TURNER, John (c.1632-1712), of King's Lynn, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
Feb. 1701
Dec. 1701

Family and Education

b. c.1632, 1st s. of Charles Turner, attorney, of North Elmham, Norf. by w. Elizabeth. m. Jane (d.1689), da. of John Syms, wid. of Edward Allen, vintner, of Cambridge, s.p. suc. fa. 1681; kntd. 30 June 1684.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Lynn 1675, common councilman 1676, alderman 1684-June 1688, Oct. 1688-d., capt. of militia ft. 1677-?June 1688, ?Oct. 1688-at least 1697, mayor 1678-9, Mar.-Sept. 1692, 1702-3; commr. for assessment, Lynn 1677-80, Norf. and Lynn 1689-90.2


Turner was apprenticed to a Cambridge vintner, and, after marrying his master’s widow, moved to Lynn, where two of his brothers were in practice as attorneys. His trade prospered, and he rapidly became a leading member of the corporation.3

Recommended as ‘a very honest man’ by Lord Yarmouth (Robert Paston), Turner was returned with another vintner, Simon Taylor, at both elections of 1679. Classed as ‘base’ on Shaftesbury’s list, he took no part in debate or committee. He was granted leave of absence on 2 Apr., and did not return for the division on the exclusion bill. But after their re-election in the autumn, he and Taylor were named to the House by John Trenchard on 2 Nov. 1680 as Abhorrers. He did not stand in 1681, but in the reaction that followed his influence in the borough grew. In 1682 he proposed to the corporation to erect at his own expense an exchange for local merchants. A handsome stone building, completed in a year under Henry Bell, a local architect of note, it was inspired in design and conception by the Flemish merchant exchanges. At the same time, Turner purchased the principal inn in the town, which was rebuilt also by Bell to serve ‘for the accommodation of the merchants resorting to the exchange’, and renamed the Duke’s Head, after the Duke of York. He was knighted on the surrender of the charter in 1684. His brother Charles was then acting as legal adviser to the Duke of Norfolk, high steward of the borough under the new charter.4

Returned unopposed in 1685, Turner was appointed to one committee in James II’s Parliament, that to encourage ship-building. He was one of the Tory aldermen removed by James II in the early summer of 1688, but was reinstated under the royal proclamation restoring the corporations in the autumn, and re-elected in 1689. According to Anthony Rowe he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, but he was otherwise totally inactive in the Convention. He applied for a customs post in April, apparently without success, and was given leave of absence for three weeks on 5 July. He remained a Tory in the next Parliament, but went over to the Whigs under the influence of Robert Walpole in 1695. He died on 14 Feb. 1712, aged 80, and was buried in St. Nicholas, King’s Lynn. His nephew Charles represented King’s Lynn as a Whig from 1695 till his death in 1738, and was created a baronet.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 386-7; B. Mackerell, Lynn Regis, 120.
  • 2. Lynn Freemen , 186; Mackerell, 239, 278; Norf. Ltcy. Jnl. (Norf. Rec. Soc. xxx), 37, 96; R. Mason, Norf. 435.
  • 3. Blomefield’s Norf. Supp. ed. Ingleby, 155-60; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 31; W. Richards, Hist. Lynn, 819.
  • 4. CJ, ix. 644; Grey, vii. 393; Richards, 441; B. R. Leftwich, Custom House of King’s Lynn; Luttrell, i. 314.
  • 5. PC2/72/678; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 94, 1400.