...nothing definite is known of the ancestry of John Worstall.... Nothing is known of the descendants of Edward Worstall. History of Bucks County by William W. H. Davis

The history of the American ancestors of Gaylord Worstell is said to begin with the arrival of an ancestor with William Penn, Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, in 1682. In 1680, William Penn asked King Charles II to repay his debt to William’s father with wilderness land in America. The charter for the land was granted March 4, 1681, along with ruling power. This was land first claimed by the Dutch in 1609, then settled by the Swedes. Dutch troops regained control in 1655 until the British captured it in 1664. Within a few days after Penn landed, he “made a treaty with the Delaware tribe to purchase his grant of land from them. He made the pact and paid for the land, even though no law required him to do so.” (The World Book Encyclopedia, 1957.)

About Penn and the Quakers, Michael Tepper wrote in New World Immigrants, “The Quakers either chartered their own ships or traveled in independent groups on vessels already in the colonial trade. They had no financing company to which they were responsible, their land had been secured, the Indians had been propitiated, and some white people had already settled in the Delaware valley. They were not sailing into a terrifying unknown. Such letters as exist speak of the good life, the plentiful food, the abundant earth, and (less often than one would expect) their religious meetings.”

The Settle Monthly Meeting, Yorkshire, England, issued a certificate of removal from the Settle Meeting, dated June 7, 1682, and named seven families intending to “remove into Pennsylvania,” including Cuthbert Hayhurst, his wife, and family. The Settle district in Yorkshire is far to the north of England; therefore, it is unlikely that many of the families would travel south to London, but would go instead to the closer port of Liverpool. Chief highways were badly maintained and other roads were little better than rough tracks. For Quakers it was even more difficult. They were a marked group who could be picked up as vagrants, attacked by bullies and idlers, as well as the usual highwaymen. At least four of the seven Settle families took the Lamb. There were about 40 ships that came over during this year.

The Worstell history regarding arrival with Penn is probably not true. In the book, The Welcome Claimants, Proved, Disproved and Doubtful, the author indicates the possibility that the family of Cuthbert Hayhurst (the third generation Cuthbert in this family, who died in 1683) of Newton-on-Bolland, Yorkshire, arrived before William Penn, on the William Penn ship, Lamb. This journey of the Lamb was the one undertaken in June 1682, under Master John French. It left from Liverpool, stopped in Jamaica first, and arrived in Pennsylvania October 1682. William Penn, on the other hand, sailed the end of August, 1682, from London on the Welcome.

Cuthbert Hayhurst had a daughter, Alice, who married Henry Nelson. Henry Nelson named “nephew Edward Worstill, minor,” in his will. This story is told in the above named book, and puts the name Edward Worstil(l), who wasn’t born until 1727, with material about the families that came to America the summer of 1682 when William Penn came. This could be how the story that Worstell came to Pennsylvania with William Penn got started.

Cuthbert Hayhurst’s youngest daughter, Alice Hayhurst, was about 3 years old when her family came to America. She was about 30 when she married Henry Nelson in 1708, and about 37 when she died in 1716. As mentioned above, Henry’s will, probated 4 May 1745, named (along with about 14 other family members, including his son Thomas) “nephew Edward Worstill, minor.” Witnesses included John Woolson and Edward Worstil. (Is the Worstill, minor, the same as the Worstil, witness?) Alice Hayhurst Nelson died c. 1716 after having five children. Her death perhaps related to the birth of the fifth child. These children and their children are named in the will of Henry Nelson and the information is used in the history of the Hayhurst family in the book on the Welcome claimants. Henry’s wife is listed only as “wife Alice.” The Middletown Monthly Meeting of Friends which authorized the marriage of Henry Nelson and Alice Hayhurst in 1708, also authorized the marriage of Henry Nelson and Alice Wildman in 1719. Alice Wildman’s sister, Elizabeth, married John Worstell in 1720.

The father of Alice and Elizabeth Wildman was Martin Wildman, born 1653 in Yorkshire or Lincolnshire just south of York. His parents were Matthew and Elizabeth Wildman. Martin married Ann Ward in 1678 at the Settle Friends Meeting in Yorkshire. Their children, in birth order, were Matthew, John, Joseph, James, Alice, and Elizabeth, all born in Crosdale-grains, Yorkshire/Lincolnshire. Alice Hayhurst Nelson’s brother William Hayhurst married Rachel Radcliffe. It is their daughter Mary (Alice Hayhurst’s neice), who married Matthew Wildman.

