This site covers Woodworth surname genealogy. Contains Woodworth resource materials, Woodworth descendancy lines, guides to research, mail lists and groups, DNA information, information about reunions, Walter Woodworth of Situate born about 1610, the various Woodworth Families of America, including William Woodworth soldier of Quebec, the Cornish and Irish Woodworths, and more.
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About the Woodworth that is the common ancestor of
around 96% of all Woodworths in the US:
WALTER WOODWORTH was born in England in about 1612, and died in Scituate, Plymouth Colony, early in 1686; parentage unknown. He is the ancestor of most of the Woodworths in America.
He married about 1639/40. No record has been found of his wife's name. She was living in March 1676, but had died by 26 November 1685, when Walter made his Will, naming ten children.
Some have speculated that Walter married Elizabeth Rogers, the daughter of Thomas Rogers of the "Mayflower." Elizabeth Daniel, authoress of Thomas Rogers, Pilgrim and Some of His Descendants, 1980, states, "Whether Thomas Rogers really had a daughter Elizabeth at all is a matter of theory. There are records in Leyden, Holland, that suggest that two daughters lived there with their mother, but there is no absolute proof. Whether one or both of these possible daughters ever came to America, we don't know...”. Others believe that Walter's wife's name was Dorothy. Again, THERE IS NO RECORD OF THE NAME OF WALTER'S WIFE.
One may see on many web sites that claim, with no justification or source whatever, that Walter's wife was Elizabeth Rogers. Others claim her name was Dorothy. All that I have queried cannot provide a source for either claim, other than "I don't know. I got it off the internet". How these "Elizabeth" and "Dorothy" myths started is unknown. If anyone has found a valid, documented source for Walter's wife, please inform the webmeister ASAP, as the only known is that THERE IS NO RECORD OF THE NAME OF WALTER'S WIFE..
Walter may have indentured himself for a time in order to pay his passage expenses, as the records do mention Walter as having "come as a servant" to Plymouth Colony. Plymouth Court Records of 2 Jan. 1633/4 order "that whereas by indenture many are bound to give their servants land at the expiration of their terms, it is ordered that they have it at Scituate or some other convenient place, where it may be useful." That land given to Walter is shown on a map below on this web page. Where in Plymouth Colony and to whom he served his indentureship before being awarded land in Scituate is unknown. Walter over his lifetime acquired considerable land at Scituate and at Little Compton, RI.
There is no record of his presence on any of the many ships which sailed from England to the Colonies in the 17th century. Many early Scituate settlers were from County Kent in England, and it has been thought that Walter may have come from there as well, perhaps as one of Rev. John Lothrop's followers from Edgerton in Kent. Rev. Lothrop, first pastor of the church in Scituate, arrived in Boston, Sept. 1634 on the "Griffin," with some 30 members of his congregation, both from London and Kent. This was six months after Walter is first recorded in Plymouth Colony.
The Will of Walter Woodworth
Walter's will, found in Plymouth, MA, in the late 1800s, provides much information. A map is available showing seven properties that he owned in Seconet mentioned in the will. Seconet is south of Scituate, MA. I
In the name of God, Amen. I, Walter Woodward, of Scituate, in the jurisdiction of New Plymouth in New England, in America, being weak in body, but of sound mind and perfect memory, praise to Almighty God for the same, do make this my last will and Testament in manner as followeth:
First, and most principally, I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God, my creator, in and through Jesus Christ, my only Saviour and Redeemer, and my body unto decent and ... burial at the discretion of my executors with the advice of the rest of my sons hereafter named.
And my temporal estate I dispose of as hereafter followeth:
Imprimis. I give and bequeath unto Thomas Woodward, my eldest son, a parcel of upland containing five acres, lying in Scituate aforesaid, bounded by the lands of Henry Ewell on the south and the Common on the north, to be enjoyned to him and his heirs forever.
Item: I give unto my two sons, Thomas and Joseph, ten acres of Marsh land, to be equally divided between them, which lyeth by Suzons - bounded by the Marsh of Anthony Collimer on the east, by the Marsh of Thomas Clap, deceased, on the north, in Scituate aforesaid to be enjoyned to them and their heirs forever.
Item: I give to Thomas Woodward, my son, one-third part of all my land at Seconet which I purchased. The other two-thirds I give unto my two sons, Benjamin and Isaac Woodward, to be equally divided between them, to be enjoyned to them and their heirs forever, excepting twenty-five acres, of which I do give unto my son Joseph, to be enjoyned to him and his heirs forever. Ten acres of which I do give unto my daughter, Martha, to her, her heirs forever, of which two quantities of land is to be deducted out of the two-thirds of my land lying at Seconet given to my two sons, Benjamin and Isaac aforesaid. All the rest of my land at Seconet, which is yet to be purchased, I give unto my two sons, Thomas and Joseph Woodward, to be divided equally between them, to be enjoyned to them and their heirs forever.
