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About the study

This is a study of the surname Pemberton which I began in late 2009, a few months before registration with the Guild of One-Name Studies. I propose to gather and publish all Pemberton data from the earliest available through 1850. I am organising the Pemberton Family World Wide association which will add much to this study. They have a web site here:

My motivation is two-fold: first, I enjoy this sort of work, and extracting data in bulk somehow makes more sense to me than looking for one at a time (maybe a symptom of a vocational disease I contracted years ago), and second, and more important; I have been deeply impressed as I have researched the name and particularly as I have met distant cousins in England, with the kind of people they always seem to be: down to earth, honest, independent, driven by principle more than convenience, and religious. I think it can be a wonderful blessing to thousands of Pemberton, many yet unborn, to know what kind of people they come from and to understand the feelings that course through their hearts as they deal with the vicissitudes of life.

My sincere desire is that from an understanding of the ancient and worthy Pemberton line, the present Pemberton's may gain an increased appreciation and even a reverence for those who have given us this noble heritage, and that there may come a determination to live up to and exceed their ability to be noble, worthy, independent, sober, honest, principled, industrious, loving and believing citizens of our world. I also hope that Pemberton's everywhere will be drawn back to their roots in England and want to carry on the heritage of the cradle of the family.

Variant names

Pembertonne, Pemerton, Penmerton, Pembarton, Pembarto, Premerton, etc. Not Pembleton (See Pendleton.)

Name origin

There are varying opinions about the origin and meaning of the name. Most seem to agree that 'ber' refers to barley and 'ton' to a hill or town. Others advance the idea that 'ber' is a transformation of 'brit' which has the same root as 'British'. quotes the Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4, thus: 'English: habitational name from a place in Greater Manchester called Pemberton, from Celtic penn '€˜hill'€™, '€˜head'€™ + Old English bere '€˜barley'€™ + tun '€˜enclosure'€™, '€˜settlement'€™.'

Then, if one really likes to speculate, there are ancient and tantalising names like Dumbarton.

Name frequency

There are 539 Pemberton Christenings between 1333 and 1837 in the data base of the Cheshire Parish Register Transcription Project

There are 3,325 Christenings/births between 1538 and 1837 in the data base at

In the Quaker records of Cheshire, England, there are 2 Pemberton events (starting in 1676), and there are 53 in all of Quaker England (starting in 1655), and 553 Pemberton events in the non-Parochial records (starting in 1655 also).

In the 1990 U.S. Census, there were 2,744 surnames more common than Pemberton.


To date I have accumulated a number of Pemberton wills and over a thousand Pemberton events from Cheshire Parish registers from the earliest available to about 1700. Extraction of this data continues with the intent to publish all of it that copyrights will permit. More copies of wills are needed and on-site research in the Parish Chests also is in want.

Here are the extractions I have done from the Parish registers in England:

203 Events Lancashire

617 Bap Marr Cheshire

501 Burials Cheshire

You can view these spreadsheets online by clicking their links, and if you want to download one, find 'File' at the extreme left right below 'Google' in large letters, click on 'File' and drag down to 'Download as ...' The left column in these sheets is the record type with bapt, marr, and buri, and also 'mars' and 'mard'. These last two are marriages inferred from death and baptism records and the date is NOT the marriage date, but of the event whose data was used to contrive a marriage record. For example, if a death record showed the reporting party as the spouse, that created a 'mars' record for their implied marriage and if a a baptism showed both parents a 'mard' record was contrived from it.


The Pemberton DNA Project resides at Family Tree DNA, with the world's largest genealogical DNA data base and testing laboratory. This project is a vital adjunct to the Pemberton One-Name Study as it provides validation or correction of family trees already documented. For more information, visit the Project's Family Tree DNA page here

You can participate in this exciting family research by having your DNA tested (or a direct line male relative if you are female). You can sign up for a test within the Pemberton project page by clicking the link 'REQUEST TO JOIN THIS GROUP' on the left. Then see option '2. Join' and click the 'ORDER YOUR TEST NOW' button at the bottom.

The project also have a presence on Facebook here. Just click 'Like' to stay current on the project's progress.

Here is a good, simple explanation of how DNA testing assists genealogy: And here is another not too technical article on the same topic: