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Peter Worden I

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Peter Worden I aka Werden, Warden, Worthen
Born about in Clayton, Lancashire, Englandmap
Husband of — married about in Englandmap
Died before in Yarmouth, Barnstable, Massachusettsmap
This page has been accessed 2,431 times.

Categories: Gateway Ancestors | Puritan Great Migration | Magna Carta.

The Puritan Great Migration.
This person migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
If you are interested in this profile,
please check out the Puritan Great Migration Project!
Wikimedia image This person is a descendant of a Magna Carta surety baron.
If you are interested in this profile,
please check out the Magna Carta Project!



Peter Worden "came from Clayton, Lancaster Co., England, where he owned an estate."[1] He was an early settler in Plymouth Colony, settling at Yarmouth, and through his son, Peter, is the progenitor of many Wordens (and variations of the name) throughout the United States today.

Peter Worden is a recognized Gateway Ancestor, with a well-documented pedigree descending from the Emperor Charlemagne and at least one Magna Carta Surety Baron, Robert de Ros. An unproven line, accepted by some but not all genealogists, extends back to five additional Magna Carta Barons and to Plantagenet royalty. (See Noble and royal ancestry for details.)

Early life in Lancashire, England

Peter Worden's birth and baptism are not recorded, but it is assumed he was born at the family manor in Clayton (now Clayton-le-Woods), the third son of Robert and Isabel (Worthington) Worden. Bolton estimates Peter's birth around 1576.[2]

Peter's Worden ancestors had been entered in the Preston Guild Rolls as outburgesses or foreign burgesses starting in 1542, meaning that they held status in Preston but made their residence elsewhere: i.e., nearby Clayton. In this period in England, burgesses were equivalent to freemen: "those who were entitled to practice a trade within the town and to participate in electing members of the town's ruling council". Peter and his brothers appear in the Preston Guild Rolls in 1582 (as teenagers, having inherited their father's status upon his death in 1580) and 1602, and Peter in his own right in 1622.[3][2]

Between 1609 and 1613 "Peter Werden, gent." , appeared as a juror at nine inquisitions. Though the style of gentleman (at that time, signifying the lowest rank of English nobility) was often granted to jurors solely as a courtesy, Peter was similarly styled in a land transaction in 1616, indicating that he indeed held this status.[4] He was elected to the Town Council of the Borough of Preston some time before 1610.[5]

A Preston rental record dated 1670 shows that Peter, in October 1617, leased a shop and a "standing" (a market stall) in the Moothall in Preston, and even gives the precise location: "on the east side of the moothall next adjoyning to the staires at the north end of the hall with a standing at the south end of the hall".[6]

From about 1628 until 1634 Peter held the office of County Aulnager (or Alnager), "an officer in a port or market town responsible for ensuring that all cloth sold was woven in the correct length and width laid down by statute." For this reason, and because Peter's near relatives included many "mercers" and "drapers", Peter likely traded in textiles. As early as 1631, Peter is also recorded in transactions involving purchase and sale of large quantities of wine.[7]

Peter and his family may have made their home in Preston for a time, as he is occasionally referenced as "of Preston." Anthony Wall, the first husband of Peter's wife Margaret, owned an estate there which may have passed to her and the Wall children upon his death; also, Peter's daughter Bridget was buried in Preston in 1625. In late 1630, plague struck Preston and ravaged the town for nearly a year, killing 1,069 residents out of a population of just 3,000. No relatives of Peter's are known to have succumbed to plague; however, this period coincides with a decline in records showing Peter Worden in Preston, and is followed by records showing him resident in his hometown of Clayton, indicating that he may have relocated during this time.[8]

By 1634, a Chancery bill of complaint relating to Peter's tenure as aulnager names him "Peter Worden of Clayton, gent." Another case in 1636 directly describes a "messuage and dwelling house in Clayton" where Peter "now laieth and inhabiteth".[9] This case, recorded in March 1636, is the last known record of Peter Worden in England.

Marriage and family

Peter Worden married Margaret (Grice) Wall, daughter of Thomas and Alice ( ) Grice and widow of Anthony Wall, between February 1603/4 (when Margaret is recorded as still a widow) and March 1604/5 (when Peter and Margaret are named together in a lease) in Lancashire. She brought to the marriage at least five Wall step-children: William, Thomas, John, Alice, and Mary. Neither of Margaret's marriage records has been found, but the name of Margaret's former husband is known by a Palatine Chancery Court action dated 1607,[10] and her parentage is known from the Visitation of Lancashire in 1664, when her Wall grandson registered his family pedigree.[11]

No birth or baptism records have been found for their three known children, Elizabeth, Bridget, and Peter, but all were living by about 1609.[12]

Margaret died in 1612, and Elizabeth and Bridget also died in England prior to the Peters' emigration.[8]

Disproven marriage

"Ann Ffaingten" is sometimes reported online and in GEDCOMs as a wife of Peter. There is no evidence that she existed at all: her name is most likely a corruption of Ann (Farrington) Worden, Peter's great-grandmother and the wife of Roger Worden.

