Are you an Atcherley or an Atcherley descendant? Join us as we explore our Atcherley ancestry through DNA!

Inside all of us, in each of our cells, there is DNA – it makes us who and what we are. More than 99% of human DNA is identical, but the small amount that varies makes each of us (identical twins excepted!) unique. Those variable elements of our DNA can also be compared to find how closely people are related – which is why ancestry DNA testing has become such a useful tool for genealogy.

There are two types of test which are of particular value to genealogists:

‘Family Finder’ or Autosomal tests

I started my genetic genealogy journey in the summer of 2015 by taking the Ancestry DNA test. This is a ‘family finder’ or autosomal test which can be taken by males or females. It allows testers to find matches – other testers who have shared segments of DNA. Those shared segments can come from common ancestors as far back as 3x great grandparents or thereabouts.

Autosomal DNA tests are useful for finding cousins who could be related through any one (or more) of your ancestral lines. By asking my two brothers and a few other descendants of my 2x great grandparents Henry Atcherley and Mary (née Jones) to take the Ancestry DNA test too, I have been able to identify several segments of shared DNA which we have inherited from Henry and Mary. Other people who match us on those segments but who aren’t descended from Henry and Mary will most likely be descended from more distant shared ancestors. Why is this of interest? Because Henry Atcherley was born out of wedlock and I do not know who his father was!

I have not yet made a breakthrough and identified a potential father for Henry Atcherley (and a 3x great grandfather for myself!). However researching the family tree of a recent (autumn 2018) DNA match has led me to people who were alive in the right part of Shropshire in the early 1800s. If I find another DNA match who also has those people amongst their ancestors, then my ‘genetic manhunt’ may finally yield results!

If you are descended from Henry and Mary Atcherley – or from Samuel Atcherley of Moortown in Shropshire (1764–1847) – and if you would be interested in taking an Ancestry DNA test, please get in touch. You can read about my own experiences with this test in Putting the genes into genealogy – Part 1 and Part 2.

Y-DNA or ‘male line’ tests

While autosomal DNA tests can be taken by men or women and can find relatives from all of a person’s ancestral lines, the Y-DNA test can only be taken by men and only finds male relatives who share your descent from a common ancestor on your direct male line (that is, your father, your father’s father, your father’s father’s father and so on – potentially going back thousands of years). This is because the Y chromosome is the male sex chromosome and is passed down from father to son. As boys usually inherit their father’s surname along with his Y chromosome, the Y-DNA test is ideal for surname research projects like my Atcherley one-name study.

When I launched the Atcherley Surname DNA Project at Family Tree DNA in 2015 I suggested on this page that Y-DNA analysis might tell us whether the Atcherleys were natives of Shropshire or immigrants from elsewhere (might they have been descendants of Norman invaders for example). I also stated that: “Another question which could be answered […] is whether the Atcherleys of northern Shropshire were from the same stock as the Atchleys from the south of the county, or the Ackerleys of Cheshire. DNA testing may even throw up surprises which haven’t been considered!”

I am not an Atcherley myself so I am very grateful that my plea for Atcherley men to take part in this project has been answered (so far) by three willing volunteers. Two of the men in question are Martin Atcherley, descended from Thomas Atcherley of Marton, and Dave Atcherley, descended from Richard Atcherley of Stanwardine. Their results alone have made the project worthwhile, as they match each other and this confirms that both of the main branches (or perhaps trunks) of the Atcherley family tree share a common ancestor several hundred years ago.

Martin and Dave don’t just match each other though. They match with American men who have the surname Atchley – which may be proof that the Atcherleys of north Shropshire and the Atchleys from the south of the county are related. As for “surprises which [hadn’t] been considered”, there is a line of Ashleys in American whose men also match the Atcherleys and the Atchleys! You can read more about these early results in Putting the genes into genealogy – Part 3. (I have also written about the Atchleys of England, and appealed for one or more English Atchley men to join the DNA project, in Love Atchley: Finds in the family tree of the Atchleys of England.

It would be great to have a few more Atcherley men who would be happy to take part in the project by providing a sample of genetic material (by way of a cheek swab) for analysis. On paper at least, participants should be able to trace their Atcherley ancestry back along a continuous line of male Atcherleys to those who were alive in the early 1600s.

There are three ways to join in:

1) If you are an Atcherley who has already tested with Family Tree DNA, go to the Group Join Request Login page at Family Tree DNA and log-in (with your Kit Number or Username, and your password).

2) If you are a male Atcherley and you are happy to pay for your own Family Tree DNA test kit, go to the Group Join Request Login page at Family Tree DNA and under Option B, click on the link to Purchase A Test Kit To Join This Project. You will need to purchase one of the Male Line Testing (Y-DNA) kits, the most basic of which (the Y-DNA37 kit) currently costs $169.00 (with discounts typically offered around Father’s Day, Black Friday and in the run up to Christmas).

3) If you are a male Atcherley who would like to take part but you do not wish to purchase a test kit, then please get in touch with me via the Atcherley Surname DNA Project site at Family Tree DNA (or click on the Contact Us icon towards the top of this page’s right-hand margin). I have a limited number of kits already purchased to kick-start the project and may be able to send one to you.

If you know a male Atcherley (or a male Atchley in Britain) who might be interested in this project, please send them a link to this page using the email button below. Thank you!