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


Darwen and its People

Darwen and its People by J G Shaw (1889)  –  J & G Toulmin (Blackburn Times). Limited reprint, THCL Books, Blackburn, 1991


Being the nearest substantial centre of population to Entwistle, and eventually a developing one, it is hardly surprising that Over Darwen became a major base of the Entwis(t)le family. The migration of some of them to that town seems to have started only after the loss of the family’s lands in the second half of the 1500s, but they afterwards became one of its major families with some of their number helping to shape its rise to Borough status and becoming prominent local figures.

Book summary and Entwis(t)le reference by Peter Stanford:
References to Entwis(t)le in Darwen and its People by J G Shaw

This book was published in 1889 and consists of two volumes bound together. Though the work itself is very informative the indexation is deficient, with no mention of Entwistle in the index for Book I and only one in that for Book II. I have, therefore, been through them and produced this paper so as to provide both an index and a summary of the Entwistle information they contain.

Passages in quotation marks are Mr Shaw’s, or as otherwise attributed. The incidental comments in square brackets are mine.

Book I – “General History” – was written by Mr Shaw between mid 1887 and mid 1889 –

pp 44 & 48/53 [Negative information can sometimes have some significance and I wasn’t too surprised to find an absence of Entwistles from the two earliest lists of Darwen inhabitants, based on taxes 1523-24 and wills and other documents 1560-1603. Although Entwistle is close to Darwen to its north, both its civil and ecclesiastical attachments are southwards, as, perhaps more significantly, were the Entwistle landholdings before George lost most of them in the mid 1500s. Though more than a hundred years ago Entwistle was regarded as an old Darwen name it probably only first appeared there following that event and became part of its growing population as industrialisation progressed.]

pp 45 (picture on page facing) and 46 “Holker House, Hoddlesden … erected in 1591 … its original owner was probably an Entwistle of Entwistle, judging from the letters R.E.I. over the door”. Shaw then quotes Mr Ashton (historian): “… we can discern a stone on which are sculptured the letters R.E.I. between two arrowets, a griffin, the owner’s crest, and the date 1591.”

[From the initials, the owner may well have been an Entwistle – it was customary to place the surname initial between those of the husband and wife. But there is a problem – the Entwistle arms do not feature a griffin. This is, however, the heraldic emblem of the Grimshaws, who were lords of the manor in those parts, and may well allude to the episode mentioned on page 42 whereby one Grimshaw, esq. shot a “monstrous serpent” with arrows – In fact, what is described there is a griffin.]

p 52 “Inhabitants of Darwen, temp. James I” (from wills etc. 1604-1625) …

“Entwistle, Hy., of Over Darwen. Will 1606”

[This is the earliest reference I have seen to a Darwen Entwistle and we could potentially glean valuable information from this will]

pp 54/55 [No Entwistles on a similar list for 1626-1649]

p 123 “A small Methodist Society was formed in Over Darwen about 1785 … Mr Ralph Entwistle, of Sough, had entertained John Wesley on his journeys through Darwen from Bolton to Blackburn, and he joined the Methodist Society …”

p 124 “In 1809 … there were … 70 members of the (Methodist) Society in Over Darwen, the leaders being William Greenwood, Joseph Whittaker, John Entwistle, James Smith and Burgoyne Fish.”

p 144 In “Directory of Darwen for 1824 … taken from … Baine’s History of Lancashire, original edition” – “Coal Proprietors: Entwisle, Wm.”

p 170 “The first municipal election passed off without a contest, eighteen townsmen – all Liberal in politics – being nominated and returned unopposed. The first meeting of the Town Council was held in the Free Library on July 9th, 1878 … Councillors … William Entwisle (and five others) were elected Aldermen”

p 172 “List of Mayors” –

“Election (of) 1882, Nov. 9th – Ald. William Entwisle, Rosehill, Quarry Owner

“ “ 1883 “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “”

p 189 “a list of the borough magistrates living at the present day … Robert Smalley Entwisle, Southport … qualified September 1st, 1881. … William Entwisle, Rosehill … qualified January 16th, 1885.”

