Show ContentsWorsly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Worsly is a name of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from the family once having lived in the parish of Worsley, in Huntingdonshire or at Workesley in Lancashire. However, evidence indicated that the surname Worsly may have occasionally been derived from other small localities of the same name in southern England. The surname Worsly belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

Early Origins of the Worsly family

The surname Worsly was first found in Lancashire where they held a family seat as Lords of the manor of Workesley, about seven miles from Manchester, from early times. Sir Elias Workesley was the first Lord of the manor. He was a Norman knight who was a youth at the time of the Norman Conquest. He later accompanied Robert Curthose, Duke Robert II of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conqueror on the First Crusade and was buried at Rhodes. [1]

"One of the earliest crusaders, Elias or Elizeus, founder of the family of Worsley, is said to have held the manor of Workesley soon after the Conquest. It remained in this family until the reign of Edward III., when Alice, sister and sole heiress of Sir Geoffrey Worsley, conveyed it by marriage to Sir John Massey, of Tatton." [2]

Early records of the family were also found in the parish of Godshill, again in Lancashire. The family seat "is an elegant structure of freestone, with four fronts of the Corinthian order, containing many superb apartments, begun by Sir Robert Worsley, and completed by his descendant, Sir Richard; in the hall are some beautiful Ionic columns of porphyry, and a good collection of ancient sculptures and paintings. The hill at the entrance to the park is richly clothed with wood, and embellished with an artificial ruin called Cook's Castle; and on the summit of the principal eminence within the grounds is an obelisk of Cornish granite, nearly 70 feet high, to the memory of Sir Robert Worsley." [2]

In Southampton in the parish of Gatcomb another early branch of the family was found. "Gatcomb Park, the seat of a branch of the ancient family of Worsley, of Appuldurcombe, originally of Worsley, in the county of Lancaster, is a handsome residence." [2]

"The Worsleys of Worsley, a distinguished family, carry their pedigree back to the times of the Crusades, when they possessed the manor of Worsley. In the reign of Henry VIII. there was a branch of the family at Worsley Meyne, Wigan, and another branch at Manchester, from which are descended the Worsleys of Withington: Sir Robert Worseley was deputy - lieutenant of the county in the reign of Elizabeth." [3]

Early English rolls provide us a glimpse of the spelling variations used through Medieval times. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: John de Wereslle, Huntingdonshire; Alan de Weresle, Cambridgeshire; and Robert de Weresl, Suffolk. [4] Geoffrey de Wyrkesle was listed in the Assize Rolls for Lancashire in 1246; Robert de Worvesle in the Subsidy Rolls of 1275 for Worcestershire; and Richard Worseley was found in the Assize Rolls for Lincolnshire in 1396. [5]

Early History of the Worsly family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Worsly research. Another 181 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1377, 1512, 1710, 1435, 1499, 1435, 1605, 1676, 1622, 1656, 1589, 1621, 1613, 1666, 1622, 1656, 1654, 1643, 1675, 1669, 1747, 1672 and 1756 are included under the topic Early Worsly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Worsly Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Worsly family name include Worseley, Workesley, Worsley and others.

Early Notables of the Worsly family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include William Worsley (1435?-1499), English divine, Dean of St. Paul's, born probably about 1435, believed to have been the son of Sir Robert Worsley of Booths in Eccles, Lancashire; Edward Worsley (1605-1676), an English Jesuit writer and professor from Lancashire; Major General Charles Worsley (1622-1656), an English soldier and politician, a supporter of Oliver Cromwell and an officer in the Parliamentary army during the English Civil War; Sir Richard Worsley, 1st Baronet (c. 1589-1621) of...
Another 81 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Worsly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Worsly family

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, Canada, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Worsly surname or a spelling variation of the name include: Thomas Worsley settled in North Carolina in 1701; George Worsley settled in Baltimore Maryland in 1704; Joseph and Thomas Worsley arrived in Philadelphia in 1868..

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X) on Facebook