JAMES WOODWARD TURNER

1780 - 1862

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Woodward Turner
James Woodward Turner

 

 

James Turner was born in London. He married Ann Elizabeth Rockley and the couple had 7 children before Ann died in 1825. James married Ann's sister, Myriah and there was one child from that marriage.

James sold his building and surveying business and migrated to Western Australia with his 2nd wife and 7 of his 8 children in 1829. (The 8th child - a daughter - joined the family in 1837)

James kept a diary of the journey out and made the following entry as the family moved on-board the Warrior on Sunday the 18th of October 1829:

 

'I do not know how we shall get on for everything on board is so crowded and such confusion we have scarcely room to stir. My own cabins are nearly in total darkness and filth and dirt in every hole and corner. I must have a general turnout of all things in our cabins and if possible to get a few more inches of space so as to turn round without breaking my shins and I really now begin to find a great advantage in being a very little fellow with a very little wife and children, and yet our principal cabin is nearly three times the size of the others. At present our living is as good as I could expect and wish it may continue so, excepting our wine which is very indifferent. There is only two sorts on board- a light Tenerifi and a mixed cape Madeira. The company I have just had a taste of and am not quite so quick in coming to a judgement and must leave them to a future day. Mr Graves is leaving us today and I sent you a letter by him which I have just written. I am extremely obliged to him for his kindness in accompanying my family from Gravesend to here. He is very desirous of going forward with us and says he thinks he will follow us next year. Mr. Boot arrived on board with runaway Lacey who had soon found his way to London, but the boy seemed to be so alarmed or so averse to the sea after the little taste he has had from London to this port that there is no persuading him and I find he has made out various stories I made up my mind not to force him to go, but I am very sorry on Nancy's account, as her kindness in assisting him to go out in the manner he would have done I think would turn out a most fortunate thing eventually for him. And he seemed so very anxious for it that I thought he would have been the last to have run away I have been obliged to go three times to shore today all through him, and Mr. Graves and myself having unfortunately missed each other. They have been very busy today getting on board two horses and two cows with several sheep and pigs, there is various reports on board that there is not sufficient Food and Water on board to last us to the Cape and it is in contemplation to make a complaint to the legal authorities.'

See the link below for more of James' diary entries.

 

James Woodward Turner
An older James Woodward Turner.

 

James brought his family to Augusta along with the Molloys and Bussells and set about building a home and future for them. When the family arrived at Swan River there was no land available and it was at the suggestion of Governor Stirling that Turner took up land away from the main settlement. He mistakenly believed that the Government would not abandon him if he took up land where they had suggested.

While in Augusta the Turner family constructed at least one and possibly up to three ships that were used to transport trade goods. The Alpha was sent to Mauritius with a mixed cargo of timber and vegetables.

Although well off, Turner was of the 'trade class' and was not 'permitted' to mix socially with the other 'more respectable' families. He seems to have spent almost as much time fighting with the authorities to get things done as he did battling to make a home in the wilderness. His abrupt manner managed to 'put out' highly placed members of the public service and he was to suffer for this in the long run. (Being of a similar temperament when it comes to idiots in government service I certainly feel for poor James.)

When the government realised that Augusta was too far away to be easily supported they gradually withdrew services and as the settlement gradually de-populated, Turner finally gave in to the inevitable and abandoned the small settlement in favour of the capital where Turner built Lismore House which stood until 1946.

The site is now occupied by the buildings of the RAC. James Turner died in 1862. The original site of Turner's property at Augusta is currently occupied by the Turner Caravan Park.

(Children: Ann Elizabeth 1812, Thomas 1814, George 1816, Selina 1819, John 1821, Maria 1822, Sarah 1823, James Augustus 1827.)(1)

 

Chronology

 

1780 - Born January 30th. (1).

1805 - James married Ann Rockley. (1).

1825 - Ann died. The couple had 7 children. Sometime afterwards James married Ann's sister Myriah.

1827 - Myrah (spelled Maria in some sources)has her one and only child - James Augustus).

1829 - James and family (minus one daughter)migrate to Western Australia.

1830 - The family sails south from Swan River to Augusta to take up land.

1837 - The daughter who remained in England arrives in W.A.

1847 - James is reported to have gone back to England for a while.

1849 - The family abandon the settlement at Augusta and move to Perth.

1862 - Died June 14th.

 

(1) Records state that James W. Turner was born on January 30th 1780 and some state that he married in 1784. That would make him 4 years old when he married. The birth date appears to be correct and we would like to thank Julian DuFresne for providing us with information that James was actually married in 1805.

 

Links to more information:

 

www.perthdps.com

 

 

 

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