I.   Surname

The surname Woodley suggests an Anglo-Saxon origin. In fact, some researchers have assumed that Mathias Woodley emigrated from Devonshire, England, where that surname is fairly common.  However, there is no evidence of an Anglo-Saxon origin for this line. Possible German derivations for this surname are suggested:

II.   Spelling variants: Woodley/Woodling

Dr. Charles A, Fisher in his Biographical History and Genealogy of the Woodling Family, 1936[4], believed that the surname Woodley was a variant of the surname Woodling and combined the two names in one Woodling family history. He identified a John Woodling whom he believed was the first of the family to live in this country, living in Philadelphia County and then in Frederick Township of Montgomery county in the later half of the 18th century. Fisher believed that John Woodling had six sons: Andrew, Mathias, David, John George, Samuel and John. Of these six sons, only John George Woodling, commonly known as George (1761-1845) and John Woodling (1776-1850) have descendants listed in Fisher’s history. There are no descendants listed for the other four sons, Andrew, Mathias, David and Samuel.

The families of John George Woodling and John Woodling may be loosely identified in the census record on the basis of given names and family profiles. Fisher provides much information about the descendants of these two families and it is assumed to be reasonably correct.

Of the other four, Samuel Woodling does not appear at all in the census record; Andrew Woodling appears only in the 1800 census, died about 1809; and. Mathias and David appear in the census record only with the surname Woodley/Woodly. There are no records that link Mathias and David to the Woodling family tree and it is believed that Fisher erred in assuming they were a part of the Woodling family history.

There were, however, several families in the area of Union and Snyder Counties, Pennsylvania, which are adjacent to Lycoming County, with the surname Woodling. This must have suggested to Dr. Fisher that Woodley and Woodling might be spelling variants with a common ancestor but he offers no documentation for this surname link and no other supporting evidence has been found. Ii is concluded that Dr. Fisher was mistaken and that Mathias Woodley was not closely related to the Woodling families in Pennsylvania.

Recently three persons of surname Woodling have reported Y-chromosome DNA results which suggest a common ancestor with the author of this summary of surname Woodley. Two of these individuals show a one genetic distance on the 67 marker test and the third shows one genetic distance on the 111 marker test. Other than the genetic matches there is no evidence of a common ancestor in the family pedigrees or in the traditional naming patterns. There is virtually no commonality in the given names of the Woodley and Woodling lines. This is truly perplexing and more work needs to be done to determine if family links do, in fact, exist.

III.  The wife of Mathias Woodley

The family of Mathias Woodley appears in the US census of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania for the years 1790, 1800, 1810 and 1820. Assuming the senior female in the records for 1790, 1800 and 1810 to be the wife of Mathias, the census age brackets indicate she was born between 1755 and 1765. The fact that a senior female does not appear in the record for 1820 suggests that she died before then.

There is a family Bible which belonged to George and Sarah Green Woodley, George being the eldest son of Mathias. On the family record page of this Bible [5] is listed a Sarah Kinney, born March 11, 1763, died Aug. 17, 1817. Sarah Kinney's name is listed just underneath that of the parents of Sarah Green Woodley, the wife of George. This suggests that Sarah Kinney was, in fact, the mother of George, i.e., the wife of Mathias. Furthermore, these dates of birth and death agree with the census record. Nevertheless one should make this assumption with caution since nowhere does it state that Sarah Kinney is in fact the mother of George. Furthermore, since the mother of Sarah Green is listed with her married name of Green, if a similar pattern were followed the mother of George would be listed with her married name of Woodley. Curiously, if Sarah Kinney as the mother of George is listed, one wonders why the father of George, i.e. Mathias, is not listed also.

Additional evidence that Sarah Kinney was the wife of Mathias Woodley is supported by the following:

IV.  The third brother mentioned by E.A. Owen: David not Levi.

E. A. Owen, in his Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement[7], published in 1898, includes the following sketch of the Woodley family prior to its coming to Long Point: "It is said that three Woodley brothers - George, Tice and Levi - emigrated from Germany to the New World about the middle of last century, and that George and Tice settled in the colony of New Jersey, and Levi wandered away and was never again heard of …”
The given name of Levi among the brothers is unlikely since it is otherwise absent from the Woodley family tree and does not appear in any census or tax records. Furthermore, at that time the given name of Levi occurred only in Jewish families and never in Gentile families. In contrast, the name of David Woodley is enumerated in the 1790 census of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, with an age greater than 16, living alone. Furthermore, the traditional naming patterns for the Woodley families of both Mathias (Patriot) and George (Loyalist) suggests that the David Woodley living in Northumberland County must have been the name of their brother. It is probable that the typesetter of the Owen manuscript mis-read the DA of David as LE of Levi.

V.   The parents of Mathias (Patriot) Woodley and of George (Loyalist) Woodley

There is no direct evidence for the name of the father of the brothers George (Loyalist) and Mathias (Patriot) mentioned in the Owen work. However there is yet another George Woodley who is enumerated in the 1790 census of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He is shown in a household of two males under age 16, one male over the age of 16 and two females. While he might be considered to the father of brothers Mathias and George, it is more likely that he is the John George Woodling listed in Fisher’s Biographical History and Genealogy of the Woodling Family, 1936 since there is a good fit to the Woodling family profile.

While question of the name of the parents of Mathias and George is unresolved, an analysis of the traditional naming patterns suggests the possibility that George and Hannah were the names of the parents of George and Mathias. This analysis is given below.

VI.  Traditional naming patterns

            Parents of children in the eighteenths and nineteenth century often named their children after family members, especially parents and grandparents, siblings and other relatives. Both Mathias and his brother George followed these traditional naming patters. Following such traditional naming patterns, one can often guess the unknown names of the family members for whom the children were named. One popular pattern is as follows:

This analysis of the naming patterns of George (Loyalist) and Mathias (Patriot) is as follows:

VII. Naming pattern for George (Loyalist):

Traditional Relationship Name Relationship
First born son George Speculate paternal grandfather
Second born son John Maternal grandfather (John Wagers)
Third born son Mathias First brother
Fourth born son David8 Second brother
First born daughter Hannah Speculate paternal grandmother
Second born daughter Mary Jane Unknown relationship
Third born daughter Eliza Christina does not appear
Forth born daughter Margaret Unknown relationship

VIII. Nnaming pattern for Mathias (Patriot):

Traditional Relationship Name Relationship
First born son George Speculate paternal grandfather
Second born son David First brother
Third born son Mathias Second brother
Fourth born son Richard Unknown relationship
First born daughter Sarah Maternal grandmother
Second born daughter Kenerchy Maternal great grandmother (Kniertje DeMott)
Third born daughter Rebecca Unknown relationship
Forth born daughter Hannah Speculate paternal grandmother

IX. Analysis:

                The guidelines of these traditional naming patterns and their agreement with census and tax records, provide evidence that the name of the father of George (Loyalist) and Mathias (Patriot) was George and the name of their brother was David.

            No conclusion may be drawn about the name of their mother but the naming patterns suggest it might be Hannah.