William W. H. Davis wrote about Worstells in History of Bucks County:

Prominent in the history of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is the Worstell family, whose members have played an active role “in the business affairs of New Town for four generations, and extending over a period of one hundred and thirty years. ... The family is said to be of Welsh origin, but nothing definite is known of the ancestry of John Worstall or of his whereabouts until his proposal of marriage at Middletown Friends Meeting in 7 mo., 1720, to Elizabeth Wildman, daughter of Martin and Ann Wildman, who was born in Settle, Yorkshire, England, 9 mo. 19, 1689, and came with her parents to Bucks county, and settled in Middletown township. John and Elizabeth Worstall were the parents of three sons: John, born 7 mo. 4, 1722: Edward, born 5 mo. 21, 1724: And James, born 12 mo., 26, 1726-7. The mother died when James was but two weeks old, and the children were reared by their maternal relatives in Midtown. Nothing is known of the descendants of Edward Worstall.

One researcher has a record of a John Worstell who witnessed the death of a friend in Bucks County in 1718. It seems the friend was “chasing a varmint in the rafters of his barn and fell to his death.” The friend may have been the Quaker kind.

John and Elizabeth had three children: John, Edward and James Worstell. Elizabeth died in 1727, when James was only two weeks old and her maternal relatives reared the children. Elizabeth’s sister Alice Wildman Nelson and her husband Henry might be expected to rear one or more of the Worstell children, Alice being their aunt.

The widower, John Worstell, now free to remarry, is not positively identified. However, New Jersey marriage licenses include one for a John Worsten, (as it is transcribed, but believed by researchers to be Worstell), a “worster comber,” of Bucks County, PA, and Ruth Wardel (again as it is transcribed, but not suggested to be Worstell), a “spinster,” in 1728. Quaker records of 1728 fifth month, record John Worster making his appearance about “outgoing” marriage and told to “bring in a paper next month at meeting at Buckingham.” The following month at Wrightstown, since John did not appear, they appointed two men “to see him.” The month after that it is reported that John Worster promised to give written satisfaction for “outgoing” in marriage. Three years later, 1731 fourth month, Wrightstown Friends reported that John was “overtaken by strong drink and also has domestic difficulty.” Two months later after John had failed to come to meeting, two men were assigned to “draw up a paper against him.” The following 1731 seventh month at Buckingham, John “is to be given a copy of the testimony against him for his “outgoings.” The next month at Wrightstown, John Worster brought in a paper condemning his “outgoing marriage and also his disorderly walking which was excepted (sic) as satisfactory.” The following month “John Worstell was told that he had right of appeal if he wished it.” Testimony in the minutes of the eleventh month report against John Worstal was ordered read at Wrightstown and at Buckingham. The following month it was reported done. John appears to have been caught between first and second and finally put out.

These records hint of a man, perhaps distraught at the death of his wife, hoping to start anew with a second wife. He appears to have a drinking problem which no doubt contributes to “domestic difficulty.” Assuming this is the John who married Ruth Wardel, they must have had difficulty finding a Meeting where they would be welcome. A New Jersey record does indicate that John married a woman who was not a Quaker, and therefore no Quaker records would exist which listed their children. Some researchers believe this marriage has the potential for this John Worstell to be the ancestor of Gaylord Worstell.

The opening paragraphs may well account for the connection of Worstell to William Penn in the family mythology. Yorkshire (York) England is thought to be the English home of Worstells. By one account, the name Worstall/Worstell is English and is said to be “one who came from Worsall (Weare’s Corner) in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and there is a Thomas Worstell who was married to Mary Hoode in 1647 in New Malton, St. Michael Parish, Yorkshire, England. As noted above, the Hayhursts came from Yorkshire. An Englishman named Worstall writes for The Tribune, a newspaper in San Luis Obispo, CA. When he was asked about his name, he said the name had Danish roots. He said the word from which Worstell is derived means “builder of barns.” It comes from an Old Norse word meaning the lee of a hill, a shelter, perhaps more specifically a shelter for animals, so that it might be a barn, or the leeward side of a hill. Mr. Worstall said there is a rocky outcrop in Yorkshire called Brimmon Rocks and includes the Worstall Craig. That area was settled by the Danes.

