Friday, June 3, 2011


[Ancestral Link: Lura Minnie Parker (Stagge), daughter of Minnie May Elmer (Parker), daughter of Mark Alfred Elmer, son of William Elmer, son of John Elmer, son of Mary Kibbe (Elmer), daughter of Mary Pratt (Kibbe), daughter of Ebenezer Pratt, son of Ebenezer Pratt, son of Susannah Gleason (Pratt), daughter of Thomas Gleason.]

Genealogy of the descendants of Thomas Gleason of Watertown, Massachusetts 1607-1909
Author: White, John Barber, 1847-1923; Wilson, Lillian Mae, ed
Subject: Gleason family
Publisher: Haverhill, Massachusetts, Press of the Nichols print
Language: English
Call number: 39999063963605
You can read the book or download it @
A list of the first generation of the Children of Thomas Gleason and Susanna Page can be found on this page in the book @
This website has alot of Genealogy books...have fun...I am!
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Thomas was a freeman of Watertown in 1652.

In 1658, Thomas moved to Charlestown, which later became Medford, he leased land from Capt. Scarlett, a portion of the Squa Sachem lands. Later the town questioned the rightful owners of this land and sued Thomas for possession of the land. Thomas used all his resources to fight the town and it still was not resolved when he died in the spring of 1686.

Source: Pg. 157, "Ancestry of John Barber White and his descendants" by Almira Larkin White

He and Thomas Pratt are included in the list of inhabitants when the town of Sherborn was incorporated.

Source: History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts: with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men, Pg. 697

Pioneer Irish in New England
pages 195-6 Oxford, Massachusetts, but there is nothing to indicate their racial identity. The Irish origin of the name Gleason has been disputed by a Massachusetts historical writer, yet the Gleasons, originally OGlasain or OGliasain, a name common in the south of Ireland for centuries, are listed among the ancient Irish families as chiefs of the Barony of Imokilly in the County of Cork, Irish Pedigrees, by John OHart, Vol. 1, p. 808.1 and the motto on their coat of arms is in the Irish language, Lamb Laidir An Uachdar, meaning the strong hand uppermost.

Mary, daughter of Thomas and Susanna Gleason, was born at Cambridge on October 31, 1657, and other children mentioned in the records of Middlesex County Vol. 1, p. 158, and Vol. 6, p. 13.2 were Thomas, Joseph, William and John. In 1663, Thomas Gleason (1) leased a farm from a Captain Scarlett at Charlestown. His sons, Thomas and John, located at Sudbury and Thomas bought a tract of land on Gleasons Pond near Framingham, from Benjamin Rice by deed dated September 29, 1673; Middlesex Deeds, Vol. 6, p. 378.3 and according to the genealogy of the Gleasons In History of Framingham, by William Barry, and Genealogical Register in History of Framingham, by J. H. Temple. his descendants lived there for at least four generations. John and William Gleason and Philip Gleason served in King Philips War, and Thomas Gleason and his son, Thomas, were listed among the thirty incorporators of the town of Framingham in 1692. John Gleason had land assigned to him at Sherburne, Massassachusetts, in 1682, and he was the father of eight children born at that place between 1680 and 1700.
New England Historic-Genealogical Register, Vol. 6, p. 246.5
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There is some question whether the American Gleasons and English Leesons are related. DNA results confirm the relationship.

Several descendants of Puritan Thomas Leeson/Gleason and Susannah Page, met and established frequent communication through the Internet. Currently they meet privately on a Gleason Footprints WEB page, courtesy of, a genealogy based WEB site provider. They are related by both male and mixed male-female lineages on different branches from that common ancestor.

Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Gleason
The established links to Thomas Gleason appear to be better documented than many family surname groups. Much of the early American family history was researched and published in 1909 in a book entitled Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Gleason by John Barber White. The book is often referred to as the “Gleason Bible.” It has been widely accepted by Thomas Gleason descendants as a source for their early American roots.

Given the research and history of the Thomas (Leeson) Gleason and Susannah Page family, the early Gleason genealogists concluded that Thomas was likely the son of Thomas Leeson and Margaret Kirton. This line descends from Thomas Leeson and Jane Lowe, who descends from Robert Leeson and Susan Stotesbury all of Sulgrave, Northampton County, England.

