I’d like to introduce…

Edward George "Ted" Turner

Edward George Turner, known affectionately to his family and friends as Ted, was a kind hearted, gregarious, right jolly English gent, loved by all who knew him. He was born on the 27th of June 1911 at Blake Cottage, Horn Street in Winslow, Buckinghamshire, where his father was employed as head groom to Mr Gosling of Blake House.

And His Lovely Wife…


Miss Phyllis Mary Collins, daughter of William Collins, publican of the George Inn in Winslow, which is where Ted met her one fateful day in the 1930s

The Caversham Turners

One Hundred Years of Turners

 Although Leonard Turner was born in Buckinghamshire, he probably spent a good deal of time in Oxfordshire visiting his cousins, uncles and aunts and other extended family. His father was from the bustling town of Reading, about 20 miles from Great Marlow, and his mother had grown up in the countryside of the Oxfordshire Plains at the foot of the Chiltern Hills in Lewknor. Both had come from large families and there were vast numbers of Turner families all over Oxfordshire in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Map 1: Berkshire. Reprinted with permission from Chris Peen of Oldtowns.co.uk

Our 18th century Turner ancestors were concentrated mainly near Reading.


Henry Turner, the Huntley & Palmers Biscuit Maker

Leonard’s parents were Henry (Harry) Turner and Louisa Smith, who were married in Caversham, Oxon on 17 August 1870.[1] The witnesses were Harry’s father Charles, and his sister Annie. These are thought to be their official wedding photos.  

  Louisa was from Lewknor, Oxfordshire. Born on Boxing Day in 1846, she was the eighth child of Thomas and Ellen (nee Holland) Smith.[2]

Harry, Ted’s paternal grandfather, was born in St Giles, Reading, Berks on 1 June 1848,[3] but he spent the better part of his childhood in Caversham, Oxon where his father ran a bakery. The Turners were a strong presence in Caversham through the 18th and 19th centuries and the St Peter’s parish register is filled with their baptisms, marriages, and burials. Harry had an older brother and two younger sisters, one of whom died at age 15. But he had a multitude of cousins who lived all over the Caversham/Reading area. 

At the time of his marriage, Harry lived in Greenham, Berks and listed his occupation as Fly Proprietor, which meant he drove a “fly”—a one horse two wheeled light carriage. Fly Proprietors typically employed fly drivers for hire and usually owned the flys themselves. Quite possibly, Harry was in partnership with his father Charles who, according to the 1871 Caversham census, owned flys of his own in addition to his bakery. That same year, Harry and Louisa appeared on the Reading St Lawrence census,[4] living on Greyfriar’s Road where Harry ran the Tudor Arms pub. He was a licensed victualler. Louisa’s younger brother Henry lived with them. He was 12.

Louisa must have been pregnant when the 1871 census was taken, because their first child, Ellen Louisa, was born sometime later that summer. She was baptized at St Peter’s in Caversham on 23 August.[5] Harry was listed as a baker in the baptizm registry, which makes me think that while he might have been the publican at the Tudor Arms, his main function was baking. 

Their second child, Ada Sophia, was baptized at St Peter’s on 25 September 1872.[6] Son Frederick Henry was born two years after that and was baptized at St Peter’s on 12 August 1874[7], but shortly after his birth, Harry and Louisa moved their family to Great Marlow Bucks and took up residence in Albion House at 35 West Street. It was in that very house 60 years earlier that Mary Shelley had penned the classic novel “Frankenstein” while awaiting the birth of her baby in 1817. Her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote the epic poem “The Revolt of Islam” while they lived there. The property still stands today and is now known as Shelley House.

I know from Leonard’s birth certificate that he was born in Albion House and I would imagine his sisters were as well: Etta Isabel in 1876 and Dora Louisa in 1882. Did Leonard know he’d been born in the house in which Frankenstein had come to life??

