The Birtwistles and Huncoat Hall

UPDATE: for those researching birtwistle, birtwhistle, birtwisle, bertwistle and birdwhistell family trees, there more information here about where and how you can find out more here.

Huncoat Hall, circa 1650I’ve been working on a family newsletter, which rapidly turned into over 60 pages of family history before I’d even had any up-dates from my 4 siblings, and 21 first cousins (all from my mother’s side of family). I now have my immediate family’s news as well as some from my cousin Hamish who I inundate with information for the family tree he’s building. My cousin Piers also sent a moving account of the 10 weeks he spent working with the sick, dying and destitute in Ethiopia. My mother has also been keeping me on my toes with family history and so while I wait for more updates from my cousins I’m going to add the family history information I’ve been receiving here. Anyway, here’s something my mother put together about , the Birtwistle family’s ancestral home Huncoat Hall:

Huncoat Hall

We first hear of the Birtwistle family with Ralph de Bridtwisell, born about 1160, and living in the now-vanished hamlet of that name, next to Hapton, near Accrington in Lancashire. In 1316, his great-great grandson, William de Bridtwisell exchanged land with John de Huncote and moved into Huncote Hall (later known as Huncoat Hall), where the main branch of this family remained for the next 450 years, buying more land and marrying into many of the prominent local families. Later, because of their devout Catholicism throughout the Reformation and beyond, and later their loyal adherence to the Royalist cause, this staunch recusant family were subjected to many trials and tribulations, including imprisonments, fines and sequestrations, so that their fortunes waxed and waned over the centuries. The hall was one of several Lancashire houses to have a Priest’s Hole – a hiding place for visiting priests (like Edmund Arrowsmith) during the years of persecution, when they would travel the kingdom in disguise, from safe house to safe house, saying mass and giving the sacraments to the local Catholics. The Birtwistles sent many sons to be educated abroad in France, Spain and Holland. Several returned as priests and became chaplains to various old Catholic families. Their relative, the martyr St. John Southworth, of the Samlesbury Hall family, was one of those who hid at Huncoat, and some records say he was captured there before his incarceration in Lancaster Castle.

By the time the hall was sold in 1800, by Daniel Barraclough, the husband of Dorothy Birtwistle, Oliver Birtwistle’s (1695-1774) youngest sister, the family had fallen on very hard times. By then, many cadet branches of the family had spread out into the nearby districts and even further afield, to Yorkshire, Scotland, Cheshire, London and Buckinghamshire, while others became established in the colonies and the USA. Their many descendants, including those now named Birtwhistle Bertwistle, Birtwell, Birdwell etc are still to be found in Lancashire and most of these other parts,

Our branch, known as the Great Harwood family, are descended from Thomas Birtwistle of Great Harwood (1665-1729, m. Mary Wadington). Thomas was descended from Henry of Pendle (1510-1577), the second son of Richard (m. Margaret Lowde) Birtwistle of Huncoat Hall, all directly descended from Ralph de Brydtwysell. By the 1700s, this branch, younger sons of younger sons, were mostly farmers and hand-loom weavers but with the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the textile industries, the family fortunes were swiftly restored. By this time the family were as fiercely Protestant as their predecessors had been Catholic. When James Astley married the Catholic Muriel Marwood in 1915, his family were horrified and his brother William wrote a very unpleasant letter to her. Things settled down eventually but she could never convince her sisters-in-law, Hilda and Amy, the Aunt-Twins as they were alway known, that Catholics did not pay for confession. Nevertheless, we ere always very fond of them and the rest of our aunts and Uncles Bertie and Oscar of the Northcote clan.

More details can be found in two detailed, well-researched and self-published books. The Birtwistle Family 1200-1850 AD, by William A. Birtwistle and Ray Apsden, 1990 (now offered for sale on Amazon etc, for upwards of £200) and Birtwistle, a Family of East Lancashire Cotton Manufacturers, by W.A.(Billy) Birtwistle, 2001.


92 thoughts on “The Birtwistles and Huncoat Hall

  1. our line comes from lillian birtwistle b 1890 g harwood
    her father was alloysious birtwistle b 1859 g harwood
    his father was moses birtwistle b 1822 g harwood
    his father was david birtwistle b 1791 g harwood
    his father was james birtwistle b 1753 g harwood
    —– and it goes on back to ralph in 1160!

  2. Hello,
    My name is Elizabeth Kelly nee Nelson. My maternal grandmother was Elizabeth Birtwistle b. 1877 in Great Harwood. She was the daughter of Mark Birtwistle b. 1859 and Lucy Mercer publicans of the Judge Walmsley Arms in Billington, Lancashire.
    Mark’s father was Andrew Birtwistle b.1816
    His father was John Birtwistle b. 1877
    James Birtwistle b.1777 all born in Gt Harwood
    William Birtwistle b.1753 etc, etc, etc, to Ralph
    I was born in Lancashire in the UK and came to the USA in 1967. So far I’ve visted 48 of the United States before finally settling in Alameda, California.
    It turns out I’m related to the former Mayor of the city where I’ve. We share a common Birtwistle ancestor about 11 generations back in the 1500’s.

