Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Working on Wednesday: Peter Worden, Hatter

My 11th great grandfather Peter Worden I ("Old Worden" as he's referred to in early Plymouth Colony records) arrived in the New World more than 375 years ago with his only son, also named Peter, and his grandson. He settled in Yarmouth (now East Dennis) on Cape Cod, probably without permission of the Colony and was the first "English" to die there in 1638/9. His will, made on the 9th of February of that year was proved at court in Plymouth the following month and is the first one entered in their records. In it he bequeaths to his son "all my lands, leases, tenements with goods moveable and unmoveable in the town of Clayton in the county of Lankester" as well as his property in New England. (He also makes provision for his grandson, John Lewis, who disappears from history after this point.)

"Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 Oct 2014), Wills 1633-1686 vol 1-4 > image 43 of 616; citing State Archives, Boston.

Clayton-le-Woods is a town in Lancashire about five miles south of Preston, where Peter Worden was a "Foreign (Outside) Burgess" beginning in 1610 and leased a hat shop in the Guild Hall there at least as early as 1617. He even lent eight shillings to the Borough of Preston in 1629 which is the last date we have for him in the area.

Preston Borough Coat of Arms, painted flag; Photo taken by me in 2013 at the Museum of Lancashire

His name is found in the  record book of the proceedings of the Town Council known as "The White Book of Orders" which included the signatures of the Mayor and all the Council. The signature below is from an order dated August 1612 and exactly matches one in 1610.

This signature sent to Waite W. Worden under letter of 22 May 1987 by Mr. George L. Bolton, of Clayton, Leyland, Preston, Lancashire.

The Plague, which had been ravaging London, struck Preston in 1630 and nearly one-third of its inhabitants died within a year. It's probably what caused Peter to leave but we don't have any further information about him until his arrival in New England.

It's often difficult to trace our earliest ancestors back to their European roots, but Peter Worden's will makes the connection unmistakable. I changed trains in Preston during a visit to England in 2013 and spent a bit of time walking about the city. Nothing I saw during the few hours I was there would have been in existence when my ancestor was there but I hope to make another trip to there and Clayton soon.

I'm not the only Worden descendant of course, far from it. A great source of further information about the lineage is to be found at Worden Family Association.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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