John Turton of Rowley Regis

John Turton, yeoman of Rowley Regis left a will probate 7 May 1635. He names his three sons William, John and Thomas and three daughters Eleanor, Elizabeth and Mary. William, Eleanor and Elizabeth are all married. 

He was probably the son of Humphrey Turton, who was buried in St Giles Rowley Regis on 1 Feb 1613. This would mean that he was the nephew of William Turton of West Bromwich, who left a will of 1627. Both Humphrey and William, together with their younger brothers Simon and Adam are all children of John Turton and Joan Rogers who are recorded as marrying in St Giles Rowley Regis on 30 May 1540.

As indicated in his will, John Turton is the father of Eleanor Turton, the first wife of Humphrey Coleborne and therefore great great grandfather of Edmund Darby (1695-1769).

The Turtons are an important family in Rowley Regis and West Bromwich and the descendants of William Turton, John’s Uncle are armigers and forebears of Sir John Turton Baron of the Exchequer. This branch of the family resided at the Oak House, West Bromwich. In his will of 1627, William Turton refers to his cousin John Turton of Rowley Regis, which we can presume means ‘our’ John Turton and appoints him and his son-in-law Francis Symcocks as overseers to his will. On his death William Turton of West Bromwich is clearly an old man with his son William already dead in 1621 and a large number of adult grandchildren. Although William’s brother Adam is clearly still alive, he is provided for with a weekly payment of two shillings suggesting he is very much in his dotage.

The Turtons though are also renowned for their religious dissent and it is a William Turton, who as vicar of Rowley Regis was evicted from the living in 1662 and was prominent amongst nonconformists in Oldbury and Birmingham for his sermons until his death in 1716.

John Turton seems to be firmly in this tradition as in his 1635 will he leaves “five pounds …to be bestowed to the use or maintenance of a teacher to teach God’s word in the Chapel of Oldbury”. The dissident preacher William Turton (above) attended Brasenose College (mat 26 May 1653) but it is not easy to place his parents. Given this phrase in John’s will and the link to Rowley Regis, William is most likely a grandson of John Turton. The nearby West Bromwich lines descending from William Turton, John’s Uncle are relatively well documented in the ‘Visitations’. His uncle William has an almost identical bequest to appoint a teacher in the Chapel at Oldbury like that of his nephew reinforcing the closeness of the two branches of the family.

Both John Turton and his putative grandson Rev William Turton seem to have resided at Brades, just outside Rowley Regis – or possibly in ‘The Brick House’

One detects from the will that John’s favoured sons are John and Thomas as they are named as executors and there is a requirement for William, the eldest, to provide certain income to his siblings and his father’s wife Margery.

Both the will and a series of documents held in the National Archives show that John Turton accumulated a large amount of land and buildings in the fifteen years 1617-1630. Some of this was bought from the Grove family and others from a branch of the Dudley family too. It is likely John was engaged in the iron industry somehow – as a nailer or producer of nails and small iron work. This area of the West Midlands was already a major producer for the whole of the country and although ostensibly a yeoman farmer it is a plausible explanation for his rapid accumulation of property. The dates also tie in with the death of his putative father Humphrey in 1613 but no will can be found for a Humphrey Turton at that date.

Sources and Notes

  • Parish Registers of All Saints West Bromwich, St Giles Rowley Regis and St John Halesowen. (19th century transcripts)
  • Will of John Turton, Yeoman of Rowley Regis, Probate 7 May 1635 National Archives PCC
  • Will of William Turton, Yeoman of West Bromwich, Probate 29 Feb 1627, National Archives PCC (Uncle)
  • Visitation of Staffordshire, William Dugdale (Pedigree of William Turton of West Bromwich)
  • Will of William Turton, Ironmonger of Oxford, Probate 7 Aug 1646, PCC
    • This will would appear to be that of John Turton’s oldest son.
    • A Baptism in St Martin, Oxford, 1 Jan 1635/36 would thus be that of a grandson William, who must be the future dissenting preacher.