INTRODUCTION TO 1914
By Sarah Alice Worcester
In the year 1856, Jonathan Fox Worcester, Mass., published "The Worcester Family, or the Descendants of Rev. William Worcester." More than a half century has elapsed since that date and new generations have come to take the places of their fathers and grandfathers. There has been a loud call for a new edition of the Worcester Genealogy, the argument being that unless this were done soon, it would be impossible to supply the missing links. The writer was approached by several prominent members of the family and urged to undertake this work. Not without great reluctance, however, was the task assumed, but once launched upon the new enterprise it was both inspiring and encouraging to find how widespread was the interest felt, and how sincere the gratitude expressed that the work was to be undertaken. Many volunteered pecuniary assistance, making their cheque as good as their word.
It was quite a problem how to reach the different representatives of the family, scattered widely over the face of the earth. From a small beginning an endless chain was evolved. Each one addressed was requested to send the names of Worcesters or descendants of Worcesters that were known to him personally, and in most cases this appeal brought definite and helpful results.
In revising "The Worcester Family," the writer felt that a strenuous effort should be made to ascertain the early history and antecedents in England of our progenitor, the Rev. William Worcester. It may be of interest to the reader to know of the several steps that led to the possession of the data in reference to this point at present in hand. In April, 1907, a cousin in Waltham sent me a clipping from a recent number of Boston Transcript, which advertised a certain parchment indenture, dated June, 1708, in which there was mention that this property in Drayton, Warwickshire, England, once belonged to William Worcester. This was a clue; I wrote to the postmaster in Drayton, Eng., somewhat tentatively, to know if he could give me addresses of any Worcesters in that place. Not knowing any, he sent the letter to Mr. Richard Savage, an antiquarian, Secretary and Librarian of the Shakespeare birthplace at Stratford-at-Avon. He answered my letter, saying that Drayton should read Draycott. He had visited the latter place and taken some notes. Those relating to Worcesters he transcribed for me, and one of these from the Oxford Alumni list seemed suggestive,--it was this: William Worcester, B. A. 12 April, 1570, Vicar of Watford, Northamptonshire, 1574. This might be the father of our progenitor. But how to prove it? One of the family relatives, I learned, was to visit England in 1909, and I commissioned her to pursue the investigation as best she could. Her efforts resulted in obtaining from the Librarian of the British Museum the address of a competent genealogist which she passed on to me, and with whom I have since been in correspondence. This was Mr. F. A. Lumbye, 15 Glyn Street, Vauxhall, London, S.E.
In the summer of 1910 the way was opened for me to go England and I embraced the opportunity in the hope of ascertaining much valuable information. I was able to communicate directly with my genealogist and oftentimes to accompany him in his researches. We tried first to see if the clue already mentioned in connection with the vicarage of Watford would lead to satisfactory results. On examining the Parish register at Watford, interesting records in Latin were found. From these it appears that William Worcester, the Vicar of Watford, had eight children, the youngest of whom named William, was baptized in October, 1595. This date would agree well with what we know in regard to the time of the coming of Rev. William Worcester to Salisbury and his probable age.
Mr. Edward Dean Worcester, a lawyer in N. Y. City, sent me a copy of records which a genealogist, Gustave Anjou by name, had prepared for him. Inasmuch as these records give a list of children's names coincident with those of our ancestor before he sailed, there was a semblance of probability that the William Worcester of Willesden, mentioned in these records, was the one sought for. But there was no suggestion of clerical experience or prospects in these papers, so further quest was imperative.
Tradition points very strongly to three brothers, William, Thomas, and Edward, the latter of whom went to Connecticut and founded what is called the Connecticut line. Thomas is supposed to have remained in Massachusetts with William. I therefore told my genealogist that he must look for a family where there were three sons, bearing the names William, Thomas, and Edward. On the 29th of July, a few days before I sailed for America, he greeted me with the welcome news that he had found the will of William Worcester of Chedington, Buckingham Co., dated 1623, in which he bequeaths to "Willyam his eldest sonne tenn pounds, to his sonne Thomas 10 pds. and to his sonne Edward 10 pds." To his sons George and Francis he gives all his lands after his wife's decease. To each of his two daughters, Mary and Rebecca, he gives 100 pds. It is worthy of note that he cuts his three eldest sons with only10 pds. each, bequeathing them no land. This would seem to point to some estrangement on the part of the father from these sons, and this may have led later to their embarking for America. Judging from the data at hand at present it would appear that William Worcester, our progenitor, was Vicar of the church in Olney, Buckingham Co., some years before sailing to America. Those conclusion we draw after considering the claims of the three lines which have presented themselves: First, the son of the Vicar of Watford, baptized in 1595; second, the Willesden line, offering names of children born in England coincident with those recorded in our genealogy; and third, the Chedington line, which gives us the names of the three brothers, William, Thomas and Edward, data which neither of the other lines possess, and which we have a right to insist upon from the traditions which have come to us concerning Thomas and Edward.
