The Descendants of James Robinson, b. abt. 1760 (N.J.), d. abt. 1835 (Harrison, Va., now Barbour, W. Va.), and what the Y-DNA science has revealed.

James Robinson is my direct paternal 4th GGF, and a personal brick-wall within my family tree. The genealogy of his ancestors and family origins has been a mystery for over a century.

According to my late 2nd cousin (twice removed), the Honorable Ira Ellsworth Robinson, from New Jersey, James Robinson and family crossed the Delaware into Pennsylvania, stopping for a time in Fayette County where their third child was born, Elizabeth. From there, the Robinson’s then settled into Harrison, Virginia (now Barbour, West Virginia), the Pleasant Creek area, wherein James Robinson purchased 48 acres from John Stackhouse, deed dated, 18 April 1803.

There is also controversy as to the wife of James Robinson, who many claim to be Elizabeth ‘Davis’, but also according to Ira Ellsworth Robinson, he distinctly recalls the maiden name passed down by family as ‘Stockton’. To date, I know of no actual marriage record in existence which can positively be attributed to our James and Elizabeth Robinson, and as such, much consideration has to be given to the esteemed word of Ira Ellsworth Robinson.

Also, I have seen many other family trees speculating the line of James Robinson, going back to ancestors originating in Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, etc., and even some tracing this lineage back to 14th century England or Scotland….. yet no valid evidence or paper trails actually substantiating any of this…..least none that I have seen, which could not easily be dismissed as erroneous, guesswork, or poor research.

For me, the genealogy indeed stops with my 4th GGF, James Robinson, however I would be delighted if anyone could show otherwise. I have long searched for the ancestors of James Robinson, 1760 to 1835. On this note, I have not seen anything which actually establishes his birth year, or birthplace, other than what is suggested in genealogical text, or websites such as Find-A-Grave.
All of this said, how do we advance the family genealogy, and break through the brick-wall of James Robinson? For this, we have turned to genetic genealogy, which has been somewhat enlightening.

James Robinson had 4 sons, Job, William, John, and James Robinson Jr. I have seen many other family trees which claim other son’s, suxh as ‘George Washington Robinson’ (who some indicate his parents to be ‘Joshua Robinson & Elizabeth Davis’), but again, I find no supporting evidence for this. Also, in early Harrison, Va., recent Y-DNA results have shown at least one other unrelated Robinson line resided in the Lumberport area of Harrison.

Over the last few years, I have completed extensive Y-DNA testing of living Robinson men (myself and paternal cousins) from each descending line of James Robinson, with the exception of the line of his son James Robinson Jr….to wit, I am currently seeking a living descendant male cousin for Y-DNA testing.

The cousinship of each test member was first confirmed with solid genealogy, and autosomal DNA testing. Of those tested, the following illustrates each paternal pedigree to James Robinson:


My 4th cousin, once removed:

My 5th cousin:

Thus far in our Y-DNA research, the science has established the unique identifying Y-DNA haplogroup of our Robinson line, as R-BY23071. In other words, James Robinson. 1760 to 1835, is Y-DNA Haplogroup R-BY23071, and the same would apply (barring any NPE’s) to all descending Robinson men of our paternal line.

Y-DNA test results confirmed we are of the same paternal Robinson line, and that each line is an unbroken descent from James Robinson. In other words, no NPE’s (non-parental events) exist between the connecting family lines of those tested.

Our haplogroup, R-BY23071, is subclade to the more ancient clade, R-L1065, identified as “The Scot’s Cluster”, which overwhelmingly consist of men from Scottish ancestral origins. As Robinson’s, this surname is somewhat unique to the Scot’s Cluster, and to date, there is only one other man therein, with the Robinson surname. The following is a link to R-L1065 of ‘The Big Tree’ (a phylogenic Y-DNA SNP tree), managed by Alex Williamson:
R-L1065 (Scot’s Cluster) – The Big Tree – Alex Williamson

Furthermore, the evidence also shows our paternal Robinson line stems from a more ancient Scottish ‘Campbell’ clan. This has been established because we Robinson’s share the unique and private Y-DNA SNP’s of these Campbell’s, those of R-BY23069, and R-BY23070…..and it is estimated the we changed our surname, from Campbell to Robinson, some 300 to 450 years ago. The following illustrates this, and how we position in the Big Tree:

As our Y-DNA research continues, in time, new findings will emerge…..and as we test further, we soon hope to discover our common Campbell ancestors, as well as, heretofore unknown R-BY23071 Robinson lines…..and this is where things can get really exciting.

With the comparative genealogical study of every close Y-DNA match, new connections can be made, scientifically, that would have been impossible through traditional genealogical means. In other words, new clues can emerge, and the science of genetic genealogy can become the new ‘reverse-engineering’ of traditional genealogy…..and researchers are already having much success with this.

In the case of our MDKA (most distant known ancestor), James Robinson, nothing is known preceding him, but surely he had brothers, a father, uncles, a grandfather, and grand-uncles, etc. What of all the possible unknown/untested Robinson family lines, and their descending male lines? Y-DNA can lead to the discovery of these new paternal lines.
If we can tap into any of our other unknown Robinson paternal lines, suddenly the size and scope of our Robinson family tree becomes much larger, and our current family tree (those only descending from James Robinson), becomes just a small part of a much larger tree.

On this note, I currently have testing underway of another Robinson male who looks promising, with good autosomal-DNA triangulation of distant paternal cousins. His genealogy does not show him as a descendant of our MDKA, James Robinson, and his line goes to Canada, then to Ireland/Scotland. It is somewhat a longshot, but if his results shows R-BY23071, BINGO, we have discovered a new unknown branch to our Robinson family tree. Stay Tuned!

Our Y-DNA testing Is conducted through Family Tree DNA (, which is a bit expensive, but on a positive note, pricing has come down substantially in the last couple years.

For any Robinson men who feel they may be connected with our paternal line, FTDNA has developed an inexpensive ‘single-SNP’ test, which test specifically for our Robinson family SNP, R-BY23071. The same has also been done for our Campbell family SNP, R-BY23069. For information or guidance related to Y-DNA testing, please feel free to contact me.

This type of DNA testing can also resolve issues or controvery, wherein claims are made of supposed ancestors. and whether or not they are truly related….such as, the aforementioned, George Washington Robinson. In these cases, by Y-DNA testing a direct male descendant of the paternal line, these controversies can quickly be resolved.

As to the descendants of our James Robinson, please see my Ancestry family tree at the link below. As with all family trees, this is an ongoing work-in-progress, and I welcome and encourage all comments, additions, corrections, and collaboration. I would love to hear from you, and/or perhaps even add you to the family tree.

Furthermore, there is also the work of Don Norman to consider:
Descendants of James Robinson, by Don Norman, Hackers Creek

Please feel free to comment, let’s collaborate, and embark on a new adventure of Robinson family discovery!
My sincere thanks for reading…..and Cheers!

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