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St Mary Magdalen, Taunton

Ann Gale Sutton


William Turle, the Professor

Ann Gale SUTTON was born 17 November 1798 [1] in Taunton, Somerset, the eldest child of schoolmaster, James Sutton and his wife Frances Goodwyn. Frances was the daughter of the Rev. Thomas Wyndham Goodwyn who, in 1776, was Rector of Angersleigh and later Vicar of Pitminster.[2] James and Frances married by license at St Mary Magdalen in Taunton on 21 January 1798 [3], five days before Frances’ 22nd birthday. When Ann was two and a half years old she was baptized, on 20 May 1801 at St Mary Magdalen [4] in the centre of Taunton. She was named after her aunt, the Gale name being handed down through the generations since Ann’s great grandmother Henrietta Meliora Gale married Wyndham Goodwyn [5]. On 14 January 1803 Ann was joined by a new baby sister, Elizabeth, who was baptized three years later on 16 January [6]. James and Frances’ family was finally completed in 1815 when James was born [7].

On 27th August 1817 the Sutton family was invited to the celebrations following the baptism of Elizabeth Mulrainey’s daughter at Holway Farm, on the outskirts of Taunton, the home of Mrs Joan Bowditch, the baby’s grandmother. We don’t know whether Ann’s father attended but Ann, Elizabeth and their mother Frances were there. Ann was courting a young man, William Turle, and at about six or seven o’clock William arrived at Holway to take Ann home. When he arrived, a young girl, Maria Glenn, was playing the harp but the party goers wanted to dance and so William sat down and played the piano for the dancing [8].

William TURLE was the son of William TURLE and Sarah BALL. He was born on 15 April 1795[9,10] in Taunton where he was baptised on 7 May 1795 [11] in St Mary Magdalen. William senior was a tailor and innkeeper but records show that his father and at least two of his brothers were musicians. There were musicians in the Ball family too so it is perhaps not surprising that the young William also showed a propensity to music. When he was nine years old he was sent as a chorister to be educated under Dodd Perkins at Wells Cathedral, where his younger cousin James Turle would also go a few years later. After five years at Wells Cathedral, William completed his formal training in London where he occasionally sang at the Argyll Concerts[12]. James went on to be an organist of Westminster Abbey but when William finished his formal training, in 1812, he went back to Taunton. About this time he was appointed organist at St James' church in Taunton and later at St Mary Magdalen in Taunton. By the time of the Mulrainey baptism William was also earning a living as a piano and harp tuner. William and Ann had reason to remember that baptism party when they were later called to give evidence on behalf of James Bowditch, the son of Joan Bowditch, when he was convicted for the abduction of the young heiress, Maria Glenn. James Bowditch was eventually freed on the evidence of William, Ann, Elizabeth and Frances amongst others but not before Ann’s father, James Sutton had been charged with libel. He had printed and distributed leaflets accusing Maria Glenn of lying. Presumably the charges against James were dropped when Maria was eventually found guilty of perjury[13,14,15].

William was writing music as well a performing and teaching. In 1815 two books were published in his name – “Lord Wellington's waltz with variations for the Pianoforte” and “Three waltzes for the Piano Forte by William Turle”

The Crescent, Taunton
The Crescent, Taunton (2009)

By the time of his marriage William was a successful musician now calling himself Professor and giving instruction in music. After their marriage on the 24th July 1820 William was able to take Ann back to a fine house in The Crescent in the Bishops Hull area of Taunton. This was a very respectable street of terraced houses built specifically for genteel families of Taunton. The witnesses to the wedding were Hy Popham, H Chilcott, H Miller, Elizabeth Sutton and another whose signature is now undecipherable [16].

Three months later, on the 5 October 1820 their first child, William Alfred Turle, was born on in Taunton. He was almost three years old when he was baptised on 8 July 1823 in St Mary Magdalen.[17] That same year William was asked to supply a short account of his musical career for a Dictionary of Musicians and so he must have been well known and respected in his chosen profession but even so he still had to be careful about how much money he spent; in December 1823, having submitted a short article for the dictionary he asked for the published price of the book “as if not too expensive I should wish to possess one”. By then William had had several pieces published, “Le gentile hussard with variations for the PF “(Piano forte), “A Spanish air with variations for the PF”, three waltzes, a duet - “Worthy is the lamb” and two songs - “For thee sweet maid” and “Laura”.[18]

Three years later Ann and William had a daughter, Georgiana Turle, who was born on 12 March 1824 in Taunton [19] where she was baptised in St Mary Magdalen on 21 April 1825 at the same time as her baby brother Charles Turle[20] who had been born earlier the same year. Their last child, Thomas Turle, was born two years later and baptised on 2 August 1827 in St Mary Magdalen but, sadly, Thomas died about three weeks later and was buried on 26 August 1827 in St Mary Magdalen.[21]

