This collection is properly named the
The name of the immigrant ancestor was Arthur Aylworth. His signature
to deeds, will and codicil is recorded as autographic and uniformly
written Arthur Aylworth. This form of the name prevailed among his
descendents very generally for many years, and has been brought down to
the present day by some.
Hence we would emphasize this
fundamental fact, the original family surname. The results of a varying
American orthography cannot set it aside. Traditional accounts,
respecting the spelling of the name, must also yield to the superior
force of unequivocal records.
The first variation in the spelling
seems to have been the introduction of an “s” Aylsworth, traces of which
are found at an early date. The name has this form once only in the
record of the immigrant's will, made between 1712 and 1720.
A record of the autographic
signature of the immigrant's eldest son, Robert, is not found. In the
body of instruments executed by him, the name is clerically spelled
Aylsworth. At the time his estate was settled, in 1760, the records show
much confusion in the spelling of his name, but the original form
prevailed in his widow's will, and his son Ephraim's signature is
recorded as autographic and spelled Aylworth in 1761, and Aylsworth in
The will of the son Arthur, of West
Greenwich, was made in 1761. His signature was recorded as autographic
in this and other instruments executed by him, and was written Aylworth.
John X Aulsworth is the recorded
signature mark to the will of the son John,
made in 1771, but in the body of the will the name is uniformly spelled
Aylsworth. In 1776 his son Arthur signed his name "Aley,worth" in
conveying land by deed.
It is probable that the son Philip
made a will but no trace of it has yet been found. The clerical spelling
of his name in 1736 was both Alworth and Aleworth, but the s became so
thoroughly established in
Page 16 the name with this branch of the
family that Sylvester Aylsworth, his great grandson, concluded
erroneously, that the immigrant's name was Aylsworth.
The son Chad signed his name
without the s certainly until quite late in life, but "being very sick
and weak in body" when his will was made in 1756, he signed the same by
the mark thus,
Chaad : C : Aylesworth.
The clerical spelling of the name as found in the old town records,
deeds, wills, etc., is not to be appealed to with confidence in
justification of any particular orthography. In some cases the name is
found spelled variously by the same hand in the same article or
instrument. This inexcusable liberty was not uncommon. That confusion
should appear in the spelling of a name so unusual and peculiar is not
surprising, especially in a community removed from educational
advantages. The immigrant's unvarying signature should settle
conclusively the question of the proper orthography of the family
The following list of unusual
spellings, if of no importance otherwise, possesses a charm of variety,
and is made from actual spellings of the name found in various records
We observe, so far, but two important
features -- the essential characteristics of the immigrant's name -- Aylworth, and the introduction of s (or es) Aylsworth,
reflecting a changed pronunciation of the name.
Alesworth, Alytsworth, Aleyworth,
Ailsworth, Aylysworth, Aillsworth,
Alworth, Alysworth, Ealsworth,
Note: Also See Section,
Different Spellings of Surname
But another element of confusion
appeared about the time of the Revolution in the substitution of an E
for the initial A. The First Baptist Church of Newport records the
marriage of Anthony Elsworrth and Elizabeth Keiland, July 31, 1774. The
Newport Mercury publishes the same marriage, but gives his name
Anthony Aylsworth, and hers Betsey Keeling. The descendents of many
families who emigrated from Rhode Island for one reason or another, or
with no reason, have allowed the family surname to be spelled Elsworth
Arthur (2) Aylworth, of West Greenwich, was an inn
keeper, and drovers from Saybrook, Conn., by the name of Elsworth, or
Ellsworth, in passing to and from Newport were accustomed to stop at his
inn. Abel Aylesworth often heard them talk over their relationship, and
that they were all of the same family. The reader is referred to his
statement elsewhere. Controversies arose as to the spelling of the name
as between Ayl and Ell. The erroneous conclusion was entertained by some
that Aylsworth was the Welsh form and Ellsworth the English form of the
This surname was familiar in England at the time
Arthur Aylworth came to America. An examination of old English works for
variations the name has acquired in America has not yet been rewarded
with any result sanctioning their use on such authority. The early
that prevailed in England were slight in comparison with those that have
prevailed in this country. A quite common variation placed an e after
the l - Ayleworth. In such cases the y was sometimes omitted -
Aleworth. The s so common in the American name, is extremely rare
in the English, and its even rare occurrence may have resulted from the
confounding of this surname with a very similar one in pronunciation -
Aldesworth, known in the same locality. In a single instance only the
initial letter A was found changed to E, the name then fully written
The following extracts, referring to graduates from the Oxford Colleges,
in England, are both interesting and significant, as we can appeal to no
higher authority for a proper and standard orthography of the surname at
the dates given :
Anthony Aylworth, Doctor of Physic of New Coll., the King's professor of
physic, and physician to Queen Elizabeth (graduated) July 5, 1582. He
died April 18, 1619, and was buried in New Coll. Chappel.
[Fasti Oxunienses, i.222.]
