William Twisse
Died: 20 Jul, 1646
Field: Priest
Location in the Abbey: South transept, St Margaret's Church
Type of memorial: Tablet
Type of material: Marble

In the south transept of Westminster Abbey, low down on the west wall, is a grey fossil marble tablet to William Twisse, preacher in the Cromwellian period, and three others. The inscription reads:

"Near this spot were buried William Twisse D.D.[Doctor of Divinity] 1646 Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly. Thomas May 1650 translator of Lucan and secretary to the Long Parliament. William Strong 1654 - Stephen Marshall 1655 Parliamentary preachers. These were removed by Royal Warrant 1661"

As followers of Oliver Cromwell the bodies of all those mentioned above, and several others buried elsewhere in the Abbey, were disinterred by order of King Charles II and re-buried in a pit in the churchyard of St Margaret's Westminster, near the Abbey. The memorial stone was not erected until 1880. The names of all those who were re-buried were carved on the wall of the tower of St Margaret's.

William was born at Speen in Berkshire, son of William Twisse. His grandfather was a German immigrant. He attended Winchester College where he was "a very wicked boy" until he was "converted" when another boy appeared to him in a dream warning him against evil behaviour and its consequences. After attending New College, Oxford he became a preacher and his sermons were popular. James I appointed him a chaplain to his daughter Elizabeth. His first wife was probably Frances Colnett, and his second wife was Amye Moor. His children were Robert, William, Francis or Frances, Joseph, Constance, Elizabeth (who married Mr Shoen) and Marie (who married a Mr Hodges). Twisse allied himself to Cromwell's Parliamentary party and was a Puritan lecturer at St Andrew's church, Holborn in London. In 1643 he was elected to the Westminster Assembly of Divines and he died on 20 July 1646, being given a state funeral at the Abbey.

A photo of the stone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

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