Family History


Welcome to the WRNM Family History site.

Please browse at your leisure and contact me if you have any query or wish to contribute details on WRNM family history, n.b. Click on underlined items for more details, including detailed maps for location names.

David Wornham

Site Index: (new items are marked with #)
You may either "scroll down" as you read in order or select specific headings by "clicking" on an item listed below.
WIRDNAMs of Wantage,15th-16th Century, many details from Wantage Museum ,
then click on
  • The Wirdnams Part 1.pdf
  • The Wirdnams Part 2.pdf
  • The Wirdnams Part 3.pdf
  • The Wirdnams Conclusion.pdf
  • Documents of Tudor Wantage.pdf
and also the GREGORY Family site, which has links to WIRDNAMs.

David Wornham

Former Member no. 410 of the Berkshire Family History Society
Member 3064 of the Guild of One Name Studies


I now have the advantage of home research using the Internet and computer CD ROM copies of the 1881 Census and of the Church of Jesus Christ and Letter Day Saints (although I am not a member) "Vital Records" for the UK, America, Australia and New Zealand.


Whether or not people have an interest in family history, I believe that we should all record names, dates and places of birth, marriage and death of those members of the family we do know, together with any family stories and traditions, and photographs labelled on the rear, so they are not lost to future generations. As an amateur Genealogist specialising in my family surname, I am pleased to record, compare and analyse all variations of the surname whenever and wherever found and serve as a reference for queries from others. I welcome and encourage anyone with a WRNM connection to send their family details for inclusion, whether or not they are interested in researching themselves.

I have, since 1980, been researching WRNM (all known variations of WARNAM, WARNHAM, WERNAM, WERNHAM, WERNOM, WIRNAM, WIRNHAM, WIRDENHAM, WIRDNAM, WIRNHAM, WOORNAM, WORNHAM, WONNUM, WORNUM, WOUMNM, WURNAM, WYRDENHAM, etc.) whenever or wherever occurring.

I now also record other surnames closely related to WRNM.
I have a large list of RUDKINs (Northamptonshire and Rutland) thanks to Peter RUDKIN of Poole, Dorset.

I also have a few names for the following families:

  • EARL & VALENTINE (Northamptonshire)
  • OVERTON (Hertfordshire & Herefordshire)
  • ROBINSON (Hertfordshire)

    I was fortunate to find that my family has kept a "little red book" of about 3 inches by 2 inches with family events recorded from the baptism of my Great-Great-Grandfather Jonathan WORNHAM, son of Thomas and Sarah, on 8th December 1805. This record was started by his sister Mary (Baptised 8th November 1807). Jonathan's gravestone, which also commemorates his wife Ann and his sister Mary, is located in the cemetery in Wantage, Berkshire, England. Jonathan was a baker and the licensee of The Kings Arms public house in Wantage, which remains there to-day.

    My mother sparked my interest in the family history by producing a typed family tree from the "little red book". I commenced by recording all WORNHAMs from U.K. telephone directories and, heartened by the small number of around 30, I wrote to them all inviting them to send their family details. I was surprised and pleased to receive about 30% replies, especially as the first letter was from a former colleague, Roger WORNHAM, whom I had known, but as "no relation", proving that he was, in fact, a third cousin!

    Those not replying were telephoned, and I have received only one rebuff of "sorry, but I do not want to be involved". Others found their doorbell being rung by me and, despite the misgivings of my wife and mother I was pleased to find everyone not only welcoming and apologetic for not answering my letter but eager to give their family details.

    I have now made contact with, and included details of, WRNMs in many English counties and also Scotland, Wales, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America


    I wish to thank the many people who have assisted with sending their family details, certificates and photographs. They are too numerous to mention all but special thanks are due to a discovered third cousin, Frank WORNHAM, who sadly died in 1995, and to his widow, Hazel, who keeps in touch. Frank very kindly undertook research on my behalf by visiting and joining the Society of Genealogists in London and even by telephoning WORNHAMs in America!

    Special thanks are also due to Polly Lawrence, B.Sc., of Wantage and Elisabeth Garnish of Wantage (who later moved to Belgium) for sharing the detailed research they undertook when discovering the chequered history of the WIRDNAM Lords of the Manor of Priors Hold, Charlton, near Wantage. To Peter E. J. Clark of Whyteleafe, Surrey (paternal grandfather George Edwin WERNHAM, b.01 May 1879 Hampstead Norris) who not only shared his research findings but sent many details on cards written in the format of my index. To Jeanne Evans, the Webmaster for her skill and patience in composing these pages. Finally, to my wife, Brenda, who has not only shared my interest, but has taken an active part in the research by delving into the dusty manuscripts in the Record Offices whilst I was off enjoying myself on outings with our two sons.


