Originally a person needed but one name to identify himself or herself, and by and large this was true into the l100s. Up until that time most people stayed put,

unless taken into distant battles, and one name was sufficient. In some societies each given name had to be approved by the church, and the number was limited to what was in the Bible. with population growth, limited given names, and increasing mobility, it became necessary to ioentify persons with similar names, and an additional name was the answer. Surna_es developed logically, as a

matter of convenience, generally relating to a person's occupation, place of residence or birth, physical stature, relationship to another:


a. Occupation: John (the) carpenter became John Carpenter. (Cooper, Barber, Miller, Sawyer, Wheelwright, Cartwright, Mason).


b. Physical appearance: (Tallman, Redman, SDort.)








c. Relationship: John, David's son = John Davidson. (Williamson, Stevenson, Ericson.)


      d . Terrain features  (near his home):     Charles  of

the meadows = Charles Meadows. (Hill, Rivers, Brooks, Fields.)


e. Residence/birthplace: John (of) Lincoln, Ireland, Dover).






Nobility ano royalty often needed additional identification, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, William of Orange. And numbers: Henry I to Henry VIII. Some were imposed by the public, sometimes complimentary, sometimes not: Alfred the Great, Ethelred the Unready, Edmund Ironside, Harold Harefoot, John Lackland, Richard the Lion Hearted. And, of course, William the Conqueror, who has been clearly distinguished from all other men named William.


If it were necessary to identify further the folks who came from the hamlet of Werden/Worden, all one needed do was to follow "his given name by "de" (of) "Werden" or

"Worden. " John de Werden became, more simply, John Iverden, and later John Worden, imparting his surname to his children.








Reference to Saxton's 1577 Map of Lancashire, which appears on a previous page, shows three settlements in close proximity one to the others, these being Leland, Werden, and Claton (present spelling being Leyland, Worden, and Clayton,

the last knmm more fully as "Clayton-Ie-Woods.") This has led the English historian George L. Bolton to du_ that area "The Worden Triangle," because the name of l'lorden appears so frequently in it.


Any Werden/Worden from the hamlet of Werden would not have to go far to remove to Clayton or to Leyland,. nor to Preston, an important commercial center for that area.


And since Peter Worden" ye elder" speci f ied in hi s ,vi 11

(see later pages) that he left to his "only sonne & sonn &

heir," Peter Worden, all his "lands, leases, tenaments, with goods movable and unmovable in the town of Clayton, County of Lankester.." he left clear record of "lV'here his English home had been. Therefore we look in that area for records of people and things bearing the name of Worden. By this means we discover what I might call "Worden Footprints," of which there are many.


More pleasing, however, is that there is record of some of Peter's English ancestors, which will be set forth later.









If one should go today to Clayton or vicinity he would see reminders of the name Worden in many places. The Preston     phone   book,   for example, has    listings  of   95

Wordens. They live in such places as Walton-Ie-Dale, Much Hoole, Astley Village, Bamfurlong, Deepdale, Penwortham, Fulwood, Farington, Bamber   Bridge,  Ribbleton,    Lostock

Hall, and, of course, Clayton-Ie-Woods, to name just a

few. Preston has many.


In the township of Leyland is Worden (new) Hall, the barn of Worden Old Hall, Worden Park, Worden Lane, Worden Close, and so on.


Within the Parish Church of St. Andrew in Leyland are many beautiful, stained-glass   windows, one    of          which

contains eleven coats of arms in three panels. The left panel has four, arranged vertically. The inscriptions under them are:


a. Worden of Golden Hill b. Anderton of Worden

c. Farington of Worden d. Clayton of Clayton


In Worden Park is a huge, green boulder, said to have been brought down by the Worden Drift during the Ice Age from the Helvellyn range of mountains in the Lake District. It bears this inscription:




Prof. I. Phillips





Webster's New World Dictionary defines drift in its geological meaning as "Sand, gravel, boulders &c., moved and deposited by a glacier or by water arising from its melting ice." Now at Worden Park, this boulder was removed from the Worden Drift which is located at Worden Old Hall.