It seems from the 1881 census, that Harry had his own bakery at this point, probably somewhere close by, and employed 1 boy.[8] He was now the 3rd generation of Turner men to have achieved the status of Master Baker.

Tragedy struck at Albion House on 20 February 1882, when 35 year old Louisa died from uterine phlebitis less than a month after giving birth to Dora.[9] The death certificate indicated she’d been hemoragging for 23 days, so I suspect this was a complication of the delivery. Henry was left alone to care for six young children including a newborn, so it was no surprise to fin that two years later he had married an Irish girl 10 years his junior named Rosanna McGuiness. Rose was a housemaid at nearby Western House on West Street. They had three children together: Winnifred (1885) Arthur John (1887) and Eveline (1889) I found Harry and Rose on the 1891 census, living at 26 Queen’s Road in Caversham with Leonard, Dora, and the three children from the second marriage.[10]

It was probably around this time that Harry became employed by Huntley & Palmer Biscuits in Reading, where the company was so important to the local economy that the village was known throughout England as “Biscuit Town.” Many of the H&P employees lived in the neighboring village of Lower Caversham as it was just a short walk across Clappers Footbridge to get to the factory.

Harry became ill with tuberculosis and died at 32 Prospect Street on 7 November 1903.[11]]The official cause of death was Phthisis Exhaustion, which was the term used to mean the gradual wasting away due to TB. He was 55 years old and was described on the death certificate as being a ‘baker at the biscuit factory.’ Rose was with him when he died, but what became of her after his death is a mystery. According to Ted, his grandfather was buried in Great Marlow with his first wife Louisa.


Harry and Louisa’s Children

Ellen Louisa married Harold Pountney, of Perchshire, in Caversham in early 1900.[12] He was from Ely St Mary and in 1911 was working as a Limited Liability Corp Manager for a Railway Advertising Contractor in Eton Bucks. Ellen was working as a housekeeper and they had and they had three sons together: Harold Leslie (1902), Arthur Francis Hugh (1908) and Malcolm Henry (1909), all born in Slough Bucks. This was a second marriage for Arthur, and the 1911 census showed two daughters from his first marriage living with them as well – Hilda Winifred and Irene Louise. They also employed a young servant girl.

They visited Bombay India in 1927, traveling aboard a ship called Cathay. The ship’s manifest listed their address as 55 Bath Road in Reading, which is where she died in 1942 at the age of 71.

Ada Sophia at the age of 18 moved to Worcester, where she was employed as a host at a restaurant at Lowesmoor. This is probably where she met her husband Arthur Underwood. They married in the summer of 1896[13] and had four children: Arthur Leonard, Dorothy Kathleen, Cissie Muriel, and Richard Frederick. They were still living at Lowesmoor in 1911. Arthur was a butcher. Ada died in 1931 in Worcestershire.

Frederick Henry , Leonard’s older brother, has long been thought to have been killed in action during one of Britain’s conflicts in India however, with the recent addition of over 7,000 previously missing British serviceman records to the “Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913″ database located at the Findmypast website, the truth of his early death is now known. Service records reveal that he enlisted at Aldershot as a 14 year old, embarking a year later on a ten-year tour overseas in India, from 1889-1899. Upon returning to Aldershot in 1899, he re-enlisted for another seven years, however he remained stationed at Aldershot and did not participate in Britain’s Second Boer War. Records further show he died of a ruptured spleen at Aldershot on 26 December, 1904.[14] He was 30 years old. There is no indication of the cause of his injuries, but what is clear is that, while he’d served his country proudly and honorably for 16 years, he was not killed in action. Frederick is not known to have married or produced any children. He is presumably buried at Aldershot.

Etta Isabel went to live with with her Aunt Annie and Uncle John Allwright, a baker in Rose Hill Caversham and at 15 she was a confectioner’s assistant. What became of her is a mystery as I can’t find either a death certificate or evidence she married.

