TURVILE (TURVILL, TURVYLL), Sir Ambrose (1581-1628), of Drury Lane, St. Clement Danes, Westminster and Langley Marish, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

bap. 25 Mar. 1581,1 o.s. of Geoffrey Turvill of Towerbank, All Hallows Barking, London and Mary, da. of John Blakney of Sparham, Norf.2 educ. Lincoln Coll. Oxf. 1593; M. Temple 1597.3 m. by 1607 [unknown] (bur. 5 July 1616), at least 3s. 1 da.4 suc. fa. by 1584;5 kntd. 11 May 1603.6 bur. 3 Dec. 1628.7 sig. Amb[rose] Turvill.

Offices Held

Cupbearer to Anne of Denmark by 1605-1619, Henrietta Maria 1627-d.8


Resident at Thurlaston in Leicestershire since the thirteenth century, the Turviles amassed an estate of 3,000 acres. Two of the family served as sheriff in the 1580s, but none was returned to Parliament before 1604.9 Turvile’s father held a reversionary interest in the family estate, but as a fifth son his prospects of inheritance were minimal. He secured a potentially lucrative clerkship of the ordnance at the Tower of London, but as he died in about 1584 with his account over £2,700 in arrears he can have left little to his son.10

Turvile’s mother, a remarkable lady whose ambitions were the paramount influence on her eldest son’s life, quickly remarried. Her new husband, William Saintbarbe, whose brothers-in-law included Robert Beale†, clerk of the Privy Council, and secretary of state Sir Francis Walsingham†, died not long after (22 Dec. 1587), apparently leaving his wife a house in Drury Lane.11 Thereafter Turvile’s mother married Sir Edmund Verney, a substantial landowner in both Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. Turvile gave Hertfordshire as his address when he matriculated at Oxford in 1593. It was probably his mother, now Dame Mary Verney, who arranged for Turvile to be admitted to the Middle Temple in 1597, where he was bound to John Jermy, one of her Norfolk relatives.12 Turvile’s mother quickly came to dominate the Verney family: in a private Act of 1597 her husband divided his estates equally between his eldest son Francis and her son Edmund Verney*; the Act also gave her a life interest in her stepson’s manors of Quainton and Donington. In 1599, a few months before his death, Sir Edmund married off his heir Francis to his wife’s daughter Ursula Saintbarbe, and in the following year it was Dame Mary who secured administration of his estate.13

Dame Mary moved her family back to Drury Lane during her widowhood.14 Here she became a neighbour of the Somerset lawyer Sir Edward Phelips*, who had married into another Buckinghamshire family. By 1610 Dame Mary and Phelips were on sufficiently close terms for her to lend him £2,800, and it was probably Phelips’s influence which secured Turvile’s return to Parliament for Minehead in 1604.15 Turvile had no personal reason for seeking election, but his mother was undoubtedly concerned that her stepson, Sir Francis Verney, would try to challenge the provisions of the 1597 estate Act, which he did as soon as he came of age: an explanatory bill was given a first reading on 6 Mar. 1606, but rejected on 26 March. Dame Mary engaged Ranulphe Crewe* as counsel to argue her case, and several of the Members to whom the original Act had been committed recalled that in 1597 ‘Sir Edmund Verney did follow the bill himself, and laboured divers friends in it’; Turvile may have spoken in the poorly reported debate which preceded the bill’s rejection.16 The dispute was eventually settled when Dame Mary resigned her life interest in the manor of Quainton to her stepson, who sold it, along with the rest of his estates, and went abroad, becoming an Algerine pirate and dying at Palermo in 1615.17 Turvile had no need for a seat in Parliament following his step-brother’s emigration, and does not appear to have stood for re-election in 1614.

In 1605 Turvile purchased a position at Court as cupbearer to the queen from Sir Archibald Murray, a Scots courtier; his mother later joined him in Anne’s household as a gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. With no private means, he lived with his mother, even after his marriage, but in 1618 the queen granted him a reversionary lease of lands on her jointure manor of Gedney, Lincolnshire, during the lives of his three sons, worth £100 p.a..18 He received a pension of 100 marks after the queen’s death in 1619, which sustained him until the establishment of Henrietta Maria’s English household in 1627, when he was reappointed as a cupbearer.19

In his will of 26 Dec. 1627, Turvile described himself as a resident of the Verney manor of Langley Marish, Buckinghamshire. He left most of his estate to his eldest son Frederick, while his youngest son Francis received a £50 annuity from the Gedney lease. He was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on 3 Dec. 1628.20 None of his descendants sat in Parliament: his eldest son Frederick died young, and the next may have been killed during the Irish rebellion in 1642. A more distant descendant, Frederick Turvile, was hanged ‘at Hertford, for burglary and other crimes’ after the Restoration.21

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. All Hallows Barking, London, par. reg. 1558-1650, f. 27v.
  • 2. Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 53-5; All Hallows Barking, London, Mun. 67; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 38; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 123.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. WCA, St. Clement Danes par. reg. i. f. 42; PROB 11/155, f. 422; St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxv), 172.
  • 5. PROB 6/3, f. 99.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 107.
  • 7. St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxvi), 240.
  • 8. Add. 27404, f. 36; LC2/5, f. 31v; LR5/57, f. 3.
  • 9. Vis. Leics. 53-5; C142/132/63-4; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 75.
  • 10. C142/139/101; E179/251/16, f. 117; Lansd. 55, ff. 6-8; PROB 6/3, f. 99.
  • 11. All Hallows Barking, London, par. reg. 1558-1650, f. 33; PROB 11/72, f. 200; St. Olave, Hart Street (Harl. Soc. Reg. xlvi), 121; Verney Pprs. ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lvi), 81-2.
  • 12. Verney Pprs. 82, 95; F.P. and M.M. Verney, Mems. Verney Fam. i. 44; Al. Ox.; MTR, 225, 380; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 38, 54, 174.
  • 13. Verney Pprs. 82-3; PROB 6/6, f. 45v.
  • 14. WCA, B1 (surveyor of highway accts.), ff. 133, 206; B19 (overseers of poor), accts. 1604-10. See also E115/396/51-2; 115/397/62.
  • 15. Vis. Bucks. 101; BL, mic. 636/2, indenture of 22 May 1615.
  • 16. CJ, i. 277b, 290a; Verney Pprs. 93-4; Verney, i. 47.
  • 17. Verney, i. 48-50; Oxford DNB sub Sir Francis Verney; A. Tinniswood, The Verneys, 9-14.
  • 18. SP14/107/93; PROB 11/155, f. 422; SO3/7 (Jan. 1620).
  • 19. C66/2208/12; LR5/57, f. 3.
  • 20. PROB 11/155, f. 422; St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 240.
  • 21. PROB 11/190, f. 300; HMC 7th Rep. 441; see also Verney Pprs. 258, 272; Verney, ii. 346.