    All details gained were initially transferred on to hand-drawn charts, one for each Parish or one for each family with proved connections, with each individual having an entry on a card index.


    Following the arousal of my interest in computers with a kit built Sinclair ZX80, followed by a modification to a ZX81 then an upgrade to a Sinclair Spectrum I considered that a computer application for my records was a logical step. I first used a standard database on the Spectrum which required reference numbers to link parents and siblings then, after a print-out, scissors and glue to construct a family tree. On "promotion" to PC compatible computers I purchased the "Pedigree" family records software package which I have since used to good effect.

    Our research has taken us often to the Berkshire and Wiltshire County Records Offices to examine the parish records of births, marriages and deaths, the International Genealogical Information (IGI) records from the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, Census records, wills, land deeds, maps, etc.

    I currently have an extensive database collection of over 6,000 names from the 1400s onward, covering over 50 branches of the family, as yet unconnected, as I believe that this is the best way to assist the recording of my family connections, and to assist others in this field.

    DISCLAIMER for family history records.

    Accuracy is not guaranteed and no responsibility can be accepted for any outcome from the use of family history information which is supplied to others only as a general guide. Information has come from many sources - word of mouth, official registers, census, IGI microfiche etc. Information from others has been accepted in good faith, often without verification. As with all family history research, many links have to be assumed and often cannot be proved. On this basis, entries are believed to be accurate or probable unless a "c."(about) or a "?" indicates an estimation. Official registers should be checked for confirmation of any details.


    My research shows the variation in name spellings with direct links for my family back through Knebworth (The Cottage, London Road, later Deanscroft), St Albans (Vesta Avenue) and Hertford (Queens Road) in Hertfordshire, Edmonton (Junction Road) in North London, Berrywood (latterly St Crispin's Hospital) and Duston in Northamptonshire, Lewisham (6 Shepherds Place, 186 Molesworth St) and Woolwich (42 Powis St) in London, Wantage (Tanner Street) in Berkshire and Bishopstone (6 miles East of Swindon) in Wiltshire in the 1700's with an earlier possible two generations in Welford and Wickham in Berkshire. By recording all WRNM connections I have traced many distant cousins and have produced a massive record with provable connections to my family. I have recorded other WRNMs with no provable link to date, including families in the United States of America, Canada and New Zealand. I have also "discovered" the WIRDNAMs who were Lords of the Manor in Grove near Wantage in Berkshire in the 1400s and held a coat of arms. Although this family was purported to have become extinct, I have on record a current WIRDNAM family who, with one tentative link, can trace their line back to them.

    I have done little "outside" research since 1990 as much can now be done via the Internet and purchased computer CD ROMs. However, I maintain my family history interest and contacts and am always pleased to correspond with new contacts, help others and receive any relevant details for entry into the "system" for the benefit of all.


    We have been fortunate to discover the following old records from the County Record Office for Wiltshire for my direct ancestors.

    1. Dated 1758 with map, of the "family plot number 82" [which now appears to be just a lonely copse outside the remaining village at grid reference SU246842] in Bishopstone, Wiltshire, with John WORNHAM [my Great-great-great-great Grandfather] shown as tenant On 14th June 1737, number referred to on plan: 82, for a cottage and garden, quantity 0.0.25 [perch?], Quit rent 0.0.6 (sixpence). see also

    2. Dated 1772, Bishopstone, Wiltshire. "John WORNAM, no.120, All that Cottage or Tenement Outhousing and Garden - Ground thereunto belonging cont. 25 perch. Yearly value 2.0.0" signed Thomas WIRNHAM.

    3. Dated 14th April 1782. A beautifully written Indenture [Lease] "Counterpart of a cottage late Grays, to Thomas WIRNHAM Labourer .....

    Lives: Thomas WIRNHAM aged 44, James WIRNHAM aged 6 and William WIRNHAM aged 10. Fine 3.3.0, Rent 0.0.6" and signed Thomas WERNOM.


    The origin of the surname is not known but the following are possibilities.

