Damned Spots and other Notable Events in the Ancestry of Peter Worden I


John R. Schuerman


The publication of Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants by Gary Boyd Roberts (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004) opens up entirely new vistas on the ancestry of the immigrant, Peter Worden I. Peter was born in about 1576 in Clayton, Lancashire, England. He immigrated to Cape Cod and died in 1638 in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. Peter's life in England and Massachusetts has been well described in previous articles in Wordens Past, notably in pieces by George Bolton. Bolton has identified Peter's father, Robert Worden (b. about 1534; d. 1580, Clayton-le-Woods, Lancashire) and grandfather, William Worden (b. 1500, Leyland, Lancashire; d. about 1574). To my knowledge, ancestors of William Worden have not been definitively traced.


Peter Worden I's mother was Isobel Worthington (d. 1580). This Worthington family has been traced back to Robert de Worthington (d. before 1213) by Philip M. Worthington in The Worthington Families of Medieval England.


Roberts has shown that Peter Worden I descended from William I, King of Scotland, through Isobel Worthington. Roberts's book also shows that four presidents of the United States are descendents of William: George Washington, Rutherford B. Hayes, and the two Presidents Bush. Hence, descendents of Peter are distant cousins of these presidents. Through an examination of the sources cited by Roberts and other sources, it is possible to identify many more ancestors of Peter, including a number of other kings of Scotland, kings of England before the Norman Conquest in 1066, and a couple of saints.


King William's great-great-grandfather was King Duncan I, who was murdered and succeeded by Macbeth in 1040. Macbeth was not an ancestor (he had no recorded children), although he was related to Duncan. Macbeth was subsequently killed in 1057 by Duncan's son who became King Malcolm III, also an ancestor of Peter Worden. Most of these early kings of the Scots and kings of England met violent deaths, after having engaged in a lot of mayhem themselves. As for saints, Malcolm III's second wife was Saint Margaret (d. 1093) who tried to make the Scottish church (and Scottish society) more Anglicized and European (to move away from its Celtic influences). Margaret was the daughter of Edward Aethling, known as "the Exile" because he was forced to go abroad when Cnut invaded England from Denmark. Edward Aethling wound up in Hungary where he married princess Agatha. Margaret's brother was Edgar Atheling, who asserted himself as King of England in 1066 but was brushed aside by William the Conqueror. This family descended from early Kings of England and of Wessex (based in what is now southwestern England), including Alfred the Great (d. 899) and going back to King Egbert of Wessex (d. 839). Margaret's maternal grandfather was Saint King Stephen (d. 1038) who is credited with having created Hungary. Also in the ancestry of King William I of Scotland are Scandinavian royalty (including King Sweyn Forkbeard, Cnut's father, d. 1014) who frequently attacked Scotland and England.


In this article, I want to focus on King William I of Scotland and his family. He was the brother of King Malcolm IV and the son of Henry, who was not a king. William was known as "the Lion" although that label was applied many years after his death. The ancestry from Peter Worden I to William is as follows:


Peter Worden I < Isobel Worthington (d. 1580) < Peter Worthington (d. 1577 Lancashire) < Agnes Rushton < Nicholas Rushton (d. 1508) < Agnes Sherborne < Robert Sherburne (d. 1485) < Richard Sherburne (d. 1441) < Richard Bayley (alias Sherburne) (d. 1448/9) < Margaret Sherburne < Alice Plumpton < Sir William Plumpton (d. 1362) < Lucy de Ros < Sir William de Ros < Sir William de Ros (d. 1310) < Isabel of Scotland < William I, the Lion, King of Scotland (d. 1214).


It should be noted that other ancestors of each of the individuals in this line, the Rushtons, the Sherburnes, the Plumptons, and the Roses can be traced further, but we focus here on King William.


Isabel was an illegitimate daughter of William, by an unnamed woman who was the daughter of Richard Avenal. William had a number of illegitimate children, apparently by various women. He also had legitimate children by his wife Ermengarde de Beaumont, including King Alexander II, his successor. In any event, it appears that William fully acknowledged his illegitimate offspring and with regard to Isabel, blessed her two marriages (probably having arranged them) to Robert de Brus and Robert de Ros. Robert de Ros, the father of Sir William de Ros above, was a Magna Charta Surety, which means that he was one of the gentlemen who witnessed King John's signing of the Magna Carta and pledged to assure that he would adhere to it, although John had no intention of doing so and civil war ensued.


