Could Catherine (MNU) Carlisle, c1760-1843+ Be a Starkey or a Stark: Help Needed!

My Loyalist family of Robert Carlisle and his wife, Catherine (MNU) remains as one of my most persistent brick walls.

However, there might now be a DNA clue pointing the way to Catherine’s maiden name and I would love to have reader opinions about my findings. Warning – I have no smoking gun yet, but perhaps one will turn up.

Ancestry’s DNA ThruLines indicate that I share DNA with descendants of one Reuben Stark and one Sarah Stark.

However, they and I are then linked to a hot mess of names. First, their father is said to be Lt. General John R. Starkey, who served in the American Revolution. I can’t even find that this lieutenant general ever even existed. Some trees have this family tied to John Stark of New Hampshire, who was most definitely a patriot. It’s very unlikely that an unmarried young daughter of a patriot is going to be wandering around Parrtown, New Brunswick, Canada looking for a husband in 1785. Others have attached the 1790 census record of a John Starkey of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania to the family.

There is much proof that Robert Carlisle and his FAN club were all associated with Loyalism during the American Revolution, given that they settled in New Brunswick, Canada at the close of the war.

Now, DNA knows nothing about anyone’s names. Either there is a scientifically based match or there isn’t and I definitely match two Stark, Starks, or Starkey descendants, all of whom are tied to New Jersey before the Revolution.

I am in the middle of this chart. I share 19 cM on one segment with the descendant of Reuben Stark, but only 8 cM on one segment with the descendant of Sarah Stark.

I put aside all the nonsense posted in family trees, as I quickly realized none of it made any sense and the only documentation for any of the information was other family trees or records that clearly didn’t fit and belonged to someone else.

Instead, I decided to first visit the United Empire Loyalist database to see if there were any Stark or Starkey descendants who might have joined the UEL.

There were no Starks, but there was one Starkey – Mordecai Starkey – born c1756-1758 – and who served in the 3rd Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers. He first lived in Parrtown (today St. John), New Brunswick, Canada and married Mary Ackerly, c1792. Mordecai was granted lot 878 in Parrtown.

The Starkey family soon moved on to Queens County, New Brunswick, where Mordecai Starkey died in the town of Codys at the advanced age of 92 years in 1849.

He lived long enough to apply for a war pension in Canada. Besides his war service, he also stated that he had raised eleven children, ten of whom were still living in 1838.

Furthermore, Mordecai Starkey apparently had a brother, Hezekiah (born c1754), who was also a Loyalist. Their names appear together on two petitions for land in 1785 and 1790. However, what became of him is not known and none of the Starkey family in Queens County are descended from him. He may have died as a young man.

This made the identification of Mordecai’s children relatively easy, helped by an 1876 History of Queens County.


1. Obediah, 1796-1881; married Ann Cole
2. Oliver, 1798-1883; married Elizabeth Belyea
3. James, 1801-1869; married Catherine Carlisle
4. John A., 1802-1872; married Permelia A. Parker
5. Mordecai, 1803-1847; married Mahala Briggs
6. Hezekiah, born c1806; unmarried
7. Abigail, 1809-1880; married Willett Worden
8. Arthur Dingwell, 1811-?; married Mary Ann Perry/Petty
9. Edith, 1813-1873; married Nehemiah Keith
10. Elizabeth, 1816-1889; married Daniel Jenkins

Obviously, the first thing that caught my eye was James Starkey who married Catherine Carlisle. Carlisle is an exceedingly rare surname in the early years of New Brunswick history and they all belong to Loyalist Robert’s family.

Who was this Catherine Carlisle? She was the daughter of Robert Carlisle Jr. and Elizabeth Lambert and the family lived in Sussex Vale, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada. However, I had no marriage records for Robert and Elizabeth’s children, so finding that she married a son of Mordecai Starkey is quite a surprise. Did Catherine marry a Starkey cousin from her mother’s family?

I am not descended from Robert Jr. and Elizabeth, so my DNA matches to the Stark/Starkey people are not through them.

Next, I looked at documents and facts I’ve collected through the years for Loyalist Robert Carlisle, looking for overlaps with the Starkey family.

Here is what I’ve come up with:

  1. The families obviously knew each other since James Starkey married Catherine Carlisle.
  2. Mordecai Starkey was granted Lot 878 in 1784 in Parrtown. Robert Carlisle was granted Lot 807. I have an old lot map of Parrtown. The two pieces of land were six blocks apart, in a straight line. Not far really and, as Robert Carlisle was a barber, he might have met Mordecai through his business.
  3. Both men were in Parrtown in 1785 – Robert married Catherine in the summer of 1785.
  4. Although Mordecai settled in Queens County and Robert in Kings County, the two border each other. Codys, where Mordecai died, and Sussex Vale, where Robert lived, are only 20 miles from each other.
  5. Robert petitioned for land in Kings County in 1790 and 1809. I thought it was curious that he also petitioned for land in Queens County in 1806.

