Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turnham, Stephen de
TURNHAM, STEPHEN de (d. 1215), justice, has been commonly identified with Stephen de Tours or de Marzai; but the identification, which was questioned by Mr. Eyton (Itinerary of Henry II, p. 297), seems untenable.
Stephen de Tours or de Marzai (d. 1193) is mentioned in the pipe roll for Norfolk in 1158 (ib. p. 37), and was one of the royal chamberlains in 1161 (ib.) There are references to him as ‘Stephen de Turon’ in the pipe rolls from 1159 to 1172. He was seneschal of Anjou in September 1180 (ib. p. 235), and still held that post on 12 June 1189, when he fired Le Mans to defend it from Philip Augustus (Rog. Hov. ii. 363). Richard I, on his accession, imprisoned Stephen de Marzai and compelled him to surrender the royal treasure of which he had charge (ib. iii. 3). Richard of Devizes (pp. 6-7, Engl. Hist. Soc.), who calls him Stephen de Marzai, says that he was imprisoned at Winchester, and had to pay a heavy fine for his release. William of Newburgh relates that he had been raised from a humble position by Henry II, and was after his release continued in authority by Richard I. Stephen, believing that Richard would never return, and relying on the fallacious prophecy of a wizard, exercised his power in an arbitrary fashion. The wizard foretold that he would die 'in pluma,' and Stephen met his death at a fortress of that name shortly before Richard's return in 1193 (Chron. Stephen, Henry II, and Richard I, ii. 424-6). He is styled Stephen de Turonis by Hoveden and in official documents, Stephen Tirconensis or de Turonis in the 'Gesta Henrici' (Benedict Abbas, ii. 67, 71).
Stephen de Turnham was elder son of Robert de Turnham, a knight of Kent, who founded Combwell Priory in the reign of Henry II (Hasted, Hist. Kent, ii. 494, iv. 236). Robert de Turnham [q. v.] was his younger brother. He is first mentioned on 11 Feb. 1188 as witness to a charter at Geddington, and in July 1189, like Stephen de Turonis, was at Chinon (Eyton, Itinerary, pp. 285, 297; cf. Epistolæ Cantuarienses, p. 166). He went on the third crusade, and while at Palestine once caught Balian of Ibelin and Reginald of Sidon coming from an interview with Saladin (Itinerarium Regis Ricardi, pp. 299, 337). In 1193 he escorted Berengaria and Joan of Sicily to Rome on their way back from Palestine (Rog. Hov. iii. 228). In the last two years of Richard's reign he occurs as one of the justices before whom fines were levied, and as a justice itinerant in the counties of Essex, Hertford, and Surrey. He continued to act in the same capacity during the first four years of the next reign (Madox, Hist. Exch. i. 565, 733-7, 743; Feet of Fines, 7-8 Richard I, 195, Pipe Rolls Soc.) From 1197 to 1199 he had custody of the archbishop of York, was sheriff of Wiltshire in 1199, and on 22 Nov. 1200 was one of the witnesses to the homage of the king of Scots at Lincoln (Rog. Hov. iv. 92, 142). In 1204 he was discharged from all accounts by a fine of one thousand marks (Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 41). But he continued to enjoy John's favour, and had charge of Eleanor of Brittany in 1204. There are various notices of Stephen de Turnham in the royal service down to 1213, when he appears to have had charge of the king's son Henry (Cal. Rot. Claus. i. 121, 123).
He married Edelina, daughter and heiress of Ranulph de Broc. One of the estates he acquired with her he held by the service of 'Ostiarius Cameræ Regis.' He died in 1215, leaving by his wife four daughters. He confirmed and increased his father's benefaction to Combwell Priory (Dugdale, Monast. Angl. vi. 413).[Authorities cited; Foss's Judges of England.]