Martin Aylworth, Doctor of Law of All-Souls Coll
(graduated) Nov. 27,1621.
Quoted from: "Arthur Aylsworth and his Decendents", by Homer E.
Aylsworth M.D. (1887)
[Fasti Oxonienses, i. 398.]
Henry Aylworth, Chancellor of the Diocese of Oxford, New Coll., D. C.
L., March 9, 1660. [Oxford Catalogue.]
John Aylworth, Magd., B. A. Jan. 20, 1672,- M. A. Oct. 20, 1675.
" Surnames were introduced into England by the Normans and were
adopted by the nobility about 1100" [Hayden] "Even after the conquest
the practice was not introduced among the Saxon population, so far as
reliable records testify, for one or two hundred years." [Nicholas,
Pedigree of the English People.] "The assumption of surnames by the
common people is every where of much later date than their use by noble
(gentle) families. As yet they can hardly be said to be adopted
by the people of the wilder districts of Wales." [Chamber's Encyc.]
Surnames often originated in local names, which seems to have been the
case with the name of Aylworth. An English Gazetteer, printed in London,
Eng., in 1775, cites two localities of this name in England,
Aylworth, Gloc , near Wythington.
Aylworth. Sussex, north of Eastbourne.
The following extracts from a description of the parish of Naunton is
taken from Atkyn's History of Glocestershire:
This parish lies in the hundred of Slaughter, four miles distant south
Page 18 west of Stow, four miles southeast
from Winchcomb, and fourteen miles northeast from Glocester. * * * The
church is in the deanery of Stow; it is worth 120s. yearly. The Bishop
of Worcester is patron. * * * The church is handsome with a beautiful
tower adorned with battlements and pinnacles, and hath an aile on the
north side belonging to the family of the Aleworths; * it is dedicated
to St. Andrew.
The images of the apostles have been painted in full length in the
church windows, and some do yet remain entire. In the north windows are
the images of St. Stephen and St. Catharine; and in one window is the
image of John Bayle in a posture of prayer; and in several places is
painted, to pray for the soul of Aleworth and the soul of John Bayle.
The parish is eight miles in compass; it consists mostly of arable land.
A brook, which breeds very large trouts, runs through this parish into
* In all historical extracts the orthography of this surname will be
There are several hamlets, or smaller divisions in this parish:
1. Ayleworth, a mile from the church, 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
(A. D. 1066.)
"Alwin held Ailewurde in the reign or King Edward the Confessor
"(1042-1066); William Gozenboded held it in the reign of King William
the Conquerer (1066-1085. It was taxed at one hide; there " was one
plow's-tillage in demean. It formerly paid a yearly rent of "6s.; it
paid 3s. yearly in King William's reign." Domesday Book.†
† Domesday Book is one or the oldest and most valuable records In
a statistical survey or the country by Wil1am the Conquerer, and
completed in 1086.
Petronella de la Mere died seised of Elworth 47 Hen. III.(1263.)
Gelbert de Clare, Earl or Glocester and Hartford, was seised of this
manor and Hartford in this parish, in the reign of King Edward the First
(1272-1307); and his claim to a court leet, and other privileges
was allowed in a Quo Warranto brought against him 15 Ed I.(1287.)
This manor at the dissolution or religious foundations, did belong to
the priory of St, Oswald's in Glocester, and was granted to Richard
Andrews and Nicholas Temple,in trust,35 Hen, VIII. (1544.) A farm in
Ayleworth did belong to the priory of Lauthony, and was granted to
Vincent Calmudee and Richard Calmudee 6 Eliz (1564 )
Richard Alyeworth had livery of the manor and capital messuage of
Ayleworth, with the lands lately belonging to the priory of St. Oswald's
and also a farm called de Lantone, 9 Eliz (1567). Other lands in
Ayleworth, and a grove, did belong to the chantry of St. Mary in
Westbury, and was granted to Anthony Cope, 10 Jac. (1613) John Ayleworth
was seised of lands in Naunton, Calcut, and Ayleworth, 16 Ed, IV
2. Bail Farm, another hamlet which did belong to it family of the
same name, as appears by the glass windows in the church,
3. Upper Harford. William de Clinton, earl of Huntington, was seised
of the manor of Hartford 28 Ed. III. (1355 ) Richard son of John
Browning, was seised thereof 2 Hen. IV. (1401.) The priory of Lanthony
was seised of lands in Harford and Aylesworth * 13 Hen. IV. (1412)
* This may refer to the Aldeworde of Domesrtay, and the Aldesworth
referred to In
Strypes Memoirs, and not the Aylworth In Naunton parish.
There are thirty-four houses in this parish, and about one hundred and
forty inhabitants. whereof sixteen are freeholders: yearly births 5,
deaths 4, Payments, to the royal aid 1692, 079£--11s--O4d; 1684 to the
land tax 063£--19s--00d ; 1694 to the poll tax 022£--13s--00d.
