Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turton, Thomas

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TURTON, THOMAS (1780–1864), bishop of Ely, born in Yorkshire on 25 Feb. 1780, was the son of Thomas Turton of Hatfield, Yorkshire, by his wife Ann, daughter of Francis Harn of Denby. In 1801 he became a pensioner of Queens' College, Cambridge. Two years afterwards he migrated to Catharine Hall, whence he proceeded B.A. in 1805, being senior wrangler; but as regards the Smith's prize, he and Samuel Hunter Christie of Trinity College were declared equal. In 1806 he was elected a fellow of his college, and in 1807 he succeeded to the office of tutor. In 1808 he commenced M.A., and he served the office of moderator in the schools for the years 1810, 1811, and 1812. In 1816 he took the degree of B.D.

In 1822 he was appointed Lucasian professor of mathematics, and in 1826 he accepted the college living of Gimingham-cum-Trunch, Norfolk, but was recalled to the university in the following year by his election to the office of regius professor of divinity on the resignation of John Kaye [q. v.], bishop of Bristol. Soon afterwards he was created D.D. by royal mandate. On 5 July 1827 he was collated to the prebend of Heydour-cum-Walton in the cathedral church of Lincoln. In November 1830 he obtained the deanery of Peterborough, vacant by the promotion of James Henry Monk [q. v.] to the see of Gloucester and Bristol. Turton filled this office until 1842, when he was appointed dean of Westminster. In March 1845 he was, on the recommendation of Sir Robert Peel, raised to the see of Ely, vacant by the death of Dr. Joseph Allen. For several years preceding his decease increasing infirmities precluded him from the active discharge of his episcopal functions. He died unmarried at Ely House, Dover Street, Piccadilly, London, on 7 Jan. 1864, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery, in a grave adjoining that of his friend Dr. Thomas Musgrave, archbishop of York [q. v.]

Turton was a vigorous controversial writer, and at various times entered into conflict with Edward Copleston [q. v.], bishop of Llandaff, on the doctrine of predestination; with Thomas Burgess (1756–1837) [q. v.], bishop of Salisbury, on the character of Porson; with Lord Brougham on natural theology; and with Cardinal Wiseman on the doctrine of the eucharist. He was the author of several other polemical tracts and pamphlets, and also edited William Wilson's ‘Illustration of the Method of explaining the New Testament by the early opinions of the Jews and Christians concerning Christ,’ Cambridge, 1838, 8vo; and John Hay's ‘Lectures on Divinity.’ He was opposed to the abolition of religious tests at the universities, and set forth his views in 1834 in a pamphlet entitled ‘Thoughts on the Admission of Persons, without regard to their Religious Opinions, to the Universities’ (Cambridge, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1835).

His taste in the fine arts was well known, and he made a valuable collection of pictures. He was the composer of several excellent pieces of church music.

[Daily Telegraph, 9 and 15 Jan. 1864; Dublin Review, 1839, vii. 197; Examiner, 16 Jan. 1864, p. 44; Illustrated London News, 12 March 1864; Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. ed. Bohn; Men of the Time, 1862, p. 264; Morning Post, 9 Jan. 1864; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 439; Times, 9 Jan. 1864, p. 9, col. 3, 12 Jan. p. 9, col. 1; Ward's Life of Cardinal Wiseman, i. 243.]

T. C.