Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turnor, Christopher

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TURNOR, Sir CHRISTOPHER (1607–1675), judge, born on 6 Dec. 1607, was eldest son of Christopher Turnor of Milton Erneys or Ernest, Bedfordshire (a scion of the old family of Turnor of Haverhill, Suffolk, and Parndon, Essex), by Ellen, daughter of Thomas Samm of Pirton, Hertfordshire. He graduated B.A. in 1630 from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, proceeded M.A. in 1633, and subsequently gave a donation towards the rebuilding of the college chapel, begun in 1668. In November 1633 he was called to the bar at the Middle Temple, where he was elected a bencher in 1654. On 7 March 1638-9 he was appointed jointly with William Watkins receiver-general of South Wales. During the civil war he adhered to the king, and on the Restoration he was made serjeant-at-law, third baron of the exchequer, knighted (4, 7, 16 July 1660), and placed on the commission for the trial of the regicides (October). At the Gloucester autumn assizes in 1661 he displayed a degree of circumspection unusual in that age. One William Harrison was missing under suspicious circumstances, and John Perry swore that his mother Joan and his brother, Richard Perry, had murdered him. The grand jury found a true bill, but Turnor refused to try the case until Harrison's body should be produced. Sir Robert Hyde, before whom the same case came at the next Lent assizes, was less cautious. He allowed the case to proceed, the jury convicted the prisoners, and they were executed; but some years afterwards their innocence was established by Harrison's reappearance. Turnor surrendered the receivership of South Wales on 16 June 1662. At York in the winter of 1663-4 he opened the commission under which several puritans implicated in the northern plot suffered death (Kelyng, Report of divers Cases in the Pleas of the Crown in the Reign of Charles II, p. 19; Drake, York, p. 175). In the administration of the Conventicle and Five Mile acts he appears to have shown as much lenity towards the accused as the rigour of these statutes permitted. He was a member of the special court of summary jurisdiction created to adjudicate on disputes between owners and occupiers of property in the districts ravaged by the fire of London (stat. 19 and 20 Car. II, s. 14). In recognition of the services which in this capacity he rendered to the public, his portrait, painted for the corporation of London by Michael Wright in 1671, was placed in Guildhall. There is also an engraved portrait of him at Lincoln's Inn. Another portrait, by Sir Peter Lely, is at Stoke-Rochford House. He died in May 1675, and was buried on the 19th in the church at Milton Erneys.

By his wife Joyce (d. 1707), sister of Sir Philip Warwick [q. v.], he left issue a son Edmund (d. 1679), father of a son of the same name who died in 1764 without issue; also a daughter Joyce, who married, 18 Dec. 1667, James Master of Gray's Inn and East Langdon, Kent, and was maternal grandmother of Sir George Pocock [q. v.] and mother-in-law of George Byng, viscount Torrington [q. v.]

The estate of Milton Erneys passed eventually by purchase to the judge's youngest brother, Sir Edmund Turnor (knighted 1663, died 1707) of Stoke-Rochford, Lincolnshire, ancestor of Edmund Turnor [q. v.]

[Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harl. Soc.), pp. 94, 180; Burke's Commoners, i. 300; Visitation of Bedfordshire (Harl. Soc.), p. 147; Addit. MSS. 5524 f. 9, 19103 f. 339; Blomefield's Collect. Cantabrig. p. 117; Dr. Cosin's Corresp. (Surtees Soc.) p. 167; Gent. Mag. 1782 p. 69, 1790 ii. 781; Siderfin's Reports, p. 3; Wynne's Serjeant-at-Law, p. 295; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1638-70 passim; Cobbett's State Trials, v. 986; Howell's State Trials, xiv. 1318; Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. App. i. 4, 212; Misc. Gen. et Herald. new ser. ii. 160; Lysons's Magna Britannia, i. 118; Environs of London, iv. 346; Marr. Lic. Fac. Off. Cant. (Harl. Soc.), p. 101; Turnor's Collections for the Town and Soke of Grantham, p. 147; Nichols's Illustr. Lit. vi. 592; Harvey's Account of the Great Fire in London in 1666; Foss's Lives of the Judges; Brief Memoirs of the Judges whose portraits are preserved in Guildhall (1791); Price's Descr. Acc. of the Guildhall of the City of London; Cat. of Sculpture, &c., at Guildhall.]

J. M. R.