Unsworth Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Unsworth Meaning
The Unsworth surname comes from the place-name Unsworth near Bury in Lancashire. The place-name derives from the Old English personal name Hund, meaning
“hound” or “dog,” plus worth,
meaning “homestead” or “enclosure” – hence “Hund’s
It was recorded as Hunderwrth in 1291 and Undesworth
in 1322. The name is believed to be of Saxon origin. It
appeared in The Saxon Chronicle
that was compiled by monks in the 10th century.
Other worth-ending
place-names, either in Lancashire or Yorkshire, that have become
surnames are Ainsworth, Duckworth, Illingworth and – probably the best known – Woolworth.
Unsworth Resources on

Unsworth Ancestry

The Unsworths were a long-established Lancashire family.

“A mile and a half on the south
side of Bury is an old
farmhouse, the residence in former times of a family of some note and
still occupied by a lineal descendant. The family of Unsworth has
possessed this property, according to tradition, ever since the time of
the Conquest and there are certainly relics to prove its antiquity.”

These Unsworths intermarried over time with many of the distinguished
families in
southern Lancashire and the Wirral. The
of Redvales in Bury lived at the
on the banks of the Roach river from the early 17th

The Unsworth family must have
spread west from the Bury area at an early date as the
name began to crop up in places such as Wigan and Liverpool. Many
remained strong adherents of the Roman
Catholic faith. In 1717 the estates of Edward Unsworth in
the Winwick area were registered as Papist and the estates of
George Unsworth in Markland near Wigan were confiscated in
the same year for the same reason.

prospered as a merchant in Liverpool in the late
century. He lived at Maghull Hall (there is an Unsworth chapel at
the local church). His son Thomas married well and inherited the
estate and
manor of Huyton Hey in 1814. Both he and the family he married
into were Catholic. One branch of this family later emigrated to
Brockway in Pennsylvania.

Another Unsworth family were butchers in Wigan from the early 19th
century. Four generations of the family traded, first at Coopers
Row in the Wiend and then at Greenough Street. Thomas
Unsworth and his sons operated Unsworth Cartage & Haulage in Goose
Green, Wigan. The company still runs.

Unsworths in Culcheth near
Leigh date from the
early 17th century. They were
blacksmiths. The first Unsworths in
Leigh appeared a century or so later.
John Unsworth kept the Market
inn in the mid 19th century.
John had a small organ there and started a singing room. He was the grandfather of the Unsworths of
the St. Joseph’s Brass Band.

The Unsworth name did not spread much outside of
Lancashire. By the time of the 1891 census, 85 percent of
Unsworths were still living in Lancashire.

Canada. Giles Unsworth
was a cotton broker in Liverpool in the 1830’s who moved with his large
family to Canada in 1848. They settled in Flamboro,
Ontario. Robert and Sarah Unsworth from Wigan emigrated to Nova
Scotia in 1906 on the City of Vienna.

James Unsworth
from Bolton became
a Mormon convert and made the passage to Utah in 1861 with his first
wife. He settled in Hyrum where he ran the
store. He was the father of twenty
children from his two wives


Unsworth Miscellany

Unsworth near Bury.  Unsworth was
until recently, when it had got caught up in the urbanization of the
countryside, a small village four miles south of Bury.
After the Norman Conquest in 1066, it had become
part of the Pilkington estate before passing into the hands of the
Derby family
in the 15th century.

Unsworth Pole is
the area around the First World War memorial at the junction of Sunny
Bank Road
and Parr Lane.  This Pole or
“Pow” (as it was known locally in the Lancashire dialect) was named
after the pitch pole fixed there by the Earl of Derby which would be
each year for the village’s pot fair.
Local men would then try and clamber up it to grab a side of
attached to the top; the successful contestant could keep the ham.

One of the local pubs was The Dragon.
Local legend has it that this beast tormented
the area until it was finally slain by that brave knight Thomas
Unsworth.  In the porch of the pub there was
displayed a fully armored statue of Thomas Unsworth, clutching the gun
and dagger which slew the dragon, and in the public bar there was a
mural showing the dragon.

The Unsworths of Goshen.  Goshen was the name of the old farmhouse situated by the side of the Roach river between Gigg Lane and Hampson Mills near
Bury.   It was the home of an Unsworth
family from
the early part of 17th century to the late 19th century.

first Unsworth was Giles Unsworth of
Redvales in Bury.  There was for many
years in possession of the family a nine-foot long Jacobean oak
elaborately carved on the frieze with St. George and the dragon, a
unicorn, and the Derby crest with the initials G V E V (initials of two
of the Unsworth family) and the date 1618.

was a stone on the porch of the farm-house inscribed “GV
1691.”  He was the son of Giles and Anne
Unsworth of Redvales in Bury.  In 1672
Giles was granted a license to use the farmhouse as a Presbyterian

James Unsworth was the last of
the family to live at Goshen.  He
emigrated to New Zealand.

