Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   
 
Wortham

All that follows is from:
Family Tree Maker, World Family Tree® by Broderbund, Vol 2, CD #6670220

FOR THE RECORD

The  following  is  a verbatim copy of the text compiled jointly by Phd. Thomas Wortham of Jacksonville, Arkansas and Tom Wortham genealogist, of  Madisonville, Kentucky.  The original  version  included  group  sheets (now  updated  from  the records of several Wortham genealogists) which can be printed from this computer program, and a detailed  map  of  the early  American  colonies. References to the group sheets and maps have been deleted from the text. Discrepancies or notations will be enclosed in  brackets  [to  save research time later].  Some abbreviations have been expanded to their full wording.

This work is in a newsletter format, is undated but is said by Phd Thomas Wortham as having been compiled in the early 1990's. 
-=Ron Wortham=-

GENERAL WORTHAM HISTORY

The earliest known record of a Wortham in America is found in an entry of the Court  Records  in  Northampton County, Virginia, dated Jan 3, 1642/43, in which property  is  granted  to  Captain  Francis  Yeardley  as   payment   for   the transportation  of  58  [53/57]  individuals  to the New World.  On the list of these early settlers is found one John  Wortham. The country of John's origin is not known ["The Wortham Connection" verifies England] although England is strongly suspected, since Yeardley and his  father George,  former  Governor  of the Virgina Colony were both English.  To further support that theory is the fact that there existed at that time, both a Wortham Parish and a hamlet known as Wortham; both located in southeastern England.  Despite  several  sound  theories,  the exact  location  where  these early adventurers  may  have come ashore is  likewise unknown.   A noted Virginia researcher has suggested that the point of entry may have been Yorktown or even Jamestown, as these were two of the more prominent villages along the  Virginia coast.  The  17th  century  colony was experiencing a socio-economical order referred to as the Plantation  Society.   Many wealthy Planters owned  large amounts of  land which lay along the Tidewater area's large, navigable rivers. These propitious farmers would add to their estate holdings by paying  for  the transportation of persons from England to "the Virginia Plantations." For each person so transported, the payer would  receive 50 acres of  land.   This Headright  System,  as it was called served to facilitate the populating of the Colony and allowed the generosity of those already in America to be rewarded. 

Because the shipping of goods and people was so vital to their existence, these large landowners built their plantations (houses) near the banks of the rivers. Their  cargoes  were  simply  unloaded at a convenient point on their property. Consequently, it is possible that John Wortham first set foot on Virginia  soil at  a  landing  site  on  Yeardley's  property  in  Northampton County near the Hungar's Creek area. Currently,  nothing  more  is  known  of  John's  activities  in  the   years immediately following his arrival in America.  The next entry concerning a John Wortham  is found in Patent book 4, 1655-1664, under the date of March 5, 1658, in which 400 acres of land were patented by  John Wortham  in  what  was  then Lancaster  County  (now located in Middlesex County) "on the Piankatank side of the main road just below the cut-off to the Dragon Run Crossing." This  is  the same  property which  is still  owned by  descendants  of John Wortham some 330 years later.  Through  Church  and  Court Records, there exists well documented and defined genealogies of the succeeding 100 years of Worthams in Virginia.  Unfortunately it is not  documented  as  to  whether  the  John  Wortham  who patented  land in 1658 is the same John Wortham who was transported to Virginia in 1642. 

At this point, we have two possibilities to consider; (1) that both of  these references  pertain  to  the  same  John  Wortham  or (2) they are not the same person, but in fact, father and son.  There are several arguments which support both points of view.  For  simplicity's  sake,  John  who  was  transported  to Virginia  will  be  referred  to as John, 1642; while John who patented land in 1658 will be John, 1658. Another area of uncertainty is the marriage(s) of John Wortham.  There was no mention  of any other Worthams brought over in 1642 by Yeardley.  If John, 1642 did marry soon after landing in the new world,  it  is  quite  likely  that  he chose  a  wife  from the immediate geographical area.  Transportation to other populated areas along the  coast  was  extremely  difficult.   [NOTE:  In  1619 almost  20  years  earlier,  a  shipload  of  young  women seeking husbands had arrived. Also, a Dutch ship (the first of  many)  carrying  50  captured  black African slaves arrived at almost the same time]. The wife of John 1658, did not give birth to their first child until 1663. Itis  logical  to assume that John, 1658 did not marry Mary, his first wife until 1661/62. 

