John Thurtell (1762-1846) "of Hobland Hall"

John Thurtell of Hobland Hall Anne Browne Thurtell

The author's great-great-great-great-great-grandparents

John Thurtell, father of James Thurtell-Murray and grandfather of Frances Jane Kraushaar, was born 12 August 1762 and christened 29 August 1762, at St. Julian's, Norwich, Norfolk. He grew up in Flixton Parish in Suffolk, since his parents had moved there in the early 1770s. He was later a land surveyor in Norwich and is thought to have owned numerous properties in Lothingland Hundred, Suffolk, where he lived. He settled in Hopton Parish in Suffolk prior to his marriage. (At that time, his elder sister Sarah was living with him, probably as his housekeeper, as she was married in Hopton church. The church, now a ruin - (52°32'19.44"N, 1°43'46.20"E) - was the scene of many Thurtell baptisms and marriages.) [SH comments: It had a thatched roof and burned down in about the 1860s when the heating system went wrong and set fire to the chimney. Currently parts of it are unsafe and you aren't allowed into it at all. The gravestones have all been removed to make the graveyard into a sort of mini-park.]
A "hundred" was an historical administrative division of an English county. Sukie Hunter points out that Lothingland hundred is the part of Suffolk between Lowestoft on the south, the sea on the east, the River Yare on the north and the River Waveney on the west. It was combined with the hundred of Mutford (south of Lowestoft and west as far as Beccles) to make the registration district of Mutford and Lothingland. Lothingland is a useful concept because it is a very distinct entity, quite hilly and surrounded by water and/or marshes on all four sides. You still can't get there without going over a bridge across a fairly substantial waterway.
There exists an extant record of a £200 marriage bond signed in Lowestoft on 19 September 1787 by John Thurtell of the Parish of Hopton, Farmer, and his bondsman Robert Browne of the Parish of Blundeston, Farmer. (This was a guarantee that JT was legally free to marry Ann Brown [sic].) The groom and bride are both declared to be [just!] over the age of 25. Family tradition relates that John Thurtell and Anne Browne were married in a triple wedding ceremony. Her sister, Susanna Browne (b. 1764) married his brother, Thomas Thurtell, and her brother, Robert Browne (b. 1760), married his sister, Sarah Thurtell, on the same day.

Blundeston Church in 2003 The parish record of Blundeston says:
John Thurtell of the parish of Hopton, single man, and Ann Brown of this parish, single woman, were married in this Church (52°30'53.99"N, 1°42'11.06"E) by Licence 25 September 1787 by me Norton Nicholls LLB. This Marriage was solemnized between us, John Thurtell, Ann Browne, in the Presence of James Thurtell, Robert Browne.

Thomas Thurtell of the parish of Flixton, single man, and Susanna Browne of this parish, single woman, were Married in this Church by Licence 25 September 1787 by me,  Norton Nicholls LLB. This marriage was solemnized between us, Thomas Thurtell, Susannah Browne, in the Presence of James Thurtell, Robert Browne. [These were the parents of the murderer.]

The parish record of Hopton says:
Robert Browne of the Parish of Blundeston single man and Sarah Thurtell of this parish single woman were married in this Church (52°32'19.44"N, 1°43'46.20"E) by Licence this 25th day of Septr 1787. Signed Robert Browne, Sarah Thurtell. Witnesses Elizabeth Colver and Eliza(be)th Thurtell.

A notice in the Norfolk Chronicle on Saturday, 29 September 1787, states: 
Tuesday last was married, at Blundeston, in Suffolk, Mr. John Thurtell to Miss Ann Brown. At the same place, Mr. Robert Thirtell (brother to the above Mr. John Thirtell) to Miss Susanna Brown (sister to the said Miss Ann Brown). And at the same place were christened two brothers and one sister of the above-mentioned Messrs. Thirtell. And the same day was married, at Hapton, in the same county, Mr. Robert Brown (brother to the above Miss Brown's) to Miss  Sarah Thirtell (sister the said Messrs. Thirtell.)

So it seems they were married on the same day in two different parishes. They may well have had a triple wedding breakfast somewhere in Blundeston.