Reader Feedback:  My wife is a descendant of these people and i have traced the family back to Giles. However I think that it can be traced back further to George Unsworth.  Waiting for a copy of a lease from the 4th Earl of Derby dated 1577.

John Clarke (john5clarke@btinternet.com)

Thomas Unsworth and His Will.  Thomas Unsworth, the Unsworth who grew rich as a
Liverpool merchant, was Catholic and on his death in 1796 left the bulk
of his
estate to his two sons, Thomas and William, on the understanding not
only that
they would remain Catholic but that they would not marry and would pass
estate on their deaths to the Catholic church.

Thomas’s third son Richard was left just £2,000.
It was said that he had gotten so angry about
the situation that he changed his religious affiliation and became a

Thomas and William did
marry.  Thomas married Frances Seel, the
daughter of Thomas Seel and Frances Molyneux.
In 1814 he assumed the name and arms of Molyneux-Seel.  The Molyneux and the Seels, like the
Unsworths, were old Catholic recusant families. 

Unsworth Blacksmiths from Culcheth.  In 1963 a stone trough was rediscovered in Culcheth,
near Leigh, across the road from the Harrow
.   At the time an old lady
Unsworth, the mother of the village’s last blacksmith, said that it had
used for iron quenching.

A 1750 map of
the area showed a plot of land in the position where the trough was
found and
the plot being recorded as being in the occupation of “John Unsworth,
blacksmith.”  Culcheth
was a staunch center for Catholicism and these Unsworths were Catholic.  Unsworths in Culcheth in the 1881 census
numbered twenty seven.

Joseph Unsworth, born there
in 1791, moved north
to Kendal in Westmoreland where he set up his own trade as a blacksmith.  His son Thomas was also a blacksmith there and
the father
of seventeen children through two wives.
Later Unsworths of this family moved back to Lancashire and
settled in
the early 1900’s in Chadderton near Manchester.

Unsworths in the 1881 English Census

County Numbers (000’s) Percent
Lancashire         2.9   85
Cheshire         0.2     6
Elsewhere         0.3     9
Total         3.4   100

The largestnumbers were in Bolton, followed by Bury.
The small village of Billinge Higher End had the highest
concentration of Unsworths.

Giles Unsworth, from Liverpool to Canada.  Giles
Unsworth, born in Standish parish near Wigan in 1787, had come to Liverpool where he worked
as a cotton broker.  He had married Anna
Crook there in 1826 and they were to have nine children.

At the age of 61 Giles set off with his large
family for Canada.  In 1848 they left
Liverpool by sail, came to New York, then up the Hudson and west by the
Canal, then across into Ontario where they settled in Flamboro.  However, the parents were not to last long in
their new country.  Anna died in 1850 and
Giles a year later.  Richard Unsworth,
born in 1827 in Liverpool, became the leader of the family.  His Bible provides some of this family’s

James Unsworth, from Bolton to Utah.  James was born in 1838 in Bolton, a Lancashire mill town, to William and Elizabeth Unsworth.  In 1848, when he was ten years old, his father came home from work in
the mill one evening and told the family that there were Mormon elders
down on
the corner telling all about their new church.
He was very excited and rushed out with his wife to hear them.

just ten, had begun working at the Eagley cotton mill at this time.  By 1861 he had married and he and his wife
set sail from Liverpool on the Monarch of
the Sea
in May for their Zion in America.
Their first child was born on the voyage.

On arrival in New York, they travelled by
train to Florence, Nebraska.  There they
continued their journey across the plains by ox team.
Alice, with her tiny baby in her arms, drove
one of the teams while James walked beside the wagon.
They finally reached Salt Lake valley in
September 1861.  Sadly the baby died one
month later.

The following year James
and Alice moved to Hyrum in Cache county, Utah and were one of the
settlers there.  As city people they knew
nothing about farming and learnt the hard way.
They were very poor during those early pioneer years.  James did not have a shirt to wear to
church.  So Alice made him one from her


Unsworth Names

  • Thomas Unsworth was a prosperous late 18th century Liverpool merchant.
  • Geoffrey Unsworth from Leigh near Manchester was a much acclaimed British cinematographer.
  • Barry Unsworth is a British novelist, joint winner of the Booker prize for fiction in 1992.

Select Unsworth Numbers Today

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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