Notes on the Kerley and Saunders Family Immigration to the American Colonies, Part 1

WHB -On preceding web-pages, I have discussed the DNA evidence for concluding the near certainty that specific branches of families surnamed Saunders (and their descendants named Burnett), Kerley and Crump are related. 

This suggests that a review of existing genealogical information may prove fruitful in identifying what these relationships are.

The history of the 17th century settlement of the English colonies suggests that researchers should be looking both in England and the Colonies for relevant genealogical information. However, I suspect that researchers in Virginia and Massachusetts tend to discount the possibility of finding genealogical clues in the “other colony”.

But it might be worth some consideration. Take a look at the following information on the passengers aboard a 1638 voyage of the Confidence, bound for settlements in Marlborough and Sudbury, Massachusetts:


 ~ THE CONFIDENCE ~Marlborough Settlers

CONFIDENCE, of London, two hundred tons, John Gibson, Master. She sailed from Southampton the last of April,` by vertue of the Lord Treasurers warrant of the 11th of April,1638. 1

 JOHN SANDERS,  25 of Langford, Wilts, Salisbury, husbandman; Mrs. Sarah Sanders, John Cole 40,  Roger Eastman 15 servant; Richard Blake                                                    16 servant; William Cottle 12 servant; Robert King 24 servant                                                        

. . . .

[WHB: Note the following passengers on that voyage of the Confidence:]

EDMUND KERLEY 22 of Ashmore, county Dorset;  husbandman                                                                                 William Kerley husbandman Sudbury; Edmund Morris                                                     of Kington Magna, county Dorset.

WHB: Readers of this website will recall the following immigrant to Virginia from the exhaustive list of 17th century immigrants to Virginia:

1642 Richard Kerley, sponsored by Hugh Gwyn (unknown)

WHB – in 1642, Hugh Gwyn also sponsored John Averry (unknown).

WHB: Also note the following extraction attributed to a Kerley family history (H.E. J. Davis’ Kerley-Warlick Genealogy and Family History):

“After William and Edmund Kerley landed in [Massachusetts] they lived in Sudbury, Marlboro and Lancaster. As the families came on they began to scatter out over other parts of Massachusetts and then into Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. They continued to emigrate from one state to another until the descendants of the Kerley family today live in most every state in the United States of America.
“About 100 years after the Kerley’s landed in America, Henry [Kerley] was born in Mass or Penn in 1738 or about that date.

[WHB – I suspect that if Ms Davis had the information that Richard Kerley had arrived in Virginia four years after the voyage of the Confidence to Massachusetts, she might have speculated that the Henry Kerleys of Albemarle County, Virginia descended from a Virginia immigrant rather than one who immigrated to Massachusetts.

The geographical origin of the Virginia’s Richard Kerley is not specified in the sources I have seen, but in a follow-up post, I will argue that we should begin to look in Dorset, a county in which the landed gentry was feeling the stress of the battles between King Charles I and Parliament, and, of course, the neighboring counties of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. There may be a chance to connect some dots – still speculative genealogy, but much of genealogical research is developing hypotheses of where to look for documentation.

Even though I feel Ms Davis’ inferred family tree is incorrect, I think it quite probable that the Massachusetts and Virginia Kerleys were closely related (sharing nearly identical DNA values), and therefore am including the remaining information on the documented history of the Virginia Kerleys and their descendents.]

He was married to Nancy (maiden name nor place nor date of birth is known) They made their home in the State of Virginia in Albermarle County. Their children were Henry born about 1758, Elizabeth, Martha, Polly, Judieth, Susan, Lucy, Thomas and Richard Kerley. The date of death of Henry Kerley, Sr or where he is buried is unknown but his children and his wife, Nancy Kerley, all went to Rutherford County, Tenn, except Henry Kerley, Jr. He settled in Burke County, NC. Nancy Kerley, widow of Henry Kerley, Sr, married again to Lewis C. Anthony and lived in Rutherford County, Tenn.

“Henry Kerley, Jr, the son of Henry Kerley, Sr and Nancy Kerley was born in Virginia in or about the year 1758 and was married to Sarah Garrett about 1780. The date and place of her birth is not known but we believe she was born in Virginia. We also believe that they were married in Virginia. Henry Kerley, Jr, took out a land grant in Burke County, NC on July 7, 1794 for 50 acres of land and on August 22, 1795 took out another land grant for 150 acres in Burke County, NC.

“Henry Kerley and Sarah, his wife, lived on this land until her death about 1815. She was buried on top of a mountain near their old home place in what is known as the Alexander Graveyard. After her death, Henry Kerley sold this land and went to Macon County, Tenn and lived there until about 1833 then he went to Wayne County, Tenn near where the old log Court House stood on what was known as the Town Branch and he was buried near the Simmons Branch in Wayne County, Tenn.

Title: Kerley-Warlick Genealogy and Family History
Author: Harriet Elizabeth Jones Davis
Publication: private publicaton
Note: Notes from family investigations by author and her mother Lois Catesby Kerley Jones (b 1883 d 1973)
Note: copy of this book given to E F Kerley by Harriet Jones Davis
Call Number:
Media: Book
Page: 269

More About Henry Kerley:
Burial: Unknown, Goose Creek, Hartsville, Smith County, TN.

Children of Henry Kerley are:

  1. +Henry Kerley II, b. 1750, Albermarle County, Virginia, d. Abt. 1836, Waynesboro, Wayne County, Tenn.
  2. Judeth Kerley, b., Albemarle County, VA, d. date unknown.
  3. Larkin H. Kerley, d. date unknown.
  4. Lucy Kerley, b., Albemarle County, VA, d. date unknown.
  5. Marth Kerley, d. date unknown.
  6. Polly Kerley, d. date unknown.
  7. Richard Kerley, b., Albemarle County, VA, d. date unknown.
  8. Susan Kerley, b., Albemarle County, VA, d. date unknown.
  9. Thomas Kerley, d. date unknown.
  10. Willam Kerley, b. 1735, d. 1840, Tennesee.
  11. Elizabeth Kerley, b. Abt. 1760, Albemarle County, Virginia, d. date unknown.
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