Arthur and Francis Woorlyche pt 1


It has been a few days since I left hospital. I've had a general anaesthetic, a spinal anaesthetic, a mophine pump and lots of heavy duty painkillers. I've been comfortably numb and very sleepy.

I can't drive, or lift anything very heavy, or really do much except rest; therefore journeying out to churches to look for graffiti is off the cards. Instead, between extended naps I have decided to take a different kind of a journey -  to see if I can make a little sense out of a couple of likely lads who found themselves in Cowling on September the 24th 1567.


This all started when a very prolific and successful graffiti hunter Pat May gave me two names - Francis and Arthur Woorlyche; along with the date and place mentioned above (she did it to stop be from getting bored I'm sure). I'm using the blogger app to record and share what I find with her because I can't sit at the computer at the moment. Blogger works dreadfully on mobile devices - I'm sorry about that. If this comes out all garbled I shall blame the technology not my state of mind.

The first thing I noticed was the spelling of Francis, it is the masculine variant; the educated masculine variant. Being a Frances (feminine) I've noticed several different spellings of my name. Fraunceys, Ffrancys, Francies, Frawnceys to name but a few (out of interest, it can be a surname as well as a first name). The nice thing about this name is its steady nature. It isn't too common a name, but it isn't too unusual either. It stands out without being flash. I used to hate my name when I was little, but now I love it. Not the diminutives though, all the diminutives for Frances are dreadful (shudders).
So I made a couple of assumptions that I could start to test. Firstly that both the names were masculine. (So not a male/female couple). Secondly that they were related to each other by dint of their surname, and what a great surname too! "Woorlyche"... it has a presence to it don't you think?

 When said out loud it becomes quite obvious that the "rly" sound can be recorded in lots of lovely variants. 1567 is a good time period for variant spellings. I wrote out some possibilities in my notebook ....
Worlich(e), Woolrich, Wurlich(e), Woolrych, Wolrich(e). As I was doing this I started thinking "wool-rich, sounds merchant class". I have to try very hard not to let my imagination run away with me sometimes. Making a couple of assumptions to get you started is OK, too many assumptions is just plain folly.

For instance - I bet you're thinking that two people wrote their names, independently but in tandem, on the same day. That is likely, but not necessarily true. It is just as likely that one person scratched both names ....  or that one person scratched their name first and the other person, not to be outdone, executed their graffiti later. It is that kind of evidence that lawyers and archaeologists spend a lot of money and time arguing about.
 
Anyway - onto to the next item. That being the date. A very specific date, September the 24th 1567. Out of interest that was the ninth year of Queen Elizabeth the first's reign. Mary Queen of Scots was having a rough time and abdicated in favour of her infant son, the French were having their Third war of religion. When I originally calculated the date I thought that it fell on a Sunday. But I was wrong; it actually falls on a Wednesday.

Days and dates and things like feast days and when Easter falls in a particular year makes my head hurt. So I ended up using this clever website, it explains calendars and dates in a friendly non threatening way. That said I'm still not sure that I have grasped the calculating of it, thank goodness for modern technology.

The next reasonable thing is to do is to put the names into a search engine - which promptly spits them back out at you. What the internet then does by means of an apology is turn up is another Woorlyche (Charles) living in Cowlinge, but in 1736 (some 169 years too late!) Plus a crest, and the first of the funky spellings (Worlich, Wolrich). 

The crest is 'An arm embowed in armour Argent garnished Or holding in the hand a battle-axe Or'. Personally I love the way heraldry takes language to a whole new and somewhat pompous sounding height- very well done chaps. One dead end explored and discounted.

Now I could just whip out a credit card and buy myself a subscription to a specialist genealogy site. But I don't have any spare cash and it doesn't improve my lateral thinking skills. The next reasonable thing to do is to look at the history of Cowling, or Culinge depending on how you fancy spelling it. ....because now I've got the whole "spell it as you see it" bug I'm going to indulge myself. It is possible to waste hours surfing around so I decide to add in the search term "manor", just to make it all sound a bit more historic.

Lo and behold - up pops this... one John Worliche who owns the manor in 1553.  You have to scroll down to section 13 to find the relevant section, and in doing so you'll get a flavour of how Cowling has been. Let's pursue this John a little further....

Pursuit takes us to a book published in 1905 called "The Manors of Suffolk". I'll leave it up to you to determine the veracity of its contents. I'm personally a little suspicious of Victorian research (yes I know it was published in the Edwardian era but I bet it took longer than 4 years to gather the source material). There is also a will which might be related to this "John", but frustratingly I can't locate the document online, only references to the fact that it exists.
 
Still no Francis or Arthur - but now there are other family branches to investigate.  Dutifully I start, with every combination of spelling and lots of bits of scribbled on paper. Dead end after dead end.  I chase Worlichs in and out of the county, down to Kent, up to Stafford.

Along my way I met with Walter, who was involved in a suit for trespass, who lived in Everton Bedfordshire and who's wife Elizabeth left a very unusual bequest to Clare college.

I nodded briefly with a Worlich who worked on Kings college chapel. I scour visitations, which told me a lot about the lineage of various Worlichs (I take back everything I previously said about heralds, they rock).

I also read the will of a man some 536 years dead who went by the alias of Worliche ... he was very interesting, and provided me with another spelling of Cullyng/Cowling. It was then that I realised that Wickhambrook is right next door to Cowling... that it turns out is an important fact...

because...then it happened.

I fell across Francis - son of Thomas Worlich / Woorlich / Woorledge / Worlege  of Alconbury, and shortly afterwards, using the volumes of the Alumni Cantabrigiensis, his brother Arthur. Now Thomas, was a very industrious man, an MP, who made a good marriage, leased good property, and who's family had split into branches that include Everton Beds,  Wickhambrook Suff and his own place of residence Alconbury in Hunts.



That's when I realised that I was going to have to try to determine whether this marital link between  Honor Wolrich of Alconbury and Charles  Wolrich of Cowling is likely. But that will have to wait until tomorrow, pain meds and sleep now.
 
Note to self - Does Thomas, father of Francis and Arthur marry Jane Wingfield or Elizabeth Wingfield?

(N.B. I edited this a week later it was first written - it is mostly the same as the original, hopefully a little more coherent).