Three sets of tea cups and saucers were presented to the three brides on their wedding day by the Lowestoft China Works. The grandfather of the three Brownes married on that day was Robert Browne, one of the founding partners in 1757 of the Lowestoft China Works. Their father was John Browne who married Mary Skoulding; all their children were apparently born in Lowestoft.

After their marriage, John and Anne Thurtell lived in Hopton for 15 years, perhaps at Hopton Hall (52°32'41.82"N, 1°42'26.61"E), if it then existed, or a nearby farm. At this time, John Thurtell was at loggerheads with Rev. Norton Nicholls over the payment of his tithes: see letter of 24 Nov 1803 regarding a "false receipt". Nicholls made a note to himself that he had not replied other than to send a corrected receipt. [Norton Nicholls (1742-1809) was a great friend of Thomas Gray of Elegy fame, which explains his significance to the academic community - the two wrote to one another for years.]

The family moved from the Parish of Hopton to Hobland Hall Farm (52°33'15.54"N, 1°41'49.64"E) in the Parish of Bradwell on 6 April 1804. (See letter of 02 Apr 1804 asking the Rector what he wanted done with the Hopton parish records.) The clashes with Rev. Nicholls over tithes continued (see letter of 29 Oct 1804 on the subject of turnips). From correspondence held by Yale University Library we learn that John's brother Thomas, later Mayor of Norwich and father of the murderer, also repeatedly quarrelled with Rev. Nicholls. Nicholls died in Blundeston on 22 Nov 1809, aged 68.

It is not clear for how much of the period between 1804 and 1820 the John Thurtell family actually resided at Hobland Hall. They were certainly there in November 1805 when their youngest child Alexander was born, though there were tenants at various times from 1807 onwards. During at least some of this time, the Hall Farm was occupied by John Sr's brother James, probably until about mid-1817. We presume that it was in the first half of 1817 that "our" James Thurtell (son of John Sr) rode over from Hobland Hall to visit Sarah Holt who was then governess to Uncle James's children.

At an unknown date, the John Thurtell Sr family moved back to Hopton [Hall Farm?], less than one mile away from Hobland Hall, possibly to live with John Jr. At some time, John Sr seems to have purchased the farm where he himself had once lived for his son John Jr. At the time of the bankruptcy in autumn 1822 there was a tenant in Hobland Hall (though Alfred Thurtell appears to have been living on the farm there), so John Sr's move back to Hopton looks like a money-saving measure when things were turning sour. John Sr was in Hopton in August 1820, as a local will mentions 'my friend John Thurtell the elder of Hopton'.

In 1823 Hobland Hall and other extensive properties belonging to John Thurkell (Thurtell), a bankrupt, were sold by auction in Yarmouth as announced in the local newspaper. The Ipswich Journal of 11 and 26 July 1823 has advertisements for sale of this manor at the Bear Inn, Yarmouth, 9th August 1823, by order of the assignees of the estate of John Thurtell, a bankrupt, of the Equity of Redemption of Estates situated at Bradwell, Hopton, Belton, etc. of the sites of the Manors of Hobland and Hopton, also a mansion house called Hobland Hall, several farms, etc., containing about 630 acres. (One presumes Hopton Hall Farm was excluded, being the property of John Thurtell Jr.)

It seems certain that John Thurtell Sr went back to Norwich immediately after going bankrupt in 1822 and subsequently worked there as a surveyor, land agent and valuer. (The John Thurtell who was in Hopton in the 1820s would have been his son John Jr who was buried in Hopton in 1837.) This was the time of an unprecedented number of bankruptcies in England. Indeed, these must have been grim times for the family, for 1823-4 was also the time of the Thurtell murder scandal.

