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William Turner (c. 1509-1568)

Dean of Bath and Wells, author of the first printed work on ornithology and one of the earliest English-language herbals. Described by Charles Raven as 'The first English scientist'.

Personal Information

Name: William Turner

Date and Place of Birth: c. 1509 Morpeth, Northumberland, England

Date and Place of Death: 13 July 1568, Crutched Friars, London, England

Spouse: Jane Alder

Church: Church of England

Highest Rank in Church: Dean

University: Cambridge, Pembroke Hall

Location Information

Main Active Place: Wells, Somerset, England

Other Significant Locations: Morpeth, Northumberland, London, Cambridge

Interests and Disciplines

Major Field: Botany

Subfields: Ornithology, Theology, Medicine

Principal Publications

Libellus de re herbaria novus, in quo herbarum aliquot nomina greca, latina, & Anglica habes, vna cum nominibus officinarum, in gratiam studios[qu]e iuuentutis nunc primum in lucem æditus (Londini: Apud Ioannem Byddellum, Anno d[omi]ni 1538)

Avium praecipuarum, quarum apud Plinium et Aristotelem mentio est, breuis & succincta historia. Ex opimis quibusque scripto ribus contexta, scholio illustrata & aucta. Adiectis nominibus Græcix, Germanicis & Britannicis. Per Dn. Guilielmum Turnerum, artium & medicinæ doctorum (Coloniæ: excudebat Ioan. Gymnicus, anno M.D.XLIIII. [1544]). Also known as De avibus (Of birds).

The names of herbes in Greke, Latin, Englishe, Duche [and] Frenche with the commune names that herbaries and apotecaries vse. Gathered by William Turner (Imprinted at London : By [S. Mierdman for] John Day and Wyllyam Seres, dwellynge in Sepulchres Parish at the signe of the Resurrection a litle aboue Holbourne Conduite, [1548])

A new herball, wherin are conteyned the names of herbes in Greke, Latin, Englysh, Duch [sic] Frenche, and in the potecaries and herbaries Latin, with the properties degrees and naturall places of the same, gathered and made by Wylliam Turner, phisicion vnto the Duke of Somersettes Grace (London: by Steven Mierdman. Anno 1551. Cum priuilegio ad imprimendum solum. And they are to be solde [by Iohn Gybken] in Paules Churchyarde, [1551]). // The seconde part of Vuilliam Turners herball, wherein are conteyned the names of herbes in Greke, Latin, Duche, Frenche, and in the apothecaries Latin, and somtyme in Italiane, wyth the vertues of the same herbes wyth diuerse confutationes of no small errours, that men o no small learning haue committed in the intreatinge of herbes of late yeares. Here vnto is ioyned also a booke of the bath of Baeth in Englande, and of the vertues of the same wyth diuerse other bathes moste holsum and effectuall, both in Almany and Englande, set furth by William Turner Doctor of Physik (Imprinted at Collen: By Arnold Birckman, In the yeare of our Lorde M.D.LXII. [1562]) // The first and seconde partes of the herbal of William Turner Doctor in Phisick, lately ouersene, corrected and enlarged with the thirde parte, lately gathered, and nowe set oute with the names of the herbes, in Greke Latin, English, Duche, Frenche, and in the apothecarie and herbaries Latin, with the properties, degrees, and naturall places of the same. Here vnto is ioyned also a booke of the bath of Baeth in England, and of the vertues of the same with diuerse other bathes, moste holsom and effectuall, both in Almanye and England, set furth by William Turner Doctor in Phisick. God saue the Quene (Imprinted at Collen: by [the heirs of] Arnold Birckman, in the yeare of our Lorde M. D. LXVIII. [1568]).

A new boke of the natures and properties of all wines that are commonly vsed here in England, with a confutation of an errour of some men, that holde, that Rhennish and other small white wines ought not to be drunken of them that either haue, or are in daunger of the stone, the revine, and diuers other diseases, made by William Turner, doctor of Phisicke. Whereunto is annexed the booke of the natures and vertues of triacles, newly corrected and set foorth againe by the sayde William Turner (Imprinted at London: By William Seres, Anno. 1568).

Standard Online Sources

Clicking on the name or ID number below will take you to the relevant page on the website mentioned. If there is a dash, then Turner is not mentioned in that resource. Some resources may require a log in. Access to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: can generally be obtained for UK users by using your public library membership number.

Biodiversity Heritage Library Creator Number: 6035

Clergy of the Church of England Database (1540-1835) Person ID: 48013

Herbaria@Home Collector Number: -

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: William Turner

Wikipedia: William Turner

Standard Printed Sources

These are the standard sources consulted when preparing this dataset. If Turner is mentioned, there will be a page number, or, if not mentioned, a dash.

Armstrong, English Parson Naturalist: 2, 43-45, 67, 81

Bridson, History of Natural History, a Bibliography, 2nd edn: B240, B2967, B2968, N915, Nb174

Desmond, Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, 2nd edn: 697

Henrey, British Botanical and Horticultural Literature Before 1800: Vol. 1, 3, 18-19, 21-6, 27, 28, 36, 44, 45, 72

Other Printed Sources:

Arber, Agnes, Herbals: Their Origin and Evolution (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1912)

Jones, Whitney R.D., William Turner: Tudor Naturalist, Physician and Divine (London: Routledge, 1988)

Neville, Sarah, Early Modern Herbals and the Book Trade: English Stationers and the Commodification of Botany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Raven, Charles E., English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1947)

Archives and Holdings

Major Holdings of Manuscripts and/or Printed Texts: 'Commonplace book', 2 vols., Central Library, Bath

Major Holdings of Biological Collections: -

Notes: Several works of religious controversy not included among publications.

Record Created: 1/1/2023


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