Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turner, George (d.1610)

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TURNER, GEORGE, M.D. (d. 1610), physician, born either in Derbyshire or in Suffolk, entered St. John's College, Cambridge, as a sizar in November 1569, became a Beresford scholar of that house on 9 Nov. 1570, and graduated B.A. in 1573, and M.A. in 1576. He took the degree of M.D. abroad, and on his return became a candidate at the College of Physicians of London on 4 Sept. 1584, was elected a fellow on 29 Feb. 1588, and was censor in 1591, 1592, 1597, 1606, and 1607. He was a friend of Dr. Simon Forman [q. v.], and seems himself to have dabbled in alchemy (cf. Ashmole MSS. 174 f. 370, 1477 iv. 24, 1491 f. 61 b.) He attained considerable practice, and Queen Elizabeth favoured him, so that when his theological opinions were in 1602 urged against his election as an elect in the college, Sir John Stanhope and Robert Cecil wrote a letter saying that his appointment would be pleasing to the queen since there was no objection to him but his ‘backwardness in religion, in which he is in no way tainted for malice or practice against the state.’ He was chosen an elect the day after this letter, 12 Aug. 1602. He was appointed treasurer in 1609, and died, holding that office, on 1 March 1610.

His wife, Mrs. Anne Turner (1576–1615), born on 5 Jan. 1575–6, was described by Lord-chief-justice Coke as ‘daughter of the devil Forman’—i.e. the astrologer Simon Forman [q. v.] The Countess of Essex also styled Forman ‘father.’ The phrase probably refers only to the professional relations of these ladies with the astrologer, though Mrs. Turner may have been one of his numerous illegitimate children. Both she and her husband were intimate with him, and Mrs. Turner immediately on her husband's death demanded from Forman's widow the return of some pictures, books, and papers belonging to Turner. Mrs. Turner was probably the means of introducing the Countess of Essex to Forman, and both ladies had recourse to the doctor's love-philtres and other devices of magic in order to facilitate their indulgence in illicit amours. Mrs. Turner's object was to secure the affections of Sir Arthur Manwaring, a well-known courtier (cf. Wilson, James I, 1653, p. 57). Turner had left Manwaring 10l. by his will, with a hint to marry the widow, who is said to have had three children by Manwaring. In 1613 Mrs. Turner abetted the Countess of Essex in her plot to poison Sir Thomas Overbury [q. v.] when he obstructed her scheme for marrying Robert Carr, viscount Rochester [q. v.] Richard Weston, the chief of the countess's criminal allies, who was executed as the principal in the crime, had been bailiff to Turner. Mrs. Turner was an accessory before the fact of the murder, which took place on 15 Sept. 1613; she was informed against—nearly two years later—on 10 Sept. 1615, and was examined on 1 Oct. and succeeding days. She denied all knowledge of the crime, and petitioned for her release for the sake of her fatherless children. She was, however, tried for murder at the king's bench before Lord-chief-justice Coke on 7 Nov., and she was condemned to death. On the 10th she confessed her knowledge of the deed, and stated that she concealed for two years the fact of Overbury's death by poison in the hope of shielding the countess, to whom she was devotedly attached. She was hanged at Tyburn on the 14th in starched yellow ruffs, which she is said to have introduced into England. On the scaffold she repeated her confession, professed penitence, and was accordingly allowed burial in St. Martin's churchyard, though without Christian rites (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–18, passim; Cobbett, State Trials, ii. 930 sqq.; Amos' Great Oyer of Poisoning, pp. 219–24; Spedding, Bacon, xii. 208 seq.; Gardiner, History, vol. ii.).

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 89; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 526–7.]

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