Disproven daughters

Anne (Werden) Jenkinson Fleetwood was erroneously reported in the Fleetwood pedigree in the Visitation of Lancashire 1664/5 to have been the daughter of "Peter Werden of Preston." She was in fact the daughter of James Werden, mercer, of Preston, but may have been a ward of Peter Worden at the time of the Visitation. The families of Peter and James appear to have had some relationship, but its precise nature is not known.[13]

Though often repeated, there has never been any evidence supporting Ellen ( ) Newton Adams Winslow as a daughter of Peter Worden.

Emigration to New England

Peter Worden and his son, Peter, the last known surviving members of their immediate family, are last seen in England in early 1636, and are next recorded in New England in 1639. The route they traveled, and the ship on which they arrived, are not known. Family tradition states that they originally arrived at Lynn, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but if so, they left no trace in the records there.[14]

The large migration of Protestant religious dissenters came primarily from counties in the south and east of England, while Peter Worden's origins lie in Lancashire, in the northwest, and he had no known affiliations with any religious separatists. Years earlier, Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford referred to such unaffiliated emigrants as having come "on their perticuler," meaning for their own personal reasons; Peter Worden's specific motivation remains a mystery.[15]

The first record of the Wordens' arrival is found in Yarmouth, on Cape Cod in the Plymouth Colony: the elder Peter is probably the "old Worden" mentioned in a list of Yarmouth inhabitants on 7 January 1638/9.[16] He is named along with three others as "persons there excepted against," apparently meaning that they had settled without the authority of the Colony.[17] "At the extreme easterly part of the town Peter Warden, the elder and the younger, had established themselves, in spite of the opposition of some of their associates, and here the former died the first year of the settlement."[18]

Death and burial

Peter Worden "was here early in 1639 and died that year, probably the first white man who died in town."[1] In his will, dated 9 February 1638/9, he describes himself "being very sick;" the will was proved less than a month later, on 5 March.[19]

The Worden Cemetery, overlooking Cape Cod Bay, is located on the south side of Route 6A in the town of Dennis near the border with Brewster. Directly across Route 6A, in a pasture, is a small foundation said to be from the house of the elder Peter Worden. The barn in the pasture is said to be built on the original foundation of the house of his son, Peter Worden. Both Peter the elder and his son are believed buried there. [citation needed]


Peter Worden's will, dated 9 February 1638/9, was probated on 5 March 1638/9. It is the first will printed in the Plymouth Court Records.[20] A "true copy" (handwritten reproduction) of the will remains in the Barnstable Probate Court; the original does not survive.[21]

In his will Peter Worden left most of his real and personal property in both England and America to his son, Peter Worden, and provided for his grandson, John Lewis.

The last will and testament of Peter Worden of Yarmouth ye elder deceased proved at ye genrall court held at Plymouth ye fift Day of March in ye xiiijth year of ye Reigne of our Soverigne Lord Charles King of England &c 1638 by ye oathes of Mr. Nicholas Sympkins, Hugh Tillie & Giles Hopkins as followeth viz.:

Be it knowne unto all men to whom this doth or may concern That I Peter Worden of Yarmouth in New England in Plymouth Patten being very sick in this yeare of our Lord 1638 and on ye ninth day of Ffebruary do 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 and Giles Hopkins I do make him my whole Executor to whom I doe give all my lands Leases & Tennements with goods movable and unmovable 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 bolster three blankets also my sonne is to have the tuition of my grandchild untill he be at ye age of one and twenty yeares of age also my will is he shall fynd him with meate drinke and cloathes and at ye three last years of ye xxjth yeare also to have fourty shillings ye yeare after & above for to add to his stock with the sow pigg when the sow piggs.