William continued playing and writing music – in 1826 he went to Ilminster to open the new organ and play a voluntary. On Sunday 13 July 1828 there was a charity concert in aid of the Taunton and Somerset Hospital at the parish church in West Monkton and William opened the new organ, playing several pieces on it. William’s cousin, Robert, the organist at Armagh Cathedral was visiting and sang several hymns as well as playing duets with William. Later the same year when William was the organist at St Mary Magdalen in Taunton and the newly built organ was first used in Divine Service William played the Grand voluntary “with admirable skill”. Further voluntaries were played by William and in the last voluntary William was accompanied by Mr Ball [23]. This may have been William Ball, a music teacher in the town, who was possibly a relative of Sarah Ball, William’s mother. In 1831 the Taunton Courier records the fact that William had composed a ‘glee for 3 voices’ called the "The Ocean Sprites"[24]. On 13 May 1833 William played the organ for the Somerset Provincial Grand Lodge [25].

Middle Street in 2004

When William wrote his will [26] on 4 July 1833 he was possibly living back at the family home in Middle Street,Taunton. His will was very unusual in that he made provision for his three surviving children but made no mention of his wife, Ann. He described himself as “William Turle of the parish of Taunton Saint James in the County of Somerset Professor of Music” and continues with “I give and bequeath unto Mr Richard Turle of Taunton Grocer and to my Brother Mr John Turle of the same place Hair dresser all my monies………” William mentions that John is his brother but does not give the relationship with Richard Turle, the grocer. Both William and Richard were highly respected inhabitants of the town and so William may have just respected his judgment but there is no evidence of a family relationship. William had other brothers old enough to be a second executor so his choice of Richard is a puzzle. Richard Turle and John Turle are appointed the Executors of the Will and also appointed “Guardians of the persons and Estates of my Children during their minorities”. The will goes on to say that all his possessions should be sold and so converted into money which should be invested in Government funds or shares of Great Britain except the sum of one hundred pounds which should remain in the savings Bank in the town. The money was to be kept in trust for the children – if either his sons were under fourteen years of age when William died then they should be sent to a Boarding school where they “may be maintained and educated at the discretion of my trustees”. When they each reached fourteen “they should be placed out as indoor apprentices to any Business or trade or profession my Trustees shall think proper until they respectively attain the age of twenty one years” provided that the premium was “no greater sum than thirty pounds”. The expense of keeping the boys at boarding school, placing them out as apprentices and “also the expense of providing them with clothes and occasionally at the discretion of the Trustees a little pocket money” was to be paid out of the one hundred pounds in the Taunton Saving Bank and the interest from it. Georgiana was also to be sent to Boarding School until she reached the age of fifteen or sixteen and then to be placed as an “indoor apprentice to some respective female to learn any business which she may prefer for the space of two or three years”. Georgiana was to be provided with necessary clothes and apparel and after completing her apprenticeship and until she reached the age of twenty one years or previously married she was to be allowed any sum of money not exceeding ten pounds per annum which the trustees thought proper towards her maintenance. When each child reached the age of twenty-one they were to be given twenty pounds and when the youngest had received his twenty pounds then the rest of the estate was to be divided equally amongst them. There are the usual clauses of what should happen if one or more of the children dies before they are twenty one but if they all die before reaching this age then William instructs that “I give the whole of my Estate and Effects until my mother Sarah Turle and my Brothers John Turle ffrederic Turle James Turle Henry Turle Edmund Turle and Joseph Turle and my Sister Amelia Turle to be equally shared between them when and so as the youngest child of my said mother shall attain the age of twenty one years and in case my said mother should die before that time then my will is that her share shall survive to and be equally divided amongst all my said Brothers and Sister at the time aforesaid”. William signed the will in the presence of Stephen Reeves and James Bond Coles. The will was subsequently proved in London and administration was granted to Richard with the usual power reserved in case John should also apply.

The guardianship of the children was given to John and Richard as at that time mothers had no rights of custody or guardianship over their children after the death of the father and indeed it would be more than 50 years before a mother could become the sole guardian of her children. As there was no mention of Ann in William's will it must be concluded that Ann was no longer a part of the family, perhaps she had left to be with someone else or perhaps had some sort of illness after the death of the baby, Thomas.

William died in Taunton on 28 May 1834, less than a year after he wrote his will – he was only 39 years old. We do not know what the cause of his death was but, as he had written a will not long before his death, it was unlikely to have been sudden and he had probably been suffering for some time.

