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Compiled by Glenn Gohr

When I think of the name WORTH, I automatically think of the fictional cartoon character that was featured every day in the newspaper for many years. Do you remember Mary Worth, the comic strip character? Although she could have been named for a real person, my research does not indicate the origin of the name for that comic strip. Anyway, that is what I sometimes think of when I see the name WORTH. There is a remote possibility that the name for the strip was adapted from the English folktale about a woman named Mary Worth who was in a terrible accident and her face was scratched so badly that she bled to death. She was said to roam the world as an evil ghost and was referred to as "Bloody Mary." Ah, the stories that people can tell ...

And being from Texas, who could forget about the big cowtown which is now really big? Of course I am talking about FORT WORTH. Fort Worth, originally Camp Worth, was established at the end of the Mexican War, when Gen. Winfield Scott sent forty-two men of Company F of the Second Dragoons under command of Maj. Ripley A. Arnold to North Texas to establish a post to guard East Texas settlements from the Indians. Acting on the advice of scouts who had camped there during the winter of 1848, Arnold chose a position on the south side of the confluence of the Clear Fork and West Fork of the Trinity River. The camp was established on June 6, 1849, and named for Brig. Gen. William Jenkins Worth. Its designation was changed to Fort Worth on November 14, 1849. The project was successful, for there were no Indian raids east of Parker County after the establishment of the camp. The only threat to the post came from a band of Taovaya warriors who were dispersed by a shot from a howitzer, the camp's only artillery. On June 17, 1851, Capt. J. V. Bamford of companies F and H of the Eighth Infantry assumed command, relieving Arnold. The post was abandoned on September 17, 1853, and troops who had been stationed there were sent to Fort Belknap. No permanent fort had been erected, and the abandoned barracks were used as store buildings by the early merchants of the new city of Fort Worth. (Buckley B. Paddock, History of Texas: Fort Worth and the Texas Northwest Edition [4 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1922]).

And here is information on Brig. Gen. William Jenkins Worth who served the War of 1812 and the Mexican War that Fort Worth is named after. There is also a Lake Worth in downtown Fort Worth named after him as well as a village called Worth, which is a suburb of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, which is named after him. Also Worth County, Georgia and Lake Worth, Florida are named for him.

Brig. Gen. William Jenkins Worth's ancestors came from Edgartown, Massachusetts, and his great-great grandfather was William Worth (1642-1724) who married Sarah Macy, who is the immigrant ancestor of the Macys who settled at Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, which makes us distant cousins:

William Jenkins Worth (1794-1849), United States Army major general, the son of Thomas and Abigail (Jenkins) Worth, was born in Hudson, New York, on March 1, 1794. A member of an old seafaring family, Worth returned with his father to Edgartown, Massachusetts, the family's original home, after the death of his mother sometime before 1800. By 1812 young Worth had returned to Hudson, where he was probably educated at Lenox Academy. Worth was a dissatisfied clerk in a wholesale establishment when the War of 1812 began, and he enlisted as an army private. He was commissioned a first lieutenant, Twenty-third United States Infantry, on March 19, 1813, served as aide-de-camp to generals Morgan Lewis and Winfield Scott, and rose to the rank of captain on August 19, 1814. Worth was severely wounded and permanently lamed at the battle of Lundy's Lane, but he remained in the army after the war. He transferred to the Second Infantry on May 17, 1815, and to the First Artillery on June 1, 1821. He became an instructor of tactics at West Point in 1820 and in 1825 was made commandant of cadets. By the time of his transfer to field duty in 1828, Worth had instilled high standards of conduct and discipline still evident today in the West Point Cadet Corps. He was promoted to major, ordnance bureau, on May 30, 1832. During the 1830s Worth served under Scott in the Illinois campaign against the Black Hawks and participated in the removal of Cherokee Indians from the southeastern United States. He helped maintain peace between the United States and Great Britain when Canada's Patriot War erupted along the border and was promoted to colonel. In 1840 Worth was transferred to Florida, where in 1842 he successfully ended the Seminole War, and was made a brigadier general on March 1, 1842.