Item: I give to Benjamin, my son aforesaid, my dwelling-house with my barns and other outhousing, with all my land, both upland and marshland thereunto belonging, that is to say, twenty acres of upland, be it more or less bounded by land of John Turner to the west and by land of Joseph Otis to the east and six acres of marshland more or less bounded by the land of Joseph Otis to the north east, and by the first herring brook towards the south -- all of which said housings and land with all the appurtenances thereof, the commons and privileges thereunto belonging I give to the said Benjamin, my son, his heirs forever, always provided upon condition that my son, Benjamin, aforesaid, do pay and allow the sum of seventy pounds unto my son, Joseph, and my six daughters, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Mehitabel and Abigail, ten pounds apiece, to be paid to them at three payments, viz, one-third part of the said seventy pounds to be paid to my said children within three years after my decease and the other two-thirds to be paid in the two following years, that is to say -- in each year a third of the said sum of seventy pounds, and each payment to be paid, the one-half in silver and the other half to be paid in corn and cattell. Further, my will is that my son Benjamin, aforesaid, do allow my two daughters, Mehitabel and Abigail, the lower room or parlor at the northeasterly end of my dwelling house aforesaid, for their use during the time they do live unmarried.
Item: I give and bequeath unto my said two daughters, Mehitabel and Abigail, my feather bed with the furniture thereunto belonging and all the rest of my houshold goods I give unto my six daughters, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Mehitabel and Abigail, to be divided equally among them. The rest of my estate undisposed of by this my last will and testament, I give and bequeath to all my children, all my debts, funeral expenses being first paid, to be equally divided amongst them ,
Item: I do constitute and appoint my son, Benjamin, aforesaid, the sole executor of this my last will and testament, whom I do appoint my two sons, Thomas and Joseph Woodard, overseers of this my last will and testament.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand
and seal the twenty six day of November, 1685.
In the above map of Scituate of the middle 1600s, Walter Woodworth's first assigned lot can be found. He lived there, as his boys are on legal record as having broken neighbor Chittenden's fence, but probably later lived near a hill known for centuries as "Walter Woodworth Hill" in a now prominent part of town. At the base of "Walter Woodworth Hill" is Samuel "The Poet" Woodworth's Old Oaken Bucket home, and Walter probably lived close by (earlier, of course) on the same road, but nearer to Stockbridge Mill. Walter is probably buried in "Men of Kent Cemetery, shown in green on the above map..
Below, one can see more clearly where the "Men of Kent" cemetery and original long lot of Walter Woodworth is located. Assignment of long lots were a defensive strategy to keep manpower together against Indian attacks.
The above is the land Walter Woodworth acquired or was assigned as a result of his indentureship. Good land was a part of the contract of indentureship, and he appears to have acquired land prior to being granted the above lot. This is looking northwest. Nearby is where the old meeting house was and is where the "Men of Kent" cemetery still remains.
This view is across
the marsh from the property of Walter Woodworth, looking southwest
This is the view from the corner of Walter's marsh front property looking east by southeast..
Recommended book for Walter Woodworth
A very highly recommended book for Walter Woodworth, born about 1612, is "The Woodworth Family of America, Descendants of Walter Woodworth of 1630 Through Six Generations, Volume I" by Jeanette (Woodworth) Behan (deceased). Until about 1998, the book was thought to be "sold out" from its original publication, and no longer available for sale; however, Jim Behan, Jeanette's widower, was discovered to be living in Dunnegan, MO, and had some 200+ copies available. These were eventually sold out, with Carl Webb in CA buying the last copies. Until Jim and the books were rediscovered, Jeanette had published the books at significant loss. The book as reference material can be accessed at some LDS (Mormon) genealogy libraries. Mr. Behan and son Scott continue to work on Volume II from Jeanette's efforts. Scott intends to continue developing his web page.
Errors in Early Walter Woodworth Genealogy
1. Several books published in the 1800s contain information now proven wrong by current genealogists. Two major problems in Walter Woodworth genealogy in the early generations are that there was
(a). A son Benjamin reported as killed in King Phillips War, and yet survived to become the executor for his father Walter's will who lived into old age. They appear to have assumed he was killed in King Phillips war because records disclosed that the widow of a Benjamin Woodward killed in King Philip's war received government compensation. They were unaware there were two Benjamins, a Woodward and a Woodworth, with ours being a survivor of that war. This error was introduced by at least the two following books
-- History of Scituate, Mass From Its First Settlement to 1831, by Rev Samuel Deane
-- Descendants of Walter Woodworth of Scituate, Mass, 1898, by William Atwater Woodworth
(b). An alleged son Walter, Jr, who never was a son of Walter, Sr. This myth came about due to a much belated addition late to records in Little Compton, RI. For details, see Myths and Controversies
2. For the convenience of those who want to ensure or correct their records for the Benjamins and Walters to agree with the latest known version of Walter's first three generations, see the following:
Walter Woodworth b: abt 1612 in Kent, England
Any questions? Feel free to write the webmeister at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some old photos of the webmeister and ancestors
For comments or information regarding Walter Woodworth, contact Marvin "Woody" Woodworth at email@example.com and mention this web page with your message.
The Woodworth genealogy group discussion list administrator is Sharon Bias at SGBelverta@aol.com . We can all thank Sharon both for starting the Rootsweb Woodworth mail list that has made Woodworth group communication simple. We started before Rootsweb mail lists existed, and we handled our mail with many addresses in the "TO" block.
In addition, thanks to Charlotte Menon firstname.lastname@example.org for saying "Why not?" and e-mail encouragement for getting a Woodworth web page up.
NOTE: Special thanks to cousin Helen Hull for her Woodworth help and influence beginning about 33 years ago. If not for her informing our family of Jeanette Behan's newsletters and pending book in the mid-1980s, this web page would not exist.
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Updated 28 Aug 2015