in Clayton, County Lancaster (now Lancashire) Enqland


The Preston Guild Rolls of 1582-1622.


The significance of Peter's records in the Plymouth Colony is profound. The court record estaQlishes his presence there on 7 January 1638/9, and locates him at Yarmouth, Cape Cod. Soon thereafter his probated will tells us where he came from; estaQlishes the fact that he has one son, only; and that toe son's name is also Peter Worden. By genealogical research in the United States we are led back 350 years to the Plymouth Colony. A long path.' Through Peter's will we are pointed across the Atlantic to his former    place    of       residence,        Clayton,  in         the      "County  of

Lankester", now Lancashire, England. The next move is to look for records of a Peter Worden in or near Clayton. If we can find one who has a son by the same name and if their ages in England are consistent with their later ages in North America, we would have good reason to believe that we are dealing with the same two men. And, perhaps, we could find out a bit more aQout our family through their ancestry.


We now turn to a type of document known as a quild roll. A gui ld (from Mi ddle Engl i sh "gi Ide", from Old Norse guildi", meaning payment, or tri0ute) was a society or company to which payment was made for its charge and support. It was an association of men belonging to the same class, or engaged in kindred pursuits, or with certain common interests or aims, formed for mutual aid and protect­ion. (Ref. A).


Prior to the Conquest guilds in England had a social and, frequently, a religious flavor, while later many were secular, including merchant guilds and trade guilds. If a

person wished to earn his living in certain lines of work it was necessary for him to be admitted to membership in the appropriate guild.


      Membership being of such great importance, men who

were members of guilds would enroll their sons early in life (age 5 was the minimum age) to assist them in earning their living as adults.


The town or city of Preston was the economic and cultural center of an area which included Clayton. Guild rolls contained the names of burgesses, meaning almost the same as "freemen". Webster (Ref A) defines a burgess as "strictly, in English History; a freeman who has been received into, and admitted to the privileges of, a borough; hence a person having full municipal rights; a citizen."




Burgesses were of two types -- "in-burgesses" (living within the town), and out-burgesses ('burgens forins'), who lived in the surrounding area. Those named below, residents of Clayton, were out-burgesses. Burgess status was heredi­tary, and fathers presented their sons for admission at the first guild held after the eligible age. ( Ref. B).


(From here forward, for purposes of clarification, the author has assigned numbers to indicate the generation, starting with William [ca. 1514 - l574J as #1. These numbers, of course, do not appear in the guild rolls themselves.)


Guilds were held in Preston, and rolls published, in 1399, 1415, 1459 (when a Werden was an in-burgess), 1542,

and then every twenty years thereafter. (See Note '#1.) The 1542 guild roll marks the admission of Werdens as out­burgesses (Williaml with his sons William2 and Robert2 while the roll of 1562 lists "William weyrden1 de Clayton, and Robert2, his son."


Through the courtesy of Mr. G. L. Bolton (Ref B) there are presented below extracts from the Preston Guild Rolls of 1582, 1602, and 1622, except that the Latin terminology has been rendered into modern-day English. Every entry quoted is taken from the section of the rolls "Burqens forins". The family relationship applies to the name immediately above it.


     a. In 1582, eight years following the 1574 Clayton

Manor Court Roll already discussed, we find this listing:

                       William Werden3

                           of Clayton,

                          son of

                     Robert Werden2


James Werden3 his brother


Peter Werden3   his brother


         b. The Robert2 Werden, above, is the same Robert

(Robertus) Worden, son of the deceased William1, whose tenancy passed to Robert eight years earlier in the 1574

Clayton Manor Court Roll. Robert apparentl_ had three sons,

William3, James3, and     peter3.  William, being      the

eldest son, inherited the tenancy, and is listed first, followed by his two brothers.




c. Twenty years listed:


later, the










William Werden3

   of Clayton

Peter Werden3

  his brother


James werden3,    his brother




     his son.(*)


(*) = James' son. There is a bit of a departure from custom here in the order in which the three brothers are

listed. While William, the eldest is still listed first, Peter (the youngest) is listed second, in order that James can be at the end of the list of brothers to clarify the relationship of James to his newly-listed son.

d. These three brothers, sons of Robert2 (Robertus) appear on two guild rolls twenty years apart. In 1602 James had apparently registered his son, but the first name is not given.


e. After yet another twenty years the 1622 Preston Guild Roll (with a change in the spelling of the surname) lists William's family separately from his brothers, plus William's three sons:




d_ WIllIam Wor en­

   of Clayton,




James Worden­

    his son


William Horden4

  his brother (*)

Richard Worden4

  his brother (*)


(*) That is, Richard4 is the brother of William4, w_o

is the brother of James4, who is the son of William

Thus all three are sons of the elder William. William3

has seen to it that all his boys are registered in the Preston Guild, as hereditary out-burgesses, as has Peter Wearden, below.