Book II – “Old Darwen Families” – was dictated to Mr Shaw by Jeremy Hunt (1806 – 1887) between 1884 and mid 1887. Mr Hunt had obviously been a keen observer of people from a very early age. He had long-lived parents and grandmother from whom he had gleaned information about people born before the end of the 1600s –

chart facing p 14: (Descendants of) “James Marsden 1700-92)” –

“Rachael – ‘Own Nine Penn’orth’ (granddaughter of above) – Wife of William Entwisle of Catleach”

pp 15/16 “About 60 years ago there used to be gigantic musical festivals at Liverpool, in which a number of singers from Darwen took part – old Richard Entwisle … and others.”

pp 17/18 “James and Lawrence (Marsden) had a sister named Rachael. She was married to a man named William Entwisle of, Catleach, and I knew her well.” Mr Hunt then explains that her nickname arose from her habit of referring to the nine pennies she had spent on dancing lessons, and tells some other tales about her. “Her husband, William Entwisle, was better known as ‘Owd Billy o’ Ralph’s’, and as Billy was ‘father of seven sons’ a lot of the Entwisles are descended from her.”

pp 46/47 “John (Pickup) had …five daughters … Robert Smalley Entwisle, J.P. took (one of them) as his second wife”

“James Pickup No 2 … had one son and one daughter. The daughter, Sarah, became the first wife of Mr Robert Smalley Entwisle, J.P., who married two cousins. Sarah, Robert Smalley Entwisle’s first wife, had an only son, the present James Pickup Entwisle.”

p 52 “William (Eccles) married Ann, the daughter of old Ralph Entwisle, and aunt of the present Robert Smalley Entwisle, J.P.(as his first wife)”

p 67 “John (Briggs) was married twice. Both his wives came of a family named Entwisle, which supplied half the neighbourhood with wives. Their mother and father – Edmund Entwisle – had both large families before they married each other, and after the marriage there sprang up a third lot. The whole three lots of children were brought together, and it would puzzle anybody to ‘sunder ‘em out’. They were chiefly girls, and they were best known as ‘Money Ned’s lot’. There was such a ‘squad’ of them altogether that it became a matter of common talk what a lot of wives came out of that family. John Briggs’s family are mostly living in Bury.”

p 72 “The daughters of Old George (Briggs), of Sunnyhurst, were Betty and Dorothy. Betty married James Entwisle”

p 74 “William Thompson, a one-armed man, is clerk at the Entwisle’s, at Sough”

p 83 “James (Hindle), the son of James, married Miss Entwisle, daughter of old William Entwisle of Catleach, best known as ‘Owd Billy o’ Ralph’s’. He had two sons and five daughters” (of whom further details are given).

p 84 “Rachael, daughter of Old James (Hindle), married a man named Entwisle. One of her sons, Anyon, was a well-known local character, particularly noted for composing peace-egg songs, and for going peace-egging 60 years ago. When he got tired of peace-egging he went to Australia with his two lads, in 1827. Australia was then commonly spoken of as the New-found-land. Australia didn’t agree with him, for he was killed there by the aborigines, and one of his lads, who was bound apprentice over there, was so ill-punished by his master that he died. The other lad came back to Darwen …” “Old Anyon used to be called ‘Pigeon Anyon’ in Darwen …” “Old Rachael had other sons beside Anyon. I remember Marsden and Caleb, but no more.”

p 98 “Lettice (Jepson, daughter of George) married Nicholas Entwisle. Both died, leaving a daughter, who became the wife of George Bury of Cotton Hall. She died and left a daughter who married into the Jepson family, her husband being John Jepson of Charles-street.”

p 118 “Half-a-dozen more important families will about complete my list, and then I shall be able to bring this long series to a summary conclusion, but two of the families I have yet to deal with – the Fishes and the Entwisles – are pretty numerous, so I will tackle them first.” “’Old Nick’ (Fish) has a sister who married one Thomas Entwisle”

p 120 “David (Fish), who married Beulah Entwisle, was born at Trees Farm seventy years ago, and he lives there yet, but he runs a great risk of having to flit in his old age, for Trees Farm is going to be converted into a public park in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee. He has three sons, married, and a daughter, unmarried.”

