The history of the Woolworth family in the United States can be traced Richard Wooley, or Woollery, who finally spelled his name Woolworth.  While Wooldridge, also written Woolrich and Woolredge, occurs frequently in the English annals, it has not been possible to find a single example of Woolworth; this name, therefore, can be assumed to have an entirely American origin.


The Family in England


Wooley, or as it was also written, Woolly, Wolley, Whalley, Worley, etc., is a name of great antiquity.  There is a Wooley parish in the diocese of Bath and Wells, and one in the diocese of Ely and York, and also hamlets of the name in Cornwall, in Huntingdon, and in Chester.  In the parish of Royston, Hertfordshire, on the boundary of Cambridge, is another townland called Wooley, or, as it was written in the early annals, Ulleg’.  It is interesting to note that the earliest appearance of the name in English records occurs in this form.  In the fine,[1] dated September 29 – October 20, 1208, is this entry:  Inter Walther de Ulleg’ querentum et Robertum filium Wilhelmi et Alicia matrem suam, deforciantes” --- i.e., between Walther de Woolley, complainant, and Robert, son of William and Alicia, his mother, defendants --- in regard to the possession of one acre of land in said Wooley, which the defendants acknowledged to belong to the plaintiff, who paid them for possession, three silver marks[2] This is an early example of the modus vivendi employed at this period, and even at a later date, to obtain legal proof of the sale and purchase of property.

[1] An agreement.

[2] “Pedes Finium, Yorkshire,” ccxix, S. Michaelis.