A word in regard to these traditions may not be out of order. In the Connecticut Magazine, Vol. XII., No. 1, Spring of 1908, is an article on "The British House of Worcester in America." From this it would appear that Edward Wooster and his brother came to this country in 1651, several years after William; that the brother remained with William in Massachusetts, and that Edward settled in Connecticut. This article does not give the name of the brother that came with Edward, but the latter calls his eldest son, born in 1656, Thomas, which seems to point towards his wish to thus keep in mind the brother who accompanied him to the new world.
In regard to Thomas we are led to believe that he remained in Salisbury with William, and that he may have assisted the latter in his ministerial work. There seems to be some confusion in regard to the name of the first minister of Salisbury. Johnson in his "Wonder Working Providence" speaks of him as the "reverend and graciously godly M. Thomas Woster," and this mistake may have led to a tradition in the family that the name of the first minister was Thomas. It is said that when the Rev. Thomas Worcester of Boston, Mass., received his name, it was supposed to be in memory of the first Worcester minister in our country.
Again,--in this last connection, an ancient heirloom in the Worcester family, bears its silent testimony. This is a little book of poems, called,"Meditations all in Verse," written by Rev. Francis Worcester, in the 60th year of his age. Among the poems he devotes one to each of his ancestors, viz. to "his honored great grandfather, his grandmother, and his father, godly men he trusts." After this quotation we find in ink, at the opening of his poem on his great grandfather, the name, "Thomas Worcester." A star in paler ink refers to a foot note which reads. "Brother, William Worcester, not Thomas." We do not know who wrote the name Thomas Worcester, but the foot note is in a different handwriting, noticeably like that of Joseph E. Worcester, in whose possession the little book remained for many years, indicating plainly that later generations recognized the error and corrected it. We may safely conclude then that three Worcester brothers named William, Thomas and Edward came to this country and settled, the first two in Massachusetts, the third in Connecticut. But what evidence have we that William Worcester was Vicar of Olney before coming to America? Also that he was a son of William Worcester of Chedington? Mr. Lumbye, my diligent genealogist, thinks there can be no moral doubt that the Vicar of Olney was our ancestor, but whether we can establish this by written documents is doubtful, as so many records were destroyed in the great London fire of 1666. He hopes to obtain some valuable information in a few years from the investigations of Canon Foster, who is trying to bring order out of confusion in the archives of the Lincoln Archdeanery.
We shall have to content ourselves at present with assumptions drawn from the few facts we have at hand. We find it recorded, 1st, that a certain "William Worcester compounded the first fruits of the vicarage of Olney in 26 July 22 James I, 1624. His sureties being Peter Worcester of St. Edmunds, Lomdard St. London, merchant taylor and Ralph Pavier of St. Stephen's in Colman Street merchant taylor."
Presentation by Rob Gorge Knt. of William Worcester,
cl. to the vic. of Olney, vac. by the cession or demise of Robert Thogmerton, 29 Ap. 1624,
22 James, Endorsed-- Instituted 27 July, 1624.
(Presentation. Deed 1624, No. 2)
Robert Throckmorton was instituted to Olney Vicarage
27 May 1623.
Also, 2nd, that he retained this position till 1636, when on acct. of refusing to comply with the command of his Superior to read from the King's book to his congregation those portions which allowed sports and recreations after service on the Lord's day, he was suspended from his office at Olney.
The full account of the disturbance at Olney is given in "State Papers Domestic," Vol. No. 25.
From this account we are impressed with the strong points in the character of the Vicar of Olney,--points which we readily recognize as characteristic of leading representatives of the Worcester family in America, and which make us feel that this man must in all probability be our ancestor, and we his linear descendants.
The attentive reader of the following records will note that a large number of William Worcester's descendants have chosen the clerical profession. He will note that there are three lines of Worcesters, each having four ministers in direct succession, viz. 1st, Rev. Noah, Rev. Thomas, Rev. John, Rev. William Loring.
2d, Rev. Noah, Rev. Samuel, Rev. Samuel Howard, Rev. Samuel.
3d, Rev. Leonard, Rev. John Hopkins, Rev. John Hopkins, Jr., Rev. Edward Strong.
The first of these is given in our illustrations. We regret that we were unable to procure all the pictures of the 2d and 3d groups.