  3. Ralph De Bridtwisell (1160 – )
    is your 25th great grandfather
    Reyner De Bridtwisell (1185 – )
    Son of Ralph
    John De Bridtwisell (1215 – )
    Son of Reyner
    John Bridtwisell (1240 – 1293)
    Son of John De
    William Bridtwisell (1275 – 1330)
    Son of John
    Richard Bridtwisell (1305 – 1370)
    Son of William
    William Bridtwisell (1335 – 1408)
    Son of Richard
    Richard Bridtwisell (1365 – 1444)
    Son of William
    Nicholas Birtwistle (1396 – 1460)
    Son of Richard
    John Birtwistle (1425 – 1490)
    Son of Nicholas
    Oliver Birtwistle (1455 – 1507)
    Son of John
    Richard Birtwistle (1485 – 1543)
    Son of Oliver
    Henry Birtwistle (1510 – 1577)
    Son of Richard
    James Birtwistle (1540 – )
    Son of Henry
    George Birtwistle (1572 – 1629)
    Son of James
    George Birtwistle (1599 – 1656)
    Son of George
    Henry Birtwistle (1637 – )
    Son of George
    George Birtwistle (1661 – 1713)
    Son of Henry
    George Birtwistle (1685 – )
    Son of George
    George Birtwistle (1710 – )
    Son of George
    George Birtwell (1738 – 1795)
    Son of George
    Robert Birtwell (1772 – )
    Son of George
    George Birtwell (1798 – 1872)
    Son of Robert
    Robert Birtwell (1831 – )
    Son of George
    Joshua Palin Birtwell (1871 – 1954)
    Son of Robert
    Clifford Birtwell (1905 – 1994)
    Son of Joshua Palin
    John Michael Birtwell (1936 – )
    Son of Clifford
    Malcolm Edward Birtwell (1962 – )
    The son of John Michael

    1. Hello distant cousin,
      I follow my ancestry until half-way down your list … James Birtwistle (1540), and whereas you are descended from his son George (1572 – 1629) I am descended from his older brother Henry (1562 – 1607), so your George Birtwistle is my 11th Great-Uncle! How interesting that you can follow the male line from Ralph De Bridtwisell all the way down to you. In my family tree one Agnes Birtwistle (1692) married Richard Barnes (1690) and were the ancestors of my paternal grandmother. Isn’t this fascinating! Greetings from Canada!

    2. If you would like to see the whole Birtwistle family tree of approximately 22,000 + people, look at my tree at Birtwistle 12-22-13(2) 2014-12-31(2) . The tree is up to date.. I believe you will find that I was the one who connected the US Birtwell family to the tree. I may have to give you permission, if so, just send me your email address. This tree can be observed by all. Somehow I became an unofficial compiler. Quite a few of the posts are from people I have been in contact with. The my homepage referred to in several of the replies has not been updated in years and did contain errors, both of which us compilers after William (Billy) and also ones he and his compilers had made based upon the information that was then available. Billy passed away in the 1990s and the 2nd book was completed by another. My present email is
      L Alan Birtwhistle.

      1. Hi Alan, My mother was a Birtwhistle so I’m interested in the info. I do have the book The Birtwhistle Family 1200 to 1850. Do you have a Coloured picture of the family crest? If so I would love to see it in colour. Best wishes for Xmas Jean.


  4. Hi I married in to a Birtwhistle in 1980 and had a son Gary, he was born with a rare genetic hand deformity past down from his father. We also have Astley’s that married in to our McAlister Clan, we married in to the Hilton or rather De Hilton from Hilton Of Cadboll in Scotland. The McAlister’s have been genetically matched to King Tut. McAlister’s of Heywood are from the Heape Clan. Would love to connect with you all. I am based in Church, near Accrington and am studying Altham Church and it’s 500 year history. I have a great family album full of images and also all the birth, marriage and death cert’s. Great post.

    Dawn Hilton McAlister.x

  5. I too am one of the many descendents of the Birtwistles of Huncoat Hall, My descendents were living in Higham during the time of the Pendle Witch trials and as the accused were questioned by Roger Nowell of Read Hall in Ashlar House Higham it would be interesting to know of any involvement my abcestors had at that time -if any

  6. sorry meant my ancestors where living in Higham during the Pendle Witch trials–I’m not that old! despite what my grandchildren think!

  7. I am a descendant of Ralph De Bridtwisell through my grandmother, Charlotte Birtwistle. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, and she lived from 1884 to 1946. It is so exciting to read this blog. Thank you for all your work, and hello, cousins!

  8. I am a descendant from Ralph Birdtwisell. I live in Australia and am doing the Bertwistle Story here. My GGG Grandparents were Robert Birtwistle and Mary Whitaker. I would love to here from anyone who could tell me more on the English side of things. Carol.

    1. Hi Carol … thanks for getting in touch. My family are listed L. Alan Birtwhistle’s The Birtwistle Family Home Page:

      I think our common ancestor is James BIRTWISTLE who married Elizabeth WADDINGTON.


