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William Turner

William Turner, M. D.—This distinguished person was born at Morpeth in Northumberland, and educated in the university of Cambridge, where he became famous for his knowledge in philosophy, physic, and divinity. He was a most learned and pious nonconformist, an avowed enemy to all the abominations of popery, and a most zealous promoter of the reformation. Beholding the deplorable ignorance of the people, and the great scarcity of useful preachers in every part of the kingdom, he renounced all thoughts of preferment, though he had the most flattering prospects, and became a zealous and constant preacher, in cities, towns, and villages, through most parts of the country. As he could not with a good conscience, submit to the ceremonies required in the ordination of ministers, he generously employed his talents in preaching the gospel without ordiuation. Having continued in these ministerial

* Churton's Life of Nowell, p. 394. note.

labours for some time, he at length settled at Oxford, -where he enjoyed the advantage of learned men and books. There he continued preaching, not without hopes of gaining learned men to espouse the reformation, till he was cast into prison; and after close confinement for a considerable time, he was banished from the country. Such was the effect of bigotry and popish cruelty!

During his banishment, he travelled into Italy; and at Ferrara, being much admired for his great learning, he was created doctor of physic. Towards the close of the reign of Henry VIII. he lived at Cologne and other places in Germany. In the reign of Edward VI. he returned home, when he was greatly esteemed among our pious and learned reformers. Upon his return he was made prebendary of York, canon of Windsor, and dean of Wells, and incorporated doctor of physic at Oxford. Having obtained a license to preach, he renewed his former ministerial exercises ; and, at the same time, practised physic among the nobility and gentry, and was chosen both chaplain* and physician to the Duke of Somerset, lord protector. Upon the accession of Queen Mary, and the commencement of her bloody persecution, he fled from the storm, and retired first into Germany, then to Rome, and afterwards settled, with others of his fellow exiles, at Basil in Switzerland.+ Upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth, he returned a second time to his native country, when he was restored to his deanery, being highly esteemed both as a physician and divine, but especially on account of his numerous learned writings. {

He was author of a work, entitled " A New Herbal," the first original work on the subject in the English language, and afterwards the foundation of Gerard's celebrated work on the same subject.^ It is said, the first publisher of an original Herbal in our tongue, Dr. William Turner, informs us, that botany, or the knowledge of simpling, was fallen into such neglect, that in King Henry's reign, he found not a physician in the university of Cambridge, who could inform him of the Greek, Latin, or English names of any plants he produced, as he gathered them to compile

• Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 136.

+ Bishop Ridley, during bis imprisonment, writing to Grindal, then an exile at Frankfort, made the most affectionate and honourable mention of Turner, Lever, Sampson, and other worthy exiles.—Fox't Martyrs, vol. iii. p. 374.

•1 Wood's Athena: Oxon. vol. i. p. 120, 121. \ Strype's Cranmer, p. 274.

his first Latin skeleton of his Herbal. The learned Dr. John Kaius, enumerating the celebrated men who have written on this subject, asks, " And who shall forget the most worthy Dr. William Turner? whose learned acts I leave to the witty commendations, and immortal praise, of Conradus Gesnerus. Yet his book of herbs will always grow green, and never wither, as long as Dioscorides is had in mind among us mortal wits."* He wrote with great zeal and strength of argument against the superstitions and errors of popery. It is observed, that in his book entitled " The Hunting of the Romish Fox," he has " unanswerably proved, that those who labour to advance and bring in the canon law, labour to advance and usher in the pope."t

September 10, 1559, Dr. Turner preached the sermon at Paul's cross; and, as he was a person universally beloved, and a most popular preacher, his audience, consisting of courtiers, citizens, and people from the country, was uncommonly large.J He was a decided nonconformist, and refused subscription and the habits. Mr. Strype observes, that in the year 1565, he enjoined a common adulterer to do open penance in the priest's square cap, and thus discovered his contempt of the clerical garments. For this flagrant crime, Archbishop Parker complained of him to Secretary Cecil. And, as our historian adds, he used to call the bishops, white coates and tippet gentlemen. He also contemned their office, by asking, " Who gave them more authority over me, than I over them, either to forbid me preaching,' or to deprive me, unless they have received it from their holy father the pope ?" This was certainly bold language for those times of severity. But without attempting to vindicate the claim here expressed, or inquiring from whom their authority was derived, their lordships ventured to exercise this authority upon Dr. Turner, and caused him, with many of his brethren, to feel the weight of their outstretched arms. For upon his refusal to wear the surplice, and use the Book of Common Prayer, he was sequestered and deprived, with nearly forty other London ministers.^

It has been generally, but improperly supposed, says Mr. Middleton, that Mr. Cartwright was the first noted dissenter from the etsablished church. Dr. Turner, dean of Wells,

* Biog. Brilan. vol. iii. p. 2, 6. Edit. 1778.

