Chasing the Chesleys
Can you help find branches of this family tree?

Mum had a Saturday morning schedule that was as regular as the clock. She insisted the house be cleaned for Sunday visitors. It seemed I always got the job of washing the doors and woodwork in the kitchen. Cliff was lucky and got the easy job of dusting the living room with the feather-wing.

As I washed the finger marks from the painted woodwork, I thought about the afternoon visit we were going to make to see the newly arrived twins. 

 Finally the time for visiting arrived. These two little babies looked just like tiny dolls. I really wanted to hold one, but I knew I wouldn't be allowed so I sat quietly in a chair by the window. From here I could see the two churches. I was fascinated with the Anglican Church steeple and the fish. The longer I looked at the steeple the more I wondered why the congregation would have chosen a fish for a church that was many miles away from the sea. That just didn't make any sense to me.

 On the way home, I questioned Mum. She explained that in years gone by in countries across the sea, people were punished if the authorities found out they were Christians. To let others know their belief the followers of Christ developed a secret code. They would use their walking sticks to draw a picture of a fish in the sand and thus be recognized by other believers.

 Dr. Arthur Chesley told me the words, "Caillia Christos" were a password that was used in Greece in the first century. The phrase meant "Teachers of Christ" and provided identification and anonymity to these disciples. Over the years the word became Chesley as a surname.

 In 1633, at the age of 15, Philip Chesley arrived in Oyster River Plantation. This area was later part of New Hampshire. As future generations were born, they began to move to different parts of North America.

 In 1793, William Ambrose Chesley came to Saint John. Chesley Street serves as a reminder of the contribution made by his son, John Alexander Chesley, to the early development of the Port of Saint John. In the mid-1900s his nephew, John Carey Chesley, was the Commissioner of the Port Activities.

 In the 1990s the Common Council of the City of Saint John recognized his grandson, Dr. Arthur Chesley, for his contribution to prostate cancer detection by making him Harbour Master for a day.

 Mary Chesley (1891-1936) was born in Nova Scotia, the daughter of the Rev. Robert Ainsley Chesley. She conducted a school in London, England. Later, she became known as Taraben and was in the service of Mahatma Gandhi in India.

 Peter Henry Cheasley of Quebec has spent many years and has travelled widely in tracing the Chesley family roots. He is in the process of compiling his findings into a book. This is not the regular genealogical book but more of a geographical and timeline historical publication.

 Upon its publication, copies will be donated to the Saint John Free Public Library, the New Brunswick Museum as well as to the New Brunswick Provincial Archives. Copies will also be available for sale.

 But first, Peter Cheasley wants to be certain he has included all the Chesley families, therefore, he and Dr. Arthur Chesley would like you to make contact if you have information or connections to this family.  E-mail

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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