The Restall Family
Stroud News 1 July 1971
Unsigned, but thought to have been written by Geoffrey Sanders
From time to time we in common with many rural districts in the United Kingdom, receive visits from ‘our cousins’ in the United States of America bent on discovering details of their ancestry through the medium of church registers and other facilities open to them. In last week’s issue we reported that a connection of the ancient Restall family of Bisley on a visit from the United States had been given access to the church registers and the success of his searches may have determined the generous proportion of his cheque for £100 to the funds of Bisley Church.
Above: Eric Restall and Robert Arthur standing on a path between the church and the school at Bisley.
This photograph, which was not part of the article, was taken in 1987. (See footnote 1)
The Bisley Registers date from 1547 and the Restall family is among the earliest to be mentioned. The family has other Gloucestershire connections and, indeed, in 1551 a Mr Restell was an alderman of Gloucester City. In the sixteenth century Thomas Restell married Margaret Partridge, daughter of John Partridge of the Manor House, Leonard Stanley, a member of an influential family who acquired Wishanger Manor, Miserden, and who survive today. Margaret Partridge’s brother, William, born about 1490 and died 1578, made Wishanger the family seat. He also owned a mansion at Cirencester. His wife was a member of the rich Fowler family of Stroudwater.
Farming and Weaving
The Restalls at this time were interested in both farming and weaving. There is the will2, for instance, of Richard Restall, weaver of the parish of Bisley, 24 February 1550, in which he left ‘ to Agnes, his daughter four ewes and four hoggs. To Thomas Hues, his son in law, two ewes with their lambs, etc. To William, his son, one of the brode weeving lummes, which he shall enjoy in his house as long as he and his mother agree, but if they disagree, the said William is to have one lumme with all manner of harness belonging. To John Restall, his son, one other lumme after the decease of his mother at her gentlynes and discretion. To Agnes Towesyer, his god-daughter, one chylmer lamb and to William Hunt, his god-son, one other chylmer lamb, both to be set to some honest man to the profit of the said children.To James, his son, one cowe at twenty-one. He owns he owes to the parish of Bisley 33s 4d which he binds Margyt his wife to pay; his alms to the poor of Bisley at the discretion of his wife and overseers, John Whytnge and John Hues his neighbour’.
This dual interest in agriculture and weaving was further emphasised in the will3 of Edward Restall, 29 January 1597, in which after pious commendation of his soul and ‘in which holy Trinity of persons united and to be worshipped in the unities he puts his whole trust for his salvation’; he bequeathed a loom each to his sons, William and Walter, but a ewe and a lamb to various other relations and friends.
John Smith’s return of Men and Armour in the county in 1608 showed that Henry Restell was a Bisley yeoman aged about 40 and of the meanest stature either fit for a pyoner or of little other use. Another Restell, William aged between 50 and 60, was the owner of a musket4.
The combination of farming and weaving interests continued at least into the eighteenth century. By the will of 4 June 1707, Miss Rudd states in her history of Bisley, Matthias Restall, broadweaver of Bisley, left to his nephew, John Restall, his house and garden at Oakridge in the occupation of William Jefferies, his tenant, and a quantity of woodland ground lying under the side at Quanly, as lately marked out. To his brother, Edward Restall, the house at Oakridge with garden and orchard now occupied by James Pincott, junior. To his brothers, Henry, John, Isaac and William, and to Walter son of his brother Henry, each £5. To John, Walter and Henry Tyler, son of John Tyler, and Mabel and Margaret, daughters of his brother Henry Restall, each 40s.
In the Bisley tithe terrier of 18415 it is noticeable that parts of Quanly and 54 acres of land at Far Oakridge were owned by Thomas Clutterbuck and let to Jeremiah Ockwell Restall, whose birth and death are recorded in the following’computer-like’ fashion:
‘Jeremiah Ockwell Restall, born November 15, 1786 on a Wednesday at 50 minutes past 8 o’clock at evening‘. . . died Tuesday, December 2, 1856 at 1/4 past 9 ‘o’clock at night’.
Also in the terrier we find that Thomas Restall kept the Wheatsheaf Inn and shop on Chalford Hill. In the early part of the nineteenth century James Restall kept the New George Inn in Nelson Street, Stroud. This was the inn in which General James Wolfe, later to be the hero of Quebec, is reputed to have stayed in 1756, when he and his battalion were sent to deal with the weavers’ riots.6 In the year 1756, a memorial was erected to Esther, wife of Isaac Restall, baker, in Bisley Church. Another branch of the family, led by William, were strong Protestant dissenters at Oakridge.
To farming, weaving, innkeeping was now added the baking of bread. The time was approaching when building would play a prominent part in the family’s activities.
Two of the earliest builders were William Gardener Restall [bp 6 March 1825] of Bisley, son Jeremiah Restall, and Henry Restall of Magdala Cottage, Chalford They were operating by the time the second half of Queen Victoria’s long reign had begun.
Another business was that of Restall and Ford, auctioneers, valuers, accountants, land surveyors and house, estate and general agents of 8 Rowcroft, Stroud, and also at Dove Cottage, Chalford, where Thomas Restall lived. Later James Restall of Uplands House, Chalford succeeded Thomas and the business flourished until in 1908 it became known as Restall, Ford and Carter. By 1913 it had been taken over by Carter and Brotheridge. James Restall lived for a further 13 years at Chalford.
William Gardener Restall, who conducted his business from Penworth, Bisley established for himself a wide reputation as a builder, particularly in the ecclesiastical sphere. His biggest undertaking was the restoration of his parish church in 1862, a task which meant considerable rebuilding. His efforts did not end there, for further evidence of his laborious study and special genius are to found at Oakridge, France Lynch, Chalford. Alvington, Bishop’s Canning, Berkhampstead, Clevedon, Morebath, Siddington, Poulton, Ashton Keynes, Clyffe Pypard and Winterbourne.
When W.G. Restall died before World War I he was succeeded by his sons Thomas (d. 1935) and Gilbert (d. 1933). The latter’s son, Leslie, came into the firm in 1935 and after serving in World War II as a Sapper began building on his own account on his demobilisation. Like his grandfather William, he undertook the restoration of Bisley Church in 1960 and thus the family’s connection with All Saints’ had been maintained for over 100 years. Not only that, he has followed another family occupation - that of ‘Mine Host’ of the Stirrup Cup, Bisley.
1 Likely to have been Robert Arthur. His ancestor Francis Arthur married Sarah Restall on 3 June 1745 at All Saints, Bisley. Francis died of smallpox in 1750 and his widow remarried John Page. The two children of the first marriage, John (1746) and
Elizabeth (1748), eventually went to New York. See Robert Arthur’s excellent family history, Four Centuries of Arthurs, undated but c 1984. Eric and Patricia Restall met Robert and his wife Delores at Bisley in 1987.
2The will details are taken from Mary Rudd’s Historical Records of Bisley, 1937, reprinted by Alan Sutton 1977.
4John Smith’s Men and Armour in 1608, 1902, reprinted by Alan Sutton 1980. Eight Restalls are listed, two of whom are from Bisley. William Restell of Bisley was of the tallest statue fit to make a pykeman
5 Alan Swale (December 2003) said that Geoffrey Sanders always denied having a copy of the terrier. However, it transpires that GRO purchased a number of documents from G. T. St. J. Sanders in October 1983 which included a copy of the tithe apportionment, amended by Sir Jn. Dorington.
6 There is no mention of this incident, or indeed any reference to General Wolfe, in Paul Hawkins Fisher’s Notes and Recollections of Stroud, 1871, reprinted by Alan Sutton 1986.