Dora Louisa appeared on the 1901 census, living in Leamington Priors, Warks, where she worked as a refreshments assistant.  In 1910 she married Fred Robinson, a railway clerk with the Great Western Railway. They lived in Solihull, Warks and had at least three children.


Charles Turner, Master Baker

Charles Turner, Harry’s father, was born in Caversham, Oxon in 1819 and was baptized on the 4th of July.[15] Although his father John Turner, was a baker, his uncles and probably also his grandfather were carpenters so it was no surprise to find Charles on the 1841 census working as a junior carpenter in Reading.[16] He continued in that trade for a number of years. About the time his father passed away, Charles gave up carpentry and became a baker as his father had been. Charles married Ellen Brown on 6 September 1845 in Thatcham Berks at the Chapel of Greenham.[17] Ellen was the daughter of John and Lucy Brown.

Thanks to the UK census, I was able to follow Charles and Ellen quite easily through the decades. They settled in Reading St Mary following their marriage and were living at 70 Welldale Road in 1851.[18] Charles was still working as a carpenter. By that time, they had three children: Charles, born in the summer of 1846, our Harry, and daughter Ellen Louisa, born in 1850.[19] For reasons we will never know, early in the 1850s Charles left the building trade and moved his family across the river to Caversham where he opened up a bakery. Their fourth child, Annie Matilda was born there and was baptized at St Andrews in January 1854. The 1861 Caversham Census records show the family was living on Prospect Street, suggesting the shop was about a mile from where his father’s had been in Emmer Green.[20]  Along with their 4 children, other members of the household included Ellen’s 12 year old niece Hannah Brown, and a bakery servant, George Pitts, age 19.

Charles Turner’s Bakery on Prospect Street. This picture is from the collection held by

Reading Local Studies Library, Reading Central Library. Used with permission.

was listed in J.G. Harrod & Co’s 1876 Royal County Directory [21] as having his own bakery and if you look closely at this photo of his shop on Prospect Street at the corner of Chester Street, you can just make out “TURNER” above the door. I imagine the family lived upstairs.

By 1871, Charles had purchased one or more flys and was a Fly Proprietor in addition to running the bakery.[22] Harry had married and moved away the year before, but their oldest son Charles was still living at home and was also a baker. Ellen and their daughter Annie worked as assistants in the shop. Sadly their daughter Ellen Louisa had died of pleurisy in 1865.[23]She was just 14. A servant named George Hall, who’s occupation is listed as Fly Driver, and Elizabeth Pusey, age 72, a boarder and former shop keeper, were also part of their household.

 Charles Jr married Caroline Marlow in 1875 and they would eventually have six children. Sometime before the 1881 census, Charles and Ellen had moved to an apartment at Greenham Villas and Charles Jr had taken over the bakery and Corn Merchant business and had moved his family into the Prospect Street residence. Annie had by that time also left home and married John Smithers Allwright, a fruiterer. The Allwrights lived at Rose Hill in Emmer Green, and Ellen and Charles were living with them when the 1901 was taken.[24] John and Annie had four children together. Annie’s niece Etta, Leonard’s sister, age 15, also lived with them and was listed as a Confectioner’s Assistant. 

Charles died on 31 August, just a few months after the 1901 census was taken.[25] According to his death certificate, the official cause was Senile Gangren & Paralysis of Bladder & Aschemia. Ellen died of heart failure four years later on 22 August 1905.[26] She was 82.


[1] Henley, Oxfordshire, marriage certificate for Henry Turner & Louisa Smith, 1870; given at GRO, citing Henley, Jul-Aug-Sep, vol. 3a:777. 

[2] Thame, Oxfordshire, birth certificate for Louisa Smith, 1846; given at GRO, citing Thame Jan-Feb-Mar, vol. 16:119.

[3] Reading, Berkshire, birth certificate for Henry Turner, 1848; given at GRO, citing Reading, Apr-May-Jun vol. 6:235.

