What hap­pened to my fam­ily’s for­tune?

Rosie But­ter­worth is strug­gling to solve a puz­zle con­cern­ing her un­usu­ally named ancestor Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Turner

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS -


My 4x great grand­fa­ther Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Turner (or Turnor) died in Lam­beth in 1836. He had at least 11 chil­dren, seven of whom were still alive when he died.

There is a ru­mour that, af­ter his death, the will went to the Chancery Court and the fam­ily lost their money. How­ever, the news­pa­pers sug­gest that this ac­tu­ally hap­pened years be­fore he died and that the fam­ily home was sold by auc­tion. I did find an old map show­ing that Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Turner owned or leased vast amounts of land in East Chal­low, Berkshire.

I also found a copy of his will on ances­try.co.uk, al­though it is a bit odd to say the least. It seems to be dis­pos­ing the prop­erty of his two el­der sons, Charles Ex­u­pe­ri­ous and Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Robert, both of whom died in In­dia while serv­ing the army in the 1820s. Ev­ery­thing is left to his daugh­ter, Mary, and there is a de­po­si­tion fol­low­ing the will in which she states that no other will has been found. My 3x great grand­mother Har­riet also ap­pears, help­ing to con­firm Mary’s iden­tity.

I’ve found an­other ar­ti­cle in a Berkshire news­pa­per, in which Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Turner’s only sur­viv­ing son, Henry Charles, in­sists that he is the right­ful heir and aged 18 years old. I am not sure if Henry Charles ever did get sat­is­fac­tion – all I know is that he mar­ried and be­came an ex­cise of­fi­cer in Corn­wall. Rosie But­ter­worth, via email


As you say, the will is a strange one. The orig­i­nal (as op­posed to the reg­is­ter copy on Ances­try) may have sur­vived in The Na­tional Ar­chives (TNA) at Kew in the se­ries PROB 10. It might also be worth look­ing at the death duty records, as there is an en­try for Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Turner in 1837. The in­dex, which is avail­able on findmy past.co.uk, shows that the ex­ecu­tor was Mary Turner of 25 Durham Street. The reg­is­ters, which show the value of the es­tate, and to whom it was be­queathed, are in TNA in the se­ries IR 26.

Turn­ing now to the ques­tion of the fam­ily los­ing their money, there were two cases in the Chancery Court be­tween 1808 and 1824 re­lat­ing to the mort­gage of a man­sion and lands in Let­comb Regis. The first is brought in 1808 by Thomas Moore of New Wind­sor, Berkshire, a gent. The sec­ond is brought by Wil­liam Coster of Bour­ton in the parish of Shriven­ham, Berkshire, in 1815 and 1824. One of the de­fen­dants in both cases is Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Turnor of East Chal­low in the parish of Let­comb Regis, which means that these cases are prob­a­bly the source of the fam­ily tale. The Chancery ex­hibits (doc­u­ments left in the court af­ter the case has fin­ished) in­clude the ac­counts re­lat­ing to the Coster vs Turner case and in­clude lists of ten­ants, rents, re­ceipts and dis­burse­ment.

In ad­di­tion to the plead­ings, which are listed in the on­line cat­a­logue, it would be worth look­ing for pe­riph­eral records re­lat­ing to Chancery cases. These are at TNA and are not in­dexed on­line. The eas­i­est to ac­cess are the Or­ders & De­crees, as the in­dexes are in the search room.

These are likely to show the out­come of the case, and what pay­ments were made. Mas­ters’ re­ports usu­ally in­clude fac­tual de­tails such as ac­counts or copies of deeds, and they also of­ten sum­marise the case. Af­fi­davits can be help­ful as they are wit­ness state­ments made un­der oath vol­un­tar­ily by those who feel they have some­thing to add to the case. Pe­ti­tions can also be help­ful and are of­ten re­ferred to in the Or­ders.

These last records are at TNA, and both the in­dexes and the orig­i­nal records have to be or­dered as doc­u­ments. Re­mem­ber that some doc­u­ments are stored off­site and need to be or­dered three days in ad­vance.

It is pos­si­ble that there was a dis­pute over the will brought to the Chancery court, but for the pe­riod 1800 to 1842 the cases have not yet all been in­cluded with full de­tails in the TNA’s on­line cat­a­logue ( dis­cov­ery.na­tional ar­chives.gov.uk). Any case would prob­a­bly be be­tween Henry Charles Turnor and his sis­ters Mary John­ston and Har­riet Cox.

There are two po­ten­tially rel­e­vant cases: in 1843 there is a Turner vs Cox case, and in 1840 a John­son vs Turner. These would need to be in­ves­ti­gated to see if they do in­deed re­fer to the will of Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Turnor. Su­san Moore

Mary John­ston swore a de­po­si­tion to say that this will was the only one the fam­ily had found

The will of Ex­u­pe­ri­ous Turner left ev­ery­thing to his daugh­ter, Mary

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