Sunday, August 3, 2008

James Turnbull Biography

This comes from the notes of Kitty Turnbull, my father's cousin

Rev. James Turnbull (son of Robert Turnbull and Agnes Fairbairn) was born at Stitchell, Roxburghshire 15th April 1798. Come of a very old Scotch family tracing his descent back to about 1300. (When the name Turn-bull was first bestowed upon a French gentleman by King Robert Bruce of Scotland as a reward for a brave deed done by him) He was also a 1st cousin of Sir. A. Fairbairn of Scotland. He attended Glasgow College and the University at which latter place he obtained his M.A. degree.

Rev. James Turnbull married Margaret Weddell, 2nd daughter of James Weddell a High Constable of Edinburgh, 1/12/1829. About 1845 he removed south to Sydenham, then to brook House, East Grinstead where he died 21st June 1858, having sustained a severe rupture by falling, while hill climbing in Cumberland. He was buried at Crawley Downs, Sussex. The stone for his vault being fetched from Scotland. Several bequests were left by him to churches in Scotland where he had a wide circle of friends.

Attended board school Black & Callendar 21, Forth Street

Presented with Silver Snuff Box Dec. 1827 by Relief Church, Brighton St., Edinburgh

Presented with Gold Watch 10th November 1835 by Relief Church, Arthur St., Edinburgh


PhilipH said...

I found this entry via your comment on my Mellerstain blog and coincidentally the name Turnbull appears! This name is not too uncommon in Scotland, or so I believe. However, it was interesting to me in that when we first came to the interview at Mellerstain House one of the interview board was a 'Flora Turnbull' the then curator/administrator of the Mellerstain Trust.

Unfortunately her maiden name was Johnstone (another fairly widespread Scottish name). Her Brother, Ian Johnstone, had been an employee at Mellerstain for some years. His father was the butler for the Haddingtons and his mother was a housekeeper there too.

Regarding your question about the archive material here at Mellerstain. There are extensive letters and documents stored here but they are, as far as I know, all to do with correspondence twixt family members, legal matters, arguments with neighbours such as Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford House and many others.

As there are many hundreds of letters and papers filed simply in chronological order it would be a Herculean task to ferret through them. I doubt very much that such a search would not be available other than to a senior archivist from one of the major establishments, such as the British Library or Universities.

During my time in the House I did happen upon some old parchment papers I found in a drawer in the table in the butler's pantry (there has not been a butler for the last 50 years at Mellerstain). These old papers had details of the burial places of kitchen maids and other female workers who had died whilst in the employ of the family then.

They were all buried within the grounds of Mellerstain, but there were no markers or other forms of identification - other than this 'plan' of where these people were buried.

I was quite shocked at this find! Never did I think that this sort of thing went on in 1700s and later. However, I since discovered that this was not too unusual, and it was (and still is) perfectly legal still.

I took this document to the Factor and he took charge of it. No doubt it is somewhere in the archives.

Sorry to have been a tad long-winded - especially as I cannot be of any real help to you.

However, as you have a 'link' to Mellerstain perhaps you would like to have a brochure - a sort of guide-book - on Mellerstain House. If you email your address I'll be happy to send you a copy; I still have one or two left in my collection of Mellerstain ephemera.

My email address:

My home address:

Philip G. Harfleet
9 Mellerstain Cottages
Gordon, Berwickshire, TD3 6LF

Kind regards,

Christopher Gordon said...

This Rev.James Turnbull married my 5 X Great Grandparents on 4th December 1830, Charles Rattray and Elizabeth Bryden.

Christopher Gordon.

Christopher Gordon said...

But it says they were married in the parish of Fala and Soutra? This is some way from Edinburgh, is there an explanation for this as in the census records I have says EB and CR lived in Edinburgh city centre.