This site is still under construction - useful comments are welcome.

This site aims to record the family Tillotson who came to Bolton with a Primitive Methodist minister, Rev. Samuel Tillotson, in 1831. His descendents became leading citizens in the town at a time when Bolton was flourishing. His eldest son, John, was apprenticed as a printer but more importantly his grandson, William, founded the Bolton Evening News in 1867 on which the future prosperity of the family depended. His descendents continued to build on his early success for a further two generations. The site is built around the three leading members of the family who had a direct interest in the Bolton Evening News and lived exclusively in the town, William, Fred and Marcus. Other members of the family were also involved with the business which expanded enormously in the post-war years but with interests away from Bolton. Some of these personalities have also been included in the records on this site and further information about them would be gladly received. The site has been designed and is managed by Peter Tillotson, eldest son of Marcus Tillotson and the great grandson of the founder of the Bolton Evening News, William Tillotson. Email address for correspondence:

To find out about Tillotsons of Bolton, click on Tillotsons of Bolton 1831-2010 in the left-hand menu, read on for research into the origin of the Tillotson name

Origin of the Tillotson Name

The name TILLOTSON in my ancestry dates from about 1550 when Thomas TILSTON of Wookliffe, Carleton Parish, in Craven, Yorkshire, changed the spelling of his name from Tilston to Tillotson upon moving from Huxley in Cheshire to Wookliffe. His ancestors spelled the name Tilston and, earlier, de Tilston. The name of Tilston was associated with the town of Tilston in Cheshire, England. Why Thomas Tilston changed his name to Tillotson is unknown. Perhaps he did so because there were so many Tillotsons in Yorkshire and people there confused the name Tilston with Tillotson.

William Leslie Tillotson (1876-1920) researched the question of the origin of the Tilston name in England and France. He suggested that a knight of William the Conqueror, a Norman named Honfroi de Tilliol or de Tibol, was given the estate of Tilston in Cheshire as a reward for his efforts in the wars against the Welsh. Tilston is located in the southwest corner of Cheshire near the Welsh border.

The name "Tilston" then possibly originated in a contraction of "Tilli's Tun" where "tun" is Anglo-Saxon for a hedge, enclosure, or village. The Tillotson family crest supports the idea of a military career for the Tilston ancestors.

Other Tillotson researchers such as E. Ward Tillotson started with a later, better-attested ancestry. They relate that the manor of Tilston was given to a Norman knight named Eynion (b. abt 1126), son of Richard de Tilston (b. abt 1096), who thus became Sir Eynion de Tilston. Eynion married Beatrix de Gernons, daughter of Ranulph de Gernons, the Earl of Chester. Beatrix was sister to Hugh of Kevelioc, who succeeded his father as the Earl of Chester.

Whether Richard de Tilston was in fact related to Honfroi de Tilliol is unknown. In any case, Sir Eynion's descendants continued to live in Tilston, acting to repel incursions from Wales, which was finally subdued in 1283. Part of the Tilston family manor, where the head of the family resided, still survives.

Another, probably independent, source of the name "Tillotson" is "Till's son" or "Tillot's son." Till was a common nickname both for William and Matilda, popular names in England after the Norman conquest. The earliest known use of the surname "Tillotson" appears in 1379 in the village of Cowling in the parish of Kildwick, embracing seven townships in southwestern Yorkshire, in Airedale. The tax rolls for that year include a Tillot de Northwod together with John and William Tillotson. Since neither of Tillot's sons was married at the time of this tax, this tax roll of 1379 may document the origin of the Tillotson surname. These Tillotsons were most likely unrelated to the Tilstons of Cheshire.

Many families bearing the name Tillotson later lived within a few miles of Bradford, West Yorkshire. A character named Tillotson in a play is said to be instantly recognized as being a Yorkshireman. Other forms of the name in England include Tillerston, Tillistan, Tilletson, Tillitson, Tiletston, Tileston, and Tilliol.

Thomas Tilston alias Thomas Tillotson was the son of Richard Tilston of Shropshire and Elizabeth Leighton. She was the second daughter of William Leighton, the second son of Sir Thomas Leighton of Wattsborough, Shropshire. Thomas Tillotson is said to have been the great-grandfather of John Tillotson, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Additional research published by David Hey and George Redmonds would suggest that the Tillotsons who settled in Bolton in 1831 probably descended from Tillotsons found in Yorkshire by 1379 when there were two Tillotsons recorded in the West Riding Poll Tax of that year living in Cowling. These two, John and William Tillotson were probably the sons of Tillot de Northwod. By the 16th Century Tillotson were quite numerous in the area around Cowling and Carleton several who were tenant farmers of the Earl of Cumberland. Later the name is found frequently around Keighley, Halifax and Dewsbury and derivatives like Tillerson and Tiltson are commonly found alongside. See more information.

The first Tillotson to settle in Bolton was Samuel who was resonsible for founding Higher Bridge Street Primitive Methodist Church. His son John remained in Bolton after the family moved to Keighley in 1837 and it was his son William who founded the Bolton Evening News. Click here for more information about Samuel.