      You 27 >>> Father, 26 Grandfather 25, G Grandfather 24, GG Grandfather 23, ROBERT 22, JOHN 21, ROBERT 20, JAMES 19, THOMAS 18, JOHN 17, HENRY 16, HENRY 15, JAMES 14, HENRY 13, RICHARD 12, OLIVER 11, JOHN 10, NICHOLAS 9, RICHARD 8 BRIDTWISEL, WILLIAM 7, RICHARD 6 DE BRIDTWESELL, WILLIAM 5, JOHN 4, JOHN 3, REYNER 2, RALPH 1

      Alan and my cousin Hamish MacLaren have done more work than I have on Birtwistle faily. You can see my cousin Hamish’s work here and here

      Best Justin

      1. Hi it’s carol who is doing the descendants of Robert Birtwistle and Emma Gladwin in Queensland Australia. Robert is the son of Robert Birtwistle and Mary Whitaker. My email is –

  9. I too am descended directly, from Raplh de Bridtwisell through the male line My great grandmother Jane Ann Birtwistle was the first female,she married George Thomas Woods;my mother’s grand father. the photo shows I have shows her to be rather stern.

  10. Hi everyone,
    My name is Robert John Bertwistle & my relation with the same name came out to Australia with his wife Mary Whitaker in the 1800’s. He came on the “Norman”.
    We should all be proud weasels.
    Best wishes
    Rob Bertwistle

  11. By my reckoning Ralph de Bridtwisell was my 34 times Great Grandfather. My connection to the Birtwistle family is through the Hargreaves family of Hapton (Coal miners) and the Duxbury family of Duxbury Hall in Chorley.

  12. Hi, My name is Paul Birtwistle and my uncle William [Bill] spent 40 years compiling The Birtwistle Family book 11-20 to 1865. This book traces all the lines from Huncoat hall through and I am a direct decendent of Ralph.

    1. Paul … my mother and her family knew your uncle affectionately as cousin Billy although the common ancestor was a few generation back. Both families owned/ran Cotton mills in Lancashire. I think your uncle knew my uncle Michael Birtwistle quite well, and I have copies of both his books. Thanks for dropping by.


      1. Hi there, my name is Malcolm Birtwell and my great grandfather Joshua Birtwell was a manager in a cotton mill in Nelson.He was born in Sabden in Top Row and our branch of the family are from Sabden. I have a copy of Billy Birtwistle’s book but they are hard to get hold of now.

      2. As far as the genealogy is concerned much of the book is already online, and that’s the bulk of what the book is about until later generations.

        See The Birtwistle Family Home Page by L. Alan Birtwhistle:

        There’s also my cousin Hamish’s Descendents of Robert Maclaren 1776-1826 & Ralph de Birdtwisell 1160 and his Maclarens, Birtwistles and Many Other Families tree.

        Start at Ralph de Bridtwisell.

        I’m sure at some point someone will transcribe notes from cousin Billy’s (as my mum called him) book and link it to the genealogy on one of these sites. My cousin Hamish has done this with later generations.

  13. Hello, Birtwistles. My paternal grandmother was an Ingham, a descendant of Thomas Ingham of Pendle, born in Billington–He married Ann(e) Birtwistle in Padiham in 1697, according to some new info that I received. I am sure about the genealogy of “my” Inghams 3 generations later, just don’t have evidence of the line before Richard Ingham born in Newchurch in Pendle in 1754. One of their ancestors, another Thomas Ingham–5 generations earlier–married Elizabeth Blackburn in 1563 at Whalley Parish. I read yesterday that author John Clayton has tried to connect the Ingham-Blackburn marriage to the Pendle Witch trials..didn’t understand all the connections. I was pleased, however, to be linked with the the Birtwisles–sound like a great family heritage.

  14. Hello Birtwistle’s I believe from the tracking of the family line that I am a Direct Descendant of Ralph De Bridtwisell. I believe that I may be a lost line that Traveled from England approx 1890 my Great Grandfather Richard Birtwistle settled in Massachusetts and Connecticut around the turn of the century.

    I am searching for more information that might confirm my limited research that I have been able to conduct as the information on my Great Grandfather Richard Birtwistle is very sparse.

    1. Richard, great to hear from you. Not sure if it’s any help but my cousin Hamish has included a lot of Birtwsitle genealogical information on his Maclarens, Birtwistles and Many Other Families tree on Rootsweb. You might also want to look at L. Alan Birtwhistle’s The Birtwistle Family Home Page on Family Tree Maker. Alan also put together a CD in 2009 of Birtwistle Genealogy info, and you can find the last contact details I had here. Hope this helps Justin.

    2. Hi all, you need this book: It is very hard to get hold of now as it was put together by a group of Birtwistles in the 80s or 90s I think. William Birtwistle known as Billy contacted my grandfather, father and myself in around 1994 and told us he’d been researching the family with a group of people and that we were direct descendants of Ralph de Bridtwisell. My father, my sister and I all have copies of the book but I don’t know if it will ever be reprinted unless you could get hold of Billy’s descendants?

  15. hi i am also a decendent of ralph de bridtwistle my great grandmother was annie birtwistle and my gg grandmother was jane anne birtwistle settled in bendigo aust after 1851 she married alfred/miller in 1859 in bendigo and her father was james birtwistle. i am travelling to england in may/june this year and are hoping to travel to lancashire to see were our family came from. it would be great if i could get any help as to were to go ect while im there regards leanne

    1. I too am a direct descendant of Ralph de Bridtwisell born 1160AD. I have a fully family tree of the Birtwistles dating from 1160AD to 1710AD. I live in Clitheroe, Lancashire which is not far from Huncoat Hall the ancestral home of the Birtwistles . If you wish to contact me my details are below.

