James TURLE Elizabeth TURLE Harriet Maria TURLE James TURLE Louisa TURLE William Honey TURLE Mary TURLE James Robert TURLE Henry Frederic TURLE Charles Edward TURLE Caroline TURLE Sophia Adelaide TURLE Mary HONEY Robert TURLE Frederick TURLE Mary Ann TURLE Louisa Frances TURLE <Sophia ?> TURLE Elizabeth FORREST Mini tree diagram
James Turle (Westminster Abbey)

James Turle (Westminster Abbey)


5th Mar 18021 - 28th Jun 18826

Organist Westminster Abbey and Master of Choristers4,5,6

Life History

5th Mar 1802

Born in Taunton, Somerset.1

1st Jul 1802

Baptised in St Mary Magdalen Taunton.2

from Jul 1810 to Dec 1813

Educated Chorister at Wells Cathedral under Dodd Perkins.3


Educated articled to John Jeremiah Goss in London, Middlesex.3

from 1817 to 1819

Educated Westminster Abbey, a pupil of and assistant to G E Williams.3

from 1819 to 1829

Occupation Organist Christ Church Southwark.4,5,6

2nd Dec 1823

Married Mary HONEY in St Mary , Lambeth.17,18

Witnesses were Robert Honey and Ann Honey

27th May 1825

Birth of son James TURLE in London, Middlesex.8

from May 1825 to Mar 1826

Resident in Millbank Street, London.7

5th Aug 1825

Occupation gentleman.8

Mar 1826

Death of son James TURLE.14

20th Nov 1827

Birth of daughter Louisa TURLE.15

from 1829 to 1831

Occupation Organist at St James' Bermondsey.4,5,6

27th Jun 1829

Birth of son William Honey TURLE in Lambeth, Surrey


Birth of daughter Mary TURLE in Lambeth, Surrey

from 1831 to 26th Sep 1875

Occupation Organist Westminster Abbey and Master of Choristers.4,5,6

17th Aug 1831

Resident in 17 Union Place, Lambeth.9

9th May 1833

Birth of son James Robert TURLE in Lambeth, Surrey.15

23rd Jul 1835

Birth of son Henry Frederic TURLE in York Road, Lambeth


Caste Noblemen and Gentlemen's Catch Club

Source: www.cypherpress.com/books/catchclub/catchclub.pdf

7th Mar 1837

Death of daughter Louisa TURLE in 7 Albany Place, Lambeth, London.15,16

21st Jun 1837

Birth of son Charles Edward TURLE in Lambeth, Surrey.15

16th Sep 1839

Birth of daughter Caroline TURLE in Lambeth, Surrey.15


Resident in Lambeth, Surrey (16 York Road, Lambeth)

1841 street directory

6th Jun 1841

Occupation organist in Lambeth, Surrey.10

6th Jun 1841

Recorded in census in Lambeth, Surrey (York Road, Lambeth, Surrey).10

between Jul 1841 and Sep 1841

Birth of daughter Sophia Adelaide TURLE in Lambeth, Surrey

from Sep 1841 to Jul 1882

Resident in The Cloisters, Westminster, London

30th Mar 1851

Occupation Professor of Music in Westminster St Peter, London.11

30th Mar 1851

Recorded in census in Westminster St Peter, London (Cloisters, Westminster, London).11

7th Apr 1861

Occupation Organist Westminster Abbey in Westminster, London.12

7th Apr 1861

Recorded in census in Westminster, London (Cloisters, Dean's Yard, Westminster Abbey, London).12

from Jun 1865 to May 1871

Occupation Music Master Westminster School.4,5,6

17th Mar 1869

Death of Mary HONEY in The Cloisters, Westminster, London


Recorded in census in Westminster, London (Little Cloisters, Westminster St Margaret)

Sep 1875


Relieved of active duty at his own request
James' retirement was noted in the Guardian on 30 Sep 1875. His last official service was on the previous Sunday when James played several of his own compositions. He was allotted a stall in the choir as a mark of respect and as a special desire of the Dean.

19th Jan 1880

Wrote will in The Cloisters, Westminster, London


Recorded in census in Westminster, London (Little Cloisters, Westminster St Margaret)

28th Jun 1882

Died in his house in the Cloisters at Westminster Abbey.6

3rd Jul 1882

Buried in Norwood Cemetry, London

2nd Aug 1882

Probate in London, Middlesex.13

Proven by Rev. H Turle and James Robert Turle, the sons, the executors, the value of the personal estate amounting to over £24,000. The legatees under the will are the testator's seven children.
The Guardian Sept 1, 1882, page 3.


  • London, Westminster Abbey Choir School

    .... Another [choirboy] in the mid–nineteenth century, Charles Tinney has written of his time in the choir. School began at 9am. The rehearsals were held in a practice room or in the house of the organist, Turle, where there was a small organ. There was much jealousy over promotions and much bullying and caning. Turle was well known for being late in his payments to the boys, so at last one boy shouted at Turle (who was wearing his usual brown "Inverness") "I say old brown coat when are you going to pay up?" for which he was caned. At the funeral service of the Duke of Northumberland a Handel anthem was sung which included a quartet. Tinney took the treble part and unfortunately his voice broke on a high note. Turle summoned him to be caned but on hearing that he was sixteen dismissed him from the choir. Basically Turle was a really kind man, for on one occasion Tinney's coat had been stolen from the playing fields and Turle met him and asked him where it was; on hearing that it had been stolen and the weather being very cold, Turle sent him to a tailor to have a new one made.