The Saxons, a Germanic people, were described by Ptolemy as living in Saxony, now called Schleswig, in southern Denmark. (Modern day Saxony is, or was, in east central Germany, and some Worstell families believe their ancestors came from Germany.) From southern Denmark the Saxons settled the German coast from the Elbe River near modern day Hamburg, Germany, across Normandy, and south to the Loire River on the south coast of Brittany, France. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes made permanent settlement throughout the south and east of Angle-land, modern day England. When the Danes invaded England, only Alfred the Great could stop them, and he divided the country with the Danes. After his death, the Danes ruled England until the death of the Danish ruler Canute and the collapse of his empire. It was a weak England that gave the opportunity for William the Conqueror of Normandy to conquer England. So now we can understand why the English/Welsh name Worstell has such a very German sound. Other Worstells, Marx, son of Jacob, for example, may indeed be from Germany.

In a family history, The Pittis Genealogy, it is said “...Matthew Worstell, whose father was James...,” indicating that the family at the time of the writing of the book believed that the father of Matthew was James, Matthew being Hiram’s father, Gaylord’s grandfather.

The will of Thomas Nelson of Middletown Twp. Bucks County, dated June 4, 1763, named James Worstall and John Worstad (... ‘al’ possibly read as ... ‘ad’) and Martin Wildman as cousins. (Ref. Bucks Co. Book of Wills #834.) (Though this is no direct proof of relationship to Henry Nelson, the name and dates make it a strong possibility Thomas is the son of Henry. Also, Henry named his son, Thomas, in his will, as noted at the beginning of the chapter. He is also likely the Thomas Nelson reported in the Quaker records as “guilty of fornication.”) Many early records in Pennsylvania contain the name James Worstell (or its variations), but no direct connection to Gaylord’s family can be shown at this time.

The James and John just referred to could have been the brothers of Edward (all sons of the youthful deceased mother, Elizabeth Wildman, and her husband, of whom it was written“nothing definite is known of the ancestry” of John Worstall, quoted earlier) and all three Worstell boys reared by Alice Wildman and Henry Nelson. Again, from the History of Bucks County, “...the children were reared by their maternal relatives in Middletown but nothing is known of the descendants of Edward Worstall.” This Edward may or may not be the one the Quakers dismissed for marrying “outside the faith” by a “hireling Minister” in 1751, or the one, who, in the same year, was reported “disordered with strong drink and much addicted to keeping idle and vain company.” The Quakers have always been noted for their sincerity, honesty, morality, and simple living. There is also a James, a single man, who was paying taxes in 1759 and 1761.

The brother John, the eldest son of John and Elizabeth Wildman Worstell, was married to Mary Higgs in 1746. The descendants of Elizabeth’s son, John, appear to be well recorded. It is sometimes difficult to identify certain individuals in Quaker minutes such as the one in 1750 about a John Worstell, who “has been remiss in attending meetings and immoderate use of strong drink.”

John and Mary Higgs Worstell had a son, Joseph, who married Susanna Hibbs in 1778. Joseph had an interesting and successful life until disaster struck near the end of his life. The story is repeated here for interest only. This story comes to us from the History of Bucks County, by William W. H. Davis, A.M. It is not quoted in its entirety but is interspersed with paraphrase.

In 1774, before Joseph was married, he erected a tannery, which he operated in Newtown, Bucks County, for 55 years. He manufactured shoes on a large scale, employing a number of workmen. The tanning process for leather used in shoes uses tannin or tannic acid prepared from leaves, nuts, bark and woods of oak, chestnut, hemlock, and other trees. Joseph “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.” In addition to these activities he carried on other business activities and the farming of 55 acres, in which he was joined 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 this 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.”

Joseph, Sr. married Susanna Hibbs, in 1778. They had 8, or more likely, 9, children, including the sons, Joseph, James and John. At one time there was an accepted practice of naming children, something like mother’s father, father’s father, father, mother, etc. Although this practice was probably never followed exactly, there certainly was a practice to use family given names and surnames. John who married Elizabeth Wildman named their first son John. With John’s son Joseph began three generations of Josephs, a frequent practice which gives difficulty for researchers and genealogists.

Joseph Senior’s son, Joseph, married Jane Heston. Joseph II was in the tannery business with his father and was one of the proprietors at the time of the fire. He too suffered financially from the fire, and spent his remaining years on the farm he had purchased. He died in 1856. Their children included Edward H. Worstall,who married Mary Smith.

