The Douglas Archives Genealogy Pages

Discovering our Douglas Ancestors and their Relatives

David William Astley Birtwistle[1]

Male 1926 - 1998  (72 years)

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name David William Astley Birtwistle  [2
    Born 1926  Hoghton House, Houghton, Nr. Preston, Lancashire, UK Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Gender Male 
    Died 15 Jan 1998  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Person ID I273  My Genealogy

    Father James Astley Birtwistle,   b. 1889, Lancshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1974, Lancshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 85 years) 
    Mother Mary Muriel Marwood,   b. 15 Nov 1893, Lancashire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 May 1988, 18 Cloncurry Street, Fulham, London Sw6 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 94 years) 
    Married 29 Jul 1915  Pleasington Lodge, Lancashire, UK Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Family ID F3  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • From Ampleforth Obituaries at

      David William Astley Birtwistle;
      Born 14 May 1926, Lancashire, England
      Died 14 January 1998, London, England
      Son of James Astley Birtwistle 1889-1974 & Muriel Marwood 1893-1988
      Brother of Mary, Iris, Michael, Annette, Edmund, Antony, & Angela

      David W A Birtwistle
      David William Astley Birtwistle; born 14 May 1926;
      Gilling Castle; Junior House 1938-40; St Edwards House September1940-July 1943; Royal Horse Guards; textile and film industry, theAmpleforth Popalar Settlement; civil servant; voluntary worker withAlcoholics Anonymous; died 14 January 1998

      David Birtwistle was a notable worker with Alcoholics Anonymous and, inearlier years a Youth Leader with the Ampleforth Poplar Settlement. Akind, sensitive, brave and generous person who suffered much, he achievedmuch.

      David was the sixth of the eight children of James Astley Birtwistle andMuriel Birtwistle of Houghton House, Lancashire. At Ampleforth he beganhis enduring interest in music, literature and painting which soondeveloped into lifelong passions. He became an accomplished pianist and agifted painter and his paintings are to be found in many privatecollections all over the world. On leaving Ample forth in 1943 he wentstraight to the Brigade Squad at Pirbright and then to Sandhurst, fromwhere he was commissioned in the Royal Horse Guards; he saw war servicein Belgium and Germany, and a visit to Belsen shortly after it wasliberated had a profound effect on him. After the war he worked for thefamily textile business in Lancashire, and in the 1950s moved to Londonto work in a film company, Van Dyke Films-they produced films with DennisPrice and others. Always deeply spiritual, it was at about this time thathe tried his vocation to the contemplative life, being a novice at themonasteries of Caldey Island in South Wales and later at Quarr in theIsle of White. After working for about two years in the late 1950s as aYouth Leader of the Holy Child Settlement in Poplar (see below), hejoined the civil service, working for nearly 30 years in the Departmentof Employment in London, retiring with ill health in the late 1980s. Overthe last twenty years of his life he became an effective worker withAlcoholics Anonymous (see below). David's gift for friendship and hisgenerosity will long be remembered, along with his wonderful cooking, hisrecent passion for gardening, his humour and above all his kindness.

      As a Youth Leader of the Holy Child Settlement in Poplar in the late1950s, he had much success, working often long into the night. The HolyChild settlement was originally set up by Old Girls of Holy Childschools, after being bombed in the war, had been rebuilt at theinstigation of Monica Girouard (the mother of Fr Simon Trafford); she theapproached Fr James Forbes, asking for involvement of Amplefordians, andover a period of years Amplefordians who were involved included RoryChisholm (C29), Benard Henderson (E24), Terence Marke (E42), Peter NobleMatthews (E42), Pat Stewart (E39), Arthur French (O51) and David himself.

      It was perhaps with Alcoholics Anonymous that he did his most wonderfulwork. Coming to this work through his own struggles, he spent the lasttwenty years of his live with Alcoholics Anonymous . His sister AngelaKirby writes of this period: 'Despite his many talents and tremendoussense of humour, David fought a desperate battle with alcohol from hisarmy days until the early seventies, when, having joined AA, he enteredwhat was to be the happiest and most rewarding period of his life withinthe warmth of that fellowship. Being exceptionally sensitive, and knowingso well the pain and difficulties that alcoholism bring he was able tohelp many others in their early struggles towards sobriety. It becamevery difficult to get hold of David on the telephone which was constantlyengaged as, despite his many health problems and the almost constant painhe suffered so bravely, he continued to help a wide circle of friendsright up to the day of his death.' Angela Kirby noted how he saved manylives, marriages, many children and many jobs-as seen by the enormousturn-out at his funeral.

      Stretching over 115 years from August 1883 to 1998, David Birtwistle camefrom a family of five generations of Amplefordians- Marwoods,Birtwistles, Pritchards, Maclarens, Kirbys and Sandys. The first of thesefive generations is represented by Tom Marwood (born 1873, arrivedAmpleforth 22 August 1883- OA) David's great uncle. Tom Marwood's halfbrother, Frederik Marwood of Pleasington Lodge in Lancashire (marriedMary Walker), not himself an Amplefordian, has 14 direct descendents whoare Amplefordians. The second of these five generations is represented bythe children of Frederick and Mary Matwood; of their eight children , thefour son's, David's uncles, all came to Ampleforth; Basil (OA 1901),Cyril (OA 1902), Reginald (AO 1907, later Fr Stephen Marwood), andGilbert (OA 1909). A sister of these four brothers, Muriel married JamesAstley Birtwistle (always known by both first names), and they were to beparents, grandparents and great grand parents of more generations ofAmplefordians. The third of these five generations involves children ofMuriel and James Astley Birtwistle; of the eight children the four sonswere at Ampleforth - Michael (W38, who was at Dunkirk and later HighSheriff of Lancashire), Edmund (W42 died in 1970s), David himself andAnthony (E46). The fourth generation, the nephews of David, consists ofMichael Pritchard (T72, the second son of Mary, David's eldest sister);Mark Birtwistle(W70) and Jeremy Birtwistle (W72) (sons of Michael (W38)and also the nephews of David Craig (OA45, killed while at Ampleforth ona cycle on Gormie Day)); Hugo Kirby (E71) and Marcus Kirby (E75) (thesons of Angela, David's younger sister). In the fifth of these fivegenerations are the great nephews of David- Edward and George Sandys(arrived at St Hugh's house 1997 and 1998 respectively, the grandsons ofEdmund Birtwistle (W42) and sons of Camilla and Myles Sandys). OtherAmpleforth connections are David's brother Anthony (E46) and sisterAnnette both married Ampleforth families - Anthony's wife Diana was thedaughter of Charles Barnewall (Lord Trimlestown, E45 - died 1997) andRaymond (E48); Annette married Ian Maclaren (OA 32 died 1997), thebrother of Peter Maclaren (OA36, died 1996) and David Maclaren (OA39).

      (The Ampleforth Journal 1998? . Old Amplefordian News. p 67-69)

  • Sources 
    1. [S883] Hamish Maclaren.

    2. [S2] Mac 14Febxx.FTW.