[4] “1871 England Census,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 March 2009), entry for Henry Turner, Reading St Lawrence; citing TNA Microfilm RG10, piece 1281, folio 10, p.16.

[5] Oxfordshire Family History Society(OFHS), South Oxfordshire Area: vol 1, Caversham2.pdf (CD-ROM: Oxfordshire Family History Society, 1994–2003).

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] “1881 England Census,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 March 2009), entry for Henry Turner, Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire; citing TNA Microfilm RG11, piece 1466, folio 19, p.32.

[9] Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, death certificate for Louisa Turner, 1882; given at GRO, citing Wycombe Jan-Feb-Mar, vol. 3a:374.

[10] “1891 England Census,” Caversham, Oxfordshire; entry for Henry Turner.

[11] Henley, Oxfordshire, death certificate for Henry Turner, 1903; given at GRO, citing Henley, Oct-Nov-Dec, vol. 3a:512.

[12] “England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index: 1837-1915,” database, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 March 2010), marriage entry for Harold Pountney & Ellen Turner, 1900; citing Jan-Feb-Mar, Henley, Vol. 3a:951.

[13] OFHS, South Oxfordshire Area: vol 1, Caversham2.pdf

[14] “British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920,” database, findmypast.co.uk , (http://www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 25 October 2010), Fred Turner, Caversham; citing WO97 / 6114 / 77.

[15] OFHS, South Oxfordshire Area: vol 1, Caversham2.pdf

[16] “1841 England Census,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 March 2009), entry for Charles Turner, Reading, St Mary; citing TNA Microfilm HO107, piece 36, book 3, folio 6, p. 6, line 3.

[17] Newbury, Berkshire, marriage certificate for Charles Turner & Ellen Brown, 1848; given at GRO, citing Newbury Jul-Aug-Sep, vol. 6:279.

[18] “1851 England Census,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2009), entry for Charles Turner, Reading St Mary; citing TNA Microfilm HO107, piece 1692, folio 285, p.41.

[19] OFHS, South Oxfordshire Area: vol 1, Caversham2.pdf. 

[20] “1861 England Census,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2009), entry for Charles Turner, Henley, Caversham; citing TNA Microfilm RG9, piece 883, folio 13, p. 20

[21] J.G. Harrod & Co’s Royal County Directory of Bedfordshire, Buckinhamshire, Berkshire, and Oxfordshire, page 649; Norwich Royal County Directory Offices, 1876, digital image, Google Books (http://books.google.com : viewed online 27 February 2010).

[22] “1871 England Census,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2009), entry for Charles Turner, Henley, Caversham; citing TNA Microfilm RG10, piece 1427, folio 14, p. 21.

[23] Reading, Berkshire, death certificate for Ellen Louisa Turner, 1865; given at GRO, citing Reading, …

[24] “1901 England Census,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2009), entry for Charles Turner, Kidmore, Gallowstree Common; citing TNA Microfilm RG13, piece 1370, folio 42, p. 6.

[25] Henley, Oxfordshire, death certificate for Charles Turner, 1901; given at GRO, citing Henley,…

[26] Henley, Oxfordshire, death certificate for Ellen Turner, 1905; given at GRO, citing Henley Jul-Aug-Sep, vol. 3a:463.

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3 comments to The Caversham Turners

  • Catherine Wade


    I am searching my great grandparents bakery in Caversham. They moved from Wokingham to Caverrsham in 1915 and I am wondering if your ancestors shop is the link before my ancestors moved into Prospect Street.. Pigg was the family name.

    Do you happen to know when your ancesters left and sold up?

    Catherine Wade

    • Claire

      HI Catherine,

      I’m sorry to say that I don’t know when the Turner’s sold the shop. I’m descended from a brother who did not stay in the family business, so I’ve never pursued Charles Jr. If I come across anything, I’ll let you know.

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