Mordecai and Hezekiah Starkey are said to be sons of Nathan Starkey, born c1716 in New Hanover Township, Burlington, New Jersey, called yeoman in records. He married (1) Elizabeth Platt, reportedly on 1 November 1736, place not noted, and reportedly had at least seven children with her.

He then married (2) Edith Wilson, reportedly 17 October 1749, Monmouth County, New Jersey and had at least two sons, Hezekiah and Mordecai. Edith was born c1720 (guesswork in online trees) so could be the mother of Catherine (MNU) Carlisle, who was born c1760 and others if she was born closer to 1730 (also possible as second wives were often a fair number of years younger than their husbands so more children could be added to the family.

I know from past experience that spotty birth records in New Jersey often omitted children proven to be part of the family from other records so it wouldn’t surprise me if Catherine’s birth was not recorded for whatever reason.

I still need to do more research. Some records I need to view are locked on FamilySearch, like the land deeds for Queens County, New Brunswick.

I also have to wonder why Catherine was traveling to New Brunswick with her brothers, if she was indeed a Starkey, if her father was still living as late as 1793.

Nathan Starkey appears on householder and tax lists in Monmouth County for 1770, 1774 and 1780.

The estate of Nathan Starkey is listed in the 1794-1795 Minutes of the Orphan Court index. He died intestate. William Burtis and Gabriel Allen were his administrators. The final settlement showed Nathan Starkey’s final estate valuation to be £22, 6 shillings and 7 pence, but heirs were not named and the estate was closed. I found no land deeds, either as grantor or grantee, for any Starkey in the Monmouth County, New Jersey records.

Finally, there is an image of a fraktur page supposedly from a family Bible found at Rutgers University listing the children of Nathan and his first wife. However, the printing looks very modern to me and no cover page is shown from the Bible.

Well, readers, I need your input, opinions and suggestions. Do you think there is a chance that Catherine (MNU) Carlisle is a Starkey by birth and a sibling of Mordecai and Hezekiah? Or is the Starkey connection just a red herring?

Now for some background information about Reuben and Sarah Stark, who were siblings. However, they had no known sister named Catherine. They were children of John Stark, a lieutenant colonel who served in the American Revolution and his wife, Mary Dilla. Their siblings included Reuben, John, Aaron, Susan who married Matthew Luce, Mary who married Robert Carlisle (!) Ugh!, Sarah who married John Carnes and Anna who perhaps married Isaac LeFavre.

From The Aaron Stark Family by Charles R. Stark:

Notice that the children of John Stark who married Mary Dilla include daughter Mary who married. . . . . . .a Robert Carlisle! Ugh! Also, the DAR Patriot Index has members who joined under Sarah Stark who married John Carnes, my other DNA match.

A cousin of John Stark, Nathan Stark, is identified in the book as a Loyalist who fled from Lebanon, Connecticut to Long Island, where he died. Nathan had eight children born in the right time frame, but no daughter named Catherine.

I think that Mordecai Starkey is just a red herring, who very coincidentally had a son who married into my Robert Carlisle family.

The connection to Catherine seems to be through Reuben and Sarah Stark, since its their descendants who are my DNA matches. However, whatever the connection is, it isn’t readily apparent. Could Catherine have been an unidentified sibling? If she was, how did she get to Parrtown to marry Robert Carlisle?

My last thought/possibility is that Catherine was a young widow when she married Robert Carlisle in 1785. She may have married a young man with Loyalist sympathies who died before 1785 and might even have had children. There are no census or other records to dispute that possibility.

Even though her father was a fairly high ranking member of the colonial patriot army, if her husband was a Tory and chose to leave at the close of the war, that would explain her presence in Parrtown.

Is the fact that Mary Stark married Robert Carlisle a coincidence? Was her husband a cousin to my Robert Carlisle? They were both about the same age, born in the later 1750s. Mary’s husband was reportedly the son of a Robert Carlisle from Newry, County Down, Ireland. He had a brother James and they were also sons of a Robert Carlisle. Scant information online says that their father and James himself both died in Ireland.

Could the martian ship that plopped my Robert in Nova Scotia have come from the house of James Carlisle of Newry?

There is one more monkey wrench to throw into this mix – I am descended twice from Robert and Catherine (MNU) Carlisle, through daughter Abigail who married Israel Hicks and daughter Catherine who married John Stewart. I’m not sure if the DNA centimorgans are skewed because of this double relationship or not.

These DNA matches haven’t made researching this family any easier. I have many more questions now than when I started. How do all these puzzle pieces fit together – or don’t they?

Thoughts and suggestions are most welcome!




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