William Turton, Ironmonger of Oxford, died 1643

Placing all the William Turtons of West Bromwich and Rowley Regis in the early seventeenth century is extremely difficult. The various pedigrees stemming from the Heraldic Visitations, give a good picture of the main West Bromwich and Alrewas lines but it is difficult to tie back to surviving parish registers and particularly the recorded marriages.The William Turton, Ironmonger, who dies in Oxford is an interesting outlier but on closer examination it is clear he must be the oldest son of John Turton of Rowley Regis, whose will of 1635 is extant. This John Turton is the nephew of William Turton of West Bromwich, who dies in 1627 and is the progenitor of most the main lines of the family. This Oxford William Turton appears to have left a nuncupative record of his will, which is only collated up as a ‘Memorandum’ entry before the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1646, when probate is granted.

The ‘will’ talks of a house in the county of Salop [Oldbury], his brothers John and Thomas and his sisters Elizabeth and Mary. These are all the correct siblings with details that match the 1635 will of the father. The only sister with no mention is Eleanor, the wife of Humphrey Coleborne. It is possible she was dead by this date.

From the will it would seem that William was a widower. His wife was possibly the Judith Turton buried in St Martin’s Oxford on 24 Jun 1639. Baptisms in the same parish match the children listed in the will, the two oldest surviving being Alice (bap 10 Jul 1634) and  William (bap 1 Jul 1635/6).

This son, William, born in Oxford in 1636 is of particular interest as this is the given birth year of the ‘servitor’ who matriculates at Brasenose College, Oxford on 26 May 1653. This William Turton went on from Brasenose to be ordained and became the minister in Rowley Regis in about 1658, right at the end of the Commonwealth period. The Rev William Turton’s subsequent career, his ejection from the living, his radical preaching make him a celebrated dissenting Minister who lived through to 1716. He has an entry in Calamy.

Both the West Bromwich and Rowley Regis Turton’s have early wills that demonstrate support, financial and spiritual, for the Chapel in Oldbury, This chapel was the preferred worshipping place of people of early Puritan beliefs such as Edmonde Darby in the late sixteenth century. Many of this group talk about being members of the Elect in their wills.

However the leap from being a god fearing Puritan, with a Smithy, to attaining literacy and then to be a fully educated priest was a work of several generations. Perhaps the move of William Turton to Oxford was purely fortuitous but it seems wholly plausible that this was precisely the route of advancement fulfilled by the son.

The picture, however is further cemented if we look at another slightly later will. The will of Thomas Turton, Ironmonger of Oxford, 1652. This is quite clearly that of William’s youngest brother. His family appear to have largely been born in St John’s, Halesowen but in 1646 it is he who takes the probate on his brother William’s will. He must have subsequently moved to take over his brother’s ‘business’ in Oxford and one can presume had a strong role in the upbringing of his orphaned nephew, William.

The circumstantial facts that this orphaned boy, religious parents and modest financial backing seem to fit to create what we later see as a career of a significant dissenting minister that can emerge into his own, and even flourish after the important Act of Toleration 1689

William Turton, the father, was buried on 24 Aug 1643 is St Martin’s Oxford.

Sources and Notes

  • Memorandum of William Turton, Ironmonger of Oxford, PCC, Probate 7 Aug 1646
  • Heraldic Visitations of Staffordshire, 1614 and 1663
  • Will of John Turton, PCC, Probate 7 May 1635 (Father)
  • Will of William Turton of West Bromwich, PCC, Probate 28 Feb 1627 (Great Uncle)
    • mentions his nephew John and his oldest son William
  • Will of Thomas Turton, Ironmonger of Oxford, PCC Probate 10 May 1652 (Brother)
    • His widow Anne Parboe (m 16 Jun 1636 St John’s Halesowen) went on to marry William Morrell in 1659 a future Mayor of Oxford.
  • There is a marriage of William Turton and Judith Perkins in Lichfield 1628. This cannot be William’s wife as this Judith’s mother, Mary Perkins, in her will of 1646 lists children (including an obligatory William Turton) incompatible with the will of the Oxford William Turton.
  • Joseph Foster: Alumni Oxonienses (Vol 1)
    • This also shows that William’s older cousins William Turton and Richard Turton, two brothers, matriculated at Queen’s College (1624) and Trinity College (1637). These were two grandsons of William Turton (d 1627) by his son also William Turton who had predeceased him in 1621. This must also be counted as an influence on Rev William Turton towards an Oxford education.
  • Edmund Calamy: A Continuation of the Account of the Ministers, Lecturers, Masters and Fellows of Colleges, and Schoolmasters, Who Were Ejected and Silenced After the Restoration in 1660, By or Before the Act for Uniformity (2 volumes; London: Printed for R. Ford et al., 1727)
  • For an understanding of the situation in Oxford 1642-1646 the following wikipedia entry is interesting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Oxford. These events may have delayed the probate of William’s will but it is interesting to speculate on how much these events were a formative experience on his young son, or indeed whether the boy even stayed in Oxford at this time.




Last updated on 4 December 2023 by JJ Morgan