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Our 2,766 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

Since 2005, members of the Worthington Family History Society have been researching the Worthington families of the 17th century. Fifty six 17th century pedigrees have been compiled and proved so far. We would welcome information about any proven lines of Worthingtons from 1700 to the present day.

Variant names

The study, at present, is restricted to all occurences of the surname worldwide. However, if variants of the spelling can be shown to be of Worthington origin we would welcome them.

Name origin

In the middle ages there were two townships named Worthington - one near Standish in Lancashire and the other near Ashby-de la-Zouch in Leicestershire. Both bore the name as early as 1200; in fact Worthington in Leicestershire appears in the Domesday Book. It is probable that most, if not all, lines originate from these two townships, either through the known lines, or by adoption of the name during the latter part of the 14th century when surnames became common.
Various theories have been put forward as to the origin of the name, but they differ widely.
The Arms of the Worthingtons of Worthington in Lancashire were granted by the College of Arms in 1536. They consist of 'Argent three dung forks sable' and the crest 'A goat statant browsing at a clump of nettles vert'. This may have been to symbolise the pastoral life with which they had been associated but the dung forks were a pun on the word 'worthing' which was dialect for manure.

Historical occurrences of the name

There have been Worthingtons in many walks of life including yeoman, agricultural labourers, coal miners, framework knitters, mercers, clerics, doctors etc. There are some notable ones as well:

Dr Thomas Worthington 1546-1626 President of the Roman Catholic English College at Douai

Dr John Worthington 1617-1657 Master of Jesus College, Cambridge and Vice-Chancellor of the University

Capt John Worthington 1651-1701 Member of the Maryland, USA Legislature

Rev Hugh Worthington 1712-1797 Renowned Unitarian Minister of Leicester

William Worthington 1723-1800 Founder of the Worthington brewery in Burton on Trent

Thomas Worthington 1773-1827 First Senator and sixth Governor of Ohio, USA

Thomas Worthington 1826-1909 Prominent architect of Manchester

Name frequency

In the 1881 censuses of England and Wales there were 6,007 Worthingtons making the name the 738th most common.

Distribution of the name

The major concentrations in 1881 were in Lancashire (57%), Cheshire (12%) and Staffordshire (7%) with minor concentrations in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and London.
By this time there were also significant numbers in the USA and Australia


A huge amount of data (church records, wills, deeds etc) relating to the families of medieval England through to 1730 has been accumulated. Further research into the descendants of some of the 17th century families has been undertaken by individual members of the Worthington FHS.


The Worthington DNA Project was started in 2008 and is expanding slowly. We would encourage any male Worthington to undergo 37 marker yDNA testing to help to link the various lines particularly where the paper trail has failed. There were obviously a number of founding families and we are hoping to link existing lines by DNA and some have already come to light.