f. Following this 1622 listing of William and his three sons, there are several unrelated entries, after which (with a further spelling change) is Peter, in his own right, having registered his son, Peter:

Peter Wearden3


Peter Wearden4 his son.


g. We therefore have evidence of a Peter Werden (son of Robert) in 1582 and 1602. And in 1622 a Peter Wearden and his son, also Peter.


variations in the spelling of the surname are not of significance, as scribes frequently wrote things down as they sounded. Here we have Werden in 1582 and 1602, while it is Worden and Wearden in 1622. And a bit of a change has taken place. In 1582 and 1602 William Werden is so listed, but by 1622 Hilliam had become "William Worden, Gent". Apparently William's fortunes, hence standing, had improved during the preceding twenty years.


Peter had also apparently come up in the world. Many of the town (borough) of Preston's affairs were handled by burgesses, a]_in, it appears to me, to selectmen as we know them today in New England. His signature appears in Preston's "White Bo01c of Orders" in 1610 and again in 1612.

An enlarged reproduction of it appears on a following page through the singular courtesy of Mr. G.L. Bolton, who carefully isolated, photographed, and enlarged it and sent

it to me. Most burgesses signed by mark. Being literate, Peter not only signed his name, but did so with considerable flourish.


During the period 1609-1613, Peter Werden, _ent., appears as a juror in nine inquisitions. The title of "gentleman" was probably one of courtesy, as all jurors were so styled (Ref. B). But in a land transaction of 1616, Peter Werden, the vendor, again is styled "gent."


In summary:

1. William W_rdenl, (through deduction) born by

1514, probably earlier, de_eased by 1574, had had an elder

son, a2so named William as well a_ his second son,

Robert (Robertus) WQrden. But William had died D1fore

the Preston Guild Roll of 1562, enabling Robert to inherit his father's estate in 1574.


2. Robe§t2 wor_en, born a_out

sons William, James, and Peter.


1534, died


1580, had


3. peter3 Werden son also named peter4.






1582 and 1622 had




4. All were residents of Clayton, near Preston, in the county of Lancaster (now Lancashire), England.

5. peter3 appears in the Preston Guild Rolls of 1582, 1602, and 1622, and as a member of the Town Council of the Borough of Preston, in the IIWhi te BooJ'.: of Orders" for the years 1609, 1610, 1612, 1613.


6. peter3 Worden and his namesake son are listed in the Preston Guild Roll for 1622. Their names do not appear in the following (1642) Guild Roll, as by that time they had

both gone to New' England, where Peter lIye elder" had died, in early 1638/9, while Peter, the son, remained there for the balance of his life.


     1.   Our backward path has, indeed, led  to  two  men,

each named Peter Werden (Worden, Wearden), father and son, both in Clayton, whom we later find in Yarmouth, Cape Cod. By this bridging of the Atlantic we are able to identify four generations of Clayton Wardens as evidenced by the Clayton Manor Court Roll of 1574 and the Preston Guild Rolls of 1582, 1602, and 1622:


a. William Worden of the Manor of Clayton, had died prior to the Clayton Manor Court Roll of 1574. His "son and next heir" was..


b. Robertus (Robert) Worden, who     James, and...






sons, William,


c. Peter Worden who had a son named...


d. Peter Worden






A. Webster's New International Edition, unabridged, 1959.


Dictionary, Second


B. George L. Bolton, Worden Oriqins, in Volume VII, No. 4 (March, 1987) and Volume VIII, No.2 (October 1987) of Wordens Past, published by Patricia C. Worden, Midland, Michigan. Original documentary references used by Mr. Bolton are listed therein.




Note #1: The Preston Guild has continued to meet every twenty years except for the World War II year of 1942, which caused a postponement to 1952. At this writing, 1992, the Preston Guild meets, with a year-long celebration.






1. Peter Worden's paternal qrandfather was William! born (probably) before 1514. He died in the Manor of Clayton ca. 1574. The name of his wife is not known.




Peter Worden's maternal grandparents were:


a. Peter Worthington (1514-1578) and his wife.. b. Isabel Anderton




Peter's parents were:

a. Robert(us)2 Worden, 1534-1580 and his wife...

b. Isabel Worthington




Peter's (known) siblinqs were:

a. Willi_m3, born 1569

b. James, living in 1602


5.   Peter's wife was Margaret Grice Wall, widow of     Anthony

Wall, who had died in 1601. She and Peter were married in 1603 or 1604. Margaret was born between 1566 and 1571, and died in the early part of 1612. Margaret was the daughter of:


a. Thomas Grice, who died in 1588, and his wife... O. Alice, surname not known.




Peter's stepchildren were:


a. William Wall b. Thomas 1.vall

c. John NaIl

d. Alice Wall e. Mary Wall.


