Simon Towneley

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Sir Simon Peter Edmund Cosmo William Towneley KCVO KCSG (born 14 December 1921)[1] was born with the surname Koch de Gooreynd, the elder son of a British father of Belgian stock, Alexander L.W. Koch de Gooreynd, and a British mother (Priscilla Reyntiens), also of partial Belgian descent.

Alexander Koch de Gooreynd changed the family name prior to the birth of Towneley's younger brother, Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, the journalist. The brothers were raised Catholic, but did not attend denominational schools.

During the Second World War, Worsthorne served in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, receiving a commission as a second lieutenant in December 1942.[2]

Worsthorne assumed the surname and arms of Towneley, an old recusant family, by royal licence. At the time of his wedding, he changed his name and took on the remaining Lancashire inheritance of that family, of which his great-grandmother Caroline Theresa, Lady Abingdon, had been one of the three co-heiresses.

In 1954 (under the name Simon Towneley Worsthorne) he published Venetian Opera in the 17th Century, a seminal study of the field, which played a significant role in the remarkable revival of the Venetian opera repertory in the latter 20th century.


He was appointed High Sheriff of Lancashire for 1971 and Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire from 1976 to 1996.

He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1994.[3]


Towneley married his second cousin Mary Fitzherbert, the third of six children of Cuthbert Fitzherbert, from a well-off recusant English Roman Catholic family. Lady Towneley died in 2001 from cancer, aged 65. The couple had seven children; one son and six daughters including the author K M Grant.


  1. ^ "Simon Peter Edmund Cosmo William KOCH De GOOREYND,". authorandbookinfo. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "(Supplement) no. 35893". The London Gazette. 5 February 1943. p. 699. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "no. 53527". The London Gazette. 30 December 1993. p. 4. Retrieved 28 November 2009. 


Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Lord Clitheroe
Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire
Succeeded by
The Lord Shuttleworth