Last night after dinner, we gathered around Grandfather Wiggle’s feet, the youngest picking crumbs from his cuffs whilst the older ones listened for the combination to the safe. Grandfather asked “What is a Wiggle worth?” then promised riches beyond the dreams of avarice for the answer.
Dawn broke and I dressed, left the house, and stumbled through the streets looking for the answer. My senses were sent reeling, unfortunately not with a blinding flash of insight, but the smell of fresh coffee and cinnamon rolls. I ate, sipped, and pondered the question that had puzzled the relatives who came before, except for those preoccupied with lesser things like discovering fire, sending astronauts to the moon, or discovering the cure for hangnails. I realized I could not answer the question because Grandfather had posed it incorrectly. The question properly phrased was “What is a Wigglesworth?”
Thus enlightened, I stuffed the remnants of roll into my mouth and chug-a-lugged my coffee, immediately reflecting on the ill-wisdom of these actions. The piece of roll was too large and the coffee too hot. Fortunately, a doctor and two registered nurses seated nearby sprang to my rescue in a trice. The doctor deftly removed the obstructive roll from my throat with salad tongs while the nurses applied a vinaigrette-laced compress to my burned tongue and lips. They would accept no payment for their services, save my promise that once I answered the infamous question, I would cable them with my findings.
I ran home, turned on my computer, and typed in “Wigglesworth.” I found my first clue on the website of Wigglesworth, a small rural village situated in lower Ribblesdale, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, close to Settle and Skipton. The name is likely of Saxon origin and is derived from either “wicel,” a surname, or “wincel,” “of the child,” and “worth” from the Anglo-Saxon word “wory.” Among the village’s activities is holding reunions of people named Wigglesworth. The first significant finding! Wigglesworth is not merely a what, but a who, or likely, many whos.
Still dissatisfied with the meaning of “wincel,” I searched further. The website of another village, Aldwincle, said “wincel” meant corner. This definition was confirmed on the website of an Anglo-Saxon dictionary, which defined “worth” as courtyard or farm. The Domesday Book refers to Wigglesworth as Winchelesuuorde, derived from the genitive case of the Old English byname Wincel, child, and the Old English “worð,” enclosure. Still dissatisfied, I went back to the Anglo-Saxon dictionary and looked up each part of the word, “Winchelesuuorde.” “Les” means lies, and “suuorde” refers to a southerly direction.
I had answered Grandfather’s question and he now knows what that heroic doctor and two nurses know. Wigglesworth refers to a child named Wicel lying somewhere in the southerly corner of a field situated in lower Ribblesdale, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, close to Settle and Skipton.
My fortune thus secured, I am onto the cure for hangnails. May it be so easily found!