William 1 Turner
Caversham births, deaths, and marriages were found in the Oxfordshire Family History Society’s parish register transcriptions. Other citations for sources used in this article are forthcoming. 
Until research provides us with conclusive evidence one way or another, it is impossible to follow this line any farther into the past. But we can say with confidence that John Turner’s father, our progenitor, William1 married Ann Wells at St Peter’s on 25 September 1769. Ann was the daughter of John and Mary Wells and she was 21 years old when she married William.
Contrary to the mystery surrounding his early years, William’s adult life left a very nice paper trail for us to follow. He and Ann had seven children together—five sons and two daughters. Various parish register entries reveal that the four oldest sons, William2 Jr, Thomas, Richard and our John, were carpenters. James, their youngest child probably worked with his older brothers growing up, but he died at the age of 23 and there’s no mention of his occupation in the burial register. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that the father of four carpenters would have been involved in the building trade as well, but I haven’t yet come across any specific reference that proves William1 worked in construction.
Four of William1 and Ann’s five sons married and had large families creating a quite a concentration of Turners in 19th century Caversham and the St Peter’s register is filled with their baptisms, marriages and burials. Although there were a few mentions of Turners in the early registers it was really William’s family that brought the name to Caversham in force.
Things got off to a quick start for William1 and Ann with the birth of their first child, a son also named William2, who was baptized on 21 December 1769, just three months after their wedding. We know from church records that young William2 followed his father into the carpentry trade and shortly after marrying Elizabeth Ambrose in Shinfield Berks in August 1794, the two lived for a time in Caversham. That couple’s first child, born the next summer, and also named William, lived only a few days. Elizabeth, born two years later died at 14 months, however they had seven more children who lived to adulthood, or at least weren’t buried in Caversham. I do wonder if William2 and Elizabeth might have moved their family to London at some point because two of their sons, William3 and James, both married women from Middlesex and appear to have settled in a town called Clerkenwell where William3 worked as a carpenter and James was a bookbinder. William2 died at the age of 51 and was buried at St Peter’s on 13 December 1821. I can’t find a record of Elizabeth’s death. She was not buried at St Peter’s, so she may have died when they were living in Middlesex.
Sarah was William1 and Ann’s oldest daughter. I found her on the 1841 Caversham census, living with her brother John in Emmer Green, but unfortunately that first census offers so little in terms of familial detail that all we’re able to learn from it is she was a 70 year old spinster. I like to imagine she was the children’s favorite Auntie, and a big help to her sister-in- law Mary with all those children to care for. She died a year after the census and was buried at St Peter’s on 3 July 1842.
Hannah was the only other daughter born to William1 and Ann. She was baptized on 17 April 1780 and at the age of 20 married William Stockbridge, a brickmaker from Westminster Middlesex. They lived in Caversham and had four sons, one being Thomas who became a shoemaker and married Hannah’s niece Marina. After William Stockbridge died in 1854 Hannah worked as a laundress. She was in attendence at her grand niece Ellen Louisa’s death in 1851 and we can see from Ellen’s death certificate that Hannah was unable to write her own name and instead left her mark in the form of an X. Hannah herself lived a very long life. She died at the age of 88 and was buried at St Peter’s on 12 May 1868.
William1 and Ann’s son Thomas2 married Martha Dell in 1798 and they had 13 children over a 20 year period. Their oldest son William3 (Thomas2, Wm1) married a girl from Shropshire and was a claymaker, which was a common occupation as the area was well known for its brickmaking. Sons Edward and George, as well as several of their cousins, set off to seek their fortunes in London. Edward was a gingerbeer laborer and then later worked on the docks in Bromley Middlesex. George married a Caversham girl named Jane and they settled in Paddington Middlesex where George worked for 30 years as a carpenter.
Thomas2 and Martha’s son David2 was also a carpenter but stayed closer to home. He married Harriet Dormer in 1842, although the marriage ended a few months later with her death. Soon after that David married Sarah Dormer nee Kirk, a young widow who I suspect had been married to Harriet’s brother. Sarah and David had four children together. According to the baptism records David ran an inn in addition to his carpentry work, although that fact doesn’t appear on any census records.
Thomas2 and Martha lost a son Henry a week after his birth in 1814 and their daughter Rebecca died in 1836 at the age of 26, but I don’t know what became of their other six daughters: Maria, Susanna, Esther, Harriet, Emma, Diana, and Martha were all baptized in Caversham, but I haven’t come across their marriage or burial records. It’s possible they followed their brothers to London after the deaths of their parents, but a search of the 1851 and 1861 censuses has turned up nothing.
Thomas2 died in 1847 at the age of 73 and was buried at St Peter’s on the 31st of January. Martha lived another three years and died in November 1850. She was 71.
William1 and Ann’s son Richard2 was also a carpenter. He married twice, but as neither wedding took place in Caversham I don’t know anything about the wives other than their first names. His first marriage to Martha was brief; they had three children who all died as infants. Martha died just shortly after the birth of their last child and was buried on 26 February 1804. Richard’s second marriage to Elizabeth lasted 22 years and produced 11 children. Three died as infants. Their first child William3 (Rich 2 Wm 1), born in 1805, worked in carpentry but was also the keeper of the Prince of Wales pub in Little End Caversham. He and his wife Mary Ann had eight children.
Richard2 and Elizabeth’s younger sons, James and John, both became carpenters as well and might have worked together as they shared a home in Little End in 1841, right next door to their brother William’s family at the Prince of Wales. Richard died in 1827 and Elizabeth in 1832. They were both buried at St Peter’s.