FIRST GENERATION

Because of the continual re-organization of County lines, it is impossible to say  where  he was married.  Very early church records are incomplete for those hastily organized Parishes.  This is due in some part  to  the  fact  that  one minister would serve an entire County, and that County territories would extend from  their  eastern-most  boundary  westward for great distances.  People were often  times  "officially"  married  when  the  minister  came  through   their particular  area of the County.  Regardless of this lack of precise information regarding the beginnings of married life for John, we do know from "The  Parish 
Register  of  Christ  Church,  Middlesex County, Virginia - 1653 to 1812," that his first wife was named Mary.  Unfortunately, these  ancient  records  do  not include  her  maiden  name.   Their first child, Sarah was born in 1663.  There followed a succession of 5 more children , one of  whom  was  George,  born  in 1673.   Only  a  short  time  later in 1676, three of their four children died, presumably from childhood related diseases.  George was the only male child  of John  Wortham  who  would  survive  to  adulthood.   The  exact fate of Mary is unknown, but since divorce was non-existant in seventeenth-century Virginia, we can most assuredly presume that she died early in the year 1684. 

Sometime prior to 1685, John married  an  Elizabeth;  again  the  surname  is unknown.   They  had two children, Oswald and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth the mother, died in 1687, the year following the birth of her  child  Elizabeth.   Colonial life  in  a hostile environment was a struggle; therefore, having a wife was an absolute necessity, especially if  there  were  young  children  present.  John married  for  a  third  and final time to Mrs. Jane SHACKLEFORD, widow of Roger SHACKLEFORD of neighboring Gloucester County.  No further children were born to John Wortham

In Colonial Virginia, there was a definite progression through the  ranks  of public  service  among  those  who  chose  these areas of endeavor.  A person's appointment to these positions of  trust  was  determined  not  only  by  their ability to capably perform the duties, but in a large part by their wealth. And in  those  days,  a mon's wealth was judged by his land holdings.  According to accepted histories of the  Chesapeake  Bay  area,  John  Wortham's  possessions placed  him  that  segment  of  society  referred  to  as the "Country Oriented Gentry." This social rank was just below the highest level of Virginia society. 
John served, in order, as a juror, a land appraiser, and a constable,  before being  selected  for  the Church Vestry and ultimately serving in the Middlesex County Court as a Gentleman Justice. 

Prior to the separation of Church and State, which was brought about by the ratification  of  the  United States Constitution, the Church was the governing body of each Virginia County.   John was a member of the Church of England, which evolved into today's Episcopal Church in Middlesex County. 
[NOTE: The King James -then the reigning King  of England-  version  of the Bible was not even published until 1611]. 
An entry in the Christ Church Vestry Book, dated November 7, 1671, ordered that
"John Wortham continue as Reader at the Great Church the Ensuing  year and be paid as formerly." 

In 1672, he was selected to serve on the Vestry of Christ Church.  The Vestry was a group of individuals within the Parish who established policies and  drew up  regulations  not only for the church itself, but for the secular activities as well. 

In 1684, John was appointed as Justice for the County and  likewise  in  that same year he was selected as the Church Warden. 
An  entry  on  page  39  of  the Parish Register indicates - "Mr John Wortham departed this Life the 8th of June 1692." His will which is one of  the  oldest on  record  in  Middlesex County, mentions as his children, only George by then age 19, Oswald and Elizabeth. Elizabeth, born in 1686,  is  believed  to  have married Richard Daniell before 1703 there in Middlesex County.  Nothing more is known of Oswald. 

George was appointed executor of his father's estate, according to the  will.  The dispensation   of  the  estate  apparently  was  cause  for  some  heated disagreement between George and his step-mother Jane.  She brought suit against George in an effort to lay claim to  John's  sizeable  estate  which  consisted primarily  of  land.   Suits  and  counter-suits  between  the two prevailed in Middlesex County Courts until April 3, 1693, at  which  time  both  cases  were dismissed.   One  can  only  suppose  that  there had finally been some type of settlement between George and Jane SHACKLEFORD Wortham.  Nothing more is 
found in  Middlesex County concerning Jane, but in the 1704 Quit Rent Rolls there was  a Jane "Wothan" listed in the Petso Parish of  adjacent  Gloucester  County  as owning 60 acres of land. 

SECOND GENERATION

The  second generation of Worthams in America began with only George to carry on the family name.  Immediately after his father's death, George following  in family  footsteps,  plunged  into  the arena of public service. In 1693, he was selected to serve as a member of the Petit Jury, and one  year  later,  he  was serving as an Estate Appraiser.  On November 11, 1695, George leased "one good stong house in the County which formerly  belonged  to  the  late John Wortham... to the County to be used as a Court House." A small building to be used as a prison along with  40  adjoining acres were to be used by Middlesex County for a period of ten years.  George then built himself a new house which boasted six rooms with a separate kitchen.   This  home  was  constructed  on  a  slight  rise  near his father's homeplace which was then serving as the County Court House. Over a period of the next six years, George continued  to  serve  in  various sectors  of  the  County  government  as:  constable, jury foreman, surveyor of highways, County Justice and finally, Sheriff. 