  16. Hi, I married into the Birtwistle family, to a direct descendent of Ralph De Bridtwesell. I spent several hours researching the family tree via a couple of websites and then hit upon someone’s family tree where all the information was complete….I was so excited I copied all the information and printed it off, staying up into the wee hours of the morning (5.30am). I was so excited to tell my husband we now had his family history all the way back to 1160, thanks to the hard work of his Uncle Billy and others. My Husband is Leonard Gordon Birtwistle born 1944 in Bedford to Le Gordon Birtwistle and Elizabeth Harbinson. His Father, another Leonard Birtwistle, born in 1897 in Lancashire maried Lillian Mabel Clark from Bedford in 1917. I am wondering what made him relocate to Bedford? Perhaps he was enlisted in the 1914 – 18 Great War and was billeted in the local area?


    1. Hi viv. I just saw this and wanted to add, that my maternal great-grandparents, were Leonard and Lillian Birtwistle (their daughter Peggy was my nana). I’m pretty sure he was in WW!, because I remember seeing something (like an award, or enlistment document), that my nana had.
      Nana moved to the US after marrying my grandad, so I never got to meet the great-grandparents, just a few of her siblings and nieces and nephews.

      1. Hi Jillian

        Thank you for shedding a little light. My hubby Lee (born Leonard) is telling me that he stayed in the USA with his aunt Peggy (your nana) and his uncle Bob in the 1970’s. He saw his cousins David and Gaynor who lived at Greenfield, Indiana; and Le later emigrated to Iniana, USA where he lived for several years until he returned to the UK. I met Lee in Oct 1981. We have lots of photographs still of Lee’s visit which included your great Uncle Gordon and Aunt Lillian (Elizabeth) during their stay with Bob & Lillian.

        Thanks for getting touch.

      2. Hi Jillian

        I am Lee (Leonard Gordon Birtwistle), born in Bedford 2nd April 1944. As my wife, Viv indicated, I spent 3 years in the USA and lived with and then close to your grandmother Peggy and her husband, Bob. They had two children, Gaynor and David. Gaynor was a nurse and David studied at Perdue University, becoming a large animal Vet. I do have many photographs of the time I spent in Indiana. Bob and Peggy lived in Greenfield and I think the zip code was 46140. It was about 18 miles from Indianapolis.

        If you would like copies of the photo’s, I would be pleased to pass them on to you.


      3. Hi Jill,I am sure you remember me. How are your parents Gregg & Gaynor? I occasionally link with them on Facebook. You no doubt will also remember Greg my son when we visited your Grandparents in Indiana. I recall your driving him around in your convertable. I will be in America this coming August. It would be good to catch up Love & Best Wishes Kind Regards Paul B

      4. Hi, my name is Aisha my great grand parents were Leonard Birtwistle and Lillian Mabel Clarke, my Nanny was Doreen youngest daughter of Mabel and Leonard and sister of Ken, Gordon, Peggy and Vera and my mother is Michelle and my uncle is Keith.
        I remember spending lots of time with uncle Gordy and aunty Lily and aunty Peggy and uncle bob!
        Me and my mum would love to hear more stories from you and we also have old photos we would be happy to share!

  17. My name is Hazel Lee my Gt Grandmother was Isabella Birtwhistle my fAmily come from Gt Harwood and Clayton Lee Moors Lancashire she Married William Walmsley with Regards Hazel Lee

  18. I love your blog – I too, am descended from Ralph de Bridtwesell (b. 1160) my 24th Great Grandfather. His descendant Thomas Birtwhistle (b. 1665) was the father of Agnes Birtwhistle (b. 1692) who married George Barnes and they were the parents of Robert Barnes (b. 1751), who was the father of George Barnes (b. 1792), whose daughter Jane Barnes (b. 1831) married Doctor Haworth and who were the parents of Thomas Haworth (b. 1860). Thomas Haworth married Ruth Greenwood and they were the parents of Maria Haworth (b. 1896), my paternal grandmother. Greetings from Canada!

  19. My great grandfather was William Henry Birtwhistle of Halifax 1846-1871 son of Thomas 1814-1871. Ralph appears to have been my 24x great grandfather. I love the blog!

  20. Hi My Name is Hazel Lee My Gt Gt grandmother was Isabella Birtwhistle Married to A William Walmsley but I don’t know any further than that at the moment but it’s a large family looking at all these comments with Regards

    1. Thank you for your message are they your relatives too Ellen Walmsley was the daughter of William Walmsley and Isabella Birtwistle she Married James. Runacres I’ve spelt it right now sorry I didn’t reply before regards Hazel

      1. The only possible Isabel Birtwistle I have found – baptised 17 June 1804 in Gt Harwood is recorded to be the daughter of Isabel Birtwistle – presumably illigitimate as no father is mentioned. However I can’t find records of a suitable Isabel Birtwhistle who may be her mother. A witness on her marriage certificatein 1825 is James Birtwistle but there is no indication of his relationship to her. No I haven’t found a link with my branch who were “h” Birtwhistles from over the border into Halifax.

