Select Twining Surname Genealogy

The English surname Twining derived from the place-name Twyning, a village near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. This name appeared in pre-Norman Saxon charters as Bituinaeum and as Tuninge and Tveninge in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Originally the name came from the Old English words betweon eam, meaning “the place between the streams.”  The latter form was a derivative of the early name plus the Old English suffix -ingas, meaning “the people of' the place between the streams.”

The two streams in this case were the rivers Avon and Severn

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EnglandTwining is a Gloucestershire name.  There was a manor at Twining from the 13th century and the Twining name was prominent at an early time at Tewkesbury two miles away.  Richard was recorded as a monk at Tewkesbury abbey in 1472 and Thomas in 1539.  John Twining appeared as the abbot at Winchicombe in 1474.

However, Twinings were dispersed at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530’s.  They were subsequently to be found in the Vale of Evesham further north at Pershore and further south at Painswick.  This early history of the Twinings was described in the Rev. William Twining’s 1899 book Some Facts in the History of the Twining Family.

Twinings Who Left.  The two most notable Twinings were two who left the area.  Both came from the town of Painswick twenty miles south of Tewkesbury.  This was the centre of the wool trade in Gloucestershire in medieval times.

The first here is thought to have been William Twining who departed for America around 1635 and settled with his family on Cape Cod.  Born in 1599, he was said to have been the son of William Twenynge and Mabel Newcombe
, although there is no absolute proof that this was so.  If true, he was probably descended from Thomas Twenynge who had been born in Painswick around the year 1525.

The second was Thomas Twining who left Painswick for London in 1684 when he was nine years old.  He left because his father Daniel, a weaver, had been out of work and facing hard times.  In London Thomas learnt about the tea business while working for an East India Company merchant.  He opened Britain’s first tea room on the Strand and his business prospered.

“The House of Twining was founded on this site in the Strand in the year 1706.  The building was destroyed by enemy action in 1941 and rebuilt in 1952.”

After Thomas’s death in 1741 the business was carried on by his son Daniel and then by Daniel’s wife Mary.  In 1784, at a time when tea smuggling was rife, their son Richard Twining played a key role in lowering the tax on tea, thereby promoting the drinking of tea in England.

Overall, the Twinings tea business has passed through ten generations of Twinings, including Stephen Twining the most recent who joined after the sale to Associated British Foods in 1964.

Twinings Who Spread
.  The 1881 census showed the largest number of Twinings in Gloucestershire, with some spread northward into Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Some Twinings remained at Painswick.  John Twining of Painswick lived there during the 1700’s.  Thomas Twining was born there in 1775.  His son John married Mary Smart there in 1814.  Their son Thomas was charged with embezzlement in Painswick in 1836 and was transported on the Recovery to Australia.

From the Twinings at Pershore across the border in Worcestershire came:
  • John Twining who was tried at Evesham in 1651 for his Royalist support during the Civil War.
  • Thomas Twining, born in 1675, who was a vicar at Wilford in Nottinghamshire; and other Twining clergymen who went to Pembrokeshire in Wales.
  • and the line which extended to the Rev. William Twining in London and then to his son Francis, created Baron Twining for his services with the Colonial Office in Africa in the 1950’s.
Other Twinings had moved to Birmingham by the 19th century.

  There were Twinings from Pershore who settled in Pembrokeshire in the early 1700’s.  The Rev. Benjamin Twining, the rector at Amroth, died there in 1757 at the age of ninety-seven.  William Twining went as a missionary to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1787.  And Daniel Twining emigrated to the US West Coast in 1882.

.  The forefather of most Twinings in America is William Twining.  He arrived in New England around 1635 and settled with his family on Cape Cod.  His line in America was covered in Thomas Twining’s 1905 book The Twining Family. 

William died on Cape Cod in 1659.  His son William was a deacon at the Eastham Congregational church, but in later life became a Quaker.  Seeking to escape Puritan New England, he moved around 1695 to Newtown in Bucks county, Pennsylvania.

Here the Twining family split: 
  • the older son William and his descendants remaining in Eastham and Orleans nearby
  • and the younger son Stephen following his father to Bucks county, to Newtown and Wrightstown nearby.
A line from Eastham led to Deacon Stephen Twining who moved to New Haven and served in the 1820’s as the Steward to Yale College.  His son William S. Twining was also a clergyman and settled in Indiana in 1835.  His son William J. Twining was a major in the US Army and the Military Commissioner for the District of Columbia from 1878 until his death in 1882.  The district of Twining in Washington DC was named after him.

A line from Wrightstown migrated first to upstate New York and then in the 1850’s via Nathan Crook Twining to Wisconsin where he fought in the Civil War and was later a schoolmaster: 

  • his son Nathan Crook Jr came to be regarded as one of the US Navy’s most brilliant officers and served as its Chief of Staff during World War One.  
  • while Nathan Crook Jr’s nephews Nathan and Merrill were commanders in their own right in the 1950’s, Nathan as Chief of Staff of the US Air Force and Merrill as a US Marine Corps general.  
Hugh Twining came to Wisconsin from upstate New York somewhat later and farmed there before moving onto Colorado.  His son Warren served in the Colorado state House of Representatives from 1925 to 1934.

Select Twining Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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William Twining who came to New England around 1635 was the forefather of most Twinings in America.
Thomas Twining
was the founder of Twinings tea company.  He opened Britain’s first tea room on the Strand in London in 1706.
Richard Twining
was instrumental in reducing the tax on imported tea in 1784, thereby starting the tea revolution in England.

Nathan Crook Twining
was regarded as one of the US Navy’s most brilliant officers and served as its Chief of Staff during World War One.

Select Twinings Today
  • 500 in the UK (most numerous in Gloucestershire)
  • 600 in America (most numerous in Ohio) 
  • 300 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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