Entwistle Family History Association - History & Genealogy of an Ancient Lancashire Family

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Entwistle Origins

What’s in a Name?

There are two main theories as to the origins of the family name Entwistle or Entwisle, the second “t” having been introduced relatively recently in about 1750 but now by far the most common style: the English place name theory, or the Norman family name theory.

One theory is that the family was Norman French, having obtained their lands as Norman Barons after the invasion in 1066. The name in this case would derive from a French family name such as Estouteville, as Bannister Grimshaw suggests in his book, “The Entwistle Family” (1924).

There is certainly evidence that the Entwistles married into noble Norman families of the day and Grimshaw argues this would not have been the case if the Entwistles had been Saxon English..

It is also quite likely to be of Old English (OE – or possibly Norse) origin, “twisle” or “twisla” meaning a tongue of land in the fork between two rivers – a strong feature of the Entwistle Township area. The first element could have been from an OE personal name “Enna” or “Henn” from water hen, again, water hens being a local feature.

Supporting the Old English place name theory is the fact that there are several similar sounding place names around the area: Extwistle (Near Burnley, Lancashire) Oswaldtwistle (Lancashire) and Tintwistle (Derbeyshire).

Could it be that the Norman family adopted the local Old English or Norse/Saxon place name? Or was the family of Saxon origin, the Norman invaders allowing them to keep their lands?

The former is said to be the case with the Radcliffe (Norman) family (Red Cliff) and the latter with the Bradshaws (Saxon), (Bradshaw and Bradshaw Hall) both families living within a short distance of Entwistle and contemporaneous with the Entwistles.

There are certainly similar place-names to Entwistle in the vicinity: Extwistle (Near Burnley, Lancashire) Tintwistle (Derbyshire) and Oswaldtwistle (Lancashire) all probably being of Old English origin and supporting the place name theory.

At a distance of almost 1000 years the answers to these questions may never be known, but it’s interesting to speculate! Also, many different spellings have been used over the centuries: Antwysell (1067) Antwisel (1200) Hennetwisel (1212) Ennetwysel (1276) and Entwissell (1311).