King William was descended from other kings of the Scots, going back to Kenneth I (d. 858), thought of as the first king of the Scots, since he united the Picts in the north with the Scots in the south. Kenneth was descended from the first Scots, who were Irish (Celtic) invaders of the west coast of what is now Scotland in the fifth century (then called Dalriada). The early kings of Scotland seem to have been constantly engaged in warfare, with the Picts, the Scandinavians who frequently invaded, and the Northumbrians and other English tribes. Sometimes they were the invaders, sometimes the invaded. Sometimes the violence was intrafamilial.


William was King of the Scots from 1165 to 1214, a hundred years after William the Conqueror had united England under his rule. By this time, the primary external threat to Scotland was the English monarchs, who attempted (as they had before the Conquest) to assert authority over Scotland. The Scottish isles continued under the control of Norway.


William's grandfather, King David I, reigned over most of Scotland plus the northern part of what is now England. David granted the Earldom of Northumberland to William in 1152. The border counties, including Northumberland, were lost to King Henry II of England in 1157. Attempting to regain his foothold in northern England, William invaded Northumberland and Cumberland in 1173. He was captured at Alnwick and was forced to recognize Henry as the superior lord of Scotland by the treaty of Falaise. After Henry's death in 1189, William petitioned King Richard I to be relieved of his treaty obligations. Needing to raise cash for the third crusade, Richard accepted payment of about 6,500 and released William from allegiance. But King John brought a large army to Norham (seven miles west of Berwick-on-Tweed) in 1209 and forced William to make a large payment and turn over his two elder daughters for marriage into the English royal family. Although Scotland was nominally independent, William continued his submission to the English crown.


William's reign saw considerable development, including new towns outside the heartlands of the country. He died at Sterling and was buried in Arbroath Abbey, which he founded in honor of St. Thomas Becket.



Sources: Much of the research for the connection between Peter Worden I and King William reported in Roberts was done by Sara Doherty of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. For Worthington, see Philip M. Worthington, The Worthington Families of Medieval England (Chichester, Sussex, England: Phillimore, 1985). The most authoritative works on Rushton (Riston, Rishton, and other spellings) are Dunkelhalgh Deeds, edited by G. A. Stocks and J. Tait (Manchester: The Chetham Society, 1921, vol. 80 of the Society's Remains, new series) and Richard Trappes-Lomax, A History of the Township and Manor of Clayton-le-Moors, co. Lancaster (Manchester: The Chetham Society, 1926, vol. 85 of the Society's Remains, new series). For Sherburne, see Thomas D. Whitaker, An History of the Original Parish of Whalley and Honor of Clitheroe, 4th ed. (London: G. Routledge, 1876; LDS films 924245, 924245 Items 1-2) and Thomas D. Whitaker and A. W. Morant, History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven in the County of York, 3rd Ed., (Leeds: J. Dodgson, 1878; LDS film 476217, Item 1). These two Whitaker volumes also have information on other families including Rushton. For Plumpton, see Plumpton Correspondence, edited by Thomas Stapleton (London: The Camden Society, 1839, vol. 4 of the Society's publications). For Ros see George E. Cokayne, Complete Peerage (London: St. Catherine Press, 1910-1998, 14 Vols) and Frederick Lewis Weis, Magna Charta Sureties, 5th ed., additions by W. L. Sheppard, Jr. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999). Other sources for the Lancashire families mentioned here are Edward Baines, History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster (there were at least three editions of this, I have consulted the four volume 1836 edition, London: Fisher, Son & Co. and the five volume 1883-1893 edition, edited by James Croston, London: John Heywood, the two editions have different genealogical information) and the eight volume Victoria History of the County of Lancaster, William Farrer and J. Brownbill, eds. (London: Constable, 1906). Also of use are the various visitations of Lancashire and Yorkshire in the 16th and 17th centuries.


Much of our knowledge about ancient kings of Scotland and England comes from chronicles, some of which are contemporary descriptions and others composed many years later (scholars frequently argue about just when they were written and their veracity). There are translations (from Latin, Celtic, and Old English) and compilations of some of these chronicles. One that I have found useful is Early Sources of Scottish History, edited by Alan Orr Anderson (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1922). I have found the Oxford Companion to British History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) invaluable for discussions of English and Scottish kings, other notables, battles, and places. There is also A. A. M. Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, 842-1292 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002). For general history, Norman Davies' The Isles, A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) is lively and argumentative. Also helpful is Philip A. Crowl, The Intelligent Traveler's Guide to Historic Scotland (New York: Congdon & Weed, 1981) which, besides giving a lot of history, will show you how to find the places in your heritage. Crowl has also written The Intelligent Traveler's Guide to Historic Britain but I have not looked at that.