Show ContentsWortley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestry of the name Wortley dates from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from when the family lived in Wortley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The place-name was recorded as Wirteleie in the Domesday Book. It is composed of the Old English elements wyrt, which means vegetable, and leah, which means forest clearing. The place-name meant "forest clearing where vegetables are grown." [1] English local names were originally preceded by a preposition, such as de, at, atte, by, in. After the Norman Conquest, the usual preposition was de, which was used in both English and French place-names. In French names beginning with a vowel, the de was often merged with the name. For example, de Ash would become D'ash and later, Dash. By the end of the 14th century, prepositions were frequently assimilated or dropped from the surname.

Early Origins of the Wortley family

The surname Wortley was first found in South Yorkshire at Wortley, home to Wortley Manor, a stately home which was rebuilt by Sir Richard Wortley in 1586. Today it is home to a group of local trade union activists that purchased the estate in 1951. Wedding ceremonies and day visitors are welcome. "This place, which had been for many generations the property and residence of the Wortley family, was, on the demise of Sir Francis Wortley, Bart., the last male heir, conveyed, by marriage with his daughter and heiress, to the Hon. Sidney Montagu." [2]

Early History of the Wortley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wortley research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1577, 1579, 1583, 1592, 1611, 1652 and 1665 are included under the topic Early Wortley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wortley Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Wortley have been found, including Wortley, Wortly and others.

Early Notables of the Wortley family

Notables of the family at this time include

  • Francis Wortley of Wortley, High Sheriff of Derbyshire 1577, Custos Rotulorum of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1579-1583
  • Sir Richard Wortley, of Wortley Hall, Yorkshire

United States Wortley migration to the United States +

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Wortley, or a variant listed above:

Wortley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Wortley, who landed in Maryland in 1638 [3]
Wortley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • W. Wortley, who settled in San Francisco in 1850

Australia Wortley migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Wortley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Marshall Wortley, English convict who was convicted in Sussex, England for 15 years, transported aboard the "Canton" on 20th September 1839, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [4]
  • Miss Ann Elizabeth Wortley who was convicted in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Emma Eugenia" on 25th October 1850, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [5]

New Zealand Wortley migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Wortley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Hon. J. S. Wortley, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Northfleet" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, Via Wellington and Lyttleton in February 1854 [6]
  • Mrs. Wortley, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Northfleet" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, Via Wellington and Lyttleton in February 1854 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Wortley (post 1700) +

  • George Cornelius Wortley (1926-2014), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York (1983-1989)
  • Major Rothesay Nicholas Montagu Stuart Wortley (1892-1926), English World War I flying ace credited with six aerial victories
  • Mr. Robert Wortley, British sheriff, held the joint position of Sheriff of Nottingham, England from 1676 to 1677
  • Russell Paul Wortley, Australian politician
  • Dana Johanna Wortley (b. 1959), Australian politician, Senator for South Australia (2005-2011)
  • Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), English aristocrat, letter writer and poet, best remembered for her letters from travels to the Ottoman Empire
  • Edward Wortley Montagu (1713-1776), English author and traveller

The Wortley Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Avito viret honore
Motto Translation: He flourishes through the honour of his ancestors.

  1. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th December 2020). Retrieved from
  5. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th April 2022).
  6. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from on Facebook