Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turner, Francis
TURNER, FRANCIS D.D. (1638?–1700), bishop of Ely, eldest son of Thomas Turner (1591–1672) [q. v.], by Margaret (d. 25 July 1692, aged 84), daughter of Sir Francis Windebank [q. v.], was born about 1638. Thomas Turner (1645–1714) [q. v.] was his younger brother.
From Winchester school, where he was elected scholar in 1651 (Kirby), Francis proceeded to New College, Oxford, where he was admitted probationer fellow, 7 Nov. 1655; graduated B.A. 14 April 1659, M.A. 14 Jan. 1663. Oldmixon ranks him with those who took the ‘covenant;’ this should be corrected to ‘engagement.’ His preferments were mainly due to the favour of the Duke of York, to whom he was chaplain. On 30 Dec. 1664 he was instituted to the rectory of Therfield, Hertfordshire, succeeding John Barwick (1612–1664) [q. v.] On 17 Feb. 1664–5 he was incorporated at Cambridge, and on 8 May 1666 he was admitted fellow commoner in St. John's College, Cambridge, to which the patronage of Peter Gunning [q. v.] attracted him. He compounded B.D. and D.D. at Oxford on 6 July 1669. On 7 Dec. 1669 he was collated to the prebend of Sneating in St. Paul's Cathedral. On 11 April 1670 he succeeded Gunning as master of St. John's, Cambridge; he was vice-chancellor in 1678, and resigned his mastership, ‘because of a faction,’ at Christmas 1679. In 1683 he became rector of Great Haseley, Oxfordshire, and on 20 July of that year he was installed dean of Windsor. He was consecrated bishop of Rochester, at Lambeth, 11 Nov. 1683, holding his deanery in commendam, with the office of lord almoner. On 16 July 1684 he was translated to Ely (confirmed 23 Aug.) in succession to Gunning, who had made him one of his literary executors. He preached the sermon at James II's coronation (23 April 1685); in the following July he prepared Monmouth for his execution.
Turner's obligations to James did not prevent him from joining in the petitionary protest (18 May 1688) of the seven bishops against the king's declaration for liberty of conscience [see Sancroft, William]. He declined the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, and hence incurred suspension on 1 Aug. 1689; his diocese was administered by a commission consisting of Compton, bishop of London, and Lloyd, bishop of St. Asaph; on 1 Feb. 1690 he was deprived. He was in correspondence with James; two unsigned letters to James and his queen, dated 31 Dec. , and seized on the arrest of John Aston [q. v.], are certainly his. He professes to write ‘in behalf of my elder brother, and the rest of my nearest relations, as well as for myself’ (meaning Sancroft and the other nonjuring bishops). A proclamation for his arrest was issued on 5 Feb. 1691, but he kept out of the way. On 24 Feb. 1693 he joined the nonjuring bishops, Lloyd and White, in consecrating George Hickes [q. v.] and Thomas Wagstaffe [q. v.] as suffragans of Thetford and Ipswich, the object being to continue a succession in the Jacobite interest. Henry Hyde, second earl of Clarendon [q. v.], was present at the ceremony, which took place at White's lodging. In 1694 it was proposed that Turner, who was in easy circumstances, should be invited to St. Germains in attendance on James, a proposal which James approved but did not carry out. In December 1696 Turner was arrested, but discharged (15 Dec.) on condition of leaving the country. On 26 Dec. he was rearrested. No more is heard of him till his death, which occurred in London on 2 Nov. 1700. He was buried on 5 Nov. in the chancel at Therfield; a portrait, painted probably by Mrs. Mary Beale, was transferred from the British Museum to the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1879. He also figures in the anonymous portrait of the seven bishops in the same gallery. He married (1676) Anna Horton, who died before him. His intestacy gave all his effects to his daughter Margaret (d. 25 Dec. 1724), wife of Richard Goulston of Widdihall, Hertfordshire; thus disappointing the expectation of bequests to St. John's College, of which he had already been a benefactor.
Besides single sermons (1681–5) Turner published: 1. ‘Animadversions on a Pamphlet entitled “The Naked Truth,”’ 1676, 4to (anon.; against Herbert Croft [q. v.]; answered by Andrew Marvell [q. v.], who called Turner ‘Mr. Smirke, or the Divine in Mode,’ alluding to his ‘starched’ demeanour). 2. ‘Letters to the Clergy of the Diocese of Ely,’ Cambridge, 1686, 4to.[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iv. 545, 619; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, ii. 218, 262, 267, 281, 292, 309, 310, 387; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1892, ii. 1519, 1522; Oldmixon's Hist. of England during the House of Stuart, 1730, p. 337; Ralph's Hist of England, 1746, ii. 255; Macpherson's Original Papers, 1775, i. 491; Bentham's Hist. of the Cathedral Church of Ely, 1812, pp. 204, 262; Cardwell's Documentary Annals, 1839, ii. 316; Lathbury's Hist. of the Nonjurors, 1845; Baker's Hist. of St. John's College, i. 273, 660, 985 sq.]