Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Working on Wednesday: Samuel Worden (1646 - 1716), Doctor and Landowner

My maternal ninth great grandfather Samuel Worden was born in Yarmouth in Plymouth Colony in about 1646, the first male of his family to be born in the New World. He was the grandson of Old Peter Worden, the hatter from Lancashire who died shortly after he and his only son, another Peter, arrived in Yarmouth in about 1638.

[Novi Belgii Novæque Angliæ : nec non partis Virginiæ tabula multis in locis emendata 
Visscher, Nicolaes, 1649-1702. Amsterdam?, 1685
Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 ]

Samuel was still living in Yarmouth when he and Hopestill Holway were married sometime before May of 1665* and the first two of their ten children had already been born when he was proposed for a freeman.

In 1668 there was a court case in which two men were accused and convicted of forcing their way into Samuel's house while he was gone and trying to rape his wife and her sister who was staying with her. From the Plymouth Colony Court Record of October 20th of that year we learn:
"In reference vnto the complaint of Samuell Worden against Edward Crowell and James Maker, for goeing in his absense into his house in the dead time of the night, and for threatening to break vp the dore and come in att the window, if not lett in, and goeing to his bed and attempting the chastity of his wife and sister, by many lacinous carriages, and affrighting of his children, the Court haue centanced them, the said Edward Crowell and James Maker, to find surties for theire good behauior, and pay each of them a fine of ten pounds to the vse of the collonie, and alsoe to defray all the charge the said samuell Worden hath been att in the vindecation of his wifes innosensy, or be seuerally whipt. 
And the said Crowell and Maker chose rather to pay the fine and giue bonds for theire good behauior vntill the Court of his ma[jestie] to be holden att Plymouth in March next. 
Vpon theire humble petition to the Court, they remitted vnto each of them the sume of foure pounds of the said fines."
Samuel was named as sole executor and main beneficiary of his father's will, with codicil, which was probated and his estate inventoried in March of 1680/1. His mother Mary** received a life-interest in land, houses, household goods and livestock "for her support" and Samuel was to provide her with firewood and hay. After his widow's death Peter directed that his real estate was to go to Samuel while the goods and livestock were to be divided among their three daughters. Samuel, as the only surviving son, received nearly all the land his father owned including those in "Old England" some of which came to his father "through my wife"and the rest probably being those mentioned in his grandfather's will as "all my lands, leases, tenements with goods moveable and unmoveable in the town of Clayton in the county of Lankester."

["Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 February 2015), Wills 1633-1686 vol 1-4 > image 514 of 616;
State Archives, Boston.]

By then, more than 40 years after the Wordens first immigrated to Massachusetts, neither Samuel nor his mother knew much about the property in England and the inventory describes this item as "an interest in house and land and mony in Old England not knowing what it may be worth." I can't tell if any value was put on this item as it's unreadable.

["Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Records, 1633-1967," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 February 2015), Wills 1633-1686 vol 1-4 > image 516 of 616; 
State Archives, Boston.]

Although he remained in Yarmouth until about 1697, as early as 1682 Samuel was probably looking to move as he's one of the men who petitioned the Plymouth Colony Court for permission to leave their present town. But it wasn't until 1693 he that bought 250 acres in what is now Kingstown, Rhode Island, from the estate of the late governor Benedict Arnold. Seven month later he sold his property in Yarmouth, retaining only one-half an acre that was the burial ground of his grandfather Peter, parents Peter and Mary, and several other relatives.

Samuel was active in establishing Kingstown and Worden Pond, the state's largest natural pond covering 1,051 acres, takes its name from him.

[Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, "Worden Pond, Block Island," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #453, (accessed February 11, 2015).]

In 1702 Samuel deeded some of his land to his son Isaac and they both joined together to sell approximately 250 acres to Edward Greenman in 1708, the deed being signed by Samuel, Isaac, Hopestill and Rebekah, Isaac's wife.

The next year Samuel bought a total of 150 acres in Stonington, Connecticut, about 35 miles west of Kingstown, and he and Hopestill lived there until her death on September 13, 1715, at the age of 70 and was buried in Wequetequock Burial Ground. The Norwich Connecticut Town Clerk's office records has this quote from Samuel:
"It was to me that woeful day in which my dear and tender and loving wife departed this life and was buried on ye 15th."
We know that Samuel married again because he made provision for his widow Frances (West) through a deed granting the reversion of all his land to his son Isaac "excepting if I should marry again, the widow shall have benefit of biggest room in my house half of cellar, and also my son Isaac to keep 2 cows and 1 horse both winter and summer for her use and provide firewood for her." Samuel died intestate two weeks later on August 26, 1716, and the deed was recorded two days later.

He's buried in the same cemetery in Stonington as Hopestill.****

[photo by John Beckstein, 5/25/2008, on;
retouched, Clinton Macomber, Oct 2010]

Frances refused to administer Samuel's estate, requesting that Isaac should be named administrator instead, which he was. Unfortunately Isaac only survived his father by two years and the estate was finally settled by his widow Rebekah in 1718.

It's clear from records that he owned property but why do we think Samuel Worden was a doctor? In several of the land records he is referred to as Dr. Samuel Worden and his death record in Stonington also names him as a doctor. There is no evidence pointing to what medical training he had, if any. For an 1893 look back at Colonial medicine, look here.

A lot of my information was gathered by Waite W. Worden in his book "Worden: A Weir in the Valley" privately printed in 1992 and available here.

*When Hopestill is described as the "wife of Samuel Worden" in the record of the inheritance paid to the children of Joseph Holway, Sr.
**Her maiden name is unknown. She outlived her husband by seven years.
***majestie *i.e., the King
****I haven't located where Frances Worden is buried. It's possible that she's the Frances Werden who married Captain Manassas Minor in 1721.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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