  21. Thank you Margaret. It most likely is without the H In Birtwistle. So I wouldn’t be able to trace her back much further without a father’s name I find looking at family history very interesting thank you for your help Hazel

  22. Hi, I am Ralph de bridtwisell’s 25th gr granddaughter and my maiden name was gina (Georgina) birtwistle and my dad George birtwistle. I started this to research my gr grandfather who had 2 dcm’s in ww1 and ended up addicted and in the 1100’s!!!!! As above but I split at oliver and mine line follows piers, George, peter, James etc.

    1. Hello Gina.

      Ralph de Bridtwesell was my 24th g-g-Grandfather and at Oliver, who is my 14th g-g-Grandfather, I am descended from his son Richard, Henry, James, Henry, Henry, John, Thomas, Agnes Birtwistle who married Richard Barnes, George Barnes, Robert Barnes, George Barnes, Jane Barnes who married Doctor Haworth, Thomas Haworth, Maria Haworth who married Joseph Lomax, James Lomax who was my father.

      A few months ago I was looking in to the family tree of the husband of a friend of mine, here in Canada, as I was looking for a Lomax connection because that is his mother’s maiden name. I discovered that he is descended from Oliver Birtwistle too, who is his 25th g-g-father also – his son Piers (who it seems you are also descended from). His line of descent goes … Piers, George, Peter, James, James, Henry, George, William, George, John, John, John, James, Ellen Birtwistle who married James Thomas Lomax. Ellen and James were my friend’s g-g-Grandparents.

      1. Well imagine that! It’s probably to be expected as they would have immigrated to the same areas so potentially went over together. Incidentally, I have a lomax in my family tree also, Elizabeth Lomax married John Birtwistle in 1741 and had a son John birtwistle so she was my 5th g grandmother. Not sure if she is connected of course but it’s interesting that she may have been a distant family relative perhaps?

        Sorry took me so long to reply but forgot to ticket the notify me box!

      2. I was also Georgina Birtwistle and my dad was also called George Birtwistle, although I wasn’t brought up by him and little or nothing about most people in the family. I’ve got extracts from the book sent to me by a cousin in Perth who’s father., my uncle, had done research before he passed away. I intend to read thorough it over the weekend. I do know from what I read so far that we originate from Birtwistle’s of Huncoat hall. It’s all very interesting

  23. Hi Gina, my friend’s husband is descended from the John Birtwistle (b. 1733) who married Elizabeth Lomax (b around 1740), and had a son named John (b. 1773).

    I believe that John married an Alice Rothwell (b1778) and they had a son named James or Joseph.

    This James (or Joseph) married a woman named Alice and had a daughter, Ellen Birtwistle (b. 1850) and who married one Henry Lomax (b.1847) and their son was James Thomas Lomax (b. 1885 in Blackburn) – he is my friend’s great-great-grand-father.

    Looking at this, in my friend’s husband’s tree, the Birtwistles and Lomax’s connect a couple of times. I was born a Lomax but have a truck-load of Birtwistles in my tree!

  24. Hi Barbara, yes, ellen would have been my g g ggrandfather’s sister then. My ancester was also john and elizabeth lomax who had joseph who had Samuel, then my g grandfather. Thin gene pool back then and they liked to kelp their lineage pure lol we must be good stock :o)

    1. Hello Gina

      Do you know anything about your ancestor, Elizabeth Lomax?

      I have updated my own family tree to show that John (my 10th cousin 6 times removed) and Elizabeth had a son, Joseph, who had a son named Samuel, but I don’t know the name of Samuel’s son, who would be your great grandfather.

      If I had the names of your great grandfather, your grandfather I could add them and you to my friend, Paul’s, tree – I could even figure out how you are related!

      And also how you and I are related. I do believe that you and I are 16th cousins once removed (but that’s off the top of my head).

      My friend Paul’s 5th great-grandparent were John Birtwistle and Elizabeth Lomax, as they are yours, so I think Paul Jennings of Ontario, Canada is your 6th or maybe your 7th cousin. He is related to you, and me, through the Birtwistles, but his mother was a Lomax, but not, as far as I can see, related to me, even though my maiden name was Lomax.

      This is fascinating stuff!

      1. Not really, though I’d love it. I concentrated on the birtwistle side.

        My ancester from Elizabeth and john is john (&alice rothwell) then Joseph (&Ann) then Samuel. Samuel married ellen and had my gt gf frederick. My grandfather was frederick and so was his father. My gr gf was at Boer war and battle of the Somme and got 2 distinguished conduct medals in ww1. He was stationed in Ireland where he met and married my granny, margaret diana bell. It was him I was researching when I found out all about the birtwistles! He was a real hero. He had a brother Samuel and so did my grandfather. I have some more of their siblings names if you wanted them?

  25. Hello Georgina, I was reading that and reading it getting confused thinking, I don’t remember writing that then I twigged! Takes very little to confuse me lol Enjoy the book and do share anything interesting you find x

  26. My mother was a Birtwhistle, her Brother wants me to embroider the coat of arms. I have it in black and white, but love to get a picture in colour. Can anyone help please.

