The surname of WORLEY is a corruption of the name WORTLEY and has the associated arms recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (Wortley, County Yorkshire, bart., extinct 1665; descended from Sir Thomas Wortley, of Wortley, representative of an ancient County Yorkshire family, Knight of the Body to Edward IV., Richard III., Henry VII., and Henry VIII. Sir Francis Wortley, of Wortley, a gallant cavalier, was created a bart. in 1611, but the title expired with his son, Sir Francis Wortley, second bart). The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings. This surname was a habitation name from either of two places so called in West Yorkshire. The one near Barnsley gets its name from the Old English WYRT and LEAH, literally meaning the dweller by vegetable clearing: the other one in Leeds was derived from the Old English WEORC, meaning the dweller near a fortification. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
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