During the Mexican War Worth served under generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. He participated in the battle of Monterrey in 1846, led the first troops ashore in the United States amphibious landing at Veracruz in March 1847, and commanded the troops that captured Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City in September 1847. For these accomplishments he received a sword of honor from Congress and a promotion to major general. The war's end led Worth to a public dispute and break with former friend and mentor Scott, who incorrectly held Worth responsible for the publication of a letter criticizing the commanding general's conduct of the war. In the midst of this controversy, Worth was assigned as a commander of the newly created Department of Texas, with headquarters in San Antonio. His tenure in Texas was brief, for he soon contracted cholera from the troops under his command and died in San Antonio on May 7, 1849. Eight years after his death, the city of New York reinterred his remains in a public monument and tomb, fifty-one feet tall, located at the juncture of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. The monument, run-down and covered with graffiti, was restored during the early 1990s; the work was financed by donors who included Worth's great-great-grandson, retired navy commander James A. Woodruff, Jr. The city of Fort Worth and a large lake in Florida are named in Worth's honor. Worth was a member of the Church of Christ (Congregational), a Democrat, and a Mason. He married Margaret Stafford of Albany, New York, in 1818. They had three daughters and a son.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Edward S. Wallace, General William Jenkins Worth (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1953). Edward S. Wallace, "General William Jenkins Worth and Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 54 (October 1950).

My WORTH family has origins back in Roman times, and in recorded history there is proof of the family as early as 1066 at the time of William the Conqueror, when they are listed in the Domesday Book. The family was in England for several hundred years before William Worth, immigrated to Massachusetts in the early 1600s. Information on the early generations of the family in England and in early Massachusetts was derived from "A Genealogical History of the Clark and Worth Families" by Carol Clark Johnson; "Ancestral Roots of 60 American Colonists" by Frederick Lewis Weiss; "Plantagenet Ancestry" by Andrew Moriarity and from documents found on the Harvard Law Library web site.

My WORTH family in the U.S. is closely intertwined with the MACY and SWAIN families of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Records show that the MACY family of North Carolina that I descend from were Quakers and are descended from the Macys of Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. These Macys are closely connected to my SWAIN family of North Carolina. In fact two Macy women married Swain men in my line, which makes for double cousins through the Macy line. Also William WORTH (b. abt. 1640 in England) married Sarah MACY. Also there is a MACY-GARDNER marriage, so that makes for at least 4 ways that I descend from the Macy family.

Many thanks to Sonya Tilley and David L. Ray who both descend from the Swains of McNairy County, Tennessee, just as I do, for their assistance in finding out about the early Swains and the connection to the WORTH family. Both Sonya and David have Swain and related information on the Rootsweb Worldconnect Pages at I suspect they got a lot of their information from Jeffrey D. Kemp who also descends from the Swains of McNairy County, Tennessee, and has worked on tracing the Swains and Macys in the Carolinas and back to New England. In the family at Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, note that I have two MACY lines in the SWAIN family and one MACY marriage in the WORTH family and another MACY marriage in the GARDNER family that all connect up with each other a little further back

Here is my WORTH lineage as far as I can determine:

  1. Ralf/Ralph DE PAGANEL/DE PAYNEL, progenitor of the Worth line, was living 1087 and found in the Domesday Book as Sheriff of Yorkshire. He descended from Roman pagans who emigrated to Normandy and lived in villages called "pagi.11." The pagani retained their own beliefs and superstitious rituals in an area where Christianity was just beginning to thrive. They took their surname from those villages and became de Paganel ("heathen" or "pagan") and some took the name de Paynel ("peasant"). Later some became Payne. To this day you will sometimes find families with the surname of Pagan.
  2. Ralf DE PAGANEL/DE PAYNEL was Tenant-in-Chief of William I, the conqueror, and a Free Knight. He had four children: Fulk Fitz Paynel, Ralph Fitz Paynel, Reginald Fitz Payne and Robert Fitz Payne.
  3. Sir Reginald FITZ PAYNE, Lord of the Manor of Witheridge and Radford in Plymstock. Inherited from his brother, Ralph, the Worth estates and added "DE WORTHE" to his name. He was probably in Devonshire in 1067 with William I, the conqueror.
  4. Robert DE WORTHE, Lord of Witheridge and Worth.
  5. Alexander Fitz Robert alias DE WORTHE
  6. Sir Richard WORTHE, Knight; md. married Constance RIVERS, the daughter of Lord Rivers.
  7. Sir Hugh WORTH of Worthe, Knight; md. Avis DE REDVERS, the daughter of Richard de Redvers of Tiverton Castle, 3rd Earl of Devon, and his wife, Avis/Hawise, who was daughter of Reginald Fitz Roy/Fitz Henry de Mortain, Earl of Cornwall, bastard son of King Henry I and his mistress, Sibyl Corbet, wife of Herbert Fitz Herbert. Reginald Fitz Roy/Fitz Henry married Mabel, who died 1162, daughter of William Fitz Richard, Lord of Cardian, Cornwall, and granddaughter of Count Robert de Mortain, halfbrother of William the Conqueror.
  8. Robert WORTHE of Worthe, Esquire; md. a daughter of William Beauchamp of Whitlackington.
  9. Richard WORTHE of Worthe was at the Worth estate in 1243.
  10. Alexander WORTHE of Worth.
  11. Richard WORTHE of Worth, living 1274, married Maud/ Matilda L'ABBE (Abbot?). (Harvard Deed #23, 19 April 1362).
  12. Alexander WORTHE of Worth, claimant to the Earldom of Devon, 1293. His claim was denied.
  13. Richard WORTHE of Worth, living 1347.
  14. Sir John WORTHE; md. Cicelye DODDISCOMBE, daughter and coheiress of Sir John Doddiscombe of Compton Pole and Doddiscombe Leigh.
  15. John WORTHE of Worth; md. Margaret WELLINGTON, daughter of Sir John WEllington of Umberleigh and his wife, Matilda who was the daughter of Sir Walter Carminow.
  16. Thomas WORTHE of Worth
  17. Thomas WORTHE of Worth, presented at Washfield 1410; died 1412. He married Margery BEAUCHAMP, the daughter of Hugh Beauchamp. She was the coheiress with her brother Humphrey Beauchamp, Lord of Washfield. By this marriage was acquired 16 additional quarterings to the family arms, including those of the Clares, Marshalls, Earls of Pembroke. The Beauchamp line descended from Milo Beauchamp, 4th son of Hugh de Bello Campo, Baron of Bedford. (Harvard Deed #42 proves the marriage of Thomas Worthe to Margery Beauchamp.)
  18. Thomas WORTHE of Worth, at Washfield in 1425; died 1463.
  19. Thomas WORTHE of Worth, Esquire, living 1467; md. Isabel BEVILL or WOLSTON, daughter and coheiress of Humprey de Wolston. This brought four additional quarterings to the family arms including those of Avenel and Courtenay.
  20. Roger WORTHE, Esquire, of Compton Pole and Barnstable, presented to Doddiscombe 1464; Mayor of Exeter 1462. Married Elizabeth. He is buried at St. Petrock in Exeter, Devonshire Co., England. This is where our Worth line splits from the family headed by Roger's brother, Thomas Worthe.
  21. John WORTHE, Esquire, of Compton Pole.
  22. Otho WORTHE; md. Alice MYLLTON, daugher of John Myllton, Esquire, of Meavy.
  23. John WORTHE, b. abt. 1500, d. bef. 1600, of Compton Pole in Maldon. Married Agnes, daughter of John Bodley of Dunscombe, Crediton, a cousin of Sir Thomas Bodley, founder of the Bodlein Library.
  24. John WORTH, born abt. 1520, will dated 10 January, proved 4 June 1596; md. Jane/Joane CLARK of Crediton.
  25. John WORTH, b. abt. 1545 Marldon, Devonshire Co., England, d. bef. 1645, inherited Compton Pole and was in possession by 1638; md. Ellen HARVEY, daughter of either John or Thomas Harvey.