    1. The WARNI (or VARNI), Sister Nation of the Englii (later Angles) in Holstein continues to inhabit the region, later called Mecklenburgh. The Warnon River and town of Warnemunde preserve these ancient tribal names. It is known historically that the fertile Thames Valley was a natural attraction for invading tribes. (Races of Mankind, Their Origin and Migration": Calvin Kephart PhD) (Ref. WJW: W.J.WERNHAM, b.1893).
    2. Diversa terrae homasia fervitia diverforum in Horsham WERNHAM at alibi consefs epo cisestren in efcambio pro avocatione ecctiae de ruftinton per epum concefs abbati de sagio et priorl prioratus de Arundel quae est celia est celia ejufo abbathiae: (Ref. WJW:PRO) Translations are welcome!
    3. Domesday Book Indices:
    4. p52:Herefordshire: WERHAM:182a.
      p126: Norfolk:WERETHAM alia 236b.
      p143: Suffolk: WENHAM: 295a, 377b, 425b. WERETEHAM: 400a1.
    1. "Ham" means place, so Warn Ham or Warnham, etc. may have meant the residence of a person called Warn.
    2. There is a village in Sussex, England, called Warnham, (or Werenham in 1166). 'Homestead or enclosure of a man called Waerna, or where stallions are kept' (from Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D.,Mills). The village is three miles North West of Horsham. Whilst there currently appears to be no member of a WRNM family resident there is a WARNER and some WENHAM families. Whilst these names have not been included in the research to date there is perhaps some justification for their inclusion in future. Surnames were often acquired from the place of origin. So, if a person named Adam moved away from Warnham, he would have been initially known as "Adam from Warnham", eventually becoming "Adam Warnham".
    3. There is a Wernham Farm near Clench Commonon the A345, 2 miles SSW of Marlborough, Wlltshire, although it is assumed the Farm was named after the owner.

    4. also see the WORNUM web page at

    5. See info on surname Wornham


    Although it may be natural to assume that a surname spelt differently from ours infers no relation, it should be remembered that "standard" spelling is a fairly recent development. When few people could read or write, their baptisms, marriages and burials were recorded by the local clergy who wrote down what they heard and variations in the spelling of surnames have been found in Baptisms of children from the same family. If you imagine varying accents, pronunciations or even a "cold id the dose" (cold in the nose) it may be understood how WARNHAM can become WERNHAM, WOORNAM, WORNAM, WORNHAM, WIRNHAM, WIRDNAM and WYRDENHAM which have all been found in family research. I have found some records with the entry spelt one way and the signature in another.

    At one time the lower case (small) letter "e" would be written as an "o" with the "tail" going through its centre, whereas an "o" would have its centre unobstructed. The letter "e" could, therefore, be later misread as an "o" and I must confess that I cannot dismiss the possibility that I may have been so misled before gaining this knowledge.


    One family story states that, on emigrating to America, a WERNHAM family were informed that "we spell it as WORNHAM here" so were registered with, and kept, that spelling.


    Various family origins have been traced to and through Aberdeen, Aldermaston, Auckland (NZ), Banstead (Sry), Barnwood (Gls), Basildon, Baughhurst (Ham), Beachwood (USA), Beddington (Sry), Bradfield, Bishopstone, Billings (USA), Bourton, Bucklebury, Burton- on-Trent, Carshalton, Caversham, Chieveley, Chicago, Chiseldon, Coorparoo (Aust), Crawley, Cuckfield (Ssx), Denham, East Garston, East Woodhey, Egham (Sry), Faringdon, Farnborough, Fawley, Fernham, Gamrie, Godalming, Great Bedwin, Guelph (Can), Guildford, Halton, Hampstead Marshall, Hampstead Norris, Hermitage, Highworth, Hitchin (Hrt), Holborn, Horley, Kingston Lisle, Kingston-on-Thames, Kintbury, Kirdford, Lakewood (USA), Lambeth, Lambourn, Liddington, Linslade, Longcot, Long Wittenham, London, Long Ditton & Tolworth (Sry), Mapledurham, Marengo (USA), Milton, Newbury, New York, Ottawa (Canada), Peasmore, Ramsdale (Ham), Reading, Redhill, Reigate, Romford, Shinfield, Shrivenham, Slaugham, Sparsholt, Stanford-Dingley, Stanford-in-the- Vale, Stifford (Ess), Sulhampstead Abbotts, Sutton Courtenay, Tamworth, Thatcham, Thursley, Tilehurst, Toronto (Canada), Uffington, Ufton Nervet, Wantage, Welford, West Hanney, Whitchurch (Oxf), Wickham, Winterbourn, Woburn, Wolverton, Woolwich, Wroughton, Yattendon. (These are the main places encountered to date but is not a complete list).