With Worden gravestones in the yard of st. Andrew Parish Church, and record of the ancient hamlet of Werden on old maps of the area, footprints abound.






(Reference 1.)


Fragmentary records dating from the 13th century include persons named Worden (with various spellings) in Lancashire and nearby Cheshire. No attempt is made to connect these persons, and indeed they may not even be descended from a common ancestor. They include, however:


1246: The Lancashire Assize Rolls contain the entry that "Wrongdoers broke into the house of Robert de Werden. The viII of Werthen did not pursue." This refers to the ancient custom of raising a "hue an.d cry" over the commission of a

crime, at which the villagers were supposed to pursue the criminal. Neglect to do so could result in a fine against the whole village.


1374: Roger Banastre of Leyland claimed land Thomas, Roger, and John, sons of Robert de Werden.




1413: Edmund Anderton, Lord of the Manor of Worden, in a land transfer deed, refers to "properties in the hamlet of Werden in the tenure (i.e., holding) of Robert of Herden."


1451: A rental of the lands owned by Cockersand Abbey contains the entry "Henricus Wirdyn (Henry Werden) holds a tenement in Clayton and renders 12 pence per annum." This is the first dated reference to the Werdens of Clayton. From this date there are numerous references to the Werdens of Clayton.


1459: By this time there is little doubt that families of the name were becoming established in the wider locality. In 1459 a William Werden was entered in the Burgess Rolls of Preston, an important commercial center some five miles from Worden. The title of Burgess indicated a certain status.


1569: Thomas Werden was enrolled as a freeman in the City of Chester (county of Cheshire), an important commercial and cultural center since the days of the Romans. He succeeded well   in      business, and       descendants   prospered    as   well,

eventually attaining knighthood. This branch claimed descent from the Werdens of Leyland.


1572: The will of Sir John Worden, Curate of Leyland, bequeathed a sum of money to the Church of Leyland. Priests of this period used the honorary title of "Sir."




Ref. 1: G.L.Bolton, WORDEN ORIGINS, published Past, Vol. VII #4, March 1987, pp 348-9.










We corne now to a very important type of document called a manor court roll. But  it   is    important,       first, to

understand the meaning of manor, the lord of the manor, and the manor court.


At the Norman conquest (1066) all land was vested in the king, who made grants to his barons, knights, and others, to be "held" by them subject to the payment of dues or the rendering of services. So long as the conditions were fulfilled the grantees' enjoyed all the rights of ownership, but in default the land revertec to the Crown.

The unit of grant was the manor of which the grantee was termed the lord, who might (and frequently did, hold several manors) and he in his turn granted use of some of his land to tenants, all of whom held it from him. (Ref. A, Vol. 13, p. 677) .


Aside from the rent, the grantee had better remain in the good graces of his lord. Falling out of political or other favor was reason enough to take back (sequester) the endowed lands.


     The feudal maxim was "Nulle terre sans seigneur". There

is no land without its lord. Where no other lord can be ,iscovered the Crown is lord as lore paramount. (Ref. A., Vol. 20, p. 284).


A manor was frequently a very large, even vast, tract of land on which many families lived, all of them tenants of some sort who lived there at the pleasure of its lord,

usually in consideration of rent or service, or both. The lord was responsible for keeping order within the manor, and this included (among many others) the orderly transfer of a tenancy at the death of one of his tenants. To maintain this order the lord created his own court, known as the manor court.


The Manor Court of Clayton met on November 26, 1574, "before James Anderton, Esq., the lord there". This manor court roll has survived to this day, having been a part of the munirnents (documents sErving as evidence of inheritance, title to property, etc.) of the Molyneux family, which acquired the Manor of Clayton in 1683. A photograph of a portion of it appears in Ref. B.


