The Turner Letters
Title Details

400 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

10 colour, 6 black and white illus.

Series: Publications Bedfordshire Hist Rec Soc

Series Vol. Number: 97

Imprint: Bedfordshire Historical Record Society

The Turner Letters

Letters from Home: from Milton Ernest, Bedfordshire to St Andrews, New Brunswick, 1830-1845

Edited by David Newman, Bob Ricketts CBE and James Collett-White

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
The Turner Letters cover the years 1830-45 and give a lively view of life in a rural village in times of upheaval.
The Turner Letters originated in Milton Ernest in Bedfordshire. They travelled to St Andrews in New Brunswick, Canada, to Thomas Turner, brother of John, the principal writer. They survived the journey by sailing boat and later steam ship. In the 1980s they returned to England and were bought by the Bedfordshire Record Office, so they are now housed a few miles from where they were written.

The Turner Letters cover the years 1830-45 and give a lively view of life in a rural village in times of upheaval. The main writer of the letters, John Turner, was a Methodist baker, whose father ran a farm. John's religion and his hatred of the Church of England colours his writing.

John Turner's sharp insights cover a number of the major issues of the day such as the Reform Bill, the New Poor Law and rural unrest as well as local issues such as the establishment of fox hound kennels in the village. His description of the villagers in 1834 is particularly valuable, bringing them to life and giving a real sense of what life in Milton Ernest was actually like.

John's brother, Thomas, was a merchant in a small Canadian port close to the United States border. Part of the correspondence relates to Thomas's suppliers and gives an idea of the precariousness and danger of the passage from England to Canada and the difficulties of setting up a new business overseas.

Above all the Turner letters tell human stories. The tragedy of the drowning of Susannah, Thomas's wife, in 1834 is revealed in graphic newspaper descriptions. John and Thomas Turner's sister was abused by her alcoholic husband. John's own life was frustrating, initially coping with his housekeepers and later, when he gave up his bakery and returned to his father's farm, coping with an aged and obstinate man, who did not appreciate him.
Introduction
The Turner and Pain Families
John Turner's Milton Ernest 1809-62
Themes in the Turner Letters
The Turner Letters
The People and Places of John Turner's Milton Ernest Walk Letters

Appendix 1: Timeline of Events in the United Kingdom and Bedford 1825-45
Appendix 2: Timeline of the Turner Family in Canada 1830-91
Appendix 3: New Brunswick Newspaper Transcripts
Appendix 4: The Wreck of the Wellington
Appendix 5: Milton Ernest Parish Census 1841
Appendix 6: Postal Routes and Rates
Appendix 7: Genealogical Charts
Appendix 8: Maps

Bibliography
Index

David Newman was born in Bedfordshire and moved to Milton Ernest in 1992 where he was elected as a Parish Councillor in 2003. Being interested in local history he was surprised that no book had ever been written about the village and after many years of research rectified this by writing The Importance of Milton Ernest, which was published in 2006

Bob Ricketts CBE was educated at Bedford Modern School and the University of Cambridge, where he developed a lifelong passion for history. He served in senior positions in the NHS, Department of Health and NHS England for forty-one years before retiring in 2020. He is chairman of Bedfordshire Historical Record Society and Bedford Architectural, Archaeological and Local History Society, and editor of Bedford Local History Magazine. In 2019 he co-authored Bedford History Timeline: Over a thousand Years of the Town's History

James Collett-White is an archivist and has worked at the Isle of Wight Record Office (1970-1974), Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service (1975-2012) and has been Archivist to Sir Samuel Whitbread since 1997. He has contributed to several BHRS volumes and was, for a short time, the Society’s general editor. He has published articles to celebrate the hundredth anniversaries of Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service and BHRS and researches, lectures and writes on history in Bedfordshire. He is working with Bob Ricketts and David Newman on another volume for BHRS on the Turner family of Milton Ernest.

Hardcover

9780851550848

December 2022

$36.95 / £25.00

Available to pre-order from September 2022

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Title Details

400 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

10 colour, 6 black and white illus.

Series: Publications Bedfordshire Hist Rec Soc

Series Vol. Number: 97

Imprint: Bedfordshire Historical Record Society