    1. My mother has an embroidered Birtwistle Coat of Arms, and will try and get a photo. I’m holiday, so maybe week or two if you can wait.

  27. I have been working on my brother-in-law’s Birtwistle line for a number of years which is a bit difficult since I’m in the U.S. and it’s all in England. I did correspond with Alan Birtwistle years ago but have found that some of the information doesn’t quite fit anymore. My b-i-l’s mother was Doris Birtwistle of Accrington but her parents divorced when she was young and didn’t know (or want to discuss) much about that side of the family. Her father was Frederick Birtwistle (1895-?) who married Martha Bradshaw. His father was James Richard Parr/Birtwistle (1860-?), who married Margaret Thompson, and who was born to Margaret Parr when she was “a single woman”. She then married James Birtwistle (1838-1913) the next year and it is assumed he was the father of James Richard since the two of them were witnesses at her sister’s marriage to his brother just a few days before James Richard’s birth. The Birtwistle line goes back from James to John Birtwistle (1811-1875) who married Mary Lakeland, and so on as the genealogy shows.

    Is there anyone related to any of these Birtwistles? I really want to find out more about these elusive ancestors. I have more information so if anyone is interested, contact me.

  28. Just stumbled onto this website after googling “Edmund Arrowsmith” mentioned on Channel 5’s “Great British Castles” last Friday.
    I am Brian Birtwhistle with an “h”, I was born in 1958 in Bury, and assumed we were not part of the Lancashire family because of the “h”, however years ago, after contact from the author, we bought a copy of W A (Billy..) Birtwhistle’s book which included a handwritten letter and family tree which showed our line of descent.
    My father was Alan Birtwhistle (born 1923, died 2008) son of Robert Roe Birtwhistle (Roe is a name that runs through the family tree….)
    The only thing of interest that I can add is that my father had a distant uncle or cousin, who he met once as a child, who was from Australia/New Zealand. (I believe he was the captain of the ship that sailed between the two and owned lots of property in both…) In the 60’s my Auntie answered a advert in the “Bury Times” asking for relatives of this man (could have been William Henry or Frank Birtwhistle?) to contact solicitors in oz and about five years later on the death of his much younger second wife we inherited a small (less than £50ish small!) sum. I think dad also had relatives in South Africa.
    I believe that my branch of the family is also distantly related to John Kay of “Flying Shuttle” fame – there are flying shuttles on the Bury Coat of arms.
    About twenty years ago (at a wild guess…) my father received a phone call from america from a lady who had married into the Birtw(h)istle family and was researching the family tree.
    Hope this helps someone.

  29. Hi. My name is Michael Birtwistle and have been researching my family tree on and off for years. I have seen Lesters tree and I am on there somewhere as a descendant of Ralph. This blog is really helpful.

    1. My family is also on the Birtwistle tree. We are the branch that lived in Winewall near Trawden. My great grandmother was Eunice Birtwistle Horsfall. I am trying to find out as much as I can about the Birtwistles and have a copy of the lineage from Ralph right down to myself.
      Lynn Ellis Pritchard

  30. I think I have posted to this site before but I don’t see it. I am trying to find the Thomas Birdwhistle (or Birdwhistell) that left England for the US in the 1600’s or 1700’s from the Lancashire region. On the Ancestry Tree for Birtwhistle, I notice several Thomas Birtwhistle (or Birdwhistle or Birdwhistell) but it’s impossible to determine who is who. We have good records from Maryland and Kentucky but I can’t connect the dots in England. We did travel to the UK this fall and visited Padiham and saw the Birtwhistle Bakery but could find no living ancestors in the town. Any info would be helpful. Thanks.

    Barry Birdwhistell

  31. The main resource on all things Birtwistle is the book “The Birtwistle Family, 1200- 1850 AD” by William A Birtwistle assisted by Ray Aspden.
    Including Birtwells of Accrington and Whalley, Birtwhistles of
    Yorkshire and other local spelling variations.
    (c) William A.Birwistle 1989. Published in Great Britain 1990.
    ISBN 09515337 0 3
    W.A. Birtwistle, Brier Nook, Park Cresent,Blaclkburn, Lancashire. UK
    Printed by Caxton Printing Co. (A)
    This has many family trees.

    You might also look at “The Birtwistle FamilyHome Page” at
    • This was on a Family Tree Maker webpage, but those were all moved to when Family Tree Maker stopped those. They can’t be updated, but at least the information is still there. There might be some leads there for you. For example the link. Genealogy Report: Descendants of Ralph De Bridtwesell at if you follow that through the generations you might find something.
    That was done by L. Alan Birtwhistle
    Fax: 757-547-1077 . I don’t know if he has moved any of that to a new site.

    He at one point did an enormous amount of work collecting a huge number of Birtwhistle trees from all round the world and put them on CDs which many of us bought at cost.

    In looking around on Google I came across:
    “The Birtwistle Genealogy and Family Tree Page” at
    There is also

    WikiTree’s “Birtwistle Genealogy” at


    RootsWeb search at you could put in any variation of the spelling you want.

    I haven’t actually tried searching for any Birtwistles on those, but they might have something.