(1593-1626 )




Peter's and Margaret's children were:

a. Elizabeth4, who married one Hugh Swansey

three sons by him. She died in 1635.






b. Bridget4, unmarried, who died in 1628.

c. Peter (Jr.)4, born 1609, died in New England 1680


8. Peter's daugnter, Elizabeth, before her marriage to Hugh Swansey, had an illegitimate child (gender not recorded) by a married priest named John Lewis, later defrocked and barred from the ministry. In the will of Peter Worden, ye elder (see a following account of it) Peter




made provision for his "grandchild", referring to the child by the use of male pronouns ("he" and "him") thus establish­

ing the gender and mentioning the name of "John" and "John Lewis", without directly saying that "John", "John Lewis", and "my grandchild" are one and the same person, but there appears to be no douot that they are.


9.   Peter  Worden's Enqland-born qrandchildren (all through

his daughter, Elizabeth):

a. John Lewis5, The will of Peter Worden, written in February, 1639 (NS) indicates that John Lewis had not yet reached age 18. There are reasons to suggest that he was born about 1625, thus age 13-14 when Peter made his will.


b. Edmund swansey5, c. Robert swansey5,


oorn 1630, but died before 1636.


born 1632, living in 1636.


d. Hugh Swansey (Jr.)5, born and died in 1635.


10. Peter Worden I was born (ca, 1576) in Clayton and had his schooling there. For some time he resided and worked in nearby Preston, where he was engaged in some aspect of the textile business. He had a store, shop, or stall in the Moothall of Preston, was active in borough affairs as a burgess and a member of the Town Council, and occasionally served as a juror in matters of estate settlement. He was an inspector of cloth (an alnager) for the County around 1625. There is evidence that he moved oack to Clayton, as in a 1636 court proceeding he referred to his home in Clayton, which he then inhaoited.


11. Peter's activities between the Old England, and his presence in

1639 (NS) are not known, nor is England. But the last few years of have been very happy ones, because:


1636 court proceeding in North America in January it known why he left his life there could not


a. in 1612 he lost his wife, Margaret, after only 8-9 years of married life; and was left with 5 step-children and

3 of his own children, the youngest, Peter (Jr) being only about three years of age


b. About 1625 occurred the birth of the illegitimate child of his daughter, Elizabeth.


c. In 1628 Peter's other daughter, Bridget, died.




d. In 1635 Elizabeth gave birth to Peter's third Swansey grandchild (Hugh, Jr.), who, along with his mother, died before the year was out, suggesting that Elizabeth may have died in childbirth.


e. In 1636 another grandson, Edmund Swansey, died.


12. When Peter vent to New England (in or after 1636) his family had been reduced to his own son, Peter, and two grandsons, Robert Swansey and John Lewis.


13. After the death of his wife, Margaret, in 1612, the five Wall stepchildren were probably taken care of by the Wall family. At the death 'of his daughter, Elizabeth, her husband, Hugh Swansey, undoubtedly took care of their one remaining son, Robert. From the provisions of his will, it appears that at some point, Peter had assumed gua_dianship of his grandson, John Lewis. Whether he did this before or after Elizabeth's marriage to Hugh Swansey, or after her death, is not known.


14. Perhaps things had been a bit too much for Peter, prompting him to take his son, Peter II, and grandson, John Lewis, to New England to start a new life.






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Signature of PETER WORDEN, Senior, of Preston, Lancashire County, England.


In the Town Hall of Preston there is a record book of the pro­ceedings of the To\',n Council dating from 1608, knm.n as "The

l'lhi te Book of Orders.11 Some of these "orders" which dealt with many miscellaneous matters, were signed by the Mayor and all the Council, amounting to about 24 persons. The signature, above, was photographed from an order dated August, 1612. A similar (exactly) signature appeared in 1610. It _ould appear, therefore, that Peter Worden was a member of the Tov:n Council of Preston

in 1610 and in 1612, at lea_t, and probably in the intervening year of 1611, and pos__bly before 1610 and after 1612. (


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


Composite Genealogy of     Peter Worden I and II






William d ca 1574


Peter m. Isabel Anderton 1514-78


Robert m. 1534-1580


Isabel Worthington


Peter (I) married 1603 or 1604 c. 1576

d. 1639


Elizabeth d. 1635


Bridqet d. 1628


**John Lewis, ante 1630

              . J

Marrled Hugu Swansey


_Edmund b. 1630, d ante 1636 Robert b 1632 living 1636 Hugh (Jr) b 1635, d 1635


* Widow of Anthony Wall, who d 1601.

** Illegitimate child by Fr. John Lewis.




Thomas m. Alice?

d. 1588 I

Marqaret Grice *

b. ca. 1566/71 d.1612


Peter (II) m. Mary 1 b. 1609 I d. 1687 d. 1680


Samuel1646-1716 & descendants in New England/USA




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                                                                                                                                         ,   olume I, Part 1, page 33.                j

I i I