History of the Project
When I first became acquainted with the project in 2007, there were only five members, yet the World Families Network (WFN) already provided a hosted website full of information including a Y-Results page for presentation of the test results and a Patriarchs' Page for posting member's pedigrees. (Unfortunately WFN has retired and these pages are no longer available.) At the time, the concept of DNA testing as an aid to genealogy was a curiosity to me, and I was a bit skeptical as to what could be accomplished by this trendy new idea. Nevertheless I persuaded my brother, a second cousin and two fourth cousins to have the Y-chromosome test. To my amazement, the four of them were a perfect match at 37 Y-STR values! That hooked me. Foreseeing the possibilities, I educated myself in the basics and volunteered for the job of administrator.
At first it took some work to get out the DNA message and find recruits, but soon members brought in other members and the project grew. After a few years our membership included Gleasons of all possible spellings from around the globe plus members with other surnames who had genetic ties through a female ancestor. In addition to the original lineage identified of English origin, the Y-DNA tests began to reveal Irish lineages among the members.
When the membership rose to eighty in number, it became obvious that the job of administrator was more than one person could efficiently handle. The project needed new blood with innovative ideas and fresh enthusiasm. Fortunately Dr. Maurice Gleeson accepted the job as co-administrator in 2014, and he has proved to be the perfect choice. He is abreast of the latest developments in DNA testing and has the skill to effectively demystify the science to others. His involvement in a number of Irish surname projects has brought a needed dimension to the scope of the project. By creating our Project Blog and putting us on Facebook, he has attracted many new members, especially those interested in Irish Gleeson DNA.
Origin of Thomas Gleason 1609-1687
Everyone who uses John Barber White’s book, Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Gleason…, as a research source should be aware that White himself had doubts about the origin of Thomas Gleason that he suggested in his work. “Of the parentage and birthplace of this Thomas Gleason no positive knowledge has been obtained,” he states in his brief foreword. One cannot fault him for trying, however, although his hypothesis has been found to be incorrect. The book was written in 1909 and certainly genealogical research was a challenge in those times. Today we are fortunate that resources are available everywhere, often digitized and online. One hundred and five years after White, the true origin of Thomas was published, and is summarized here:
THOMAS GLEASON was christened as Thomas Gleson in Cockfield, Suffolk, England, 3 September 1609, the son of Thomas and Anne (Armesby) Gleson.1 He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 1687.2 On 31 July 1634 he married SUSAN[NA] PAGE in Cockfield.3 She was baptized on 4 December 1614 in Ingham, Suffolk, the daughter of Thomas and Susanna (___) Page of Ingham and Hawstead, Suffolk.4 Susanna (Page) Gleason is believed to have died in Boston, Massachusetts, 24 January 1691.5
For an overview of all the relevant Suffolk records concerning this family, including Thomas’s parents and four children, see: Judith Gleason Claassen, “The Origin of Thomas Gleason of Watertown and Cambridge, Massachusetts,” NEHGS Register, Vol. 168 (January 2014), 5-15.
1 Original parish registers of Cockfield, Suffolk, at Suffolk Record Office, Bury St .Edmunds (SROB), FL552/4/3; FL552/4/1; Transcripts of parish registers of Cockfield, Suffolk, 1561-1922 [FHL 0,993,235], 42, 49. The name Armesby is written variously in the register as: Armsby, Armsbye, Armsbie, and Arnsby. The baptisms of four children are also found in these records.
2 Thomas is presumed to have been living at the time of Anna (Hanna) Winn’s death in 1686, since she left him a bequest in her will, yet no longer living when his daughter Ann was baptized as an adult in January of 1687/8.
3 SROB FL552/4/4; Cockfield Transcripts [note 1], 74.
4 William Brig, The Parish Register of Ingham, Co. Suffolk: Baptisms 1538 to 1804, Marriages 1539 to 1787, Burials 1538 to 1811(Leeds: Knight, 1909), 9. The E-book is available online at archive.org; SROB IC500/2/57; Suffolk Family History Society, Suffolk Burial Index, CD-ROM (2005), Index by Parish, Noz-Pee: 532. Wife Susanna was buried 1631, a second wife, Elizabeth, in 1645.5 SC1/series 45X, Massachusetts Archives Collection, vol. 37: 64; Daniel Angell Gleason, “Thomas Gleason (Leson) and Susanna Page,” manuscript in R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Department of NEHGS, Mss A4060, Part I:24. "Widow Gleason" was included in the list of charges of the keeper of the Suffolk County gaol. If not Susanna, this widow may have been the relict of son Philip.