“After his marriage Edward H. Worstall located at the Smith tannery at Windy Bush, in Upper Makefield, where he resided until April 1, 1842, when he purchased the old tannery property in Newtown, formerly his grandfather’s…. The following year, he purchased the house where his grandfather lived and died, and subsequently purchased much of the property that had belonged to his grandfather, as well as thirty-five acres of land, the greater part of which had belonged to his uncle, James Worstall. He operated the tannery and farm until 1882, during the last eleven years of the time having associated with him his youngest son, Willis G. Worstall.” “The old tannery was abandoned in 1882, and torn down in 1887.”

The second son of Joseph II was Joseph D. He learned the tanner’s trade under direction of his father, whom he assisted until after his marriage to Mary Van Buskirk, when he purchased a farm which he operated until his death in 1853, while his son, Edward D., was still an infant. He had been affiliated with the Friends meeting, and politically was Whig. The son Edward D. became eminently successful in the mercantile business. He was an outstanding citizen, involved in banking, a creamery company, the post office, the educational system, and the Odd Fellows and various other lodges. He married Clarissa Fell, was a stanch Republican, and died in 1897.

There are many Pennsylvania records from the counties and townships near Bucks County that list marriages, deaths, wills, tax lists, military service and conscientious objectors, census records, and Quaker monthly meeting records. All contain the names James, John, Edward, or Joseph Worstell, with variations of the spelling of Worstell. From the minutes of the Wrightstown Monthly Meeting of Friends in the 6th month 1770 is a James Worstal requesting a Certificate to attend the Merion Monthly Meeting. Quakers are often pacifists and social reformers. They took an active part in abolishing the slave trade and slavery. In 1783 they drew up a petition to Congress which stated, “We therefore earnestly solicit your Christian interporition (as read) to discouage (as read) and prevent so obvious an Evil, in such manoris (as read) as under the influense of Divine Wisdom you shall see meet — Signed in and on behalf of our yearly meeting held in Philadelphia for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, and the Western parts of Maryland and Virginia on the fourth day of the tenth Month – 1783—” Among the signatories was James Worstall.

A Quaker cemetery record shows an Elizabeth Worstall who died 11 mo 24, 1825, and a James Worstall who died 10 mo 7, 1839, both in otherwise unmarked graves in the burial ground of the Newtown Monthly Meeting, Bucks County. From the Pennsylvania Archives come the Revolutionary War Service of James Worstal in 1779 – 7th Company. Since Matthew was born in 1776, as interpreted from his obituary which said he died August 1839 at Steubenville, Ohio, age 63, these James would be possibilities for the unknown James, as father, and maybe the “lost” Edward as grandfather to Matthew.

Another nice grouping of names occurs in the will of James Worstall, Upper Makefield Twp., Bucks County. The will is dated 2 mo 18, 1790, and lists sons Samuel, John, Edward (could he have been named after the nephew of Henry Nelson?), and William. The will was proved Oct. 8, 1799, a possible death year and would fit well with a possible death year of Matthew’s father. The 1790 census includes James Worstell (transcribed Woolstall) an ironmonger, who lived on 3rd street between Market and Race in Philadelphia and had a shop on Moravian Alley. If this is the James who married Sarah Warner in 1774, his lineage seems rather well documented. The known variations of the Worstell name, Worstel, Worster, Worsten, Worstill, Worstil, Worstall, plus the likely mistranscribed spellings, such as, Wester, Weastall, Weelsten, Woolston, Wooster, whether Worstell or not, further complicate the task of the researcher.

In our search for James, believed by Margaret Birney Pittis, author of The Pittis Genealogy, to be the father of Matthew, it would seem that James, the brother of John and Edward, is not the ancestor to Gaylord. From the “Notebook of Josiah B. Smith” in the Bucks County Historical Society library, we learn that James Worstall (brother of John and Edward) who married Esther Satterthwaite and moved to Makefield in 1759, had 4 – 6 children. This is reaffirmed in the will of Wm. Satterthwaite, proved 1788, who mentions his “daughter, Esther Worstal where James Worstall lives.” James left numerous descendants in Bucks County and they all appear to be known and recorded. Some researchers think this James married a second time. If James did marry a second time, did he have approval from the Quakers? If not, was he banned from the Meetings and therefore there are no Quaker records? Possibly he is even buried in an unmarked grave. One thing seems certain. The multiplicity of records of Worstells with names John, James, Edward, Joseph, and others most certainly indicate many of these Worstells are related. Since the families were usually large, fathers, children, and grandchildren are easily confused when the given names are repeated so frequently. Researchers have their work cut out for them.