By  May  of  1704,  George  was  listed  in  the Court Records as "one of her Majestys Justices for County Middlesex." It was in  these  same  dated  records that  he  was first referred to as Captain George Wortham. This is obviously in regard to his rank obtained as a member of the Middlesex County Militia.  On May 3, 1708, George was bound "unto our Sovereign Lady Queen Anne  in  the sum of 1000 pounds Sterling... and appointed Sheriff." During the first week of  December of each year, the Sheriff was to collect public and County levy, duely pay  and  deliver  all  levys unto respective County Creditors.  In addition to 
collecting taxes, the Sheriff was to determine the  quantity  of  land  in  the County and return a perfect Rent Role of the same. 

In  the  December meeting of the Vestry of Christ Church, George was sworn in as a member of this prestigious group, a position which  he  faithfully  served  for  the  next  twenty-three  years.   In 1711, he was ordered to be the Church Warden of the Middle Precinct. 

We have a similar dilemma involving George's' marriages, as we did concerning  those of his father.  We currently do not know the surnames of his  two  wives,  nor  do  we know the dates of his marriages.  We can only assume that George's' marriages took place in Middlesex County since he owned land and lived there.  From the Christ Church Parish Register, we do know that George's  first  wife was  named  Sarah  and that they had a child, Robert who was born on October 4, 1694.  Again clouds of  uncertainty  hide  the  facts  that  would  reveal  the complete  history  concerning George's wives.  The same Register indicates that on February 5, 1699, a son George was born to George and Mary Wortham.  Exactly what happened to Sarah Wortham  is  unknown  but  George  is  now  married  to Mary...surname unknown. 

[Interestingly,  "The Wortham Connection",  published  after  this dissertation notes that George was suspected of murdering a Benjamin DAVID on  July 7, 1715.   Check the book on page 594 for that and more items of interest.] George  Sr.  was  61  years old when he died on April 5, 1734.  His death was possibly sudden and unexpected, for he left no will to shed any  light  on  his 
land holdings and how they were to be dispersed.  Three  of his sons decided to seek their fortune outside of Middlesex County.  From the amount of current research available, it is believed  that  all  three left at some point after their father's death. 

Without  a  will, it is uncertain which son inherited George's land. However, it was a common practice in England for the eldest son to  fall  heir  to  this portion  of  the  father's  estate.  Since the colony was still operating under British rule with people of predominantly English descent, we can  assume  that George  Jr.   did  in fact come to own the Middlesex plantation overlooking the Dragon Run which once belonged to his father.

History tells us that by the first quarter of the 18th Century,  farmers  who had been tilling the Virginia soil for well over one hundred years had severely depleted it of its ability to provide abundant crops as once was possible. By the mid 1700's there were roads which would facilitate  travel  away  from the  Eastern  Coastal regions of the state.  Because travel over the Blue Ridge Mountains was very limited and difficult, most of the early Virginia roads  ran North and South.  The migration patterns of the various branches of the Wortham family almost exclusively followed the direction of these accessible avenues of 
movement.  Regardless  of the precise reason, it was in the third generation of Worthams that a migration away from the Chesapeake Coastal region and Middlesex County, had begun. 

THIRD GENERATION

No further information regarding Capt.  George Wortham's firstborn son Robert is available, beyond a statement of his mother's name and his date of birth.  Captain George or George Sr.'s second child was George, Jr.  whose  wife  was Anne.   Again,  lack of data precludes us from knowing anything more about her.   For as much as we know about  his  grandfather  and  father,  we  are  woefully deficient  in  material  on George Jr.  other than the basic information on his children and what happened to them.  From the lack of entries in the  Middlesex  County Court Records and Church Records, we can only assume that he chose, very 
emphatically, not to pursue a career of public service similar to that of John and George Sr.  He was born, lived and died in Middlesex County,  quite  unlike three of his other brothers. 

Five  of  George  Jr.'s  eight  children  died at young ages.  But unlike the children of John and Captain George before them who died primarily in  infancy, these fourth generation children were living 8 to 13 years before succumbing to disease and death. In his will recorded in Middlesex County Courthouse, by then located  in Urbana, George, Jr.  age 53, mentioned his three living children, Thomas, George, and Ann,  plus  his  brother  John,  the  only  living  sibling remaining in Middlesex County. 

Thomas  and George  both  left  Middlesex  County traveling  some 200 miles westward to Amherst County, Virginia before eventually settling in Georgia.  The majority of Worthams who have lived and are living today in Georgia have  their 
ancestors in these two lines. 