  26. John WORTH, b. abt. 1576 Marldon, Devonshire Co., England, d. 3 December 1643. He died at the seige of Plymouth Fort, Devonshire Co., England; md. 1 October 1593 at St. Andrew's Church in Plymouth to Wilmot STUTTEVER, b. abt 1574, d. 4 January 1640/41 Plymouth, Devonshire Co., England. All of their children were baptized at St. Andrew's Church, Plymouth, Devonshire Co., England.
  27. John WORTH, baptized 11 April 1606 at St. Andrew's Church, Plymouth, Devonshire Co., England. He died December 1643 at the seige of Plymouth Fort where his father also died. The family estates were seized by the crown and government. John married twice--first abt. 1626 and had son Lionel by this union. John married second 15 April 1634 at Uffculme to Barbara STRONG, b. abt. 1610 England. This union produced Richard, William and Olyve.
  28. William WORTH, baptized 25 February 1642 at St. Andrew's Church, Plymouth, Devonshire Co., England. William came to New England with his older half-brother, Lionel, and his older brother, Richard. William moved to Nantucket where he married 1 April 1665 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA to his first wife, Sarah MACY, b. 1 Aug. 1646 Salisbury, Essex Co., MA, d. 1701 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA, daughter of Thomas Macy and Sarah Hopcott.
  29. John WORTH, b. 19 May 1666 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA, d. 1 Feb. 1731/32 Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Dukes Co., MA; md. 22 September 1684 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA to Miriam GARDNER, b. 14 July 1663 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA, d. 1702 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA
  30. William WORTH, b. 27 Nov. 1694 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA, d. 16 Oct. 1780 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA; md. 24 Oct. 1717 Nantucket Co., MA to Mary BUTLER, b. 1693 Tisbury, Dukes Co., MA, d. 8 Aug. 1756 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA
  31. Hepzibah WORTH, b. 9 September 1726 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA, d. 27 October 1797 New Garden, Guilford Co., NC ; md. 11 August 1750 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA to Jethro MACY, b. 15 February 1727/28 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA, d. 1 September 1776 New Garden, Guilford Co., NC
  32. Jedidah MACY, b. 23 November 1759 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA, d. ca. 1791 Guilford Co., NC; md. 29 November 1780 at New Garden Monthly Meeting, Guilford Co., NC to Joseph SWAIN, generation, b. 5 September 1756 Nantucket Island, Nantucket Co., MA, d. May 1829 Guilford Co., NC (*Note that Jedidah MACY and Joseph SWAIN were 2nd cousins, once removed, through the MACY line)
  33. William W. SWAIN, Sr., b. 8 Oct. 1781 Guilford Co., SC, d. ca. 1871 McNairy Co., TN; md. ca. 1799 in Guilford Co., NC to Rebecca WILLIAMSON, b. Aug. 1782 Guilford Co., NC, d. ca. 1861 McNairy Co., TN
  34. William W. SWAIN, b. 17 May 1800 Guilford Co., NC, d. 21 Oct. 1857 McNairy Co., TN; md. ca. 1821 to Rachel ANDERSON, b. 6 Feb. 1802 TN, d. 30 June 1876 in McNairy Co., TN
  35. Allen Perry SWAIN, b. 22 Feb. 1822 TN, d. aft. 1860 McNairy Co., TN; md. ca. 1845 McNairy Co., TN to Harriett Ann SEWELL, b. 22 Jan. 1829 McNairy Co., TN, d. ca. 1860 McNairy Co., TN
  36. Sarah Elizabeth SWAIN, b. 12 Oct. 1846 McNairy Co., TN, d. 12 May 1934 McNairy Co., TN; md. 17 Sept. 1867 McNairy Co., TN to William Henry PYRON, b. 8 Jan. 1846 McNairy Co., TN, d. 20 Sept. 1909 McNairy Co., TN (both buried at Mars Hill Cemetery, McNairy Co., TN)
  37. Docia Bell PYRON, b. 5 Oct. 1872 McNairy Co., TN, d. 1 Sept. 1944 Lyford, Willacy Co., TX (buried at Combes, TX); md. 28 Oct. 1894 McNairy Co., TN to James David HARRIS, b. 9 Jan. 1871 McNairy Co., TN, d. 22 Sept. 1938 Marlow, Stephens Co., OK (buried at Marlow Cemetery, Marlow, OK)
  38. William Earl HARRIS, b. 8 Aug. 1895 McNairy Co., TN, d. 5 Jan. 1967 Cortez, Montezuma Co., CO; md. 12 Dec. 1915 Parker Co., TX to Orpha Antonia Hazel GARVIN, b. 11 Nov. 1895 Jack Co., TX, d. 21 Dec. 1979 Cortez, Montezuma Co., CO (both buried in the Dove Creek Cemetery, Dove Creek, CO) *These are my grandparents.


