Wardill Geneaology - some facts and speculation



From a text on history of names

The surname Wardle derives from Werdale and the first recorded owner of the surname was William de Werdale in 1216. Over the years this name has been corrupted into many forms including Wardale, Wardill, Wardel, Wardall and Wardle itself. The name means 'from Weardale' and the first owner of the surname will have originated from Weardale in County Durham.

Genealogical notes prepared by Martyn Webster of Dover Kent (circa late 1970)

Wardill along with its variants Wardle, Wardale, Wardall, Wardel and Wardell is a comparatively rare surname which seems to have derived from several origins. It is commonly accepted to be from Weardale (Co Durham) or Wardle (Cheshire and Lancashire) although the possibility of a connection with Warthill (Yorkshire) and Wartle (parish of Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire) cannot altogether be excluded.

In the first two cases cited, the derivative appears to be from the Anglo-Saxon "weardhyll" (watch hill) or "wearddael" (watch valley). In the case of Wartle or Warthill, Aberdeenshire, the origin seems to be from Bog Wartle, a piece of peaty moorland above Tillypronie in Logie Coldstone, Aberdeenshire.

It is interesting to note in passing that among the prisoners taken at the time of the rebellion in 1745 (known as the Jacobite Rebellion) was one James Waddell, a man of Perthshire origin who spent some time in France prior to his imprisonment. He was released in the General Pardon of 1747. Although it is only speculative in the extreme, it is just vaguely possible that this is the man who family tradition holds settled in Goathland after expulsion from Scotland in 1745, and who is supposed to have come over from France.

When considering the subject it must not be forgotten that aside from the obscure origin of this group of surnames, there is the question of the regional pronunciation of the name. For example, letters "t" and "d" seem to be interchangeable over the centuries, and in Yorkshire (even today) as well as Scotland the stress is strongly on the first syllable (Wardill) which produces a sound, so often confused in early parish register entries, not unlike Wardle.

A survey of the five year period 1851-1856 of the Birth Registers for England and Wales at Somerset House shows that there were 27 Wardill entries (4 per annum), 36 Wardale entries (6 p/a), 217 Wardell entries (36 p/a) and 786 Wardle entries (181 p/a). Furthermore a survey of United Kingdom telephone directories bears a similar proportion out for the present day. A survey of telephone directories of countries of British origin (ie USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) shows the surname Wardill represented in Sydney 3, Brisbane 3, Melbourne 1, Auckland 1, Vancouver 1 Calgary 1, and Johannesburg 1. There were, strangely enough, no such entries for any of the large American cities.

The fact that the surname Wardill is so rare, and in the last century centred almost exclusively in the Bridlington and Whitby areas of Yorkshire, tends to indicate that any bearer today of the surname must be able to trace his family back to one group of families in the same area.

Notes from webmaster

It is clear that whilst the family center in 1700's and eary 1800's was in the Yorkshire and especially Bridlington area, from arround 1840 there was a branch in the London area. James and John also left the northern home arround 1840 for Montreal Canada, as did Frank Wardill in early 1900's. Other members of the family emigrated to Australia

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