In witnesse we present set our hands
Nicholas Simpkins
Hugh Tilly { H } marke
Giles Hopkins

Peter { his seale } Werden

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 [20][22]

For many years, researchers puzzled over the identity of "John Lewis" and the seemingly-unnamed grandson who received bequests in Peter Worden's will. George Bolton proved in 1992 that John Lewis was Peter Worden's grandson by Peter's daughter Elizabeth, and the references in the will are all to the same young man.[23]

Noble and royal ancestry

Peter Worden is descended from Magna Carta Surety Baron Robert de Ros,[19][24] and through Robert's wife, Isabel of Scotland, is also a descendant of Charlemagne. Proven descent from Peter Worden is accepted as a qualification for membership in the Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the USA, through at least one proven lineage:

In addition to the accepted de Ros lineage, Peter Worden may also be descended from John de Mowbray through his possible daughter, Christian (de Mowbray) de Plumpton, as proposed in an article by Douglas Hickling in 2005,[27] but this relationship is not proven or universally accepted, largely because multiple men and families by that name were living in her era. Richardson, writing in 2013, states that "in the absence of additional evidence, it has been impossible place [sic] Christian with any certainty among the various branches of the Mowbray family then in England and Scotland."[28]

If proved, John de Mowbray would extend Peter Worden's ancestry by five Magna Carta Surety Barons (Richard de Clare, Gilbert de Clare, Saher de Quincy, John de Lacy, and William de Mowbray) and the Plantagenet dynasty.


Several Worden lines have been proven through the use of DNA testing. See: Worden DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA


  1. 1.0 1.1 Swift, History of Old Yarmouth, p. 64.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bolton, "The Life and Times of Peter I", p. 885.
  3. Rolls of Burgesses, pp. 42, 57, 87.
  4. Bolton, "Worden Origins (conclusion)", p. 390.
  5. Bolton, "Worden Origins (conclusion)", p. 397.
  6. Bolton, "Another Worden Fragment", p. 673.
  7. Bolton, "The Life and Times of Peter I", p. 886-7.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Bolton, "The Life and Times of Peter I", p. 886-8.
  9. Bolton, "The Life and Times of Peter I", p. 888.
  10. Records of the Palatinate of Lancaster: Chancery Court: Pleadings, Bills: PL 6/1/37, abstract online at [1]
  11. Bolton, "Peter Worden's Wife", pp. 834-5.
  12. Bolton, "The Life and Times of Peter I", p. 886.
  13. Bolton, "Worden Origins (conclusion)", p. 395-6.
  14. Bolton, "They Came on Their Perticuler", p. 768.
  15. Bolton, "They Came on Their Perticuler", p. 767.
  16. Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. I:109
  17. Worden, A Weir in the Valley, p. 5.
  18. Swift, History of Old Yarmouth, p. 24.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Richardson, Royal Ancestry, p. 397.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Plymouth Colony Records, Wills, Volume I, Part 1, p. 33.
  21. Bolton, "Worden Origins (conclusion)", p. 392-4.
  22. Worden, A Weir in the Valley, pp. 31 [photocopy], 33 [transcript].
  23. Bolton, "Peter Worden's Grandchildren", pp. 858-64.
  24. Schuerman, "Peter Worden's Magna Carta Surety Ancestors", p. 2197.
  25. Richardson, Royal Ancestry, pp. 178-9, 387-9, 396-7, 444-5, 487-90.
  26. Crocker, "Charlemagne Lineage Claim", p. 2033-8.
  27. Hickling, "Christiana de Plumpton"
  28. Richardson, Royal Ancestry, p. 388.
  • Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Ed. Kimball G. Everingham. 2nd ed. Vol. V. Salt Lake City: Douglas Richardson, 2013. pp. 396-7.
  • Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, New Greatly Expanded 2011 Edition. Ed. Kimball G. Everingham. 2nd ed. Vol. IV. Salt Lake City: Douglas Richardson, 2011. p. 369.
  • Roberts, Gary Boyd. The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States: Who Were Themselves Notable or Left Descendants Notable in American History: with a 2008 Addendum, Coda, and Final Addition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2010. pp. 416-21.
  • Bolton, George L. Worden Origins. Decorah, IA: Anundsen Publishing Co., 1997. A compilation of Bolton's articles from Wordens Past.
  • Schuerman, John. "Peter Worden's Magna Carta Surety Ancestors." Wordens Past, Vol. XXVII, No. 2. Worden Family Association, August 2006 (subscription required). pp. 2192-7.
  • Hickling, Douglas. "Which John de Mowbray was the Brother of Christiana de Plumpton?" 2005. Republished at Some Notes on Medieval English Genealogy (free).
  • Crocker, Tracy Ashley. "Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in the United States of America: Lineage Claim." Wordens Past, Vol. XXV, No. 2. Worden Family Association, August 2004 (subscription required).
  • Worden, Waite W. Worden: 'A Weir in the Valley': Its origin as the name of a place, a hamlet, an English manor, and a SURNAME, including a line of descent from WILLIAM WORDEN ante 1514-1574 of the Manor of Clayton, County of Lancashire, England. East Burke, Vt.: Privately published, 1992. Digital image at (free).
  • Bolton, George L. "More Worden Origins, Part IV: The Life and Times of Peter Worden I." Wordens Past, Vol. XIII, No. 3. Worden Family Association, November 1992 (subscription required). The print and PDF copy of this issue is mis-labeled as "No. 2"; 3 is correct.
  • Bolton, George L. "More Worden Origins, Part III: Peter Worden's Grandchildren." Wordens Past, Vol. XIII, No. 2. Worden Family Association, August 1992 (subscription required).
  • Bolton, George L. "More Worden Origins, Part I: Peter Worden I's Wife." Wordens Past, Vol. XIII, No. 1. Worden Family Association, November 1992 (subscription required).
  • Bolton, George L. "They Came on Their Perticuler." Wordens Past, Vol. 12 Issue 2. Worden Family Association, August 1991 (subscription required).
  • Bolton, George L. "Another Worden Fragment." Wordens Past, Vol. XI, No. 2. Worden Family Association, August 1990 (subscription required).
  • Bolton, George L. "Worden Origins (conclusion)." Wordens Past, Vol. VII, No. 2. Worden Family Association, October 1987 (subscription required).
  • Ancestry and descendents of elder Peter Worden of Cheshire, Mass. N.p.: n.p., 1900. Digital image at (subscription required).
  • Swift, Charles Francis. History of Old Yarmouth Comprising the Present Towns of Yarmouth and Dennis: from the Settlement to the Division in 1794, with the History of Both Towns to These Times. Yarmouth Port, Mass.: Published by the Author, 1884. Digital image at (subscription required).
  • Abram, W. Alexander, ed. The Rolls of Burgesses at the Guilds Merchant of the Borough of Preston, Co. Lancaster, 1397-1682: From the Original Rolls in the Archives of the Preston Corporation. London: Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1884. pp. 42, 57, 87. Digital image at (free).
  • Worden, O. N. Some records of persons by the name of Worden: particularly of over one thousand of the ancestors, kin and descendants of John and Elizabeth Worden, of Washington County, Rhode Island: covering three hundred years and comprising twelve generations in America. Lewisburg, Pa.: Printed at the Railway Press of J.R. Cornelius, 1868. Digital image at (subscription required).