William1 and Ann’s youngest child was a son named James2 who was born in 1786. He died in 1809 at the age of 23 having never married.
William1 died at the age of 82 on 19 September 1824 and was buried at St Peter’s. Unfortunately, I can’t find Ann’s death anywhere. She doesn’t appear on the 1841 census, so it’s likely she died before that, maybe even before William passed away, although her burial is not recorded in St Peter’s parish register.
William Turner’s Parents
It is clear from the entry in the St Peter baptism register, that John2 Turner was the son of William1 and Ann Turner. However the path gets a little murkier when we step back a generation to try to locate William’s birth date and place. If we believe William’s age at death was 82, as recorded in the burial register, then we can estimate he was born in the year 1742. There were two Turner men producing children in Caversham in the mid 18th century: Richard, who married Mary Stevens on 7 April 1742; and John Turner, who married Hannah Richard on 11 December 1739. Richard and Mary baptized their first child, a son William, at St Peter’s of 9 June 1742, making him a very good candidate for being the William from our line. The fact that William named one of his sons Richard adds weight to the theory, but unfortunately there is no proof beyond that. One other possibility is the William Turner who was born in Tilehurst Berks, a village just four miles from Caversham. That William was the first born son of William and Mary (nee Moreby) Turner, and he was baptized at St Michael’s, the parish church, on 22 April 1742. William doesn’t appear again in the Tilehurst register, suggesting he married and died somewhere else. Given Tilehurst’s proximity to the town our Turners lived in for generations, it’s tempting to imagine a link, but I haven’t found any definitive evidentiary documentation which proves it.
The next generation of our tree will for the time being remain purely conjecture until the identity of William’s parents and his birthplace are determined. But I am including, really just for the fun of it, the information I have discovered about the two William Turners I consider to be the most likely candidates for inclusion in our line.
Richard Turner & Mary Stevens
If William1 Turner was born in Caversham, then he was most likely the first born child of Richard Turner and Mary Stevens, who were married at St Peter’s on 7 April 1742. Mary was pregnant at the time of the wedding, or had recently delivered a child, because William’s baptism took place just a few weeks into their marriage, on the 9th of June.
Richard and Mary had five more children together over the next ten years and they were all baptized at St Peter’s: Mary, 6 January 1743/4; Elizabeth, 13 December 1745; Sarah, 30 June 1748; John, 27 September 1750; and Hannah, 3 August 1753. Richard doesn’t appear to have been born in Caversham, but Mary came from a large family and the parish registers are filled with Stevens entries going back quite a few generations.
The other strong candidate is William Turner of Tilehurst, who was baptized at St. Michael’s Church on 22 April 1742. He was the youngest of four children born to William and Mary (nee Moreby) Turner whose wedding had taken place a decade earlier at St. Michael’s on 6 November 1731. William Senior’s birthplace is unknown but his wife Mary Moreby was a native of Tilehurst. She was the daughter of Joseph Moreby and Margaret Freeman and had been baptized on 28 April 1706.
William and Mary baptized three children in Tilehurst before William was born: Thomas on 21 December 1732, Mary on 27 June 1734, and Anne on 12 April 1737. Mary died shortly after her birth, and Anne lived only six years before her death in 1743. Thomas appears to have grown to adulthood, but I haven’t been able to trace his whereabouts or find a marriage record anywhere in the area. William and Mary appear to have lived their entire adult lives in Tilehurst. Mary passed away at the age of 68 and was buried on 21 April 1775. William lived a few years as a widower before joining her in the St. Michael’s churchyard on 14 May 1783.
The Tilehurst parish registers include records dating back to 1559, with the first appearance of the Turner name being the marriage of Anne Turner to William Kinge in 1646, followed by the burial of a John Turner, senior, on 16 March 1653/4. It appears from the register that there were several Turner men raising families in Tilehurst during that era: John, presumably Junior, who baptized a daughter Joane on 6 October 1656; and William who married Edith Halloway a month later on 6 November. Neither is an obvious connection to our William. I suspect, giving the names of his children, that William’s father was a man named Thomas Turner who had married a woman named Anne. Unfortunately neither of the Tilehurst families baptized a son Thomas, but they may have lived in a neighboring parish. A Thomas Turner married Mary Wilder in 1675, but again, as this couple didn’t baptize any children in Tilehurst, to suggest a connection to our line would be merely speculation.
So where the Tilehurst Turners came from remains a mystery for now. There were clusters of Turners living in nearby Faringdon and Burghfield in the late 17th century, and while it’s possible they are related in some way to our line, the information I’ve been able to review online appears to disprove any connections between those clusters of families and our Tilehurst Turners. One possibility is a Thomas Turner of Thatcham, Berks, who married Ann Humphries and baptized several children there at about the time our William was probably born, however I haven’t found any evidence to suggest a link. Given that Thatcham is only 15 miles from Tilehurst, this Thomas Turner does warrant further research.
Recently, the archivist at the Berkshire Historical Society has suggested there were Turners living in Padworth and Inkpad, however the parish records are not available on the Internet and will require a visit in person to determine if they are in some way a branch of our tree. And of course it’s important to remember that the Tilehurst connection is just one possibility and requires further research to link William and Mary to our Caversham Turners.
South Oxon PR Transcripts, volumes 1–3, part of the Oxford Parish Register Transcripts series, (CD-ROM: Oxfordshire Family History Society, 1994–2003).
 Tilehurst birth, death, and marriages are found in Berks FHS CD Publications: PR Transcripts, Tilehurst (CD-ROM: Berkshire Family History Society, 2003–2008)