Sukie Hunter thinks John Sr changed his name to Murray soon after his return to Norwich, probably at the same time as James did (perhaps when James moved to London, whenever that was). The mystery remains as to the choice of name. Sukie says: "In any case, by November 1830 John Jr was directing potential customers to 'Mr. Murray's, Estate Agent, King-street, Norwich' for sale particulars, and this appears to be the same 'John Murray of Norwich' who signed an affidavit in 1828 attesting to the handwriting of John Clarke, widower of Elizabeth and Sarah Thurtell and father-in-law of Caroline and Walter, whom John said he had known for many years. (It should be noted that John Clarke had only recently moved to the Norwich area and had lived most of his life in Great Yarmouth.) It also appears to be the same John Murray who turns up in the 1841 census of Norwich living alone virtually next door to the Rainbow pub in King Street, on the corner of Mariner's Lane, described as Independent, aged 78 and born in Norfolk, all of which would be perfectly correct for John Thurtell. There is absolutely no trace in the 1841 census of John Thurtell, although we know he was living in Norwich at the time, and I can't find a John Murray who was there before 1825 and might be this one."

By 1842 John Thurtell was living just outside Norwich, as early in that year his granddaughter Elizabeth Anne Thurtell wrote to her cousin Edward Brookes Thurtell that 'Grandfather still is declining and will not so he thinks be long spared, but he walks into the City twice a day, and is in his 80th year'. Despite his pessimism, he lived for another four years, dying in Willow Lane, St Giles, Norwich on 10 Sep 1846 aged 84 years and being buried beside his wife in the Thurtell vault in Blundeston church.

John & Anne Thurtell - Blundeston church John and Anne Thurtell are buried in the vault under the west end of the church at Blundeston, Suffolk. The stone marking the entrance to the vault is in the floor to the left of the old font. There were four tablets in the floor around it (and two on the wall) commemorating the various Thurtells who were buried in the vault, and the two listing John and Anne (at the bottom of the tablet commemorating Robert Browne and Sarah Thurtell and their daughter Mary: "Robert Browne of Pudding Norton died at Hobland Hall, presumably while there on a visit, which is why he was buried in St Mary's Blundeston," says SH) and John's parents were lifted (probably in 1993) and propped up against the north wall of the church (see photograph).

John and Anne Browne Thurtell had twelve children who survived childhood. All twelve were originally believed to have been born at Hobland Hall, Bradwell Parish, and christened at the Old Font in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Blundeston. However, contemporary records of baptisms in the parish of Hopton have now been found for all but one of the children, and in some instances the birthplace too is given as Hopton. They may still have been baptised in Blundeston. Norton Nicholls, Rector of Bradwell, seems to have been responsible also for Hopton (John Thurtell certainly asked him what he wanted done with the Hopton Poor Records when John moved to Bradwell). It is possible that he baptised the children in Blundeston, which was more convenient for him since he lived there, but put the baptisms in the Hopton Parish Record because their parents lived in Hopton. The youngest son, Alexander, was born in Bradwell in 1805, so perhaps by then they were living at Hobland Hall (see above).

The only one of these children who lived in the area for any length of time was John, the eldest, some of whose children were baptised in Hopton, but he didn’t in fact live at Hopton Hall Farm for any length of time after the bankruptcy ; he lived in Yarmouth and later Southtown from at least 1828 (apart from the time he was in Norwich prison for debt, of course). He seems to have given up farming to concentrate on the auctioneering business. (He had been in Pakefield until 1819, as the contents of his farm there were sold in September 1819.) He died in Great Yarmouth.

Benjamin was married in Hopton. John's brother George's son, George Jr, died in Lound, but is buried in Blundeston, as are John and Anne.

The following is a summary of that generation:

Born Married Died Notes
John 9 Sep 1788 in Hopton In c. 1810 to Mary Brookes, whose sister was married to Tom Thurtell, elder brother of the murderer). 8 Dec 1837 in Southtown, Suffolk At one point, John was an "appraiser and auctioneer", apparently in Hopton, according to a notice in the Ipswich Journal of Saturday, June 23, 1821, Issue 4339:
Saturday, June 23, 1821
John Thurtell jun,
Most respectfully acquaints his Friends, and the Public, that he has undertaken the Business of Appraiser and Auctioneer; and in soliciting their favours, he begs to assure those who may employ him, that he will endeavour to ensure their good opinion by a strict attention to their interests, and also to an immediate settlement of all Auctions entrusted to his care. Hopton, June 16, 1821.
Had a number of children, all with Brookes as a middle name and based in Yarmouth, but the rest of the family seems to have had little contact with them. They included John Brookes Thurtell (b. 1816), who was a sea captain on the Australia run, and now has at least one descendant in Canada; Edward Brookes Thurtell, who emigrated to the US, had five children and was a farmer in Wisconsin when his Aunt Anne rediscovered him on her trip to America; and two daughters who married cousins called Sherrington, one of whom was the mother of the Nobel prizewinner Sir Charles Sherrington.
SH comments: It seems almost certain that Sir Charles Sherrington was the illegitimate son of Anne Brookes Thurtell Sherrington and Caleb Rose (b. 31 Oct 1820), surgeon, as her husband J. N. Sherrington, who was not a doctor but an ironmonger, had died 7 years before Charles was born. Anne Brookes Thurtell Sherrington is to be found in the 1851 census as a widow living in South Quay, Great Yarmouth. Some time in the mid-1850s, Anne ran off to Islington with Caleb Rose (taking Caleb's son Edward - whose papers are in Cambridge University Library - but leaving his two little daughters with their mother, Isabella nee Morse). Anne Brookes Sherrington [no profession] of 14 College Terrace, Islington, had three children (born between 1857 and 1861) all baptised on 17 July 1863 in the Parish of St James Clerkenwell. The eldest of these was Charlie Scott b. 27 Nov 1857. He appears in the 1911 census as Charles Scott Sherrington of 16 Grove Park, Liverpool, Professor of Physiology, aged 53, along with his wife and son.
Caleb Rose's brother George, who was also a surgeon, was the first husband of Sophia Thurtell's daughter Kate Everitt (see under Sophia below).
Anne Oct 1789
Hopton, Suffolk
- 14 Mar 1790
Hopton, Suffolk
Died aged 5 months.
aka James Murray
17 Nov 1790
Hopton, Suffolk
Sarah Holt
25 Oct 1818
5 children survived childhood
1 Dec 1867
Buried Abney Park
The author's great-great-great-great-grandparents. See link on name.
Photo (146K)
12 Dec 1791
Blundeston, Suffolk
George Everitt in Bradwell, Suffolk 20 Oct 1817
No children.
Husband died 20 Feb 1844, Bradwell
Dec 1866 in
Hastings, England
Residence at death: 33 Pelham St., Brompton, W. London
Buried in vault with husband at Caister, Norfolk
The "Aunt Everitt" of the letters.
See her diary of a voyage to see her brother Benjamin in North America, where she also met Edward Browne (son of sister Maria of Pudding Norton) and family, and "rediscovered" her nephew Edward Brookes Thurtell who had been absent 17 years.
See also letter of 9 Feb 1866 re her death and will (valued at "under £3000").
Maria 5 Feb 1793 8 Oct 1814 at Witton nr. Blofield, Norfolk, to John Browne whose father Robert was her mother's elder brother
24 children of whom 11 survived.
Camberwell Reg. District, S. London, 4Q 1875 The "Aunt Browne" of the letters. Lived at Pudding Norton Hall nr. Fakenham in Norfolk. Children included: John Robert b. 1815, a farmer in Sussex who retired to Hackney (most of his children went to South Africa or Australia and his son Arthur, an accountant who remained in London, changed his name to Heitland); Martin b.1817, a solicitor, who ended up in Birkenhead, Cheshire; Horace b. 1819 (whose business burned down, perhaps in Australia); Anna Maria b. 1820, who visited Sarah Murray in 1867 (Sarah deemed her 'a nice person but very peculiar)'; Caroline b. 1821 (reputed to have married & gone to Australia); Emma b. 1822, a Plymouth sister who died in 1859 aged 35 - her 1845 drawing of Pudding Norton Hall still exists; Frederick Thurtle b. 1824 (reputed to have drowned on the way to Australia); Herbert Howard b. 1825 (went to South Africa); Edward b. 1826, who was in Canada when visited by Aunt Everitt, but subsequently moved to South Africa; and Clara ('Mrs Lewis') b. 1827, who lived in St Albans, where her husband was a chemist & druggist and sometime mayor, and died leaving her with 9 children, 3 of whom from his former wife (letter of 18 June 1868) - or 7+2 as the case may be. Then there were 11 children, including four sets of twins, who died in infancy, and finally Henry Heitland b. 1839. A couple of other children died in childhood.