    I have some lines starting with the first known Birtwistle, Ralph de Bridtwisell , of Bridtwisell in Hapton b: ABT 1160 on Rootsweb at It shows 10 generations at a time, click on a name, then on “Descendancy” to see the next 10 generations. I think nearly all of that is also on L. Alan Birtwhistle web page.

    You probably already have most of this, but I hope something is of some use.
    Good luck with your search.
    Hamish Maclaren

    1. Interesting (to me anyway…) to spot that my father’s name Alan was common in the Birtwhistle family as well as Robert Roe.
      This obitury might be of interest to some – Harry was my fathers older, and rather more successful! brother and lived in or near Bury all his life
      note how the spelling of his name varies through the article!
      I’m actually interested in the medical history of the Birtw(h)istle families. My older and younger brothers both had fairly severe Autism, which isn’t found elsewhere in my branch of the family – I wondered if there had been any cases of Autism elsewhere in the family?

      1. Think Hamish and I have some cousins on the spectrum, but we are not naming any names. Severe allergies and dyslexia are other common afflictions.

  32. I’m not sure if I can post photo’s on this site, (?) but have one of my car parked next to the sign on Birtwhistle Street in Gatehouse of Fleet in southern Scotland. The Mill on The Fleet was built in 1788 by a yorkshire born relative, as you probably all know, and is worth a visit. I just called in on my way from the Douglas (Isle of Man) to Heysham Ferry to my mates place near Troon in Ayrshire. The mill now hosts a heritage centre and tearooms and is well worth a visit IMO.
    Have a good Christmas everybody.

      1. I wish, I have been trying to buy back Huncoat Hall for the past 15 years but it is owned by a farmer who has double glazed the casement windows and will not sell.All the local estate agents have instructions from us to reserve immediately it becomes available,I am a descendant from the original line who resided in Huncoat Hall.My family are still in Blackpool so not far, The deeds to Huncoat Hall are kept in the Dunkenhaugh Hotel.A get together sounds great.We have a Birtwistlefest for our immediate family every year in Blackpool.Lets all keep in touch. Kind Regards Paul B

  33. Huncoat Hall is still standing, but the owner is NOT interested in Birtwhistle family history. The family coat of arms from the hall is displayed in the local library or something I think. (I called round about 12 years ago on my way to Troon again…) funnily enough I was back in Bury last week going to a funeral from my mums side of the family in Turton, Bolton.
    I’d be up for a meeting of all the Birt(h)istle families, but not actually many left in my branch of the family.

  34. Greetings.
    I am David Birtwistle living in Ontario, Canada and originating in Bolton, Lancs many decades back. It would seem that we are all descended from Ralph de Bridtwisell c 1160.
    Decades ago I started to trace my family’s history and got sidetracked by family life, the military, a civilian profession and heraldry. Late in 2017 I resumed my search (read-start over!). Well, my wife and I retired to north of Parry Sound and built a year round cottage and this is our first winter here.
    The online information in blogs, your site, and on, can be overwhelming. Even retired and the time to pursue my interests freely, it was difficult to take it all in and not get extremely sidetracked with the Hayes and Heyes, Trelfalls, etc. as I had done previously. So I stayed the course with ancestry, starting my own tree with James Heyes Birtwistle, (pat.g.fa b. 6 Feb. 1900, Bolton), and after checking many trees, followed the most linear track of Birtwistle 12-22-13)20_2014-12—31 on the Public Member Trees on .
    At the point when I got to George Birtwistle( 1757 Tottington, Lancs), the sources started to refer to William Birtwistle’s book on the family, with which you are familiar. Going to George’s father, John, (1733 Ainsworth, Lancs), this link shows only the family book as a source, his father, John, b. 1700 has no source and after that the only source noted is from William Birtwistle.
    This line, as do many others, takes me back to Ralph around 1160. If the line is credible, and I have no reason to believe otherwise at this point, my descendants, and yours, were one time lords of the manor and held lands in Hapton, Huncoat and Birtwisle at various times. On this subject, I read in The Lancashire Telegraph that Lord O’Hagan had sold the title of Lord of the Manor to Daniel Clarke around 2008. I hold the title to The Lordship of the Manor of Birtwisle. (Yes, no house, no land, missing hamlet! Just the title). I do not know what happened to the title for the Manor of Huncoat. It may have reverted to the Crown.
    Regarding the Birtwistle coat of arms, the one on display by Justin has not been used for several centuries. The College of Arms in London would be the authority on this subject. I looked into that when I became seriously interested in heraldry around 1972 and checked with the College. The herald on duty suggested that applying for a new grant would be easier as there was no guarantee that I was directly descended in the mail line from Oliver Birtwistle whose arms were granted c 1567 and reaffirmed in the Herald’s Visitation of 1664. After that, they seem not to have been used from what I can ascertain. I followed the herald’s advice and was granted arms in 1975. Heraldry has held my and my family’s interest ever since.
    However, I digress.
    I do not have this book nor have seen it. While I do not want to reinvent history, I have absolutely no idea as to William Birtwistle’ s sources of information. A copy, photo or otherwise, cd, hint, whatever, would be most helpful.

    1. David, I think Willliam Birtwistle’s sources are based on systematic look at church records.

      As for coat of arms, my uncle was High Sheriff of Lancashire:

      1978 Col. Michael Albert Astley Birtwistle of Tunstall

      Pretty certain he had coat of arms ‘affirmed’ by Royal College although not quite sure if they were same as embroidered version I found online and bought as a present for my mother.

