.     The last will and Testament of Peter Worden of

Yarmouth,the elder,deceased proved at the genrall court at Plymouth the fift Day of March in the xiiijth

yeare of the Reigne of our Soverigne Lord Charles, king of England &c by the oathes of Mr. Nicholas Sympkins

Heugh Tillie & Giles Hopkins as followeth - viz:


Be it knowne unto all men ******** to whom this doth or may concerne That I, Peter Worden of Yarmouth in New England in Plymouth Patten being very sick in this yeare of our Lord 1638 and on the ninth day of ffebruary qo make my last will to testify unto all that I Peter Worden doe give and bequeath **+*** unto Peter Worden my only sonne & sonn & heire and in the presence of Nicholas Sympkins

Hugh Tillie & Giles Hopkins I do make him my whole Executr to whom I doe give all my lands, Leases Tennements with goods moveable and unmoveable in the Towne of Clayton

in the ****** County of Lankester likewise I doe give unto Peter **** my sonne all my goods wch I have at this prsent in New England My will is my sonne is to give John

Lewis one Nate Goate also my will is my sonn is to give

my Grandchild such money as is due for the keepeing of Goates and calves untill this day and that my sonn is ** with the money to buy ** John a kid or dispose it otherwise for his use also one bed or boulster three blankets also my sonn is to have the tuition of my grandchild untill

he be at the age of one and twenty yeares of age also

my will is he shall fynd him with meate drinke and

cloathes and at the three last yeares of the xxjth yeare also to have fourty shillings the yeare after & above for to add to his stock with a sow pigg when the sow piggs.

In witness we present set our hands.







Nicholas Simpkins Hugh Tilly H marke Giles Hopkins $


Mr. Nicholas Sympkins, Heugh Tilly and Giles Hopkins

weer all deposed in open Court to this will the fift day of March 1638 xiiijth Caroli ** - See Court Ordr p- 194






1.   Third   line. xiiijth  means   "14th". A  "j"   Ivas

frequently used in place of an only, or final "i" in writing Roman numerals.


2.   Seventh   line   (1st line of the Ivill): "******" is my

symbol for illegible words heavily crossed out.


3.   Ninth line. "Patten" is a  misspelling  of  "Patent",

which, in this case, refers to the land described in "letters patent" granted 13 January 1629/30 to William Bradford, under the so-ca_led "Warwick Patent". Although the Pilgrims disembarked from MAYFLOWER in late December,

1620, a satisfactory patent (i.e., one which prescribed boundaries) was not granted until January 1630. The original document, with its heavy seals, is on di$play at the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.


4. Tenth line and elsewhere: All dates between 1 January and 24 March, inclusive give an "Old Style" year. The year 1638 would be 1639, "New Style" (that is, according to the calendar in use today).


5.   Tenth line: "ffebruary" is an old-fashioned way  of

spelling, instead of a capital "F". (See later, spelling of "Farington" as "ffarington").


6. Twelfth line: "*****" is my symbol for the Ivords "doe give" which Ivere repeated, then lined through.


7. Line 17: The word "Township" was erroneously written, then 1 ined through, after Ivhi ch "County" Ivas subst i tuted. The County of Lancaster (here spelled "Lankester") is now Lancashire.


8.   Line 18: Follolving "Peter"     the    ***

word" all", Ivhich has been crossed out.






9. Line 19-20. For years genealogists have wondered Ivhether "John", "John Lelvis", and "my grandchild" all referred to the same person. In 1992 information was discovered that Peter's daughter, Elizabeth, prior to her marriage, gave birth to an illegitimate "child" (no gender given) fathered by a married priest (later disbarred from the ministry) named JOHN LEWIS. Elizabeth later married one Hugh Swansey of Brindle, and by him had three sons, only one of whom survived Elizabeth, who died in 1635. His name was Robert Swansey. Therefore, in 1638/9, when Peter wrot_ his will, any reference to a "grandchild had to




mean Robert Swansey or the Lewis child. Since the grand­child mentioned in Peter's will was referred to as "him"

and "he", it follows that this child was also a grandson. Robert Swansey was not mentioned. The other (male) grand­child, was the son of JOHN LEWIS, and his name was also JOHN Lewis.


10. Line 22: The "**" at the end of the line is my symbol for the word "to" which has been lined out.


11. Line 23: The two asterisks (**) just before "John" marJ( the place     w"here     the  w'ord "my"                 ,vas    wr it ten,  then

crossed   out.   Perhaps   Peter   started    to say "my grand­

child" and then changed his mind for some reason, and said "John" instead. Who made the change? It could have been made by (1) Peter himself, if he wrote his will in his own hand, or (2) by a scribe who took dictation from Peter as Peter said he ,vas "very SiCl(", or (3) by the Court, Clerk in trying to copy Peter's will into the Court Records. It is now of no importance, as it has been proved that "John. "  "John  Le,vi s", and "my grandchi ld" (shmvn also to

be male) are one and the same person, and that he was the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Worden and John Lewis, the debarred priest.


