- This unusual name is of English locational origin, from the now "lost" depopulated villages or hamlets called " Birtwisle" near the town of Padiham in Lancashire, "Briestwistle" near Thornhill in West Yorkshire, or "Breretwisel" near Wath-upon-Dearne, also in West Yorkshire. The placename derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "bridd", Middle English "bird" meaning nesting or young bird, plus "twissel", fork, in this case of a stream, a "stream-junction". The name development has included:- "John Brittwissill" (1397, Lancashire), "Thomas Birtwisill" (1460, Yorkshire). Modern variants are "Burtwistle", "Birtwhistle", "Bertwistle" and "Birdwhistell". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Briddestwysill, (witness), which was dated 1285, in the Assize Rolls of Lancashire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as the Hammer of the Scots, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.