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Kearsley DNA Study

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About us

Jonathan Kearsley, born 1718 in Scotland, came to America ca. 1738 to begin a new life. After his marriage to Jane (last name unknown) they settled in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where they had a large family. Years later he moved to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania where he  died in 1782. 

Elmer White, with the help of George T Kearsley of Virginia & Professor P.H.K. McComb, wrote a detailed book about him and his descendants up through 1900. This book, entitled The Descendants of Jonathan Kearsley, 1718-1782 and his wife Jane Kearsley, 1720-1801, has served as the primary resource for many doing research on the U.S. Kearsleys & their satellite families. For many it has become the “brick wall”, the point beyond which no one could go to find Jonathan’s complete story.

Short term goal of this study - finding the link between the English & Scottish families.

We know about Jonathan's descendants but not his ancestors. We know nothing about Jonathan's family in Scotland. For unknown reasons, when he left home, he cut ties with his family. We don't know his parents' names or who his siblings were. Nor do we know where in Scotland they lived. We do know that he had relatives in Durham Co., England.

Some believe his family left Durham for Scotland – a good bet since Kearsleys were thought to have originated in the nearby town of Kearsley in Lancashire.

With more records being made available all the time and with more people interested in their own histories it’s conceivable a birth or baptismal record for Jonathan could still surface or an unknown relative whose curiosity about a missing family member is motivated to dig a little deeper.

Piecing together genealogies and the study of family lines through DNA testing could also help us establish the needed link between the families.

A single family still exists from Jonathan’s large family in the United States and they are participating in the Y-DNA study. Armed with the results of this test we may have the first chink to break down the “brick wall”.

Long term goal of this study – thinking globally.

Armed with DNA tests and a paper trail of genealogies from Durham, Lancashire,Yorkshire, Cheshire and far beyond, we have established key Kearsley lines from these counties and others to learn what, if any, connection they may have to one another.

This is the jumping off point to expand our study globally. There are populations of Kearsleys in Canada, Australia & the United States now being tapped. We eagerly encourage them to join in our Y-DNA study as well.  

Currently we are seeking men with the last name Kearsley (or a variant surname) willing to join the Y-DNA study. Please email us if this is of interest to you.  

Thank you in advance.   Email: