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Our 2,743 members have registered
2,395 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

The Charsley family research was started in the 1980's by Alan Watts, and was held on a card Index. I took his data in the early 1990's and transferred it to computer using Ultimate Family Tree, and currently Rootsmagic. The database now contains some 8000 individuals, and is regularly uploaded to my website at

Variant names

The main variants are Cheasley and Cheesley, and these both appear at roughly the same frequency as Charsley in the UK Electoral roll of 2002, i.e. about 100+ individuals.

Name origin

All three names can be traced back to the village of Chearsley in Buckinghamshire. Although the surname Chearsley was used up to the 18th century it is no longer used. When spelling was phonetic the name was often written with a letter d (Chardley etc), but this has also disappeared.

Name frequency

The frequency of occurrence in the 1881 UK census is Charsley, 88 individuals on Ancestry, but only 72 on Family Search (probably due to being able to correct transcription errors on Ancestry). Both sites have 38 Cheasleys and 81 Cheesleys. The 1880 US census had only 2 Charsleys, both born in England. It had 3 Cheasleys, one born in Canada, and no Cheesleys. The 1881 Canadian census had 3 Charsleys, one born in England, 2 Cheasleys, one born in England and no Cheesleys.

In the 2002 Electoral roll, there are 112 Charsleys, 120 Cheasleys and 133 Cheesleys. This makes all three of these surnames quite rare in the UK population.

There are currently families with each of these names in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Distribution of the name

In 1881 the majority of holders of all three surnames were in London and the home counties, with a Charsley centre in Buckinghamshire, a Cheasley centre in Surrey, and a Cheesley centre in Wiltshire.


The 8000+ individuals in my database are linked into 8 trees with over 100 individuals, and many smaller trees.


So far I have only persuaded 5 individuals to test, all Charsleys. 3 are from my Buckinghamshire family, earliest known ancestor Thomas Charsley, who married Elizabeth in Amersham in 1602. 2 are from my family, earliest known ancestor John Charsley, who died in Edgware in 1767. However, the DNA study indicates that we are all related, with a common ancestor probably 7 to 9 generations back. So far I cannot find a documented link, but am still trying!
I am looking for some Cheesley and Cheasley males to take the test, to find out whether they too are related to us!