Recorded in a number of dialectal forms including Wathen, Worthen, Wathon and Worthen, in addition to the more traditional Worthing, this is an English locational surname. It almost certainly originates from the famous town of Worthing in Sussex, the first surname church recordings being found in that area. The town name as 'Ordinges' is first recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, and later in 1288 in the near modern spelling of 'Worthinges'. Ekwall's famous 'Dictionary of English Place Names' gives the meaning as 'Wurp's people', and refers to an early tribal name of the pre 7th century. The surname itself is like most locational surnmes both medieval and a 'from' name. That is to say that it was given to a person as his or her surname after they left Worthing and moved elsewhere. In the small communities of the Middle Ages, the easiest way to identify 'strangers' was to call them after the place from whence they came. This could be the next town or village as seems to be the case here, with Thomas Worthinge being recorded as a christening witness in the adjoining town of Brighton, on September 22nd 1590, and the parallel dialectal spelling of Melior Wathen, at St Peters church, Chichester, also Sussex, on March 12th 1599. Other recordings from further afield include: Mitchell Worthen at St Andrews, Holborn, city of London, on Boxing Day 1621, and Alice Worthing, who married John Lucke at St Peters church, Pauls Wharf, also city of London, on New Years Day 1657.
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