      1. Thank you Justin. I appreciate your observations on William’s book and am indeed interested in your remarks about your uncle and his coat of arms. My interest continues to be heraldry and am a latecomer to genealogy. Perhaps others will have some information on how to access this book or a copy of it. I was going to post a copy of my arms but was unable.


      2. My cousin Hamish used cousin ‘Billy’ book as basis for tree that I think is used in ancestry and elsewhere. I seem to only have copy of Birtwistle book that is about cotton mill owners, so can’t find one that explains his methodology. Alan L. Birtwistle or my cousin Hamish Maclaren should be able to help with genealogy. I’ll ask my mum about my uncle’s coat of arms.

  35. If that embroidered coat of arms is the same as that on the front of William Birtwistle’s (nearly spelt that wrong!) book I’m pretty certain that’s the same one that was on the front of Huncoat Hall originally, although the colours may not be totally authentic!

    1. I can confirm having actually seen it on Huncoat Hall that it is the same as on the book.
      David Hi. I am in Toronto this September but have not yet finalised the itinery.We appear to have the same line.
      I have been trying to buy Huncoat Hall for years but with no success.

      1. Hi Paul. When I saw your name I wondered if you were my cousin Paul, my uncle Bill’s son originally from Bolton. I last saw Paul at his restaurant on our family visit to the area in 1990 and last saw Bill on a visit with my father, Jesse, in 1996 (d. 2000). Then we lost track! We have children and grandchildren in Toronto, Dundas and Owen Sound, as well as friends, so we or they travel to visit, particularly since we moved north last June.

        My wife and I visited Huncoat Hall on our visit “Home” in 2004. We did not get in to see the hall but did meet a woman there who verified it was the (former) Birtwistle hall. She was on the phone and seemd in a hurry. So we did not follow up as we were off to the Cotswolds in a day or two. Still, it was exciting to see some of our heritage. I have been on Google Earth many times to view the hall.

        Your idea of purchasing Huncoat Hall is great. At least there is a hall, whereas Birtwisle has disappeared with little if any trace.

        I would love to meet with you this September. It would be great to connect with you. I am already excited about the prospects.

      2. I went to Huncoat Hall a few years ago with my son who is the last Birtwell of our line. My son is the only son of an only son of an only son. We met a grumpy farmer who told me it did not exist any more. I could clearly see the old structure from where we were standing but I didn’t argue with him because I guess it was a case of “get off my land.” I wasn’t trespassing either; just standing outside the farm gate.

    2. Hi Brian. Spelling, m-m-m-. Well, we can see that our name was a motley collection of phonetic spelling(s) over the decades and centuries, hence the variety today. As to the colours, they are pretty basic as the shield is black and white. as are all the other colours of the wreath around the helmet and the cloth mantling hanging down the side and back. However, I will check my sources later and correct if I am wrong.



  36. Paul Birtwistle, and David Birtwistle of Parry Sound … I live south west of Toronto, in St Thomas, Ontario, and if you two are planning a get-together, I’d love to invite myself! My ancestors were also Birtwistles.

    My line goes …
    Ralph De Bridtwisell (1160 – )
    is my 24th great grandfather
    Reyner De Bridtwisell (1185 – )
    Son of Ralph
    John De Bridtwisell (1215 – )
    Son of Reyner
    John Bridtwisell (1240 – 1293)
    Son of John De
    William Bridtwisell (1275 – 1330)
    Son of John
    Richard Bridtwisell (1305 – 1370)
    Son of William
    William Bridtwisell (1335 – 1408)
    Son of Richard
    Richard Bridtwisell (1365 – 1444)
    Son of William
    Nicholas Birtwistle (1396 – 1460)
    Son of Richard
    John Birtwistle (1425 – 1490)
    Son of Nicholas
    Oliver Birtwistle (1455 – 1507)
    Son of John
    Richard Birtwistle (1485 – 1543)
    Son of Oliver
    Henry Birtwistle (1510 – 1577)
    Son of Richard
    James Birtwistle (1540 – )
    Son of Henry
    Henry Birtwistle (1562)
    son of James
    Henry Birtwistle (1597 – 1665)
    Son of Henry
    John Birtwistle (1619)
    son of Henry
    Thomas (1665 – 1729)
    son of John
    Agnes Birtwistle (1692 – 1729) who married Richard Barnes, gggggg
    daughter of Thomas

    Agnes Birtwistles descendants are my ancestors on my paternal grandmother’s line, and Agnes Birtwistle is my g-g-g-g-g-g-grandmother.

  37. Hi Barbara. What a great idea. You are just over 200 km from Toronto.
    I will check my line (a work in progress with a minor blip around Daniel Birtwistle b. 1843 and his parents) to see how close we are.



  38. Yes, the owner of Huncoat Hall wouldn’t win many awards in a charm contest and seems fed up with people trying to admire his property, which looks to be in a bit of a state. I’m not sure if he is a farmer, I sort of got the idea it was a dodgy old peoples home or similar. The house is probably best spotted from the slip road of the adjoining dual carriageway(?)

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