+ Huntley's Prelates, p. S9.

i Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 136.

t Strype's Parker, p. 151.—Neal'» Hist, of New Eng. vol. i. p. 50.

says he, about the year 1563, seems to have been the first, or one of the first, after the church of England was settled, who opposed both its episcopacy and ceremonies, and made some disturbance about them. This Turner, adds the pious but mistaken author, was a very intemperate and indiscreet man, as appears from an anecdote recorded of him, wherein he manifested his rude treatment of a bishop, whom he had invited to dine with him.*

That Dr. Turner was opposed to the episcopacy and ceremonies of the church, was never doubted; but that he was a disturber of the peace, was never proved. And whether he was a very intemperate and indiscreet man, will best appear from the anecdote itself, which was the following: the doctor having invited a bishop to dine with him, and having a very sagacious dog, was desirous to put a joke upon his lordship. Therefore, while they were at dinner, he called bis dog, and told him that the bishop perspired very much. The dog then immediately flew upon his lordship, snatched off his cornered cap, and ran with it to his master.t

This celebrated divine having spent his life in active and vigorous endeavours to promote the reformation of the church, and the welfare of the state; and having suffered imprisonment and banishment from the hands of the papists, and deprivation from his fellow protestants, he died full of years, July 7, 1568. His remains were interred in the chancel of St. Olave's church, Hart-street, London, where a monumental inscription was erected to his memory, of which the following is a translation :J

In Memory
of that famouB, learned and holy man,
William Turner, Dean of Wells,
a most skilful Physician and Divine,
in which professions
he served the Church and the Commonwealth,
with the greatest diligence and success,

for thirty years.
Against the implacable enemies of both,
but especially against the Roman Antichrist,
he fought bravely
as a good Soldier of Jesus Christ.
When worn out with age and labours,
he laid down his body
in hope of a blessed resurrection.

* Middleton'a Biographia Evangelica, vol. ii. p. 326. Edit. 1780.
+ Strype's Parker, p. 152.

} Ward's Grcshatn Professors, p. ISO.—An imperfect account of this inscription it given in Stow't " Survey of London," b. ii. p. 38.

Jane Turner creeled this monument
to the Memory
of her beloved and pious husband.
By the power of Christ
they both overcame the world and the flesh,
and now they triumph for ever.

Turner, an honour to the healing art,
And in religion he was truly great;
But envious death has snatched him from our eyes;
We suffer loss, but Turner gains the prize.
He died July 7,1568.

The Oxford historian, -with an evident design to blacken his memory, says, he was conceited of his own worth, hotheaded, a busy body, and much addicted to the opinions of Luther, always refusing the use of the ceremonies.* Fuller denominates him a most excellent Latinist, Grecian, orator, and poet, and a most learned and zealous protestant.t Mr. Strype styles him an eminent preacher, and says, he was greatly befriended by Sir John Cheke and Sir William Cecil.t He had a son called Peter, who became doctor of physic, a member of parliament in 1584, and a most zealous man in the cause of religion and his country. He died May 27, 1614, when his remains were interred in the chancel of the above church. Dr. William Turner was a celebrated writer, especially against the papists.

His Works.—1. The Hunting of the Romish Fox, which more than seven years hath been hid among the Bishops of England, after that the King's Highness had commanded him (Turner) to be driven out of the Realm, 1543.—2. Avium prsecipaurum, quarum apud Plinum & Aristotclum mcntio est, brevis & succincta historia, 1544.— 3. The Rescuing of the Romish Fox; otherwise called the Examination of the Hunter, devised by Stephen Gardiner, Doctor and Defender of the Pope's Canon Law, and his ungodly Ceremonies, 1545.—4. The Hunting the Romish Wolf, 154. .—5. A Dialogue, wherein is contained the Examination of the Masse, and of that kind of Priesthood which is ordained to say Masse, 1549.—6. A new Herbal, wherein are contained the names of Herbs in Greek, Latin, English, Dutch, French, and in the Apothecaries and Herbaries, with their properties, 1551.—7. A Preservative, or Triacle against the Poyson of Pelagius, 1551.—8. A new Book of Spiritual Physick for divers Diseases of the Nobilitie and Gentlemen of England, 1555. —9. The Hunting of the Fox and the Wolf, because they did make Havock of the Sheep of Jesus Christ,155..—10. A Book of the Natures and Properties, as well of the Bathes of England, as of other Bathes in Germany and Italy, 1562.—11. A Treatise of the Bath at Barth in England, 1562.—12. Of the Nature of all Waters, 1562.—13. The

• Wood's Athena, vol. i. p. 120. t Worthies, part U. p. 306.

t Strype's Creamer, p. 274.

Nature of Wines commonly used in England, with a Confutation of them that hold, that Rhenish and other small Wines ought not to be drunken, either of them that have the Stone, the Rump, or other Diseases, 1568.—14. The Nature and Virtue of Triacle, 1568. -—15. The rare Treasure of English Baths, 1587.—16. Arguments against the Popish Ceremonies.*—He translated into English, " A Comparison between the Old Learning and the New," 1538.—And " The Palsgraves Catechism," 1572.