p 127 “…Betty (daughter of Burgoyne Fish of Chapels) married James Entwisle. Of course they are dead, but … left families” [Correspondent Glenn Taylor has suggested that this Betty Fish married Thomas Fish and that it was her sister Jane who married James Entwisle]

p 131 “Conclusion:” “I will, however, conclude … with a few words about the Entwisles … The first Entwisle I knew was the grandfather of Robert Smalley Entwisle, of Sough. He was one of the original Darwen Methodists, along with old Burgoyne Fish, upwards of a hundred years ago … His name was Ralph Entwisle … I think he must have been living when I was a lad. Most of the Entwisles sprang from him and his brothers. I also knew a William Entwisle of Catleach, who died about sixty years ago. He had sons, James, Ralph, Lawrence, Edward, Joseph, John and William, and about four daughters. He married … ‘Old Nine Penn’orth’.

[Unfortunately Mr Hunt died before dictating his intended next chapter, on the Entwisles. However, Mr Shaw fashioned a two-page ‘chapter’ on the family from pieces of Enwistle information given to him by Mr Hunt when dictating the history of other families. I will reproduce its essence here, even though it inevitably repeats much of the foregoing, because there are some differences which could be of importance; in particular concerning the sons of William of Catleach – I think we have to prefer the following version as it would have been said when he was in better health.]

pp 133/134 Titled “The Entwisles:” “Ralph Entwisle, a Methodist, is the first Entwisle of who I have any recollection … (apparently) living seventy or seventy-five years ago. John Wesley put up at his house … more than a hundred years ago.” “Old Ralph had several brothers, and most of the Entwisles of Darwen are descended from these men.”

“Old William Entwisle, of Sough, was son of Ralph. I knew him very well. He married Betty Smalley, grand-daughter of The Rev. Robert Smalley. Robert Smalley Entwisle, J.P. of Southport, and Alderman William Entwisle, J.P., an ex-Mayor of Darwen, are his sons. Robert … married two cousins … Sarah, only daughter of James Pickup No. 2, while the second was one of William Pickup’s five daughters. By the first marriage he had only one son, James Pickup Entwisle.”

“A second important branch of the Entwisle family is descended from William Entwisle of Catleach, better known as ‘Owd Billy o’Ralph’s’1. Owd Billy died when I was a young man of twenty. His wife was Rachael Marsden – ‘Owd Nine Penn’orth’ – daughter of old James Marsden … They had seven sons and, I think, four daughters, and a good many of the Darwen Entwisles are their descendants. The seven sons were James, Ralph, Edward, Lawrence, Anyon, John and William. One of the daughters married old James Hindle, of Eccleshill … I forget her name, but I remember her sister Hannah.”

“James, the eldest son of ‘Owd Billy o’Ralph’s’, married Ellen Holden, and his descendants now live near Guide. He used to farm at Mouse House, just above Putforth, a farm between Guide and Belthorne. Ralph married Ellen Holden’s sister Mary. They were the daughters of old Thomas Holden …”

“Anyon2 married … Alice, commonly called ‘Owd Ailse o’Adam’s’ …”

(The above are as dictated by Mr Hunt. Mr Shaw then adds further notes, but they are all as recorded earlier in the book, and, therefore, have already been noted above.)

1 Mr Shaw’s footnote: “Jeremy never told me anything about Ralph, father of ‘Owd Billy’, and I presume it would not be Ralph Entwisle, the Methodist, for he had a son William who is called ‘William Entwisle of Sough’ to distinguish him from this William Entwisle of Catleach.”

2 Mr Shaw’s footnote: “Jeremy never told me anything about the families of Edward and Lawrence, or John and William, but I have an impression that he has told me they all grew up and married.”

p 136 Mr Shaw notes that “George Bury, of Cotton Hall, married the only daughter of Nicholas Entwisle.”

Peter Stanford, Greenfield Farm House, Colne, Nov. 2000
With amendments July 2004