Edward 7 Apr 1794
Sarah Browne (1788-1860) on 1 Jan 1818, Gorleston, Suffolk
(She was elder sister of Aunt [Maria] Browne's husband.)
13 children, of whom 7 died in infancy.
13 Feb 1852
Caton, Suffolk
From 20 May 1806, midshipman in RN, lieutenant from 3 Feb 1815; resigned 1815. Then Curate, ultimately in Lancashire (from 1841 Perpetual Curate of Caton). His story is recounted in a Memoir by his son. All six surviving children gave themselves the surname Manfred: (Sarah) Annie and Carrie (Caroline), who ran a boys' school in London at 14 Pembridge Crescent, Kensington; Henry, a doctor who lived in Cincinnati (and was a surgeon during the Civil War) but died on 25 Sept 1898 in Bournemouth leaving an estate of nearly £4000 (still has descendants in USA); Charles who also lived in Cincinnati (he disgraced himself by pleading alienship to avoid fighting in the Civil War, subsequently boarded with his brother and sister-in-law and died 4 Jan 1868 [of TB?]- letters of 6 Nov 1864, 3 Nov 1865, Oct 1867, 3 April 1868 and 18 June 1868); Edward, an architect, who d. in London in summer of 1859 aged 40, seemingly of liver disease caused by "intemperate living" (his son Edmund emigrated to NSW); and Herbert Manfred, author of the Memoir, who d. in 1857 in St. Thomas district (Jamaica, or possibly Barbados).
Benjamin 9 Jun 1795
Anne Barber, 9 Nov 1820, Hopton
Sarah Ann Davie, in Canada
31 Aug 1854 Migrated 1834 to Guelph, Ont. Immediately before leaving for Canada he ran a windmill in Southtown.
In Guelph was Reeve, magistrate, mayor. See sister Anne's diary of her visit to him. Had three sons: Benjamin was a miller in Guelph and had five daughters; Francis moved to the US and went into real estate; and George (his only child by his second wife) carried on the family farm in Guelph . Benjamin's middle daughter, Ellen, married at 17 and had 13 children. The eldest, William Julius Mickle, appears in George Murray's letters as he was a doctor in London for some time; in 1881 he was the superintendent of an insane asylum in Bow.
Benjamin's first wife's sister, Judith Barber, married Tom Barber, who was almost certainly her cousin. Tom bought Hobland Hall either at the bankruptcy sale or shortly afterwards and Judith lived there from about 1830 until her death in 1888.
Photo (149K).
15 Jun 1796
Honor Clarke 21 Jul 1819, Great Yarmouth.
7 Nov 1880
Kings Lynn, Norfolk
Miller at Wighton, near Wells in Norfolk, where in October 1836 he seems to have suffered a bankruptcy. Remained at Wighton until the mid-1850s, when he sold up, went to Newcastle and became a flour factor. He is the 'Uncle Walter' of Sarah's letters, making visits as a happy widower to his children in London (his wife died in Pimlico in 1856); his son, Sydney Turner, also makes regular appearances in the letters. At the time of his death, Walter lived at 56 Clayton Park Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and his estate was valued at "under £12,000". All Walter's children seem to have called themselves Turner except the eldest, Walter, who lived in Sutton and interested himself in family history; and Horace, who went to South Africa and is the only one with any descendants. The other children were Honor, Clara, Bertha and Augusta. From Sarah's letters the daughters would appear all to have been teachers or governesses, apart from Augusta who was in a "wholesale house" in London and later lived with Anne Evans at Brimscombe Court. Honor died in Gravesend in 1905; we know little of Clara after 1851 except that she died unmarried in 1863 in Wem, Shropshire, where she may have been a governess. Bertha appears in the 1871 census as a "daily governess" in her Manfred cousins' school in Kensington; Augusta Turner appears often enough, as a visitor to Sarah Murray (and see, e.g., the photo with Anne Evans in her chaise).
