The Thurtell Family

The spelling of the name Thurtell has changed from the early times: Thurkeld, Thurked, Thurtle, Thirtle and other variations. Family legend has it that it was originally a Norse name, belonging to Thurkell or Thorkill the Dane, first General to King Cnut (Canute) in the eleventh century. For eight centuries, the name did not migrate more than 50 miles from the city of Norwich.

There is not much information available before the nineteenth century. We know that a John Thurtell, blacksmith, the author's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, born in 1680 in Swannington, Norfolk, married Alice Balls on 24 June 1700 in Swannington. "John Thurtell of ye parish of St Julian in ye City of Norwich Blacksmith" made a will in 1729, the year in which he seems to have died. "Alice Thurtell widow Relict of John Thurtell late of the parish of Saint Julian in the City of Norwich Blacksmith" made her will in 1743. John and Alice had the following children (the author's line is shown in red):

Child Born Notes
Robert Thurtell c. 1701  
Sara Thurtell 1703  
John Thurtell c. 1705 See below.
James Thurtell c. 1711 Married Elizabeth (surname unknown).
Susanna Thurtell 1714  
Alice Thurtell Before 1715 Married Robert Backamore
in St Julian's, Norwich on 16 July 1730
Henry Thurtell Before 1715 Married Anne Wright
in Smallburg, Norfolk on 17 June 1734
Jeremiah Thurtell Before 1715  

The above John Thurtell b. c. 1705 d. 1769 in Norwich, was a barber in Trowse Newton, Norfolk, later becoming a prosperous periwigmaker in Norwich and Trowse. He married Elizabeth (surname unknown) about 1730. They had the following family:

Child Born Died Notes
James Thurtell 19 Jan 1737 19 Jan 1801 See below.
John Thurtell c. 1731 in
Trowse Newton, Norfolk
c. Apr 1772 Married Hannah Chambers
at St George, Tombland, Norwich on 29 Feb 1756.
Elizabeth Thurtell c. 1734 in
Trowse Newton, Norfolk
- Married a Mr Bayner.
Sarah Thurtell c. 1736 - -

James Thurtell (1737-1801)

The author's great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was born in Norwich on or before 19 Jan 1737 and died in Flixton, Suffolk, on 19 Jan 1801. In St Etheldreda's, Norwich, on 17 Dec 1758 he married Winefred Nunn, b. 1739/40, d. 28 Nov 1795. [That is how her name is written on her gravestone in Blundeston church (52°30'53.99"N, 1°42'11.06"E), though it may have been an error. One presumes her mother had the same spelling.] She was the daughter of Thomas Nunn (a worsted maker of Norwich) and Winefred Duckett.

According to an obituary in the Ipswich Journal, James Thurtell had been a wheelwright in Norwich. We do not know what prompted him to move to Lothingland sometime between 1772 and 1775 and take up farming. James and Winefred lived at White House Farm, Flixton, which they leased, as their son George later did. After Winefred's death, James was married again, in Norwich Cathedral on 2 May 1797, to the widow Elizabeth Atkinson (b. 1747/8 d. 15 Jun 1823). He was buried on 23 January 1801 in Blundeston, Suffolk in the Thurtell vault, St Mary’s church. The inscription says:
Sacred to the memory of Winefred the beloved wife of James Thurtell who departed this life Novr 28th 1795 Aged 55 Years Also the above James Thurtell who departed this life Jany 19th 1801 Aged 63 Years.
The second wife has a slab still in the floor, which says:
In memory of Elizabeth the Second Wife of James Thurtell of Flixton who died 15th June 1823 Aged 75 Years.
James Thurtell and Winefred Nunn had 16 children, nine of whom survived childhood. The following table summarizes this generation (the same names are used repeatedly until a child of the name survived):