On June 4 1834 the local paper, the Taunton Courier, carried the following notice of Williams death. “On Wednesday last, Mr William Turle, Professor of Music and organist of St Mary Magdalen church in this town, aged 40. The deceased who was also a skilful performer on the Piano Forte, and the author of several musical compositions, was most respected and his loss is equally regretted by all who knew him.”

A week later the Taunton Courier reported on William’s burial on 5 June 1834 in North-East Corner of St Mary Magdalen, Taunton. “The remains of the late Mr W Turle, organist of St Mary Magdalen's were interred with appropriate solemnity on Thursday last, the choristers attending on the occasion, and assisting the funeral service. The concourse of people assembled to witness the interment attested the interest they took in the melancholy ceremony. On Sunday last the organ gallery was profusely covered with black cloth and crepe festoons, and the choristers were habited with black scarves over their white robes. A number of persons in mourning were also present. Part of Luthers Hymn was sang very impressively by the choir, and an anthem from the burial service, the choir who were very ably accompanied on the organ by Mr Modley, late pupil and apprentice of the deceased, Three children, two boys thirteen and nine, and a daughter twelve years of age, are left to bewail the loss of their parent.”

After the funeral Richard set about selling William’s possessions. Messrs Bussell and Ball were employed to conduct an auction at the Turle family home in Middle Street on the 18th June. We get a glimpse of William’s success from the quality of his possessions – two piano fortes, by Broadwood and Sons in handsome mahogany cases, on turned legs and castors; a fine-toned and scarce violin, by Duke; Patent Metronome or time-beater, with a quantity of modern music for the organ, harp, piano etc. He also had a collection of about 50 books including a Clark’s family Bible, probably originally displayed on the handsome mahogany secretary and bookcase banded with rosewood. The master bedroom probably contained the mahogany carved four poster bedstead with crimson moreen furniture, whilst the children had a stained rosewood four poster and tent bedsteads with feather and millpuff beds perhaps for the servants together with sundry bedding. The large-size mahogany chest of drawers, painted; bason stands and dressing tables also adorned the bedrooms. The mahogany leg table with eight mahogany hair seat chairs, eight day clock in mahogany case and dresser and shelves furnished the downstairs rooms. Smaller items were also sold including a mahogany supper tray, china, glass and earthenware; carpeting and floor cloth; brass and other fenders and sets of fire irons; stave and kitchen grates small copper furnace, garden tools etc. All were offered for sale according to William’s wishes [27].

Of William’s brothers and sister mentioned in his will only John Turle survived into old age. James died, after a short illness, two months after William, Edmund died in 1836, Frederic in 1838, Henry and Amelia in 1846, and the youngest, Joseph, in 1855 aged just 40 years.

But what of the William’s and Ann’s children?

Presumably Richard and John arranged for the children to go to boarding school and then take an apprenticeship as their father had wanted.

William Alfred became a hair dresser but on 26 May 1841 he entered the Coldstream Guards aged 20 (although he was listed as only being eighteen). He was not tall, just a little under 5ft 9 ins, with brown hair and grey eyes. He stayed in the Coldstream Guards for almost ten years but contracted tubercular disease and was Awarded a discharge as unfit on 21 February 1851 [28] and finally left the army on 11 March 1851. He went back to Taunton and found lodgings with Thomas Bowditch and his wife [29]. Thomas was an innkeeper and probably the nephew of James Bowditch - the old friend of his father’s. William Alfred died of the disease on 5 May 1851 in Taunton [30].

Georgiana married Arnold Finchett (or Finchard) Garrard in December 1849 in Taunton. The marriage license signed before WJ Redfern on 20 December 1849 described them as "Arnold Finchard Garrard a bachelor of twenty one and upwards a druggist of Kensington London" and "Georgiana of St Mary Magdalen 21 and upwards".[31] On the census of 1851 Georgiana was living at 1 Chapel Place, Fulham, London and describing herself as the wife of commercial traveler in perfumery.[32] Sometime during the next few years Georgiana went to Australia possibly with Arnold, there is a record of a Mr and Mrs Garrard leaving Liverpool in January 1855 on the Lightning as “Chief Cabin Passengers” and arriving in Victoria in March of the same year who could be Georgiana and Arnold [33]. By 1858 she was no longer with Arnold and married Frederick Carter in Victoria, Australia.[34] Frederick and Georgiana had three sons – Frederick William who died age 3 [35], Henry Alfred [36] and Edwin Charles [37]. Georgiana died on 23 June 1872 in Victoria and was buried in Grave No 2068 in Stawell Cemetry in June 1872 [38,39].