Rudge's History of Gloucester, gives a briefer description of the parish
of Naunton, and of Ayleworth, says it gave name to a family who were
ancient possessors of it, --- that lands in Naunton had belonged to the
family of Ayleworth so early as 1477 --- has no variations in the
spelling of the name, and to what is said by Atkyns concerning Richard
Ayleworth, adds that "Joshua the last of this family died in 1718 when
the manor, with the estates passed by purchase to ----------- Herring,
The reader will not fail to notice the variations in the spelling of
the name in Atkyns' history, which are accounted for by supposing that
the historian followed his authorities, giving the spellings as he found
them; or as Lambarde remarks in his history of Kent, concerning a
similar case, "by depravation of the writers out of the sundry copies as
I suspect," Domesday has, beside the reference to Ailewrde given above, also a
reference to Aldeswrde in Gloucestershire, and Strypes Memoir of the
Ref, II. p ii. page 6, referring to the year 1552, contains this
clause: "And the tenths in Aldesworth, Linton and Skipton solas, in the
of Gloucester, etc."
The introduction to Vol. IV. of Domesday, in speaking of the names of
both places and persons says, "The caprice however with which they have
been written as to spelling either in one or the other record is
We see from the foregoing that the place or locality called Ailewurde
in Domesday became the Ayleworth of Atkyns' and Rudge's histories and
the Aylworth of the old Gazetteer.
The syllable Ayl has a notable tendency to variations in
spelling, Strype's Lives has four forms for one name --- Aylmer, Ælmer,
Ailemer, and Elmer --- an applied to one individual, Bishop John Aylmer,
The name, however spelled, is a compound word, concerning the
Page 20 derivation and meaning of which
there is some difference of opinion, Its will appear from the following
AYLSWORTH. This name admits of several meanings: Eal, Saxon,
finished, completed, and worth, a farm house or village. Ayles.
Cor. Br ., low meadow, flat lands, washed by a river, sea, or lake, and
gwerth, a worth, farm, house, or village. [Arthur's Etymological
Dictionary of Family Surnames, New York, 1857.]
" But since here is none other thing woorty Note, let us make toward
Ailesforde; for there you may see the most assured marke of great
Antiquitie, that we have within the Shyre of Kent.
Ailesforde, or Eilesforde * * * called in some Saxon copies,
Egelesford, that is, the Foorde or passage over the River Egle, or Eile;
or rather the passage of Ecclef which is a place in this parish; in
others Angelesford, which is the passage of the Angles, or English men."
[Lambarde's History of Kent.]
The name of Eigil, the hero-archer, is probably to be sought at
Aylesbury, formerly Æglesbyrig, as well perhaps as at Aylesford,
Aysworth and Aylstone. [Isaac Taylor, Words and Places, London, 1870, p.
223.] The Anglo-saxon woerthig which appears in English
names in the form of worth bears a meaning nearly the same as
ton or garth. It denotes a place warded or protected. [Ib.
p. 80.] Ton or garth, a place surrounded by a hedge or
rudely fortified by a palisade. Originally it meant only a single croft,
homestead, or farm. [Ib. page
WORTH. Who shall decide when etymologists disagree? No less than six
origins have been found for this little word, which has been made to
stand for a possession, a court, a farm, a place, a fort, and
an island. A very worthy subject tor the etymologist. [Lower,
Worth --- properly speaking, any sufficicntly warded place, it had
come to denote a small farmstead at the time the surname arose.
[Bardsley.] The primary sense of worth is strength.
Professor Charles Dod, in a series of articles on the surnames in the
New York Directory, published in the Home Journal of New York,
makes an elaborate comparison of names based upon their known or
supposed etymology. In one of these articles, in that journal of August
17. 1881, the names Aylesworth and Elsworth are brought into Mr. Dod's
groupings with evident embarrassment as to the true etymological
relations of the first member of these compounds. However, in a note he
arrives at the probably correct etymology of the first part of the name
in Eigil. The note referred to reads as follows :
"Elsworth, it is known historically, is homogeneus with
Aylesworth, in which the first syllable is either a transposed form of
Elyas, (old spelling of Elias,) or an abbreviation of Aylmer,
Elmeric, with the Page 21
s added. Or. noting that the English town of Aylesbury was
originally spelt Æglesbyrig, we may conclude most reasonably that
Ayl, and sometimes El, is a contraction of Eigil, one of
the gods of Norse mythology."
In Domesday the names of places and persons commencing with the
syllable Ale, Ail, Æl, Aile, Ailes. and Ales, are
strikingly numerous, and it is not improbable that very many names
commencing with the syllable Al, such as Alumard, Alunardus,
Aluerdus, Alwaretone, Alwarditone, Aluerdestone, Alwaresberie,
Alunar'bil, etc., were pronounced with the long sound of a as in Ale.
In the names Agelunardus, Aiglestorp, Aighelestorp, of Domesday, and
Æglesbyrig of the Saxon Chronicle we see more distinctly the source of
the first syllable of the family surname --- Eigil, as before stated.
Different Spellings of the Surname