Philip Twysden

The Rt Rev. Dr Philip Twysden, M.A., D.C.L. (1713–1752), was an Anglican clergyman who served in the Church of Ireland as Lord Bishop of Raphoe from 1747 to 1752. The circumstances of his death later became the subject of scandalous rumour.

Philip Twysden

Lord Bishop of Raphoe
ChurchChurch of Ireland
In office1747–1752
PredecessorWilliam Barnard
SuccessorRobert Downes
Consecration29 March 1747
Personal details
Born7 September 1713
Died2 November 1752
BuriedSt Michael's Church, East Peckham
ParentsSir William Twysden, 5th Baronet, and Jane Twisden
Spouse1 Mary Purcell
(2) Frances Carter
Children2, including Frances, Countess of Jersey
Alma materUniversity College, Oxford

Early life and family

He was born in Kent,[1] south-east England, in 1713, the third son of Sir William Twysden, 5th Baronet of Roydon Hall, East Peckham, Kent, by his wife (and distant cousin) Jane Twisden.[2]

He studied at University College, Oxford, from 1732.[1][3] He was awarded a Master of Arts degree, and the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law in 1745.[1]

He married twice: firstly to Mary Purcell (died 1743), and secondly to Frances Carter, daughter of The Rt Hon. Thomas Carter, Master of the Rolls in Ireland.[2] After Bishop Twysden's death, she married her cousin, General James Johnston.

By his second wife, he had two children: Mary (died in infancy)[4] and a posthumous daughter called Frances (1753–1821).[5] Frances, later Countess of Jersey, was one of the many mistresses of King George IV when he was Prince of Wales.

Ecclesiastical career

He was ordained a priest in the Church of England. He was instituted in 1738 as rector of Eard and in 1745, for a short time, served as the rector of Eastling in Kent.[6] He accompanied the Earl of Chesterfield to Dublin as his chaplain, upon the Earl's appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.[1]

Twysden was nominated to the bishopric of Raphoe in Ulster on 3 March 1746[7][8] and was consecrated by the Lord Archbishop of Dublin, assisted by the bishops of Derry and Clonfert, at St Michan's Church, Dublin, on 29 March 1747.[9][1][10][11]


Bishop Twysden died on 2 November 1752 at home in Jermyn Street, St James's, London.[12] However, according to Henry Cotton, he died at Roydon Hall, East Peckham, his father's country house.[1] He was buried in the south chancel of St Michael's Church, East Peckham, under a plain stone with no inscription.[1]

A story grew up that, having been made bankrupt, he was shot while attempting to rob a stagecoach. The location of his alleged attempted career as a highwayman was either Hounslow Heath (west of London)[13][14] or Wrotham Heath in Kent.[15]


  1. Cotton 1849, The Province of Ulster, p. 356.
  2. "Rt Rev. Philip Twysden". Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  3. Alumni Oxonienses (1715–1886) volume 4. p. 248
  4. Mary: We hear that on the 10th Instant the Lady of the Lord Bishop of Raphoe was safely delivered of a Daughter, at his Lordship's House in Pall-mall.London Evening Post, 26 September 1751 – 28 September 1751; Issue 3735.
  5. Frances: On Sunday the Lady of the late Dr. Twysden, Bishop of Raphoe, was safely delivered of a Daughter at her House in St. James's Street. London Evening Post, 24 February 1753 – 27 February 1753; Issue 3952.
  6. Clergy of the Church of England Database
  7. "No. 8619". The London Gazette. 28 February 1746. p. 2.
  8. Derby Mercury 6 March 1746; p1-2
  9. The Gentleman's and London Magazine: Or Monthly Chronologer, 1741–1794;
  10. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 405.
  11. Moody, Martin & Byrne 1984, A New History of Ireland, volume IX, p. 410.
  12. "(Thursday) morning died at his House in Jermyn-Street, the Right Rev. Dr. Philip Twisden, Bishop of Raphoe in Ireland, and nearly related to Sir Roger Twisden, Bart. Knight of the Shire for the County of Kent." London Evening Post, 2 November 1752 – 4 November 1752; Issue 3903.
  13. "The Highwaymen of Hounslow Heath". Stand and Deliver. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  14. "A mysterious affair, which has never been properly cleared up, was the death of Twysden, Bishop of Raphoe, in 1752. An Irish Bishop, even although a Kentish man of ancient descent, did not perhaps rank very high upon the Episcopal bench, but he was sufficiently exalted to make the innuendo that he had died from being shot on the Heath while taking purses at the pistol-muzzle a very startling one.
    Grantley Berkeley says: "The Lord Bishop Twysden, of Raphoe, a member of the old Kentish family of that name, was found suspiciously out at night on Hounslow Heath, and was most unquestionably shot through the body. A correspondent of the Gentleman's Magazine asked, 'Was this the bishop who was taken ill on Hounslow Heath, and so carried back to his friend's house (? Osterley Park), where he died of an inflammation of the bowels?'" Half-hours with the highwaymen; picturesque biographies and traditions of the knights of the road by Charles George Harper (1908) Volume 1
  15. "Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 58 – 1945 page 46: Notes on the Family of Twysden and Twisden, By Ronald G. Hatton, C.B.E., D.Sc., F.R.S., and the Rev. Christopher H. Hatton, O.S.B." Kent Archaeological Society. 15 February 2005. Retrieved 9 February 2014.


  • Cotton, Henry (1849). The Province of Ulster. Fasti Ecclesiae Hiberniae: The Succession of the Prelates and Members of the Cathedral Bodies of Ireland. Volume 3. Dublin: Hodges and Smith.
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I., eds. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd, reprinted 2003 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • Moody, T. W.; Martin, F. X.; Byrne, F. J., eds. (1984). Maps, Genealogies, Lists: A Companion to Irish History, Part II. A New History of Ireland. Volume IX. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-821745-5.
Church of Ireland titles
Preceded by
William Barnard
Lord Bishop of Raphoe
Succeeded by
Robert Downes
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