Pertwee Surname Meaning, History & Origin
Perthuis. After the French purge of Huguenots in 1685, many
refugees fled to Protestant countries such as England. In
England, the Perthuis settled in Essex. Due to
the locals’ inability to pronounce Perthuis, the name got corrupted to
- Pertwee/Brightlingsea (Essex).
The Rev. Arthur Pertwee and Brightlingsea’s maritime history.
name Pertwee was originally
Perthuis and is
of Huguenot extraction.
Perthuis family settled at Langenhoe near Colchester in Essex, after
been expelled from France in 1685. The name was
still recorded as Perthuis in 1813. But Thomas Pertwee,
presumably a descendant, was
a farmer at Langenhoe Lodge later in the 19th century.
He survived the great Langenhoe earthquake of
1884, reporting that “the chimneys were thrown down,
the walls much
cracked, ceilings uplifted, and bottles
down and broken.“
Pertwee was the vicar of
Brightlingsea from 1872 to 1917.
He was known to climb the belfry tower during stormy nights to
a lantern for distressed mariners at sea. In 1883 he established
memorial at the All Saints church for all those from Brightlingsea lost
at sea. The Rev. Ellsworth Pertwee,
described by a friend as a “saintly, spry, white-haired elf,” went
out to South Africa in the 1970’s to give support to the anti-apartheid
James Pertwee was a farmer at Woodham Ferrers
near Maldon in the 1820’s. His son or
Albert was recorded at the Fen farm forty years later.
And there were Pertwees prominent in local
affairs in Chelmsford and Colchester. Charles Pertwee, an
subsequent borough engineer, designed many of Chelmsford’s Victorian
buildings. Frank Pertwee started as a corn merchant at Hythe Quay
in Colchester in 1899. The business has passed through four
generations, although it now manages real estate in Colchester.
There was said to be a family link between the
Charles Pertwee of Chelmsford who died in 1905 and the Ernest Pertwee
married Emily Moore in Brighton in the early 1880’s.
Ernest compiled and edited verse anthologies while
his wife was active in the suffragette movement. Subsequent
Pertwees of this line made their
names in TV and film. Son Roland and grandson Michael Pertwee
screen-writers; and grandson Jon Pertwee and cousin Bill
Pertwee became well-known TV
the 1970’s, Jon in Dr. Who and Bill in Dad’s Army.
Canada. The Perthuis who
left France for Canada kept their Perthuis spelling. Charles
Perthuis arrived in the early 1690’s and became a prominent merchant in
Quebec. His sons Joseph and Jean-Baptiste followed in their
father’s footsteps but returned to France after the defeat to the
English in 1763.
The descendants of Pierre Perthuis, a fur trader in Montreal, did
stay. They moved south to Detroit and later as Pertuis to
Arkansas when it was still a French trading outpost of colonial
Louisiana. Pierre Pertuis there became Peter Pertuis.
Select Pertwee Miscellany
French Perthuis. The English
Pertwees have claimed their descent from the French family of Perthuis
Laillevault in Auxerre. The line in
France has continued down until the present day. In
more recent times, the head of the family was
Comte Bernhard de Perthuis de Laillevault.
He fought with the RAF during World War Two and became a
painter of murals.
Canon Arthur Pertwee and His Maritime Duties. Many
a time Canon Pertwee would accompany crews in
the roughest of weather or to stranded or wrecks of vessels.
one occasion when they had tarried too
long, the vicar himself took the spare oar and pulled like “one to the
manner born.” On another occasion,
when one of the deep sea vessels came in with her flag flying at half
turned out that some of the crew were down with smallpox.
The authorities could find no one willing to
go on board to nurse the patients. The vicar knew of their sorry plight
urgent needs, however. After the doctor
had visited the infected boat, he put off alone in his canoe and nursed
carefully through the night.
Oaklands House in Chelmsford. Chelmsford brewery had been started by the Wells family in the town in the 1790’s. Frederick Wells,
a director of the company in the 1860’s, had Oaklands House built for
the Italianate style by his brother-in-law Charles Pertwee. Charles Pertwee went on to design many of
Chelmsford’s Victorian buildings, including a number of Congregational
and the Co-operative Building on Wells Street.
Oaklands House on Moulsham Street is now the Chelmsford Museum. It remains very much as it was built almost
150 years ago. Charles Pertwee’s name
lives on in Pertwee Lodge, an old cemetery lodge recently converted
Ernest Pertwee and the Art of Public Speaking. Ernest
Pertwee was a professor of elocution at the City of London school.
From the early 1900’s he started producing
books on public speaking, as well as verse anthologies.
The following is a list of some of his works.
Shakespeare for Recitation, 1904
English History in Verse, 1906
Scenes from Dickens, 1910
The Scottish Reciter, 1914
The Art of Speaking, 1924
The New Spirit in Verse, 1930
A number of the earlier works were edited and
expanded by his son Guy Pertwee.
Jon Pertwee and the Whomobile. In early
1973 Jon Pertwee was opening a Ford dealers’ branch in Nottingham when
he saw a
restored Model T Ford called “The Californian Hot Rod” that could do
in three seconds. Pertwee found out that
vehicle was created by Peter Farries and he asked him if he could
custom-built car to suit his futuristic character in the Dr
created the Whomobile. Powered by a
975cc Hillman Imp sports engine, the vehicle could reach a maximum
speed of 105 mph if
pushed. It was 14 feet long and 7 feet
wide and had large fins extending five foot from the ground. The body
from fibreglass and constructed in just two sections.
There were no doors. To gain access you
climbed in over the
wing. Inside, the sci-fi look continued
with a TV screen and a fake computer bank of flashing lights to the
left of the
By September 1973 the Whomobile was
written into the Dr Who series and
was first featured in “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” where the Doctor
might otherwise have been riding a motorbike.
It made its second and last appearance in “Planet of the
Farries, the inventor of the Whomobile,
said that the car was eventually sold at a car auction for £1,200 after
been mistaken for a motorboat.
- Charles Perthuis was a prominent Quebec merchant in the early 1700’s.
- Canon Arthur Pertwee of Brightlingsea saved many a mariner out at sea in the 1800’s.
- Jon Pertwee the actor made his name on TV as Dr. Who.
Select Pertwee Numbers Today
- 100 in the UK (most numerous in
Select Pertwee and Like Surnames. These are Huguenot names, names sometimes anglicized brought by Protestant refugees from France in the 17th century to England and America. Here are some of the Huguenot originating surnames that you can check out here.
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