TURNER, Sir John, 3rd Bt. (1712-80), of Warham, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



9 Feb. 1739 - 1774

Family and Education

bap. 19 June 1712, o.s. of Sir John Turner, 2nd Bt., M.P., of Warham by Anne, da. of Thomas Allen, London merchant.  educ. Greenwich sch.; Christ’s, Camb. 1730; M. Temple 1729, called 1736, bencher 1766, treasurer 1774.  m. (1) 20 Oct. 1746, Miss Stonehouse (d. 1749), s.p.; (2) Frances, da. and coh. of John Neale, M.P., of Allesley, Warws., 2da.  suc. fa. 6 Jan. 1739.

Offices Held

Ld. of Treasury May 1762-July 1765.


Turner succeeded his uncle as M.P. for King’s Lynn, the fourth of the family to represent the constituency. ‘Sir John is a very honest man’, wrote Newcastle on 26 Oct. 1754.1 ‘He has nothing, and votes every vote with us.’ His principal political connexions at this time were with Lord Orford, with whose family he shared the representation of Lynn, and George Townshend. On 3 May 1757 he voted for Townshend’s motion on the Minorca inquiry in opposition to Newcastle and Fox.2 His first recorded speech, on 14 Dec. 1761, was to second Lord Strange’s bill to make the militia permanent—another cause George Townshend had much at heart. James Harris mentions several speeches by Turner on this bill, without reporting any.

In the new reign Turner followed Bute, and in May 1762 was appointed to the Treasury Board when Bute became its first lord. He remained in office under Grenville, and naturally supported the Administration over Wilkes and general warrants, but apparently took no part in the debates. Altogether he was an infrequent speaker, and rarely intervened on any political question. With the advent of the Rockingham Administration, Turner lost his place and for a while continued to adhere to Grenville. He voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, and in all the lists of 1766 and 1767 was classed as a follower of Grenville.

At the general election of 1768 there was a contest at King’s Lynn, and Turner narrowly escaped defeat. He had become unpopular both on personal grounds and because of his attitude on general warrants. Henceforth he seems to have lost interest in politics, and his only known vote in the Parliament of 1768-74 was with Administration over the Middlesex election, 8 May 1769. John Robinson, on the royal marriage bill in 1772 and at the end of the Parliament, classed him as a Government supporter. His interest at King’s Lynn had been seriously weakened, and he declined to contest the borough in 1774.

Henry Fox described Turner as ‘shallow and conceited’.3 His cousin, Charles Turner, who managed his interest at Lynn, wrote about him in 1777:4 ‘He has a clear head, sound judgment, with great temper; and in active business (which he does not dote upon) when you can get him to undertake, no one does it better and few so well.’ But he had ‘an indolence of disposition, want of resolution, and an unwillingness to give up any power’.

He died 25 June 1780.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Add. 32737, ff. 203-4.
  • 2. Add. 32871, f. 13.
  • 3. Fitzmaurice, Shelburne, i. 145.
  • 4. Chas. Turner to Sir M. B. Folkes, 26 Sept. 1777, 10 Apr. 1782, mss of A. Hamond Esq.