In regard to the silhouettes it may be of interest to know that the originals of these were made by James Worcester the youngest son of Capt. Noah Worcester, in September, 1798, on the occasion of a family reunion, when as the record shows, there were present eighteen children of his own and by marriage at his table.
There are pictures of different members of the family, past and present; of old residences; of places in England associated with our ancestors, and of coats of arms that have been borne by Worcesters in England, including the one adopted by Worcesters in America. It should here be stated that the device with which we are so familiar As the so-called Worcester coat-of-arms, does not belong to us as a family, but is the emblem of the Episcopal See of Worcester in England. The writer made strenuous efforts when in England in 1910 to ascertain if there were any coats of arms which did belong to the family, and with the aid of the genealogist, Mr. Lumbye, five were found. Mr. Lumbye said any one of these could be adopted by vote of a representative gathering of Worcesters and a motto selected. Accordingly the device given as our family arms and the motto, "Pax potior Bello" was adopted at the Worcester Reunion in Hollis, N.H., June 22, 1912.
The frontispiece gives a view of the old Worcester homestead where the reunion was held. This has been in the family for five generations, dating from 1750 the year of its foundation by Rev. Francis Worcester.
In preparing the biographical sketches it has been the aim to give such items as would help to make distant members of the family in a way acquainted with others of their kin, rather than confine the narrative to a dry statement of facts.
It has been my wish and effort to come into touch with all branches of the family and to have them represented in this edition. Doubtless after the book is published, many will come to the front, wondering why they were not recognized. I can only say that I have been faithful in following out such clues as presented themselves, though in many cases no response has been received to my inquiries.
The work of revision has led to some interesting results. A New England Worcester Family Association has been organized with an increasing number of members. We have held two reunions.--the first, June 22, 1912, in Hollis, N.H.; the second, June 21, 1913 in Salisbury, Mass. We are glad to learn that there is an Ohio Worcester Family Association which has held regular annual meetings for several years. The descendants of Samuel Worcester who removed to Pittsfield, Ohio, from Vermont, are represented in this Association.
We have been invited by the Panama Exposition Committee to hold our 1915 reunion in San Francisco. It remains to be seen whether we shall be able to accept the invitation.
It has occurred to me that it would be desirable to collect souvenirs of the family and keep them in a fire-proof receptacle. Perhaps these could be kept at Worcester Place, Hollis, N.H., and so be seen by all who would like to visit the old homestead.
This suggestion may be considered at some meeting of the Association.
In severing my connection with my constituency, I wish to express my gratitude to those who have rendered me substantial aid in collecting family data. I am under especial obligation in this regard to Mr. Francis W. Doughty, Mr. Edwin Dean Worcester, Mrs. Sarah W. Deming, Miss Susan Cummings, Col. H. L. Worcester, Mr. John P. Fox, and Francis E. Bouck, Esq.
For list of names from various city directories to Mrs. Francis J. Worcester and others.
To Frank Bulkeley Smith, Esq., for assistance in defraying the expenses of genealogist and typewriter.
A goodly number responded to the first printed circular by sending checks of a larger and smaller amount. The aggregate sum of these I placed in a Savings Bank, and the interest of this deposit, with other contributions of stamps has enabled me to carry on the large correspondence of several years, which work of this nature would necessitate.
The compiler wishes to recognize the able and efficient work of Mrs. Sarah Frances Fletcher, who was employed as a copyist and collator in the latter part of the revision.
This has been on my part a work of love. For five years I have given my time and best strength to it. Imperfect as it must necessarily be, I offer it to my friends and relatives with the hope that it will find a not unwelcome place on the library table.
Though the general plan of the edition of 1856 has been adopted, there are some innovations. The pedigree of each Worcester head of a family is given, an obvious advantage to one seeking to trace his line back to Rev. William Worcester.
The descendants of Moses who went to Maine and founded the Maine branch, have been introduced in the body of the book, according to their generations rather than at the end, as in the old edition.
It has been my aim to have as far as possible all descendants of Worcester sons and daughters represented in this book. The sons who have families, or who have otherwise distinguished themselves, are taken up in their respective generations, while the descendants of daughters are given continuously in connection with their names, the different generations being indicated by alternating letters and figures. Many of the records are necessarily incomplete but "such as I have, give I thee."
If errors are noted in the family record, will the person who discovers such, kindly report the same to the printer, Mr. Edward F. Worcester, 146 Summer St., Boston, Mass., that a list of such errors may be kept on file for future correction.
Sarah Alice Worcester
Cambridge, Mass. 1914