Select Turner Miscellany

Here are some Turner stories and accounts over the years:

Early Turnours as Turners

The Turnour spelling was evident in the 15th century but it seemed to have mainly died out by the 16th:
  • William Turnour was rector of Rayne in Essex in 1440.   
  • the birth of Henry Turnour was recorded in Haverhill, Suffolk in 1478.  But two generations later the spelling was Turner.   
  • while William Turnour, a merchant of Scotland, was granted a safe conduct to travel into England in 1473.  The same name appeared in Edinburgh records in 1481.
However, one legal family of Suffolk and Essex did seem flexible between the Turnour, Turnor, and Turner spellings in the 17th century.  This family later held estates in Galway.

The Turners of Mulberton and Keningham

The first recorded of this line was William Turner who died in 1547 and was a servant of Sir John Robsart of Stanfield Hall nearby in Norfolk.   Either William’s son, Thomas or, according to Blomefield’s History of Norfolk, his son John bought Keningham Manor from Sir Thomas Gresham in 1570.  The estate included about 500 acres of land.  How the Turners were able to make this step into land ownership is not known.  

The Turner family remained associated with Keningham estate for several generations.  Many of their names were recorded on the Turner memorials in the church.  John Turner, listed as owner of Keningham and yeoman in White’s Directory of 1845, eventually sold the estate in 1861.  It did in part come back to the Turners in 1886 through John Hotblack who was married to a Turner.  

The Rev. Howard Turner compiled a history of the family in his 1907 book The Turner Family of Mulbarton and Great Yarmouth.

Turners in the 1891 Census

Turners (000's)

The House of Seven Gables

The earliest section of the House of the Seven Gables was built in Salem, Massachusetts in 1667 for Captain John Turner.  It remained in his family for three generations, descending from John Turner II to John Turner III.  

Facing south towards Salem Harbor, it was originally a two-room, two-story house with cross-gables and a massive central chimney.  This portion now forms the middle of the house.   In 1692, John Turner II added a new north kitchen ell to the rear of the house, as well as the famous "secret stairway" within the rebuilt main chimney (built at the time of the Salem witch trials).  About 1725 he remodeled the house into the new Georgian style. 

After John Turner III lost the family fortune, the house was acquired by the Ingersoll family in 1782.   One of their relatives was Nathaniel Hawthorne who often stayed there when he was a child and later immortalized the house in his works.  It was described by Hawthorne and, hence his fascination, as "a rusty, wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass.  And a huge clustered chimney in the middle."

Terisha Turner in Virginia

Terisha Turner’s life span was long.  He was born in Hanover county, Virginia around the year 1709 and died in Amherst county in 1801 at the age of ninety two.   His name was probably pronounced Terrisha, since his nickname was Terry.  

The earliest land record of him showed that he patented 200 acres of land on the south side of the James river in 1749.  He married Sarah Wimpey who died in 1806.   They had eight children.  He appeared on the 1783 tax list of Virginia with five in his family and twelve slaves.  Old Terisha died in 1801 owning several thousand acres, not only in Virginia but in North Carolina as well. He called himself 'ancient' in his will which had been written in 1793 and proven in 1802.  

His descendants followed a classic migration route - from Virginia to North Carolina, then through Tennessee to Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and points further west.  Toby Turner's branch came to Texas after the Civil War.

Robert Turner and Bracondale Hill

Robert Turner was a wealthy lawyer in Toronto in the 1840’s who lived with his family in what was called ”one of the fashionable houses of York.”  He then purchased land in the outskirts of the town.  From the finest five-acre section, the site of the ancient oak forest on the crest of Davenport hill, he carved out his estate. 

This estate included several buildings, an orchard, a large market garden, stables and a Georgian-style home he named Bracondale Hill after his home in Norfolk back in England.  Robert and his family moved there when all was completed in 1847.

He was undoubtedly relieved to move his family to the countryside.  Typhoid was rampant in the city and in 1849 the downtown core of Toronto was destroyed by fire. Early settlers believed in the health-giving properties of the air up Davenport hill.  

The village of Bracondale sprang up around the original estate, taking its name from the Turner home.  In 1880 Robert’s son Frank built the Bracondale Post Office.  Bracondale Hill itself was boarded up in the 1930’s and then demolished by the city in 1937.

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