Worstalls Elsewhere II

Came across this:

Surname: Worstall

This very unusual surname is of Olde English pre 7th century origins. It derives from twin hamlets in the far north of Yorkshire near Yarm, now known as High and Low Worsall. These places were first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of the year 1086 as \’Wercesel\’, the translation being \’Weorcs Hall\’. \’Weorc\’ was a personal name which occurred as the prefix of several northern sites, suggesting that it may have been tribal. The spelling changed to \’Wirkeshall in the year 1255, during the reign of Henry 11, the modern spelling being 16th century. Locational surnames were usually given to people who moved to other places, as an easy identification. As people only moved when they were forced to by economic circumstances, the spelling was often corrupted. In this case the recorded forms include Worsall, Worsell, Worshall, and Warstall, the latter being seemingly found only in County Durham.

Not sure about this: our family story is that "a worstall" was a barn builder, an occupational name like Smith, Miller or Thatcher. But then such family stories are rather like urban myths: only very occasionally true.

The above explanation does fit though, given the Yorkshire origins of that part of the lineage that the name comes from.

As for the "very unusual", yes, it is, very. With this specific spelling there\’s perhaps a few hundred in the US: in the UK precisely four (or at least, as far as I know that\’s so). The parentals and then, when we\’re in country at least, my brother and myself. And that\’s it.

8 comments on “Worstalls Elsewhere II

  1. I knew a man who worked for the railway in oxford with the name.

    Tim adds: I know that there used to be others with the name: but they all seem to have had daughters.

  2. Tim,

    Two points –

    1. There may be a grain of truth in the family legend. ‘Pinder’, for example, is another trade-based name whose origins aren’t as well known as Smith or Fletcher.

    2. Sooooo……you’re a Northerner! Hah! Knew it!

    Tim adds: Well, father was born in Yorkshire (I think so, anyway) grandfather definitely was and great g was I think the Head Printer on the Yorkshire Post. So working class and a Northener: do I have to get a whippet now?

  3. I have an old photo of my great grandpa building a barn, a really big barn. His surname: Worstell. His family connected to Worstalls early Bucks Co. PA

  4. Tim,
    I do Worstall/Worstell geneaology. I can trace my line of Worstall/Worstell to about 1750 Bucks Co.PA. My goal is to be able to trace this line back to Yorkshire. I wanted to forward the following about a notable Worstall. From Davis’ History of Bucks County:

    Joseph Worstall, son of John and Mary (Higgs) Worstall, was born in Middletown, I mo. 13. 1750, and married, in 1778, Susanna Hibbs, daughter of William and Anna (Carter) Hibbs of Middletown. In 1774 he purchased of General Francis Murray a tract of land on Penn street, in Newtown, part of the old court house grounds, and erected thereon a tannery which he operated ?for fifty-five years. He subsequently purchased considerable other land adjoining, and erected houses and other buildings and carried on an extensive business. In addition to the tanning business he carried on the manufacture of shoes on a large scale, and employed a number of workmen. He also ground and shipped an immense amount of bark. The bark after being cured and ground was packed in hogsheads and hauled to the Delaware, where it was loaded on the Durham boats then plying on the Delaware, and carried to Philadelphia, where it was shipped to France and other parts of the old world. It is related that George Washington, while he had his headquarters at Newtown, had a pair of boots made at the shops of Mr. Worstall. from leather tanned on the premises, which he wore during the revolutionary war. Mr. Worstall also owned about fifty acres of land adjoining his business place on the south, and carried on farming in connection with his other business enterprises, in which he was assisted by his sons Joseph and James. The successful business career of the family was suddenly wrecked in February, 1829. when his large currying shops, bark mill house, wagon house, barns and an immense amount of bark, implements and farm produce were consumed by fire. There was no insurance on the property, and Mr. Worstall was financially ruined, and in his old age saw the savings of a life-time of industry and business activity swept away in a single night. He sacrificed the greater part of. his real estate for the payment of his debts, retaining the tannery and his residence and some of his other houses. Being unable to carry on the tannery, however, with his limited means, he sold that also in 1831, and it remained out of the family until 1842, when it was purchased and remodeled by his grandson Edward H. Worstall. Joseph Worstall. Sr., died 1 mo. 13. 1841, at the age of ninety-one years, having lived a long life of extraordinary business activity. His children were:

    1. Elizabeth, born 9 mo. 3. 1779, married in 1807, James Sleeper.

    2. Sarah, born 6 mo. I. 1781. married in 1803 Edward Hicks, the eminent minister among Friends.

    3. Joseph, born 2 mo. 8. 1783. see forward.
    ……………………………………………………………..

    I recall to mind the famous picture of “Washington crossing the Delaware” standing in the front of a boat with one boot up on the bow. If you google this picture it is iconic. He left his headquarters in Newtown and crossed the Delaware a few miles to the east to get at the Brittish in Trenton. It was the American’s first victory in the War.
    There is a possibility that Washington’s army used some of Worstall’s Durham boats in his famous crossing.
    On the other hand, the Worstalls were Quakers. Joseph Worstall was a non-associator which meant that he did not participate in the War. It was against Quaker beliefs. Non Associators were fined heavily for not supporting the war effort.
    If you will note, the second daughter,Sarah, married Edward Hicks. Edward Hicks is a quaker icon. You will not find a better single representation of Quaker belief than in his painting of” The Peaceable Kingdom.”

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