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William Twisse

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 20th July 1646, being given a state funeral at the Abbey.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


20th July 1646




South Transept; St Margaret's Church

Memorial Type


Material Type


William Twisse
William Twisse

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

William Twisse
St Margaret's Church Regicides Tablet

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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