ’s Crown and Covenant.