John Rutherford was born on 1 August 1695 in Yarrow, Selkirkshire. He was educated in Selkirk and studied at Edinburgh University, 1709-1710, before being apprenticed to the surgeon Alexander Nesbit with whom he remained until 1716. A visit to London followed, with attendance at various hospitals and surgical and anatomical lectures. He then went to Leyden which had become famous through the medical teaching of Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738). At Rheims, in France, in 1719, Rutherford obtained the degree of M.D. and then spent some time in Paris before returning to Britain. He settled in Edinburgh in 1721 and started, with partners Andrew St. Clair, John Innes, and Andrew Plummer, a laboratory for the preparation of compound medicines. They also taught chemistry. Each became Professors at Edinburgh University, Rutherford being appointed to the Chair of the Practice of Medicine in 1726. In 1748 Rutherford was given permission to deliver a course of clinical lectures in the Royal Infirmary. These proved to be popular, and so began the teaching relationship between the University and the Royal Infirmary which gave both a pre-eminence. Rutherford delivered his University lectures in Latin until 1765, when he resigned to be succeeded by Dr. John Gregory (1724-1773). Professor John Rutherford died in 1779 and was buried in the city's Greyfriars Churchyard on 10 March 1779. He was a grandfather of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), and was the father of Professor Daniel Rutherford (1749-1819), physician and botanist.