    Richard Guise became organist and master of the choristers early in the nineteenth century. He received a salary of £10 and £33.6.8d for the choristers. In 1815 he was ordered to make a further allowance to the boys, 9d a day for seniors, and 6d a day for juniors. In lieu of boarding he paid the eight boys £7 each, later raised to a total of £91 with the promise of more for himself. The money paid to the parents could be cut or stopped by reason of bad behaviour, inattendance or uncleanliness. When a boy left the choir at an appropriate age he was given £10. When a boy joined the choir the parents were informed of the rules, payments and services required. Two probationers were added in 1831, and four in 1844. James Howe entered the choir at the age of seven and kept his treble voice until the age of 21! And a certain John Herring sang at the coronation of Queen Victoria and that of King Edward VII 64 years later!


  • Westminster Abbey

    There is a stained glass window in Westminster Abbey in memory of James and Mary donated by their son Henry Frederick and a plaque which also mentions Henry Frederic.

  • He played the organ at the great music festivals for example Birmingham and Norwich under Mendelssohn and Spohr and also the Handel festival in 1834.

    He also had a good singing voice and frequently sang in public.

    When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the 1851 Exhibition her entrance was marked by a large choir of 300 to 500 singers accompanied by the organ played jointly by Goss and Turle.

  • Death and Funeral

    The Times 30 June 1882  DEATHS Turle, --, Organist of Westminster Abbey p.5 col.e

    OBITUARY.-----------We announce in another column the death on Wednesday, at his residence, the Cloisters, Westminster, in his 81st year, of Mr.Turle, one of the oldest members of the musical profession in this country.  The Athenaeum says that Mr. Turle for the long period of 58 years acted as organist of Westminster Abbey.  He began to officiate in 1817, was formally named deputy to Mr.Greatorex in 1810, and was appointed organist and master of the choristers by Dean Ireland in 1831.  In 1875 he was, at his own request, relieved of all active work by the appointment of a permanent deputy.  Mr. Turle was a friend of Spohr and Mendelssohn, and assisted the latter in bringing out his St.Paul at Birmingham.  The first public funeral at which he played the organ was that of Castlereagh.

    The Times 03 July 1882  DEATHS Turle, Mr., Organist at Westminster Abbey p.9 col.f  and  Funeral of p.9 col.f

    THE LATE MR. TURLE. - The Dean of Westminster wishes us to state that in deference to the expressed wishes of many friends, and in regard to the long and efficient services rendered by Mr.Turle to the Abbey, for more than half a century, he was most willing to offer a place of burial in the cloisters for the late distinguished organist, but the most strict injunction of Mr.Turle himself, that he should be buried with his late wife - an injunction from which his family felt it was impossible to depart - has rendered it impossible for him to be buried in theAbbey precincts.  All honour will, however, be done to his memory, by the performance of the first part of the service in the Abbey to day at 1 o'clock, when the Abbey choir will attend, and the musical arrangement of Purcell and Croft will be fully rendered.  The body will then be taken to Norwood Cemetery, to be laid in the grave with Mrs. Turle, and the Dean will there perform the remaining part of the service.

    The Times 04 July 1882  DEATHS Turle, Mr. Organist at Westminster Abbey, Funeral of p.10 col.b

    THE LATE MR. TURLE. - The funeral of Mr. Turle, late organist at Westminster Abbey, took place at Norwood Cemetery yesterday, the Dean of Westminster officiated.  The first portion of the service was performed in the Abbey, according to the programme published in The Times of yesterday.

    The Times 01 Sept 1882  WILLS AND BEQUESTS Turle, James p.10col.c

    The will of Mr. James Turle, late of the Cloisters, Westminster, who died on June 28 last, was proved on the 2d ult. by the Rev.William H. Turle and James Robert Turle, the sons, the executors, the value of the personal estate amounting to over 24,000.  The legatees under the will are testator's seven children.



  • 1. Parish Records - Taunton St Mary
    • D/P/tau.m 2/1/4
  • 2. Parish Records - SRO
    • D/P/tau.m 2/1/4
  • 3. Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians
    • Edited by HG Colles
  • 4. Wells Cathedral list of choristers
  • 5. Salisbury Cathedral
  • 6. Old Westminsters up to 1927 Vol 2 (Ancestry)
  • 7. Parish Records - Ancestry
    • Baptism and Burial records of St John the Evangelist, Westminster, London
  • 8. Parish Records - Ancestry
    • Baptism records of St John the Evangelist, Westminster, London
  • 9. Parish Records - Ancestry
    • Baptism records of St Mary Lambeth
  • 10. UK Census 1841
  • 11. UK Census 1851
  • 12. UK Census 1861
    • Ancestry.co.uk
    • RG9/52 F5 P12
  • 13. Probate Principal Registry of the Family Division
  • 14. Parish Records - Ancestry
    • Burial records of St John the Evangelist, Westminster, London
  • 15. Ross Turle Family Tree
    • MyFamily
  • 16. The Times
    • Galegroup.com
    • Mar 9, 1837; pg 7; Issue 16359; col D
  • 17. English Origins
  • 18. Parish Records - Ancestry
    • Marriage records for St Mary, Lambeth

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