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On January 29, 2015 at 18:51GMT Cheryl Hammond wrote:

Hello PMs! Wanted to let you know that I'll be working on documenting Peter Worden's Magna Carta Trail on behalf of the Magna Carta Project. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. You might also be interested in this discussion on G2G: Do we accept the evidence for John de Mowbray as father of Christiana (__) de Plumpton? as it relates to some of his claimed lineages. (Don't worry, he's still a legit Gateway!) :)

On July 14, 2014 at 20:26GMT Tom Worden wrote:

Worden-3 has a son listed as private son (1600 - 1680's). I am confident that this son is Worden-2 Peter Worden II.

Worden-2 listing says his father is Worden-3, but Worden-3 doesn't list Worden-2 as his son.

On May 10, 2014 at 16:45GMT Muller Private wrote:

There is no proof that Ann Ffarington ever m. Peter Worden I b. 1576. This link should be removed.

On May 10, 2014 at 04:15GMT John Schmeeckle wrote:

For whatever it's worth, here is Peter Worden's claimed royal ancestry, based on Gary Boyd Robert's book:

On May 9, 2014 at 20:50GMT Muller Private wrote:

There were two Peter Wordens who came to America. This one - Worden-160 - has been wrongly merged with Worden-3. Worden-3 did not marry Ffarington. That is a myth that proliferates on the web but has never been proven. Please see the For careful and thorough research.

On May 9, 2014 at 00:11GMT Muller Private wrote:

Worden-3 and Worden-600 do not represent the same person because: Worden-601 is an amalgam of two entirely different Peter Wordens. Part of the bio does belong to Worden-3, but much of it belongs to a different Peter whose origins have not been confirmed even to belong to the Worden-3 line, although they are suspected to be cousins. Please see the Worden Family Assn. for the best current information.

Kevin Bacon - genealogy connections Peter is 13 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 20 from AJ Jacobs and 34 from Nikola Tesla on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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