“The Entwisle Family”
– a review
Bannister Grimshaw wrote
“The Entwisle Family” in 1924.
We discover from it that the family’s
history is better than any invented melodrama.
It has everything – a hero, the gallant
Sir Bertine Entwisle; a black sheep, the
weak-willed George Entwisle; and a villain, the
odious Thurstan Tyldesley, “a man notorious
for unscrupulous dealing in every phase of his
life … George was soon in Tildesley’s
The upshot was that, in the
middle 1500s, Tildesley acquired from George the
Manor of Entwisle, bar a few small farms which
George’s father had evidently given to younger
sons during his lifetime.
Much later some members of the family
laid claim to the manor and Grimshaw set out to
gather the facts.
In doing so he acquired much knowledge of
the family more generally which, fortunately for
us, he decided to publish.
As well as lots of
interesting snippets of information there are
some tables of wills, officials and abstracts
from parish registers.
I don’t want to spoil all your fun but
can’t resist mentioning one more character.
We all know who invented the locomotive,
the Rocket, but how many people know the name of
the driver on its famous first trial trip?
Well you do now – Edward Entwisle.
Others are named who have produced useful
As for the claim to the
manor, the upshot was that it wouldn’t stand,
for any one of three reasons – The transfer
was legal (if despicable, but despicable
doesn’t count), the situation almost four
centuries later had become too complicated to
unscramble and, in any case, even a valid and
simple claim would have been time-expired by
over three centuries.
The Entwisles were the last
corner of my family whom I expected to find had
been amongst the landed gentry, less yet the
Their land holdings once stretched from
Entwistle as far as Manchester, and I was amazed
to find that in the fifteenth century the queen
was in the habit of popping in to see her friend
and trusted advisor of the family at Entwistle!
Yes, this really is a good read.
But some serious
misapprehensions concerning the family’s
origins, arms and the derivation of the name are
I do not blame Grimshaw for them because
he was reporting what others had said and he
disclaims expertise in such matters – though
clearly he has some considerable knowledge and
ability in historical research.
It had been claimed that
the Entwisles were descended from the Norman
Estotevilles, but really none of the arguments
for this hold water.
The pedigrees of three upper class
families claimed marriages with Entwistles not
long after the Conquest.
As Grimshaw rightly says, even if the
brides and bridegrooms were fictitious, the
records tend to prove the high esteem in which
the Entwisle family was held.
Now this may, indeed, suggest Norman
origins, but it does not suggest being of the
Quite the opposite, in fact, because the
name is given as Antwisel and Enwissel – and
this was supposed to have been as early as the
reign of William Rufus, though I suppose that
the pedigrees mentioned were compiled at a later
Other reasons given are:
- The Entwisles have born
the Estoteville arms, or a close variant.
I can find no evidence of this
whatsoever, and the Entwisle arms as far back as
the early 1400s (and probably before) are
The book illustrates a shield of red and
white bars overlaid by a black lion and labelled
“Sir John Antwysell’s Coat of Arms 1067”. Grimshaw was not to know that in 1067 nobody, not even the
king, was using hereditary arms.
These arms are of the sort borne later by
- Enwistle (the place) is
named after the Entwisles, not the other way
round, because the earliest references do not
say “of” (de) Entwisle, so they must have
brought a surname in with them. Well, the trouble with this is that “twis(t)le” is a
common element in Lancashire placenames and
there are at least two others – Oswaldtwistle
It means land in the fork of a river, and
there is certainly such a feature at Entwistle.
The other part may come from water-hens
– there were certainly plenty of those when I
used to go camping there as a boy.
The other thing is that, by the evidence
of Grimshaw’s book, it just isn’t true,
because in fact the earliest mentioned for which
he quotes a verifiable source is Roberto de
Entwisell about 1200.
This Robert married William
Radcliff’s daughter and seems to have adopted
his arms. These
are also illustrated, with more justification,
with the caption “Robert Hennetwyssell’s
Coat of Arms 1200”.
They consist of a white shield with an
indented black bend and these are the only arms
ever used by the family that I know of.
In fact the illustration is not quite
correct as it shows three white mullets
(five-pointed stars) superimposed on the bend.
This charge can be emblematic of a knight
(symbolising the rowel of a spur) and, though
from the evidence of his memorial brass of 1455
illustrated by Grimshaw Sir Bertine himself did
not use it, it may well have been added in his
Finally, whilst Entwisle
association with former Estoteville territory in
Normandy is not in question, we would have to
reverse history to believe that this was
anything more than coincidence, since Sir
Bertine only acquired it well over three
centuries after the Conquest, and then
apparently by purchase.