12. Line 25.: "Tuition" is used here in its original sense, meaning "guardianship" rather than the cost of an education. From Middle English "tuicion", from Old French, from Latin "tuitio" (protection.)




Line 27.


"fynd" (find). To supply, or furnish.




Line 28. "xxjth" = 21st. See Note 1, supra.


15. The testator's name is written (in the hand of the Court Clerk) as Peter W_rden. Perhaps the clerk copied Peter's signature exactly as Peter had written it. Or perhaps the Court Clerk was careless, as all other spellings in the document are "Worden", as are other entries in the records of the two courts held on January 7th and March 5th. It is of little, if any, importance,

except as a means of pointing out how inconsistent spelling was in those days. This is evident in the text of the will. Even names are spelled in several ways in the

same document. In Peter's will we find Hugh and Heugh; Sympkins and Simpkins; and Tilly and Tillie. Only the name of Giles Hopkins came through unscathed!


16. Of the three witnesses, only Nicholas Sympkins was literate. He signed his name, while Tilly signed with a




mark, somewhat like a heavy capital H, (perhaps for "Hugh"?). Hopkins' mark resembles an enlarged dollar sign.


17. In Plymouth Colony Records Sympkins is always referred to as Mr. Nicholas Sympkins, as indeed he is just before, and just after, the body of the will. The title of "Mr." did not automatically come with adulthood, as it

does today. It was a title of rank - that of "gentleman", a man who did not work for a living. Tilly and Hopkins, and most of the others in the Colony records, are not so entitled.


18. Last line. IIxiiijth Caroli" refers to the 14th year of the reign of King Charles 'I, using the Latin name for Charles. But see Note 1, supra.




The foregoing photocopy is that of the will as it was entered (copied) into the records of the Plymouth Colony by the Court Clerk. It is not one of the actual, original wi 11. The" signa tures" of Peter and the loTi tnesses are in

the handwriting of the Court Clerk. They are not the signatures of the persons themselves.






The witnesses to Peter's Will


william Bradford, distinguished, long-time Governor of Plymouth Colony, wrote in his own hand a multi-page document, really of book length, entitled "Of Plimouth Plantation". In it there is a list of the MAYFLOWER passengers. The first page of that list includes the following entries:


. "The names of those which carne over first in ye year 1620 and were (by the blessing of God) the first

beginers, and, (in a sort) the foundation of all plantations, and colonies, in New England (and their families)".


Following this page heading, Governor Bradford listed the names of all who had corne over on the MAYFLOWER. Among them (on this first page) were:


"Captain Miles Standish and Rose, his '\Tife".


"Mr. 1\filliam Mullins and his wife; and 2 children, Joseph and Priscilla, and a servant, Robert Carter"


"Mr. Steven Hopkins & Elizabeth, his wife, and 2 children, called Giles and Constanta, a daughter, both by a former wife. And 2 more by this wife, caled Damaris & Oceanus, the last was borne at sea. And 2 servants, called Edward Doty and Edward Litster". (*)


Edward Tillie and Ann, his wife and 2 childeren that were their cossens; Henery Samson and Humility Coper." (* * )


* Edward Leister, servant to Hopkins. Removed to Virginia.


** Humility Cooper. Returned to England.


Also aboard MAYFLOWER (but not listed on page) '\Tas:






John Alden, a cooper, who married Priscilla Mullins (above) after supposedly courting her on behalf of Captain Stand i sh ,. who had lost hi s wi fe, Rose, early in 1621/2 from the "general sickness" '\Thich took the lives of about half of the colonists that first winter. Priscilla had lost. both parents and her brother, Joseph. She was lonely. Captain Standish was lonely, and the young bachelor, Alden, was lonely. The rest of it is told in that




marvellously lyric Longfellow poem, The Courtship of Miles Standish, in which the very perceptive Priscilla uttered the stunning line, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"


And now here comes little Giles Hopkins, born in 1607, a mere lad of 13, sailing on MAYFLOWER with the Pilgrims, travelling   with      such   famous    personages    as

William   Bradford, William  Brewster, Miles  Standish,

Priscilla Mullins, and John Alden - destined to render a courtesy to our colonial grandfather by being a witness to his will as he lay sick just before his death.