If you have queries concerning the WORTH surname, you may post these at the Worth Family Genealogy List which is a part of the Rootsweb e-mail discussion lists. It offers free queries and discussion on the Worth surname and variant spellings.

To subscribe, send an e-mail to:
Leave subject line blank (This will be ignored).
In the body of the message type: subscribe

Then a welcome message will be sent telling how to post messages. Once you are subscribed, you may send a query to everyone on the list by sending e-mail to:

Archived postings to the Worth e-mail list can be found on the WEB at:

When prompted, type in WORTH for the name of the list. A second screen will appear where you can choose a year and type in a search word(s). If you type in WORTH you would probably get all the previous postings to the list. You can also type in a person's name instead or a locality to narrow your search. If you wish to do a search by date, try entering it in quotation marks with the day and then the month as "01 Mar" using single digit dates preceded by a zero and only the first three letters of the month.


There are several Message Boards on Rootsweb which are set up for the WORTH surname. These boards are for posting information in the following categories: BIBLE, BIOGRAPHY, BIRTH, CEMETERY, CENSUS, DEATH, DEED, IMMIGRATION, LOOKUP, MARRIAGE, MILITARY, OBITUARY, PENSION, QUERIES, and WILLS. The search perameters and drop down screen on the main page allow you to do a key word search or to view all postings according to one of the above categories. Click on the icon below to access the Worth Message Boards.

Query Post a query (or information from any one of the above categories) on any WORTH name or related family. Please give dates, and locations they lived. Try to give as much information as possible.

An online genealogy forum for posting queries has also been set up specifically for the WORTH family on GenForum. It can be found at the following address:

***Note***During the Fall of 1998, GenForum combined with Family Tree Maker, which means that all queries and information posted to that site becomes the property of Family Tree Maker. This is still a good site to look up information and get contact names for the WORTH lines you are searching, but be advised that if you now post a new query or a response to something on that site, chances are that sometime in the future Family Tree Maker will include that information on a CD-ROM which they will sell for profit to anyone who is interested. I do not like the idea of someone else using my hard researched information and ideas and selling them for a profit without my knowledge. This same practice is evident on all of the Family Tree Maker pages which are found on the internet, if you will read the disclaimer notices on those pages. I recommend the Family Tree Maker pages as good look up pages, but I don't recommend posting information there. Similar things can be said for and which are connected to each other and seek to make a profit from genealogical materials on the internet.

Some other researchers and web sites concerning the WORTHS and their descendants include:

The Worthy General Worth

Cousin Billy and the Freemason Plot

History of the Village of Worth

Reginald Swain's Family Tree Maker Page maintained by Reginald V "Reggie" Swain. (He lists descendants of Richard Swain, Sr., b. 1595, d. 1682 Nantucket Island, MA and includes some Macy and Worth connections).

Ancestors of William Worth of Nantucket and

The Worth Family's Pagan Ancestry in Normandy and

The Feast in Memory of the Dogs

all maintained by Cece Bibby.

Copyright (c) 1998-2003.

Last updated August 27, 2003.

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