Tithe Commutation Act (National Archives page)

Victoria County History online page for Comberton


On these pages

Wills of the Wortham family

Hale Wortham

Information from Cussans


The Wortham Family

At the time of the tithe communtation of 1841 the area in Cambridgeshire (Melbourn parish) to the north of my house was owned by members of the Wortham family. The map and apportionment are held by Cambridgeshire Archives under references P117/17/19 for the apportionment, P117/17/20 for the map. The apportionment lists both the owners of the land, who were Thomas, Ann and Sarah Wortham, and the occupiers, who were a family named Phypers.

(The tithe commutation act was passed in 1836: implementation of the act occurred at different times in different parishes. It essentially legislated for the replacement of the traditional tithes with cash payments - originally a tithe was one tenth of the produce of the parish which went to support the parish church and the pastor, and as such it has a history dating back a thousand years.)

The book A History of Hertfordshire by John Edwin Cussans, in three large volumes published by Chatto and Windus from 1870 to 1881, is one of those big exhaustive Victorian county histories that deal with the landed families in great detail. Volume 3 includes Odsey hundred, in which Royston lies, and contains a family tree of the Wortham family.

Cussans records Ann Wortham as the daughter of Thomas. I have not been able to find Ann's baptism on any of the family history websites or elsewhere, so cannot confirm this. Sarah he records as her older sister. Their father (Thomas) died in 1770, and an older brother Thomas died in 1834, so neither of these is likely to be the Thomas mentioned in the apportionment: the most likely is the son of that second Thomas, yet another Thomas, who died in 1846.

church plaque

Royston church has a memorial to the family of Thomas Wortham and Mary (picture above), of whom many were buried there. I have laid out here a transcript, indenting the various generations it records: anything in parentheses, ( ), I have added, and the three members of the family mentioned above are underlined:

  Thomas Wortham, younger son of Thomas and Mary, died 4 Oct 1834 aged 81 married Elizabeth, who died 26 Nov 1824 aged 68 (so born c.1756) and buried at Royston St John in December that year.
  Thomas Wortham (son Thomas & Elizabeth) died 19 Feb 1846, aged 54 (so born c.1792), wife Emma died 20 Aug 1874, aged 74 (so born c.1800).
  Hale Wortham died 18 Apr 1899 age 76 (so born c.1823).
  • 2 sons died in infancy (no names or dates).
  •Maria Elizabeth Wortham younger sister of Thomas died 15 Oct 1867 age 66 (so born c.1801).
  • Elizabeth Wortham died 22 Sep 1834, aged 82, (so born c.1752) married Richard-Bradshaw Egerton
  Ann Wortham died 3 Nov 1842 aged 86 (so born c.1752, buried Royston St John’s church, recorded as Miss Ann, so presumably no issue: she left a will)
  Sarah Wortham, youngest daughter, died 21 Dec 1847 aged 89 (so born c.1758: she left a will)
  • Ann Wortham married William White, died his relict 14 Jun 1876, age 64 (so born c1812)
  •Ann Elizabeth, their only child, died 12 Apr 1892 aged 62 (so born c.1830)

The geni web site makes the claim that Thomas Benton Wortham was born c.1520 of Welsh ancestry, and was a general in the British army, father of William Henry Wortham (I have not confirmed this independently). William Henry Wortham was baptised in 1543 at Stevenage, and when he was aged 24 (1567) married an Elizabeth. This is the starting point of Cussan's Wortham genealogy: neither web site nor Cussan has Elizabeth's maiden name. Many surnames are based on the name of the village where the family had its roots, and the only Wortham I have found is in Suffolk, which is not conducive to Welsh ancestry.

The Victoria County History also records that the Wortham family had connections with the village of Comberton in Cambridgeshire. I have not traced the Comberton links.