EARLY HISTORY OF THE AYLWORTH FAMILY
One of the first
mentions of the name was in the year 926 when it was spelled 'Aylesworth' as it
is today. Another record, the Gloucester Subsidy Roll (1327), places a village
by the name of 'Aylworth' in the Hundred of Slaughter, Gloucestershire, England,
during the Middle Ages (400-1400 AD). The term 'hundred' refers to a subdivision
of a county as used in early English history.
It is possible the name was originally Eigil, the name of the
hero-archer of Norse mythology. A contraction of Eigil one might conclude most
reasonably would be E1 or Ayl. The English town of Aylesbury was originally
spelled AEglesbyrig. Most of the records of that time were made in Latin and the
name Aylworth is spelled variously as Aisselesworde, Esseleswrde, Eyleworthe &
Eylewrthe. Is it any wonder people today have trouble with the spelling?
The term 'worth' is described as either: a homestead bounded
or walled land, a small farmstead, an enclosed valley, and a warded or protected
place. The Saxon English geographical phrase, 'Aegelsworth' is deciphered as
"awe-inspiring one's homestead." Thus we might conclude the spelling of "Aylworth'
meant the Worth of Ayl(e) and possibly "Aylesworth" was the possive form as
Ayl(e)'s Worth. One from that place would be known as, say, John of Aylworth and
in years to follow the contraction becoming John Aylworth. The use of surnames
did not become common until the Norman Conquest of England (1066). Given names
were used before that period and people were known as being from a given area or
place such as indicated above as John of Aylworth.
From Arthur's Etymological Dictionary of Family Surnames
(1857) we find, Aylesworth, a Cornish name that may be interpreted as a village
in the meadow. This accurately describes the village of Aylworth. It is derived
from, ayles, low meadow lands, and gwerth, a worth, farm or village. In the old
English, the prefix ail is often an abbreviation of aethel, noble, worthy.
The histories of the Shires in England show members of the
family have resided in Devon, Kent, Somerset, Essex, Oxford, Dorset, Buckingham
and Worcester. Tracing of these family lines points toward Aylworth in
Gloucestershire as being the original source the family. One such line includes
an Anthony Aylesworth (1547-1619), Fellow of New College, and M.D. Oxon; Regis
Professor of Physics in Oxford (1582-1597); and Physician in Ordinary to Queen
The village of Aylworth lies in a small depression or valley. The farm and lands
of Aylworth were used for centuries to raise sheep and contained extensive
meadowlands with springs that flowed through the meadows to a rivulet emptying
into the Windrush River.
In the "Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire" (1712) we find recorded "Alwin
held Ailewurde in the Reign of King Edward the Confessor" (1042-1066), pointing
toward the Saxon origin of the family. This record continues as follows: "Petronella
de la Mere dyed seized (having possession) of Elworth 47 H.3 (47th year of the
Reign of Henry III, or 1263)." "The Prior of Lanthony was siezed of lands in
Hayford and Aylesworth 13 H.4 (1412)." "John Ayleworth was siezed of lands in
Naunton, Calcut and Ayleworth 16 E.4 (16th year of the Reign of Edward IV c.
1477). A farm in Ayleworth did belong to the Priory of Lanthony, and was granted
to Vincent Calmudee and Richard Calmudee 6 Eliz. (1564)." "Richard Ayleworth had
livery (title to all possessions) of the Manor and capital Messuage (dwelling
house with adjacent buildings and courtyard) of Ayleworth, with Lands lately
belonging to the Priory of St. Oswalds and also a Farm called de Lantone 9 Eliz.
The Church in Naunton, Gloucestershire is described in this
record. "The Church is handsome, with a beautiful Tower adorned with Battlements
and Pinnacles, and hath an Isle on the North side belonging to the Family of the
Aleworths; it is dedicated to St. Andrew." Also "In the North Windows are the
Images of St. Stephen and St. Catherine, and in one Window is the Image of John
Bayle in the Posture of Prayer, and in several Places is painted, to pray for
the Soul of Aleworth, and for the Soul of John Bayle."
