Bearse (Y-DNA)

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Status summary

Completed as of November 14, 2021:

  • Recruiting direct male-line descendants of Austin Bearse (and preferably through his son James) for NGS/WGS testing - anyone interested in submitting their DNA for testing should contact


Elizabeth Pearson White, in her 1993 John Howland of the Mayflower vol. 2 (son John) rejects the possibility of Experience Howland (daughter of (Lt.) John2 married James Bearse. However, a 2016 TAG article by Eldon Gay (Historian for the Pilgrim John Howland Society) provided enough circumstantial evidence for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants to agree to accept Experience Howland as wife of James Bearse. Targeted mtDNA testing should be able to document whether or not Experience was John's daughter.

First Generation

Austin (Augustine) Bearse was born in England about 1618[1] and died Barnstable 2 Jun 1686. His wife possibly had the given name of Mary[2] and they had eleven children (Barnstable): Mary (1640-1643), Martha (1642-1643), Priscilla (1643/4), Sarah (1646), Abigail (1647), Hannah (1649), Joseph (1651/2), Hester (1653), Lydia (1655), Rebecca (1657) and James (1660).

Second Generation

Joseph Bearse was born Barnstable 25 Jan 1651/2 and died there aft 10 Sep 1732. He married twice, first Yarmouth 3 Dec 1676 Martha Taylor and second, intentions Barnstable 10 Sep 1732 Phebe LOVELL Bumpus (no children). By his first wife, Joseph had eight children (Barnstable): Mary (1677), Joseph (1679 unm.), Benjamin (1682), Priscilla (1683), Ebenezer (1685), John (1687), Josiah (1690) and James (1692).

James Bearse was born in Barnstable the end of July 1660, son of Austin Bearse. James later moved to Plympton (now Halifax) where he died 7 Oct 1728. He married Barnstable about 1685 Experience Howland. While there is no contemporary record proving where the wife of James Bearse was the daughter of (Lieut.) John Howland (II) and Mary Lee the rarity of the given name Experience, plus the fact James and Experience had sons named John and Shubael (neither name previously found in the Bearse family) leads most researchers to conclude Experience was almost certainly their daughter. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has recently decided to accept lines of descent from this couple. James and Experience had eight children:[3] Thankful (c1685), Shubael (c1687), James (c1689), Experience (c1692), Priscilla (c1694), Mary (c1696), John (c1698) and Rebecca (c1705)

Third Generation

Benjamin Bearse was born Barnstable 21 Jun 1682 and died Barnstable (Hyannis) 15 May 1748. He married twice, first Barnstable 4 Feb 1701 Sarah Cobb and second, Chatham 25 Aug 1747 Anna Atwood (no children). By his first wife, Benjamin had thirteen children:

Ebenezer Bearse was born Barnstable 20 Jan 1685 and died there in Feb 1759. He married twice, first Barnstable 25 Nov 1708 Elizabeth Cobb and second, 4 Sep 1712 Joanna Lumbert. By his first wife he had two children: Bethiah and Samuel. By his second wife Ebenezer had nine additional children:

John Bearse was born Barnstable about 8 May 1687 and died Barnstable (Hyannis) 3 May 1760. He married Barnstable 15 Nov 1711 Elinor Lewis and they had seven children:

Josiah Bearse was born Barnstable 10 Mar 1690 and died New Fairfield, CT 31 Aug 1753. He married Edgartown 2 Nov 1716 Zerviah Newcomb and they had eleven children:

James Bearse was born Barnstable 3 Oct 1692 and died there 11 Oct 1758. He married twice, first Barnstable 19 Mar 1719 Mary Fuller and second, Barnstable 12 Nov 1726 Thankful Linnell. By his first wife James had one child (Barnstable): Jabez (1720/1). By his second wife James had three children (Barnstable): James (1728), Lemuel (1731) and Thankful (1736).

Shubael Bearse was born abt 1687 and poss. died in Halifax in Feb 1774.[4] He married Plympton 16 Nov 1709 Thankful Ford and they had six children (Plympton): Hannah (1712), Shubael (1715), Andrew (1716), Jacob (1718), Hezekiah (1720) and Thomas (1723).

James Bierce was born abt 1689 and died in Plymouth 5 Sep 1763. He married Plympton 23 Sep 1713 Abiah Ford and they had eight children (first three Pembroke): Austin (1714), James (1717) and Miall (1719).

John Bearse was born about 1698 and died Halifax before 6 Apr 1761.[5] He married Plymouth 12 May 1720 Sarah Holmes and they had thirteen children:

  1. age 20 on 24 Apr 1638 on the ship's passenger list of the Confidence of Southampton.
  2. She was NOT the "Native Princess" Mary Hyanno.
  3. It is currently unknown when the family moved from Barnstable to Pembroke, so it is unknown where the children were born.
  4. It is currently unknown if this death date pertains to this Shubael, or his son Shubael.
  5. Barnstable Probate Court ordered an inventory be taken of his estate.

DNA results R1a-Y128954

Previous Y-DNA testing

The Bearse/Bearce Family DNA Project currently (as of 14 Oct 2021) lists eight descendants of Austin Bearse.[1]

NGS/WGS testing

One of the three James Bearse descendants has taken a Big Y test and has been found to fall under the R1a-Y128954 haplogroup. No other Bearse/Bearce Y-DNA descendant in the Bearse/Bearce Family DNA Project has taken a Big Y test so further testing of descendants would almost certainly result in further refining the haplogroup of the family.

Further needed testing

We need direct additional male-line descendants of this Bearse (etc.) family to WGS/NGS test to further refine where this family falls in the Y-DNA tree.

  1. Three descendants of son James Bearse, two descendants from Joseph Bearse and three individuals without full paper-trails, but are STR matches.

References & External Links

  • Gay, Eldon, "Experience (?Howland), wife of James2 Bearse of Barnstable and Plympton, Massachusetts", The American Genealogist"" 90:31-36
  • Bearse/Bearce Family DNA Project