Researching Virginia’s First Families can be an adventure. For anyone studying the Wormeleys this is certainly true. Their connections extend far back into World History, linking them to many of Medieval and Early Modern names and places.
Eventually a branch of the Wormeleys from Hatfield, Yorkshire extended into the Caribbean and then northward to Virginia, where they first settled along the York River at a creek bearing their name today – Wormeley Creek.
Their formerly important status came with them, in custom at least, when they established early plantations, most notably Rosegill along Urbanna Creek on what Virginian’s call the Middle Peninsula. From there, the Wormeley name is found deeply embedded into Virginia’s rich history.
Though they rose to prominence with celerity, their demise came even more rapidly. The Wormeley’s found themselves on the losing side of the American War for Independence, and suffered for it.
Another Wormley line appeared as the main line faded. This one claims to have potentially descended from the Wormeley’s, but conclusive proof has been elusive. Regardless, the Wormley‘s, most likely former Wormeley slaves, were very influential after the American Civil War in establishing schools for black children. They also ran an important D.C. Hotel that was used to broker the Compromise of 1877, allowing Rutheford B. Hayes to become President.
Today’s Wormeleys are all over the world, but they can be confident in that their imprint is firmly stamped upon not only Virginia’s history, but also England’s and much of the world as well. For that, the Wormeley’s are an intriguing study, and should not be forgotten.
LINKS TO THE PODCAST:
- Billings, Warren M.; Selby, John E.; and Tate, Thad W. Colonial Virginia: A History. White Plains, NY: KTO Press. 1986.
- Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2004.
- Billings, Warren. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 2004.
- Bruce, Phillip Alexander. Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Origin of the Higher Planting Class. New York: JP Bell Company, 1927.
- Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
- Evans, Emory G. A “Topping People”: The Rise and Decline of Virginia’s Old Political Elite, 1680-1790. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2009.
- Fischer, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: a cultural history). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
- Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington: A Biography. New York: Charles Scribners, 1957. (Specifically Volume 1).
- Graves, Donet D. “An Early Black Family’s Life in Lafayette Park.” White House Historical Association, June 5, 2020.
- Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
- Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
- McCartney, Martha W. Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007.
- Meade, William. Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia. in Two Volumes. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1891.
- Neill, Edward D. Virginia Carolorum: The Colony under the Rule of Charles The First and Second, A.D. 1625-A.D. 1685. Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s and Sons, 1886.
- Pecquet du Bellet, Louise. Some Prominent Virginia Families, 4 Volumes. Lynchburg, VA: J.P. Bell Company, 1907.
- Poston, Jonathan H. Ralph Wormeley V of Rosegill: A Deposed Virginia Aristocrat, 1774-1781. Master’s Thesis. Williamsburg, VA: College of William and Mary, 1979.
- Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
- Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
- Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Colonial Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
- Washburn, Wilcomb E. Virginia Under Charles I and Cromwell 1625-1660. Kindle Edition.
- Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia Under the Stuarts: 1607-1688. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959.
- Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Planters of Colonial Virginia. Kindle Edition.
- Wormley, Nick and Wormley, Kevin. Wormley Family History. Online Book and Database.
- “The Wormeley Family.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 35, no. 4 (1927): 455–56. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4244177.
- “The Wormeley Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 36, no. 1 (1928): 98–101. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4244188.
- “The Wormeley Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 36, no. 3 (1928): 283–93. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4244221.
- “The Wormeley Family (Continued).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 36, no. 4 (1928): 385–88. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4244233.
- “The Wormeley Family (Concluded).” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 37, no. 1 (1929): 82–86. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4244250.
- Wormley Family. Papers, 1773-1991 (bulk 1880-1960). Accession 42649. Personal papers collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of the Wormeley Family Crest.
Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on Apple Music, and “Shadow of a Man” by Neulore, also available on Apple Music.