John Shirley was born on 17 November 1728 in Washington County, Maryland. It is believed that he was one of four sons of Richard Jr., and Sarah Shirley. John’s grandfather, Richard Shirley, was residing in Ann Arundel County, Maryland as early as the year 1703.
In 1743, John Shirley married a lady by the name of Charity. Her surname is unknown. She was born in September 1723. The couple gave birth to two sons and four daughters between 1746 and 1773. The family of John and Charity Shirley resided in Frederick County, Maryland; John had purchased a tract of land from his brother, William, by a deed dated 28 January 1750.
In 1767, John Shirley served in Captain Moses Chapline’s Company, a militia unit raised in Washington County, Maryland. [Family historians believe that his service in 1767 was for the French and Indian War, but they fail to realize that the French and Indian War was over by that time. More than likely, his service in 1767 was for defence of the frontier.] Then, when the American Revolutionary War broke out, John joined the Surplus Company of Militia at Elizabethtown (later, Hagerstown), Maryland. His enlistment was made on 06 January 1776. In 1780 John Shirley was listed as a recruit in Cecil County, Maryland.
In 1786 John Shirley’s name was recorded in the Frankstown Township, Bedford County tax assessment return. In the following year, the region in which John settled became part of Huntingdon County. The Shirley farmstead was located near the town of Newry, surveyed by Patrick Cassidy. John and Charity Shirley’s son, Richard married Patrick Cassidy’s daughter, Sarah.
John Shirley died on 26 August 1821. Charity had preceeded John in death; her last breath had been taken on 20 March 1817. John Shirley and his wife were buried in the Kladder Cemetery in present-day Blair Township, Blair County, Pennsylvania near their farmstead.