All that follows is from:
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.
work is in a newsletter format, is undated but is said by Phd Thomas Wortham
as having been compiled in the early 1990's.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
John was appointed as Justice for the County and likewise
in that same year he was selected as the Church Warden.
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
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.
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
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.
"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
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.
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
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
THIS HISTORY COMPLIMENTS OF:
Thomas Wortham, Phd.
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