This surname of WORTHAM is an English occupational name for a grower or seller of vegetables or of medicinal herbs and spices. The name may also have applied to a spicer, which was an important occupation in the Middle Ages. The nobles and wealthy churchmen spent considerable money on mustard, aniseed, cinnamon, caraway, coriander and pepper to enable the cooks to spice meat which tended to spoil quickly in the absence of modern refrigeration. The name was derived from the Old English word WURT (plant). Other spellings of the name include WORT, WORTT, WORTS and WURZE. Early records of the name mention Aeluuric UUORT, who was recorded in the year 1095 in County Suffolk, and Edward WORTS of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Surnames can be divided into four categories; place names, occupation names, nicknames and patronymics. PLACE NAMES are the largest group and covers all those names first applied to people who lived in or nearby to a particular place. For example, Grove, Wood, Field, Meadow, and Street are obvious. Occasionally names were taken from obscure villages or hamlets which no longer exist and this can make research confusing. OCCUPATION NAMES cover nearly all trades which existed in the Middle Ages. These are numerous. It does not necessarily follow that such names as King, Duke, Earl and so on mean your ancestors were of noble blood. It is much more likely that such named people worked for the person referred to. NICKNAMES. This is a smaller group but in many ways more interesting. They usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. For instance the name Black would denote a dark man, Little, someone small (or even somewhat ambiguously) someone tall. PATRONYMICS. This group covers all names which derive immediately from the owner's father. Many christian names which are also surnames have, over the years, lost the possessive form but the origin is still the same. Examples of this could be names such as Peter,Thomas, Henry - all names which became both christian and surnames over the years. A later instance of the name includes Henry WORTES, who was documented in County Suffolk in the year 1524.
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