Bisley, Gloucestershire
All Saints Church, Bisley

All Saints Church, Bisley












© Eric Restall 2007-2011

Restalls of Bisley: Charting the Restall Family History


This work as the title suggests is concerned with the Restalls of Bisley - Restalls who trace their family origins from Bisley, Gloucestershire. We are aware there are at least two distinct centres of origin for this name - Bisley and Portsea Island, Hampshire but our enquiries have never made a link between these places. The Restall surname map compiled from the 1881 census makes the point graphically. Perhaps in the future DNA testing will resolve the matter. Therefore, it has no pretensions to being a one name family study in the accepted sense.

We are indebted to the work of the late Frederick T. Hammond of Thanet House, Chalford who conducted extensive research in the Bisley parish records and those of the adjoining parish of St Lawrence, Stroud. His first Restall Bisley entry is 1550 and the last 1936. There is an unexplained gap of some 54 years between the earliest entry of a Restall burial in 1578 at St Lawrence, Stroud and a Restall baptism in 1632. See Appendix IV. This work was done at the request of Walter Stanley Restall of Birmingham, solicitor. As far as we know Walter Stanley was the first Restall to take an interest in the origins of his family. ‘The only Restall I have known was a Solicitor in Birmingham 50 years ago, but I have traced him and is apparently nothing to do with your branch’. Frederick T. Hammond in a letter to Eric Restall dated 29 April 1982.

Superficially Hammond's register extracts look like a complete record, but alas they are not. ‘Records began in 1547, the first volume covering the period up to 1700. In the section for 1589 is the note 'Here are many christenings through negligence omitted.' There are no entries for the period between 1628 - 1631, and only one in 1632, the burial of the Vicar's wife, Katherine Sedgwick. Entries are sparse, or missing, in other years: 1627 no marriages. 1635 two marriages. 1644 'the christenings of the month of May was lost by reason of the troubles of the time.' 1663 'by mischance there were many names lost of this year, of baptisms. Many of the weddings were lost of this year'. 1673 'Many christenings lost this year, I know not how'.

There are still Restalls living in Bisley - the issue of Leslie Stuart bp 21 September 1919, son of Gilbert William, who died in September 2002: Susan Mary b 1947 and William Gilbert b 1962.

Another important source of information was Alan Swale, who assumed the mantle of local historian on the death of Hammond, and unfortunately for us later left these shores to live in France. Alan prepared an exemplary guide to the memorials of Bisley churchyard and transcribed many of the parish registers along with the 1821, 1831, 1841, 1851 and later censuses. Two more sources that warrant mention here are the 1937 private publication by Mary A Rudd Historical Records of Bisley with Lypiatt, reprinted in 1977 by Alan Sutton. Essentially a facsimile of the first edition with a list of corrections by Hammond. And more recently Bisley: A Cotswold Village Remembered 1860-1945 , by Juliet Shipman, published in 1991. Shipman also wrote a booklet, ‘The Bisley Lockup’ (built by William Restall in 1824) to commemorate the opening of the refurbished prison on 23 May 1999 which was attended by Daphne Bantoft (nee Restall), her husband Jim Bantoft, and Eric Restall.

The original contributors, and it is anticipated that many others will join us as time goes on, are Daphne Bantoft who traces her origins to Edward bp c 1530 d 1596 = Jane Townshin 1552 Bisley. Gordon Holmes from John bp 31 March 1777 Eric Restall, possibly from William and Anne Ockell, but in terms of absolute proof, Nathaniel son of William, bp 2 April 1804.

Gordon Holmes

Above: Sarah Ann Mallard (top right) who married Frederick Restall, at a church gathering in Cheltenham.

We were joined in early 2003 by Raymond Restall, who shares Nathaniel (1804) as his gggrandfather with Eric and more recently by Annie Grace (Restall International) who is also descended from John bp 1777.

The approach we decided to adopt at an early stage was for each of us to prepare the earliest record of our ancestors and then to continue with vignettes of other families to whom we may, or may not, be directly related. An example of the second category is George Matthias who first came to ER’s attention from his peculiar will (located by DB together with other wills of his direct issue) which to this day is still used as a teaching aid by ER.

Our aim is to create a permanent record of our researches over many years. The authorship of each article is indicated by our initials - DB, GH or ER. Whilst DB/ER. GH/DB etc indicates joint authorship. The beginning is arbitrary, we acknowledge that, and as for a conclusion, there can never be an end.

In the course of our researches we found several errors in that otherwise excellent finding aid, the IGI, but that is not surprising as those responsible for extracting the parish registers often did not have English as their first language. A typical example: the marriage of Walter Restall to Margaret

Hancox on 3 Sept 1640 is recorded as Walter Rosale = Margaret Hancox 3 Sept 1641. We also encountered a number of Restalls who did not appear to have Bisley ancestry, but rather than discard the data we decided to retain it for the benefit of future researchers. See Appendix V, page 126. Reaney & Wilson’s book A Dictionary of English Surnames, OUP, gives the meaning and origins of our name:
Restall, Restell [there are many more variations of spelling of course]: Restaldus, Restolt 1086 DB; Restold 1130 Pipe Rolls Oxfordshire; Gillebertus filius Restaldi 1206 Curia Regiae Rolls, Lincolnshire; Hugh, Peter Restwald 1279 Rotuli Hundrededorum, Oxfordshire. Old German Restold, Restald, a Frankish name, perhaps of Celtic origin. But another OUP publication, Oxford Dictionary of Surnames by Hanks and Hodges does not mention the surname. The nearest is Rastel see Rateau, French occupational name for someone who made or used rakes, or a nickname for a tall, thin man, from OF rastel rake.

In a series of notes, dated June 25th 1903, Walter Stanley Restall (Birmingham solicitor) wrote, ‘Rastall, Rastell or Restell. The name is derived from its Flemish origin: rasch, quick, and the common ending particle 'all'.

According to a source which is now lost to me, Restald held the island of Jethou from 1032 to 1070. Restald is believed to have been shipmaster of William the Conqueror and was granted the island as a reward for his maritime services. After his death the island passed into the hands of the Abbot of Mont St Michel. The island's only pub was called The Admiral Restald but ceased to function in 1968. If there is any foundation for this story, which I have been unable to substantiate, then it might explain the Restalls in Portsea Island, Hampshire for this is possibly the nearest English port to the Channel Islands. Another source for Restauld is the Millennium tapestry, panel 1, St Martin’s church, Guernsey , the commentary for which includes ‘ …. A Norman sea captain who was granted the island of Jethou by Duke Robert I [the father of William the Conquerer] in about 1030’. Another possibility, based on Reaney's early examples of the name, is that our origins lie in Oxfordshire rather than Bisley, Gloucestershire - who knows? Our defined task is to work with the known facts which for the moment start in the early eighteenth century

Admiral Restald

Above: “The signboard of Jethou’s one and only public house, The Admiral Restald, set up by Group-Captain W. H. Cliff during his tenancy. The board was painted by Charles Coker, a Guernsey artist, and shows what Cliff described as Jethou’s first tenant. Restald held the island from 1032 until 1070, after which the island past into the hands of the Abbot of Mont St Michel. The pub ceased to function when the tenancy changed hands in 1968”.

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