The best is saved for last. "There are several HAMLETS or
smaller Divisions in this Parish (Naunton). 1. Ayleworth, a Mile(Southwest) from
the Church (in Naunton) where is the Seat of the Family of that Name, who have a
good Estate in the Place, and are of a very ancient Descent; they have continued
here ever since the Norman Conquest.
The terms: Farm, Estate & Village of Ayleworth are all
references to the same general location. At one time it was a village but when
the inhabitants left it was reduced to a farm and as such an estate. Originally
it was in the llundred of Slaughter and later (1608) in the Hundred of Bradley.
One way to the sea from Ayleworth is through Wales and could be the cause of
some of the confusion of from which country our ancester emigrated.
In Hockaday Abstracts (ccxci, 1524) (Ref. 51) in a discription
of St. Andrews Church in Naunton is found, "The east end of the aisle was a Lady
Chapel, used in the 16th. century as a burial place by the Aylworth family.
The History of Gloucestershire has many references to the
village and the farm of Aylworth, A portion of this record follows: "The land in
Aylesworth held as a manor by Alvin in 1066 was by 1086, divided into two
estates, held by Gilbert son of Turold and William Goizenboded; neither part
seems to have been separately called a manor before the 14th. century. Gilbert's
holding, which became attached to his manor in Rendcomb, passed with the rest of
his estate to the Earl of Gloucester in the mid 12th century and descended with
the earldom until it became extinct in 1347. Aylworth then passed by marriage to
Ralph, Earl of Stafford, and descended with that earldom until 1444 when
Humphrey, Earl of Stafford and Duke of Buckingham, was attainted and his lands
passed to the Crown. In the 16th century the overlordship of Aylworth seems to
have passed successively to the lords of Renconb manor. John Tame, his son
Edmund, (d. 1544), Edmund's wife Katherine, and his sister Margaret, wife of Sir
Humphrey Stafford. The association with Rencomb manor persisted until the 17th
century, but by 1640 Edward Aylworth was said to hold in chief."
"The tenant of the manor in 1086 was Walter, and from the 12th
century to the late 13th the mesne tenants were members of the Delamare family,
who were lords of Rencomb also. Towards the end of the 12th century William
Delamere granted his land in Aylworth to Llanthony Priory whose estate, called
the manor of AYLWORTH from the mid 14th century, passed to the Crown at the
Dissolution. Land in Harford also belonging to the priory was treated as part of
Aylworth manor. Small grants of land in Harford were made to the priory in 1395
and 1411, but in 1538 Llanthony Priory's estate was said to include only one
messuage in Harford. In 1564 the manor of Aylworth was granted to Vincent and
Richard Calmudy, who in the same year soldit to Anthony Aylworth whose family
were holding land in Aylworth by the early 14th century."
By 1566 Anthony Aylworth also owned the estate in Aylworth
that was held by St. Oswald's Priory, Gloucester, from the midÄ13th century. The
estate, probably deriving from land held by William Goizenboded in 1086, was in
the 16th century called the manor of AYLWORTH or ROSE COURT. It passed to the
Crown at the Dissolution and was granted in 1543 to Richard Andrews and Nicholas
Temple, who sold it to John Stafford in the same year. After the manor passed to
Anthony Aylworth (d. 1566) the two parts of Aylworth were treated as one manor.
It passed successively to Richard Aylworth (d. 1578), Richard's son Edward (d.
1640), Edward's son Bray (d. 1640), Bray's son Richard (d. 1661), and Richard's
son Joshua, after whose death in 1718 the manor was sold to John Herring of
"In the mid 17th century Edward Aylworth's land in Naunton included a number of
tenants. By the late 17th century the manor was divided among freeholders, and
it is unlikely that any copyhold tenure persisted." This change in the late
1600's coincides well with the possible departure of our ancestor for his
unknown future in America.
See also the section titled
"The Family Surname"
for more on the History of the name.