On 6 June 1841, the fifteen year old Charles was a draper's apprentice in High Street, Taunton with Mr Charles Court.[40] He also joined the Coldstream Guards like his brother. At the time of the 1851 census he was a corporal in the Willington Barracks in Westminster, London. By November 1852 Charles had been promoted to sargeant and had met Jane Newland. Charles and Jane married in 21 November 1852 and went to live at 119 Shoreditch, London. Their daughter, Emily Georgiana, was born on 24 January 1855 and was baptised at St Mary Le Bone on 3 June, Charles was still in the Coldstream Guards.

William’s wife Ann Gale seems to completely disappear after the birth of the baby, Thomas, but then on the night the census in 1861 she suddenly makes an appearance again. Ann is in North Petherton, a few miles from Taunton, living as a housekeeper to Henry Pearce, a 61 year old unmarried builder and Henry's son, also Henry, age 21, a carpenter[41]. By the 1871 Ann is still living in North Petherton as a housekeeper to Henry Pearce. He is now described as a 71 year old widowed builder and Henry junior has moved away.[42]

After Henry’s death in the spring of 1871[43] Ann must have found it difficult to support herself and sometime before dinner on Thursday August 3 1871 she went into the Taunton workhouse. Ann only stayed six days but this was the first of many short stays. She was living in St Mary’s parish but was admitted to the workhouse again on 6 March 1872, 9 April 1875, 11 April 1876, 11 May 1877 and 28 January 1879 when she was aged 76. On 26 May 1880, aged 78, Ann went into the workhouse for the last time. On Christmas Day 1880 Ann died of ‘natural decay’ in the Taunton Union Workhouse, Taunton, Somerset. [44,45]


1. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
2. Correspondence with and research of Colin Goodwyn
3. Somerset Marriages (post 1754), FFHS
4. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
5. Correspondence with and research of Colin Goodwyn
6. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
7. UK Census 1841, 6 June 1841,
8. “Trials of Maria Glenn, and Mary Whitby, for willful and corrupt perjury, against the Bowditches”, Printed Taunton 1820, Taunton Local History Library.
9. Copy of a Family Tree by an ancestor of John Glanville Turle dated 1885
10. Letter from William Turle to Mr Sainsbury, December 1823, Glasgow University Library R.d 88/186
11. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
12. Letter from William Turle to Mr Sainsbury, December 1823, Glasgow University Library R.d 88/186
13. “The King v Bowditch and others, Dorset Assizes 1817”, The Times (1817).
14. “The King V. James Bowditch And James Sutton” The Times Tuesday, Nov 16, 1819; pg. 2; Issue 10778; col E
15. “Abduction Of Miss Glenn”. The Times Wednesday, Feb 24, 1819; pg. 4; Issue 10605; col A
16. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
17. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
18. Letter from William Turle to Mr Sainsbury, December 1823, Glasgow University Library R.d 88/186
19. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
20. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
21. Parish records, Somerset Record Office
22. Somerset Notes and Queries pp 782-3, Taunton Local Studies Library.
23. Taunton Courier
24. Taunton Courier, 3 Nov 1831
25. Bridgwater and Somerset Advertiser 1833,
26. Will of William Turle, 1833, The National Archives, PRO Doc. Prob. 11/1835
27. Taunton Courier Wednesday June 11 1834 p1
28. WO 97/214/31, The National Archives
29. UK Census 1841. Date: 6 June 1841.
30. Parish records, Somerset Record Office, D/P/tau.m 2/1/35
31. Somerset Record Office, St Mary D\D\CM 1849A 209
32. UK Census 1851
33. Passenger list of “The Lightening” January 1855
34. BMD Index Victoria, Australia, (http:\\ Registration 1190.
35. BMD Index Victoria, Australia, (http:\\ Registration 8720
36. BMD Index Victoria, Australia, (http:\\ Registration 22392
37. BMD Index Victoria, Australia, (http:\\ Registration 4355
38. BMD Index Victoria, Australia, (http:\\ Registration 5243
39. Correspondence between Jack Carter and Ross Turle
40. UK Census 1841. Date: 6 June 1841.
41. UK Census 1861 RG9/1622 F17 P6. Date: 7 April 1861(
42. UK Census 1871 RG10/2381 F25 P21. Date: 2 April 1871. (
43. FreeBMD, (
44. Somerset Record Office, Index D\G\TA 65/2
45. Death certificate of Ann Turle, widow of William Turle, organist.

Other references used:
Pigot's Directory 1822.
Pigot's Directory 1830 (
BMD Indexes, Public Record Office
NBI Somerset (SSDFHS) Family History Online.


Photographs courtesy YourStories

Page last updated :1 February 2011