- This is a very rare dialectal form of the Olde English village names either Wortley or Wordsley. The meaning in both cases is much the same, the fenced area of pasture from the 6th century 'wyrt-leah'. There are several examples of the village names, although the predominant area is Yorkshire and Lancashire. Locational names were give to people when they moved from the original village, but as they moved further away the spelling form became more distorted, sometimes to the point of being totally unrecognisable. In this case Wortley often exchanged the 't' for a 'd' as it moved south, and sometimes it added letters even into the present century, as in the case of Whordley. We can offer any explanation except a combination of local dialect, which was very strong, and poor spelling, which persists today! Examples of the name recordings include George Worthlye who married Agnis Horne at Bampton, Oxon, on December 4th 1582, James Wordley, who married Diana Burr at the church of St Mary le Bone, London on May 24th 1779, and Charles Whardley, christened at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on November 25th 1810. The Coat of Arms is from the time of Richard 11, the blazon being silver, on a bend between six martlets in red, three gold bezants. This indicates a soldier of fortune. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sir Nicholas de Wortley which was dated Circa 1377, recorded in the Jenyns Roll of Chivalry, during the reign of King Richard 11, known as Richard of Bordeaux, 1377 - 1399. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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