Skip to content

Vorley family


The surname Vorley occurs in a small area in Northamptonshire at least from the 17th through to the 20th century.  Sometimes it occurs as variants like Verley, Virley or Vurley, even occasionally as Worley.  It probably has a common origin and is what is known as a locative surname.  It does not however originate from Virley in Essex as this place was not called Virley until the 16th century.  Originally it was known as Salcota and later Salcote Verly after its lord Robert de Verli who came from Verly (Aisne).  There are other known mediaeval lords and landowners as (suggested in A Dictionary of English Surnames; P H Reaney, 1997) Hugo de Verli 1219, and Thomas Virley 1275. Hugh de Verleio  1166 is said to have come from Vesly (La Manche).

Verly Manors – here are some details I have found about 12th and 13th century manors in Buckinghamshier and Norfolk, England owned by the Verly family.


This is a simple map of Northamptonshire showing the location of some of the villages where the Vorley family is found from 1700 to 1900. Map


So what has happen to the Vorley families over the past 200 years?  Based on data in the Electoral Registers for the year 2000, I have produced a map that shows the distribution of the Vorley name across the UK normalised with population data for each county. It is apparent that even after many years of migration and population movements today’s distribution show the underlying historical geographic locations of the family name. Year 2000 map.


There are many Vorley’s I could tell you about, but here are three, what do they have in common?  Currently I have been unable to conclusively find their parents, although there are some clues.  Charles and Edward were brothers and both Baptist Ministers.  Henry Vorley was a Soldier.


Charles was the brother of Edward, (see below) and was a member of Irthlingborough Baptist Church.  He was born about 1767.  In 1797 he became minister of Carlton Baptist Church in Bedfordshire.  This church had been without a pastor since 1793, and Charles had preached there on several occasions before accepting the position.  In 1793 the church at Carlton had left the Northamptonshire Baptist Association having previously played a significant role being close to Olney in Buckinghamshire.  Charles was minister at Carlton through to 1837 and was a well-known Baptist minister in the Northamptonshire / Bedfordshire area.  He is known to have published two books: The Alphabet of Religion : or Lessons for a Christian’s Whole Life (1836), and The Child’s Catechism in Original Verse (not dated). Some interesting information about Charles’ time at Carlton is told in an unpublished manuscript of Bedfordshire Strict Baptist Chapels.  Charles had three children, a son Ebenezer who became a surgeon in Roade, Northamptonshire and married twice, the first time briefly to Jane Sutcliff Welsh the daughter of Rev. Thomas Welsh of Newbury, who had been one of John Sutcliff’s students at Olney. A full biography of Charles Vorley appears in the Bedfordshire Magazine for 1951.


Edward was the brother of Charles.  Edward was born about 1765 but it is not clear where or who his parents were but he attended Irthlingborough Baptist Church in the 1790’s. In 1800-01, he is found as a licensed preacher in Raunds, presumably as part of the newly formed Raunds Baptist Church.  However Edward and some of his Raunds friends moved on to meet in Fish Street, Northampton.  Edward along with his minister from Irthlingborough, William Hall took part in the ordination of William Gadsby at Desford in Leicester in July 1800. The history of College Street Baptist Church, Northampton tells us that some members left College Street during this period to join the open communion but Calvinistic Baptist meeting in Fish Lane (Fish Street). The group eventually constituted a church and purchased a property on the corner of Fish Street  and St. Giles Street, becoming the Providence Baptist Church in Northampton in 1862 and in 1957 moved to The Headlands, Northampton.  Edward married Sarah Slinn in 1804 at All Saints, Northampton.  He left Northampton in 1807 for the Ebenezer Chapel in St. Peter’s Lane, Leicester. Edward was a faithful and successful minister in Leicester until 1838.  During his time he supported several Baptists Churches in London, Bath and Grove, Oxfordshire associated with William Gadsby.  Some of his letters were published posthumously in the Gospel Standard Magazine.  William Gadsby conducted his funeral and he was buried in the chapel. Edward Vorley’s son in law was John Foreman, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, Hill Street, Marylebone from 1827 to 1872.

For a detailed story of his time in Leicester, follow this link to Edward Vorley at Ebenezer Chapel.

Some information about the early history of the Providence Chapel (originally at Fish Street), Northampton where Edward Vorley was pastor from about 1804 to 1807.


Henry was born about 1770 probably in the Thrapston – Raunds area of Northamptonshire.  The first positive evidence we have for him is when he enrols in the Northamptonshire Militia in 1804.  He was first stationed at Dover Castle during the Napoleonic War period, but moved onto serve in Ireland at Ballynachinch and finally moved onto Edinburgh Castle before returning home to Northampton in 1815.

Henry married Elizabeth Love of Spratton in 1804 at St. Sepulchre, Northampton and  had two sons: William who was born in Dover in 1804 and Henry in Edinburgh in 1815.


John was born about 1715 in the Islip, Northamptonshire.  The first mention of his occupation is in the registers where there is a record of the marriage of one Francis Watkins, “servant to John Vorley, Alehouse keeper” in 1762, the first indication of John Vorley’s occupation.

John Vorley married Mary Sibley at Finedon in 1748 and she bore him ten children, six of whom survived to adulthood.

A full account of the ownership of the the Woolpack Inn at Islip and its association with the Vorley family has been written by Margaret Idle..

© Copyright : Graham Ward. All rights reserved.