Born Married Died Notes
Sarah Bap. Norwich 4 Nov 1759 1. Robert Browne 25 Sep 1787 in Hopton (52°32'19.44"N, 1°43'46.20"E)
6 children of whom one died in infancy and one was blind
2. John Clark (1769-1826), Grocer (widower of Sarah's sister Elizabeth), 1 Jan 1816 in Gorleston, Suffolk
16 Nov 1818 Gorleston
Buried in Thurtell vault, Blundeston
Robert and Sarah lived in Bradwell for about 10–12 years after their wedding, and then went to Pudding Norton Hall some time between 1797 and 1812. After Robert died, it appears that Sarah left her son and daughter-in-law in Pudding Norton (they were married just over a year after his death) and moved to Southtown, even then a suburb of Great Yarmouth and just a couple of miles from Bradwell, where she lived for the rest of her life.
James Bap. 27 Nov 1760 Norwich - Prob. Oct 1765 -
John 12 Aug 1762 in Norwich Anne Browne 25 Sep 1787, Blundeston
10 Sep 1846 in Norwich The author's great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.
See link on name for detailed history.
Thomas Baptised 21 Jul 1765, Norwich Susanna Browne 25 Sep 1787 in Blundeston.
Of 15 children, 9 reached adulthood. The eldest surviving son, Thomas, was involved in a life of crime with (or more likely by) his brother John ("Jack"), the murderer. Another son, Henry, was a merchant seaman who drowned at Canton, China, in 1827; another, George, a renowned horticulturist, died while in jail for theft.
8 Apr 1846, Lakenham, Norfolk? A "highly respected and opulent merchant of Norwich". Born in Norwich, he actually moved with the family to Lothingland at the age of about 8 or 9 and only came back to the Norwich area (Lakenham) in his middle 40s, around 1811. There are written records of his sparring, like his brother John, with Rev. Norton Nicholls, Rector of Bradwell, over the payent of tithes and other things.
A prominent member of the Whig party in Norwich, he became a member of the Norwich Common Council in 1812, alderman for Conisford Ward in 1814, sheriff in 1815 and mayor in 1828. He was mayor in 1829 when the Old Fye Bridge was built, as indicated on a brass tablet uncovered in 1932 when the bridge was widened. It is most noteworthy that he was chosen as mayor even after the trial and execution of his son John, whom he had disowned. His residence was Harford Hall farm, by Harford Bridge, on the Ipswich Road, in Lakenham Parish. (Harford Hall has been demolished.) We are told that he farmed this property under a landlord by the name of Southwell (property records for the farm show that Thomas occupied it as lessee between 1811 and 1819). He, his wife, and a daughter are buried in the new church at Lakenham; and a child and grandchild are buried in the churchyard of Lakenham Old Church.
'He had done his best to set his sons Thomas and John up in business in 1814, and they purchased and manufactured silks and bombasin for him. Later they became involved in something underhand that he (the father) knew nothing about. [This is unproven, but certainly nobody at the time ever accused Thomas senior of being involved in his sons' insurance scam.] Nevertheless, he appears to have survived this scandal, and others that followed in connection with his sons, with undiminished reputation. His mayoralty appears to have been extremely tempestuous and his critics vocal; and the dreadful legal troubles of his sons must have caused much grief, but in the obituary on his death it is stated that he was 'universally esteemed as an honest and upright man'.
Elizabeth Bap. 10 May 1767, Norwich - February 1769, Norwich -
James Bap. 21 May 1769, Norwich - Apr 1770, Norwich -
James Bap. 2 Nov 1770, Norwich Elizabeth Watson (1785-1844) on 30 Jul 1807 in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
8 children b. Blundeston and Hopton. All but 2 reached adulthood. One was the "Mrs Joyce" of the Murray letters (see, e.g., Sarah Murray's letter of 1 Nov 1861).
This is probably the family where Sarah Holt was governess before marrying James Thurtell (later Murray).
17 July 1831, Loddon, Norfolk Grocer, fish curer and postmaster (1824). Widow living at Hall Farm, Loddon in 1841 census. James and Elizabeth have commemorative slabs in the church at Loddon, as do a 4-y.o. daughter Anna (d. 1819) and a 10-y.o. daughter Jane (d. 1823).
Elizabeth Bap. 9 Oct 1772, Norwich John Clark, 1791
5 children, 3 of whom may have survived.
1801, Great Yarmouth? -
George Bap. 7 Aug 1775, Blundeston, Suffolk - Oct 1775 -
George Bap. 7 May 1777, Blundeston - Apr 1778 -
Ann Bap. 20 Jul 1778, Blundeston William Neslen of Flixton, 28 Feb 1805, Blundeston 1842 -
George c. 1780 - Buried 30 April 1781 -
Sophia Bap. 28 April 1781, Blundeston - Buried 13 Aug 1781 -
Charlotte Bap. 16 Dec 1782, Blundeston Thomas Paine b. Gt. Yarmouth, Norfolk.
One son, who became Sir Thomas Paine (1822-1901), noted Solicitor in the City of London and President of the Law Society.
1859 Living in King Street, Great Yarmouth in 1851 census. TP was Paymaster & Purser, RN
George 6 Jan 1785, Blundeston 1. Phebe [sic] Cleveland (1780-1810) 27 Oct 1807, Blundeston
One daughter.
2. Eliza Jenner (1786-1846) 6 Jan 1814 in Gunton (or Ashby)
Three children.
3. Harriet Jenner (1790-1874)
16 Mar 1854, Flixton.
Buried in Thurtell vault, Blundeston
Sophia 6 Aug 1786, Blundeston Richard Horner Sheppard of Tunstall, Suffolk, 15 October 1807, Blundeston 1851 -

The next generation continues with John Thurtell "of Hobland Hall".