The White book does contain some errors. However, it is reasonably accurate and has no known relationship errors. John Barber White cites as a primary source, a book by Daniel A. Gleason. Except for slight location discrepancies, the books are in good agreement. White states in his introduction:

"In the English records, the name is invariably spelled without the "G", and appears, generally as Leeson, and a rather numerous family of that name lived in Northampton County, England. This, coupled with the fact that, in the earliest records in this country, those of Watertown and Cambridge, Massachusetts, the name appears as Leson and Leason, respectively, affords grounds for the belief that Thomas of Watertown was a descendant of the Leesons of Northampton County and this belief is further strengthened by the similarity of Christian names, used by the Northampton County family and those appearing in the early generations of the American family."The Gleason Lineage

Thomas was born about 1607 in Sulgrave, Northampton, England. It is believed that Thomas's first son, Thomas, was born in Sulgrave, England about 1637. The parents and at least one child and probably two - an older daughter, Susannah, born about 1634, are thought to have arrived in America after 1638. Their second son, Joseph, was born in Watertown, Massachusetts about 1642. There are many spellings of the name “Gleason” and by all accounts, Thomas Gleason of Sulgrave was actually Thomas Leeson at birth. Based upon the respective wills of William and Anna Page, the name change from Leeson to Gleason occurred between 1664 and 1685.

What is known is that Thomas was a Puritan. This gives reasonable cause for his move from England to America. The dissenter (Puritan) movement from the Church of England resulted in the settlement by over one thousand Puritans in 1630 alone and several thousand more in the years that followed to Boston, Massachusetts. Puritans were an intolerant group who did not allow other religious groups within their Massachusetts jurisdiction. Therefore, it is certain that these were English Gleasons and not Irish Gleasons. The protestant Puritan movement certainly didn't extend welcome to Catholic Ireland! Additionally, most Irish Gleasons didn’t arrive in America until the 1840s as a result of the potato famine in Ireland.

The Issue

The Robert Leeson - Thomas Gleason family tie was challenged in 1999 when the Gleason Footprints WEB clan was contacted by The Honorable William A. L. Stotesbury-Leeson16, who through the Internet, questioned our claim of a tie to the Robert Leeson/Susan Stotesbury family. The Hon. William A. L. Stotesbury-Leeson is a well documented descendant of Robert Leeson and Susan Stotesbury. He indicated that there was no reference to Thomas (Leeson) Gleason in his family genealogy records.

A Possible Solution

With the advances in DNA research and its potential use to genealogists, it was proposed that it would be beneficial to investigate, via Y-chromosomal, DNA the relationship between the two family lines. The challenge would be that living descendants could establish a common relationship to an individual born over four hundred years ago.

The Project

A DNA project document was drafted, edited and approved by all the potential DNA donors from the Gleason and Stotesbury - Leeson families. Lineages of all parties involved were furnished as one paternal genealogy database. During 2001, The Center for Molecular Genealogy at Brigham Young University (BYU) was contacted and generously agreed to undertake the project. DNA blood donors living throughout the United States and Canada were contacted and submitted blood samples using kits furnished by Brigham Young University.

The Project Genealogical/DNA Question

Was Thomas (Leeson) Gleason a natural descendant of Thomas Leeson or perhaps a close common ancestor?

The Project Results

(Note: the actual DNA report has been modified for clarity and simplicity to be consistent with the overall project documentation)

The Center for Molecular Genealogy at Brigham Young University Case Number SC2001-36 dated October 5, 2001


Genealogical records indicate Thomas Leeson fathered 1 son, William. It is also suspected that this same Thomas Leeson could have fathered another son, Thomas Gleason or Leeson.
Direct male descendants (varying generations 14-16) of these two sons submitted biological blood samples to determine if common Y-chromosome markers could determine whether they share a common paternal ancestor in Thomas Leeson. In total, six individuals submitted blood samples to test these relationships.

The Principle

Y-chromosome (Ycs) markers are inherited from father to son and remain mostly unaltered from generation to generation. This property makes the Ycs an ideal focus for genealogical studies because, barring adoption or illegitimacy, the route of the Ycs through time in a pedigree exactly parallels the surname in many western cultures. By determining a Ycs fingerprint, or haplotype, of several related male individuals, a Ycs haplotype can be created that is associated with a specific surname. This information can be used for further genealogical pursuits by allowing males with the same or similar last name to compare Ycs haplotypes and determine descent from a common paternal ancestor.

Summary of Findings

The data indicate the likelihood that the Gleason (four DNA donors - two sibling) do share a common paternal ancestor [possibly Thomas Leeson]. "The probability that SC36.1 shares a common ancestor with SC36.2 and SC36.3 is very high and is represented by the p-value of 0.78757. The 95% confidence interval shows that SC36.1 could be separated from the other two individuals by as few as one generation and as many as 57. The maximum likelihood analysis (MLA) states they are most likely to be separated by 16 generations, which is consistent with the 20 generations SC36.1 is reported to be from SC36.2 and SC36.3."

The Path Forward

Most of the participants are still absorbing the fact that the DNA project actually established a true kinship between the two families. As far as the DNA project goes, it would have been a success even if the results revealed that there was no family connection.