Nineteen years aft_r MAYFLOWER made its landfall at Cape Cod, Giles was 32 years of age, but had not yet learned to write his own name, signing Peter's will by mark. When Giles made his own will on January 19, 1682/3 (age 75) he again signed by mark. And on March 15, .1689/90

(age 82) he signed a codicil to his will, once more by his mark. Giles had been ashore in North America for 69 years. His father was Mr. Steven Hopkins, who sailed on MAYFLOWER and brought two servants with him.


Undoubtedly the family had resources, and probably some

education, but Giles apparently didn1t pursue academic endeavors. However, he married, had children, brought up his family, and lived to a ripe old age despite his illiteracy.


The Plymouth l639,state:






records, 9




"Gyles Hopkins ixthOctobr, 1639".


& Katherne (sic) Wheldon marryed the


Another, unofficial, writing says he "married Catone Wheldon, daughter of Gabriel Whelden". (Note two spellings of the surname).


An Edward and Ann Tillie were on the first voyage of MAYFLOWER. I do not know whether Hugh was related to them, but would suppose that he was. When Hugh Tillie (Tilly) carne over, I do not know, nor do I know when Mr. Nicholas Sympkins arrived in the New World.




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First Worden Generation in North America




ca. 1576-1639


Oliver Norton Worden wrote (Ref. A) that Peter Worden 1st, (as he dubbed him) 'vas" thought" to have 1 i ved a short time in Lynn (Massachusetts). In other places in his book,

he seems to accept this as fact, saying, in one place, "The year of his arrival is not known; he d 1638, and his first residence in Lynn.. .indicates that he may have been here before any of those hereaft'er named." Elsewhere he states, "Of his wife, no mention -- pro'\). d in England, or Lynn."


I have found no record of the date of his departure from England; nor of the place of his arrival in North America; nor what ship brought him here rom England; nor where he disembarked, or when. Primary evidence in the records of the Plymouth Colony indicate:


a. That he was living January 1638/9. (Ref. B).




Yarmoutl1, on




Cod, in


b. That he was alive on February 9th, 1638/9, when he made his will. (Ref. C).


     c. That he had died by March 5th, 1638/9, when -_ will

was submitted to the Plymouth Colony Court for probate. (Ref. D). The date of death is not known.


d. That he had an only son, also named Peter Worden.


     e. That he left to his son his real and personal estate

in Clayton, County of "Lankester," thereby implying that he had lived there.


f. That he had a grandchild named John Lewis.


g. That the grandson was under eighteen years of age.


h. That provision was made in the will for the care his grandchild.




i. That in his will there was no mention of a wife or of any children besides Peter.


j. That Peter, the testator of the will, was in that he signed his own name (not by mark).




k. That he had some sort of personal seal.




Peter's occupation in England was apparently that of a

merchant of textile goods, with a shop under the Moothall (Town Hall) of Preston. He was an "out-burgess" of Preston, (living in Clayton), but was a member of the Town Council and a member of the Merchant's Guild. He was sometimes referred to as "gentleman," indicating that he did not have to work with his hands, but his chosen style in New England was that of working his own land and tending goats and pigs, thus a yeoman.


     IrJebster I s           Dictionary  gives the derivation of "yeoman"

as having corne from the Middle English "yemen," probably a contraction: "yengman" from "yung man," literally a young man. Although there are several definitions, the two most appropriate in this case are "a freeholder of a class below the gentry who worked his own land," and "[Brit.] a small landow"ner. "


So our "wayback grandfather", Peter Worden ye elder, chose to leave whatever social standing, property, comforts, friends and relatives which he may have had in England, to proceed to the New World with his only son, there to take up a new life and, as a yeoman, to carve a living out of the ground of Cape Cod, where his days ended and where his body was committed to the earth.


Three hundred and fifty years later, today Peter lies

in honored memory on his former farm, alongside the body of

his son and namesake in the Worden Cemetery in East Dennis, Massachusetts (on Cape Cod), just off US Route 6A. By bringing his son to the "Country ]mown as New England" many generations of his descendants have helped in various ways to build a new nation on a foundation of language, customs, culture and laws of Old England.






A. Oliver Norton Worden, Some Records of Persons by the Name of Worden, (for private circulation). Lewis­burg, Pa. 1868.


B. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, M. D., Editor: Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New Enqland. Court Orders: Vol. I, 1633-1640, p. 108. Boston, 1855.


C. Plymouth Colony Records, Wills: Volume I, Part I, page 33, (original records) in the office of the County Commissioners, South Russell St., Plymouth, Mass. 02360.


D. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, M. D., op. cit. page 117.