17 Jul 1797 in Hopton
On 21 July 1825 in St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, her first cousin, Benjamin Thurtell Clark, the 'Uncle Clarke' whose death is reported in the letter of 8 May 1868; he was the son of Elizabeth Thurtell, stepson of Sarah Thurtell and brother-in-law of Walter Thurtell. This explains why Sarah Murray calls him 'your uncle Benjamin Clark', because although not exactly Alexander's uncle, he was James Murray's cousin in his own right, not just his brother-in-law, and thus a sort of uncle.
6 children all died young
April 1858 in London aged 60; despite Henry Manfred letter. Said to be very beautiful. According to one letter, this was thought "a poor marriage". In his father's will of 1826, Benjamin is described as 'of the parish of Panxworth in the county of Norfolk, farmer', so presumably that is where he and Caroline lived when they were first married. They then moved to Lakenham, where BT became a corn and flour merchant, but he went bankrupt in 1832 and they subsequently moved to London, where Benjamin became first a wine & spirit merchant and then a confectioner. Caroline died in April 1858 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery on the 26th. About 6 months later, BT married Hannah who ran a boarding house in Paddington, West London.
Photo (104K).
3 Sep 1798
Mary Everitt
(photo - 60K)
29 Dec 1829 in Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk
25 Apr 1875
Graaf Reinet, Karoo, S. Africa
Flour factor. Living at 19 Radney Street, Clerkenwell at time of birth of son George Everitt in 1830 and at 1 Dean Street, Southwark at time of birth of son Alfred Everitt in 1832 (both baptised at Regent Square United Reformed Church).
Changed name to Murray. Went to South Africa; had three surviving sons and a daughter and now has descendants in South Africa and in Canada. .
Harriet 1 Jun 1800
Hopton, Suffolk
- 29 Nov 1800
Hobland Hall
Died at age 5 months.
Photo (6K).
15 Aug 1801
Unmarried. 13 Jun 1861
in Liverpool
Mentioned in Anne Everitt's diary and a letter or two of Sarah's; lived in Everton, Liverpool and was a schoolteacher. Died leaving "under £100".
Sophia 4 Oct 1803
William Everitt
16 Mar 1824 in Gunton, Suffolk
He was younger brother (b. c. 1795) of George and Mary Everitt.
Recorded in 1851 census as "Farmer of 500 acres employing 16 labourers".
Celebrated Golden Wedding anniversary in 187 - quite an achievement in those days.
18 Mar 1891
North Cove Hall, Suffolk
'Aunt William Everitt' of the letters. Lived at North Cove Hall, near Beccles in Suffolk, and hosted family reunions. She had numbers of children and grandchildren but all her Everitt grandsons died without issue.
Her daughter Kate (Catherine) Everitt's first husband was George John Rose (b. 30 May 1823), brother of Caleb (see story under John above). They were married 2Q1850 in Wangford. George, who was also a surgeon, died 2Q1851 aged about 27, almost exactly a year after the wedding. This must have been very soon after the census of that year, at which time George (27, b. Swaffham Norfolk) and Kate (19, b. Lowestoft) were visiting her parents. Kate's brother Wm Jr, 15, was also present. Kate later married a clergyman called Wells who was the vicar/rector of St John's, March, Cambridgeshire.
A granddaughter, Clare One ("Cissy"), b. 28 March 1878 m. Oct 1914 Basil Ray, a captain of the Union Castle line. The Ray branch, at least, seems to have continued.
Photo (151K).
21 Nov 1805
Hobland Hall
Mary Gordon Ellis (c. 1820-1858), in 1854
2 children:
Mary Alice Thurtell
(d. Sep 1864, aged 7 - see letter 18 Nov 64)
William Ellis Thurtell b. Oxburgh, Norfolk c. 1858
21 Oct 1884
at Oxburgh Rectory
Personal estate
Mathematical Tripos, Cambridge; fellow of Caius College.
Rector of Oxburgh/vicar of Foulden in 1851 census. Published posthumous volume of wife's poetry which is in the British Library.
Had one surviving child, Willie, who studied medicine but apparently never graduated, became an atheist, married Augusta Rebecca Georgina Sidney on 5 Oct 1887 and divorced 31 Oct 1898. (Three weeks later she married the co-respondent Athol Tuke.) Willie went to South America c. 1900, and eventually returned to England but did not die there.

The story continues with James Thurtell [-Murray] aka James Murray, third in the above table.