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2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

Edmund Roberts Kearsley

Edmund Roberts Kearsley with his daughter Rebecca & grandaughter Margaret

Our goal is to reconstruct the genealogies of Kearsleys of English descent in Lancashire & Durham counties as well as some adjoining counties including Yorkshire & Cheshire. Working with the assumption that Kearsleys originated in and around the town of Kearsley in Lancashire we begin there. 

With the help of DNA testing we hope to establish key Kearsleys lines and determine their relationship, if any, to one another.

In addition to England there are also significant populations of Kearsleys in Canada, Australia & the United States, with smaller clusters in South Africa and Scotland. We welcome a wide range of Kearsley descendants to participate in our study.

Variant names

Variant: Kersley

Similar surnames: Carslile, Carsley, Chersly, Corsleyn  Kearsly, Karsley, Keirsley,  Kiersley, Kerseley, Kirsley, Korsley, Garsley.

Name origin

Kearsley is one of the oldest surnames found in England today.  From the Olde English, pre 7th century, it is a combination of the words “caers” meaning cress & “leah” meaning a clearing or glade –therefore a clearing where cress grows.



Historical occurrences of the name

The town of Kearsley in Lancashire was first recorded as Cherselawe in 1187 and the Lancashire pipe rolls of Willelmus Cherselawe were also found there. The name Kearsley in 1220 was Kersleie in the Registry of Cockersand Abby and 400 years later Rodgerius Kerselaie’s death was recorded in 1620. A short time later, In 1687, William Kearsley & Ales Bancks were married in Wigan, Lancashire.

Kearsleys of note: From the family of Jonathan & Jane Kearsley of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania who emigrated to America ca. 1837.

  • Samuel Kearsley: Captain during the Revolutionary War; served with George Washington at Valley Forge.
  • Jonathan Kearsley: Fought in the War of 1812 at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane; 5th Mayor of Detroit, serving 2 terms.

Relationships acknowledged but as yet undetermined:

  • John Kearsley, MD of Greatham, Durham, England & Philadelphia; A highly respected physician, responsible for overseeing the construction of the larger and grander Christ Church in Philadelphia. He was also involved in the design of the new wing and steeple.
  • John Kearsley, Jr. MD of Sedgefield, Durham, England & Philadelphia; referred to as the “Tory doctor” for siding with the British in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War; His somewhat difficult nature & reckless outspokenness resulted in his being imprisoned in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where he eventually died. He was a nephew of the above John of Greatham.

Distribution of the name

The Kearsley name is found throughout the world with large concentrations in England (its point of origin), Australia, Canada, & the United States. Smaller clusters of the name are found in Scotland and South Africa.


We are currently seeking male relatives with the surname Kearsley (or variant) to join our Y-DNA project. Family Tree DNA will begin to host our DNA results.

View our progress later at


A new mailing list at Please join. We welcome your queries and input.

The Kearsley DNA study with FT-DNA can be seen as it progresses at