By this document, which is written in Latin, the court recorded its decision as to the status of certain tenants. There \..rere 22 listed, five of whom were "free tenants", while the remaining seventeen were listed as "Tenents ad

luntatem", or tenants-at-will, (Ref. B) meaning that the _enancy was terminable at the will of either party.




In the list of "tenents ad voluntatem" the fifth name is that of Robertus Worden (so spelled). The third paragraph thereunder, which begins "Et Quod", translates (by courtesy of Mr. George L. Bolton, author of Ref. B) to:


"And that William Werden who held of the Lord of Clayton aforesaid certain lands and tenaments in Clayton aforesaid  for a rent of            (               )     a year,   died since the last

court, and that Robert WQrden is his son and next heir and is aged 40 years or thereabouts but by what service the jury know not". (Underlines and bold type mine).


In short, since William-Werden, a tenant of the Lord of the Manor of Clayton, had died, the jury of the Manor Court decided that the lands and tenements lately held by him should pass to his son, Robert Worden, and that the yearly rent and the nature of the service payable to the Lord was unknown.


The alleged age of Robert ("40 years or thereabouts") in 1574 would indicate that he had been born about 1534. His            father, William, whose       tenancy was  now  passing    to

Robert, had to be alive at Robert's birth. Giving William a minimum of twenty years to mature, marry, and have a child, William can be said to have been born by 1514 at the latest, but probably earlier than that.


The Roll of the Manor Court of Clayton of 1574 clearly establishes the facts:


a. that a William Werden had died since the last Court.


b. that this   Clayton.






resided in the Manor of


c. that this William had a son and heir named Robert.


o. that Robert was about 40 years old in 1574.


e. by deduction, that Robert was born about 1534.


f. by further deduction that the late      was probably born before 1514.








A. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Edition of 1951.


B. G.L.Bolton, Clayton in History, The Story of Clayton-Ie-Woods to 1800, Lancashire County Council Library and Leisure Committee, 1985.




The Werdens of Clayton, Lancashire


Primogeniture (Latin "primus" [first] and "genitura" [a begetting]) meant the condition or fact of being the first­born of the same parents, but in law it was the exclusive right of the eldest son to inherit his father's estate. Fortunes, social standing, and titles hinged upon the sex of a child, his order of birth, and whether he survived his father or not. The rule could be broken, and sometimes was, but adherence to it was the normal practice. The first-born son of a king inherited the throne, if he survived his father, but if not, a younger surviving son would wear the crown. If no sons, then a daughter would inherit.


The system was followed in all levels of the social framework where there was anything to inherit. If the oldest son survived the father, whatever inheritance he might obtain could be passed downward through his descendants. But if he died before his father, the estate would move sideways to another child, and it ifould be his descendants, not those of his deceased brother, who would benefit. The string was delicate.


We have already had reference to William Werden, of the Manor of Clayton, who had died by 1574, and whose tenancy in the Manor of Clayton had passed to his eldest son and heir, Robert (Clayton Manor Court Roll of 1574).


This William had had another, older son, also named William, who appeared in the Preston Guild Roll for 1542, but who had died before the Guild Roll of 1562, as his name does not appear in it for that year. Thus Robert, the second son, became the heir to his father's holding.


Had the deceased older son (William) survived his father, it would have been his name and his age stated in the Clayton Manor Court Roll of 1574, not Robert's. As the heir of his father's estate, further records concerning Robert, his marriage, and his descendants, are probably in more detail than would have been the case had he not inherited, and then slipped into a less important status. So it might well be said that the death of his older brother, William, has enabled us today to know more about Peter's ancestors than otherwise would have been possible.


Robert _arried one Isabell Worthington, the daughter of Peter Worthington. Robert and Isabell had three sons, William, James, and Peter, whom we have already mentioned. Peter undoubtedly was named after his maternal grandfather, nd he, in turn, named his own son Peter.