The DNA project has cemented a family connection that was already blossoming on the Internet. The matriarch of the Stotesbury-Leeson family seemed to know what the results would be long before the project results were known. She related that she had seen a photo of a Gleason ancestor that had been posted at the Gleason Footprints WEB site. She noted that it bore a striking resemblance to her late father-in-law. Had the project revealed that there was no family connection, the two families probably would have e-adopted one another anyway.
The DNA project sets forth a now known genealogical fact for future Leeson-Stotesbury and Gleason generations.

A side issue was also resolved by the DNA project: One of the Gleason participants had a very weak generation link supported only by a Sunday school record. It was the only clue that one of his ancestors even existed. A professional genealogist supposed that this individual was probable, and also an important link to his Thomas Gleason family line. In proving the continuity of this lineage, the DNA results validated the genealogist's supposition. Any break in a paternal line through adoption or other non-paternal event is not supported by DNA evidence. Even though the family name may continue through such discontinuity, the genetic line does not.

The DNA project suggests that Thomas Leeson may be the father of Thomas Leeson/Gleason but it also remains that there may be another unknown very closely related Leeson that may be his actual father. What is important, is that the DNA project places the Gleason family firmly with roots across the big Pond and is directly related to the ancient Stotesbury-Leeson family. This will give family historians solid ground to further investigate and document the missing pieces of how the cousins are actually connected.

Diahan L. Southard: Diahan, formerly a microbiology major from Washington state, performed numerous technical tasks for the Molecular Biology Program at Brigham Young University (BYU). Eventually she became the contact person for the Special Cases unit of the laboratory and therefore administrator for our project. When BYU released all of its Special Cases to newly formed Relative Genetics a subsidiary company of Sorenson Companies, Diahan moved with them and continued serving our project and answering our many many questions.

Scott R. Woodward, PhD Dr. Woodward is currently a Professor of Microbiology and faculty member of the Molecular Biology Program at Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. degree in genetics from Utah State University in 1984. He did postdoctoral work in molecular genetics at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Utah. While at the University of Utah he discovered a genetic marker used for the identification of carriers and the eventual discovery of the gene for cystic fibrosis. He was also involved with the identification of other gene markers for colon cancer and neurofibro-matiosis. He joined the faculty at BYU in 1989. While at BYU he has been involved with the Seila, Egypt excavation team, directing the genetic and molecular analysis of Egyptian mummies, both from a commoners' cemetery and of the Egyptian Royal mummies. His research interests include the reconstruction of ancient and modern genealogies using DNA techniques with samples from all over the world, the tracing of human population movements by following gene migrations (including both Old and New World populations) and the DNA analysis of ancient manuscripts including the Dead Sea Scrolls. He has been the Scholar in Residence at the BYU Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem and a visiting professor at Hebrew University. His work has been featured both nationally and internationally on numerous programs including Good Morning America, Discovery and the Learning Channels.

Our project has been very fortunate to have such quality technical oversight.
A very special acknowledgement is in order for our Stotesbury-Leeson family for whom without them, this project and the advancement of the Gleason genealogical ancestral ties would not have been possible:

The Right Hon. Margaret, Countess of Milltown The Right Hon. Robert, Earl of Milltown The Hon. William A. L. Stotesbury-Leeson.
Project Administration
Larry Gleason, Concept, mail Terry Casto, Directress, mail Allan Gleason, Liaison ".
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The early records contain no entries of consequence regarding Thomas Gleason, and from the little that can be gathered from this source, it would seem that he was of a somewhat arbitrary disposition, which not infrequently got him into trouble with the town authorities on minor matters of conduct.

In 1658 Thomas Gleason removed to Charlestown, and on December 3, he leased from Capt. Scarlett, a portion of the Squa Sachem lands.

In 1639 Squa Sachem had deeded to the town of Charlestown, her lands lying in what is now Medford, reserving to herself certain tracts on the west side of Mysticke Pond. By her will, she bequeathed all her property to certain prominent citizens, among whom were Gov. John Winthrop and Edward Gibbons. The latter secured possession of the lands on the west side of Mysticke Pond, and this was the land subsequently leased to Thomas Gleason.

Soon after this lease was made a question arose as to the rightful ownership of these lands, and in March 1662, the town of Charlestown instituted a suit against Thomas Gleason, for the purpose of obtaining possession. All of Thomas Gleason's resources were swallowed up in the litigation, and the case was unsettled when he died in the spring of 1686.
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1 comment:

  1. I grew up on a small farm in southern Oregon just 7 miles from Medford, Oregon. Until my brother recently traced our ancestors back to Thomas Gleason, we all though we were from Irish ancestors. I am thrilled to know we are descendants of English Puritans. Thank you for explaining the DNA project that confirms Thomas Gleason/Leeson to Thomas Gleason Sr.