    The WYRDENHAM / WIRDNAM family of Charlton and Priors Hold in Grove, near Wantage , Berkshire were armigers (possessed armorial bearings or coats of arms). Records of the WYRDNAM / WIRDNAM arms are recorded in Heralds' Visitations when Heralds travelled the country recording the various armorial bearings and settling any disputes between families claiming the same arms. The origin of armorial bearings goes back to the days of Knights in armour when the arms were painted on their shields to serve as identification in battle.

    -with acknowledgement to Wantage Museum

    See the web site of the College of Arms at

    See the WRNM Family History title page for the Arms of WYRDNAM / WIRDNAM of Charlton, Wantage from circa 1455 - 1555

    The direct line of the WIRDNAMs of Farnborough,
    Priors Hold and Charlton near Wantage follows:
    William WIRDNAM of Farnborough, b.circa1455
    Richard WIRDNAM of Charlton, b.circa 1480, married HOLDWAY
    eldest son
    Thomas WIRDNAM of Charlton, b.circa 1505, married Elizabeth FRANKLIN
    second son (eldest, Johes, died in infancy
    William WIRDNAM of Charlton, b.circa 1525, married Mary BOSWELL (Armiger)
    eldest son
    Robert WIRDNAM b.circa 1555 married Alice HIDE
    second son (eldest died at birth or in infancy)
    George WIRDNAM b.circa 1594, married Elizabeth TIPPING (Armiger)
    Bartholemew WIRDNAM Christened 9 May 1626

    The arms of George WIRDNAM and Elizabeth TIPPING after marriage
    As illustrated on page 143 of "Chitting and Philipot for Camden".

    The Heralds' records state that this WIRDNAM family became extinct but, with the name and location near Wantage we cannot dismiss the possibility of some connection with present day families, whether or not through marriage or, as so quaintly put in former years "whichever side of the blanket"! The one tentative link with current WIRDNAM families, mentioned before, is through possible descendants from a brother of Thomas, b.circa1505 .

    Further details of their relatives are contained within the WRNM database and a copy of the Heralds' Visitations follows the next illustration of arms.

    Page 59 of "1566 by William Harvey" illustrates the right hand side of the shield with four quarters: "1. BOSVILLE, 2. BATT or BATE, 3.STRANGEWAYS(?) and 4. LEVERTON(?)" which would presumably have been the arms of William WIRDNAM from his marriage to Maria BOSWELL in 1555. I assume that George and Elizabeth could have combined the WIRDNAM arms with the four above plus TIPPING quartered with BURTE as shown. As not all colours were clearly indicated, these colours may not be authentic.

    The possible Arms of George WIRDNAM and Elizabeth TIPPING
    of Priors Hold, Wantage
    from their marriage 27th October 1616

    Combined from illustrations on page 143 in "Chitting and Philipott for Camden" and page 59 of "1566 by William Harvey"

    Click here for HERALDS' VISITATIONS RECORDS (1566 ) of the WYRDNAM / WIRDNAM Family.
    The 15th - 16th Century WIRDNAMs from the Wantage Museum site WIRDNAMs of Wantage,15th-16th Century.


    Not all was well with these "Lords of the Manor". William WIRDNAM, born circa 1525, "from Farnborough" who married Maria BOSWELL, was made Steward by the Dean and Cannon (sic) of Windsor in 1558. (see "Reflected in Wantage" Pp.133 & 137). He became a Governor of the Town Lands but, in 1596, a deputation indicted him for being a "common barretor" (misuser of public funds). An extract I have of the Manor Court Rolls 1609 - 1624 shows many transactions of land and appears to be a vain attempt to audit the tenancies before handing them over to the following WILMOT tenants. An Act of Parliament of 1597, believed to have been engendered by William WIRDNAM's misuse of the Charity lands of Wantage, named him as "notorious" etc. and established the Town Governors. (With acknowledgement to Elisabeth Garnish for these details)

    - Click
    here to view the W*R*N*M Family photographs


    Eve Wornham wins prize for writing on "My Grandparents and Me"

    Congratulations to 92 year old Great-Grandmother Evelyn Wornham who, on 20th September 2007, at her home village of Stoke-sub-Hamdon in Somerset, was presented with an award plaque and gifts for her Great-Grandchildren for winning her category in the writing competition "My Grandparents and Me" organised by Counsel + Care Click here to see her winning entry.

    - wedding photograph of her (Eve) Grandmother's second wedding in 1931,
       with bridesmaid Eve on the far right.

    I would like to thank Click: goto Digits for counting my vistors.