Twining Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Twining Meaning
The English
surname Twining derived from the place-name Twyning, a village near
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
, 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..

Twining Resources on

Twining Ancestry

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.

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

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

Overall, the Twinings tea business has passed through ten generations
of Twinings, including Stephen

the most recent who joined after the sale to Associated British Foods
in 1964.

Who Spread.  The 1881 census showed
the largest number of Twinings in Gloucestershire, with some spread
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
  • 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


There were Twinings from Pershore who settled
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.

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

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
in 1835.  His son William J. Twining was
a major in the US Army and the Military Commissioner for the District
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
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
    during World War One.  
  • while Nathan Crook
    Jr’s nephews Nathan and Merrill were commanders in their own right in
    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
from 1925 to 1934


Twining Miscellany

John Twining of Painswick.  The Rev. William Twining was
the author in 1899 of the book Some Facts
in the History of the Twining Family
.  The
following is a story he recounted about
John Twining of Painswick.  His writing
suggests that John lived sometime in the 18th century.

of our most interesting ancestors was John Twining of Painswick who
lived in
one of a group of stone houses in a dell under Longridge wood in
Sheepscombe.  The nearest church was
Painswick.   On Sundays when the bells
rang for service, the sound was wafted to this little combe.’  But it was no signal to the youngsters, who
not being at the neighboring mills at work, passed the day in play and

John Twining thought he could do something with some of
them.  So he got a few to come to his house
and he told
them tales in such a manner as to interest them, making them willing to
give up
their games on the Sunday and go to hear him.

He was encouraged, for the neighbors soon began to
perceive the
improvement in the children. We have been told that Edbert Eaikes of
being on a visit to Painswick, heard ofthis little Sunday class,
grasped the
idea, and himself started Sunday Schools.  Eaikes gave John a

John lies
buried in the churchyard at Painswick near the north side of the
chancel.  But his grave is not marked by a

The little spark kindled by him did not flicker and go
out, but was
caught by the curate of Painswick who had charge of the Sheepscombe
district.  It was fanned into a flame so
that, early in
this century, a church was built there which was well attended.”

Richard Twining and the Tea Revolution in England.  Richard Twining, born in 1749, joined the family tea business at the age of sixteen and, six years
later, took over the management of the firm after the death of his
mother Mary
in 1771.

He was a fast learner and soon had an encyclopaedical
knowledge of the
tea trade.  At
a time when tea was high on the political agenda, his negotiating
skills made
him a natural choice as the Chairman of the London Tea Dealers.

As head of the
tea trade, Richard had the ear of William Pitt, the Prime Minister.  He argued persuasively that revenues would be
greater from lower taxation. High levels of duty only served to
smuggling.  Pitt listened and he acted.  The Commutation Act of 1784 slashed tea taxes
and at last made tea affordable to all.
The Act also resulted in the
practical extinction of tea smuggling which had been previously carried
extensively in Holland.

The Act marked the beginning of tea-drinking as
part of everyday life in Britain and in that fact a tea revolution!

Stephen Twining and His Tea Poem.  Stephen Twining is the tenth generation of Twinings to
work at Twinings Tea.  He often
ends his talks by reciting the poem that so
aptly sums up the role of tea in the Twining story.

“It seems in some cases kind nature hath planned
That names with their callings agree,
For Twining the Teaman that lives in the Strand,
Would be ‘wining; deprived of his T.'”

The Twinings in Newtown, Pennsylvania.  As
late as 1681 William Twining was Deacon Twining
at the Congregational church in Eastham.
Sometime afterwards he, his wife, and his son Stephen changed
from the
Congregational church to the Quaker Society of Friends.

From 1670 to 1700 there
was a large migration from different parts of New England to Long
Island, New
Jersey and Pennsylvania on account of the persecution of Quakers.  In 1695 William was on the Eastham records
for the last time as a voter.  In the
same year he and his wife removed to Newtown, Pennsylvania accompanied
by his
son Stephen and his family.  Their names
appear in the Middletown Meeting records in 1699.  His
son William, however, remained in Eastham
and at the Congregational church there.

By 1702 his son Stephen had acquired 690
acres in Newtown and became a large landowner there, even though he was
illiterate (he would sign all legal papers
with his mark that for some reason resembled a capital “E”).   The Twinings were among the original
of Wrightstown Meeting which frequently met in their home before a
house was built.  His wife Abigail served
on three marriage clearness committees.  Stephen was appointed an
Elder of the
Friends in 1715.

Nathaniel Twining lived and
died on the 300 acres inherited from his father Stephen.
But he and wife Sarah were disowned from the
Friends after 1730 and they joined the Newtown Presbyterian
church.  A descendant
has kept a letter that he wrote in 1742 whereby he ordained his “loving
John Twining, yeoman, my lawful attorney, to demand, recover and
receive dues
and other demands in the Province of New England, or any other adjacent

The Death of Deacon Stephen Twining.  The Connecticut Courant reported his death
as follows on Christmas Day, 1832:

“The sudden exit of Deacon Stephen Twining,
aged 65, is another proof that ‘in the midst of life we are in death.’  On December 18, as the steamboat mail had
arrived from New York between two and three o’clock in the afternoon,
Twining in his usual good health stepped into the Post Office to
enquire for
letters and papers when he suddenly fell ill and died without a
struggle.  On examination by the
physicians, it was
ascertained that his disease was ossification of the heart.

Mr. Twining was for
many years a practicing attorney in New Haven.
For the last twelve to fifteen years he has acted as Steward for
College.  His services to that
institution could have been equalled by few men. He
was much respected as a Christian and as a


Twining Names

  • 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 Twining Numbers Today

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


Select Twining and Like Surnames

Many surnames originated from SW England, the principal counties there being Devon and Cornwall, Somerset and Gloucestershire.  These are some of the prominent and noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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