Ann remained in Middlesex County and married her first cousin Samuel Wortham.  Their only son, Charles was brought to Kentucky by his guardian sometime around 1784 - 1786. From this Charles, sprang the Kentucky branch of the Worthams
George  Sr.'s  third child, Sarah (1701-1720) was married on November 1, 1716 to John FEARN in Middlesex County.  A detailed genealogical  biography  can  be found  on  this  family  in  a publication entitled "The FEARNS of Virginia" by Elizabeth C. FERNEYHOUGH

John  Wortham  (1703-1757)  was  George  Sr.'s  fourth child.  He married, in Middlesex County on November 2, 1732, Mrs. Judith Machen STEWART, the widow  of Hugh  Stewart.  Judith was the daughter of Thomas and Mary CHELTON MACHEN
John  and Judith also lived out their entire lives within the confines  of  Middlesex County.   As with George Jr., there is limited information to provide us insight concerning  the  life  of  John Wortham.  Once again, we have to assume that he  quietly spent his days farming.  He and Judith had  twelve  children,  of  whom only  four  are on record as having been married.  As far as can be ascertained they all remained in Middlesex County.  their son Samuel married his cousin Ann and resided in Middlesex.  Samuel died when his  only  son  Charles  was  three years  of  age.  Charles along with his younger sister were brought to Kentucky prior to it becoming a state in 1792. 

William (1707-1744) the sixth child of George Sr., was the first  Wortham  of  whom  we  have  factual  information indicating he moved from and lived outside Middlesex County.  He left home, but only went as far as adjacent Essex County, the only County which shares a land boundary with Middlesex.   William  married Miss Margaret Rutherford, daughter of John and Mary RUTHERFORD of Essex County.   They  had four children; three girls and one son, John who in turn had only one child - a girl named Rose. Hence the Wortham surname ended on  that  particular branch  of  the family.  We know that William died in Essex County, but we are not exactly sure where John died even though he was indeed a  resident  of  the County. 

Samuel  Wortham  (1709-1774) George Sr.'s seventh child, was the first of his sons to remove a significant distance from Middlesex County.  He and  his  wife Margaret  -  again surname unknown, lived in Caroline County, Virginia which is 
located about 65 miles Northwest of Middlesex.  Their journey could  have  been accomplished  either by road or by traveling up-river on the Rappahannock.  The earliest record of Samuel in Caroline County is on March 9, 1749 at which  time he was serving as an Estate Appraiser.  From 1753 to 1759, he was Sr. Warden at St.  Margaret's Parish Church, and on May 10, 1759, he was sworn in as a member of the Vestry for that Parish. Also in 1759 he was appointed as Overseer of the County Road.  During the period from 1760 to 1771, Samuel was named as executor of  several Caroline County wills.  Samuel and Margaret gave the name of "Chalk Level" to the plantation on which they lived and raised their  eight  children.   Their  youngest  son, Charles,  inherited  this family land, resided there and raised a large family of his own.  His descendants account for many Worthams in and around the Richmond vicinity through the years. 

Charles  Wortham  (1711-1743) , the eight child, chose to remain in Middlesex  County, where he married Ann HIPKINS / HYPKINS / HIPKINGS. Apparently the  spelling of  her  surname  caused  considerable  confusion among the County Court 
Clerks  there.  Charles died relatively early and left no children named in his will. James  Wortham  (1716-1770)  the  last  child  of Captain George Wortham also migrated from Middlesex County, but opted for  a  southern  route.   He  is  on  record  as having owned property in Prince George's County, Virginia, but lived the majority of his life, and died  in  Brunswick  County,  Virginia  which  is located  on the Virginia-North Carolina border.  He also owned sizeable amounts of land in North Carolina, so it is not surprising that his  children  took  up their  livelihoods in that state.  Two of his sons, William and Edward had many
descendants, some of whom remained in North Carolina, but the majority migrated further west into Tennessee, and eventually into Missouri, Arkansas, Texas  and Oklahoma. 

THIS HISTORY COMPLIMENTS OF:

Dr. Thomas Wortham, Phd.
Jacksonville, Arkansas
Tom Wortham, genealogist
Madisonville, Kentucky

-=Ron Wortham=- 
Our first known immigrant arriving with BROTHERS James and Charles.  Following "The Wortham Connection", they are first COUSINS of John and the sons of slave and captive, William Henry.  Some genealogists report that John too, was his 
son.  If that were true Bill Wortham notes indicate,  William Henry would have been 51 at the time of John's birth.  "The Wortham Connection", Page 89. 

TIMELINE: 1636 - Harvard College is founded in Boston. 

To Jefferson Page
To my Surname Page
To Home Page