Little is known about John Turner and his family--even the names of his two sons that came on the Mayflower remain unknown. They all died the first winter at Plymouth, likely between January and March 1621.
John Turner was a merchant living in Leiden, and was granted citizenship there on 27 September 1610, making him one of the earliest members of the Pilgrim congregation to get his citizenship there. On 11 June 1620, the Pilgrims' business agent and fellow churchmember Robert Cushman wrote a letter saying "I received your letter yesterday, by John Turner ..." and later wrote "You shall hear distinctly by John Turner, who I think shall come hence on Tuesday night." This suggests Turner was traveling between England and Holland. Unfortunately there are far too many men named John Turner living in England for there to be any hope of identifying further details.
Life in Leiden
Per Banks, Turner may have been of the original Pilgrim contingent emigrating to Leiden in 1610 with Bradford and Brewster as in that year, John Turner, merchant, was recorded being admitted as a burgess (political official) of Leiden.
He was of the Separatist church and is known to have lived in Leiden in 1610 and later with the record of him of September 27, 1610 in that city when he guaranteed the citizenship of Peter Boey and William Lisle. Turner was referred to as being a merchant during his time in Holland.
Turner was involved in the Holland-England trade and in that capacity often carried letters between those Leideners in London and Holland. Records indicate that on June 10, 1620, John Turner did deliver a letter from the Leiden congregation to Robert Cushman, their chief agent in London. A few days later Turner returned to Leiden with letters as well as first-hand information from Cushman.
Middelburg, Holland, located in Zeeland, was the center of the English business community and John Turner, being the concierge of the English merchant’s house, was responsible for the transport of their mail. His name is found in the customs records in the transport of cargoes of English beer and pewter from London to Holland.
Voyage of the Mayflower
The Mayflower, originating from London with a group of Adventurers bound for the New World rendezvoused on 22 July with the Speedwell just arriving from Holland with a group of religious refugees from Leiden. Originally intended to sail jointly to the English Colony in Virginia it soon became evident that Speedwell was not seaworthy. Passengers and cargo were combined onto Mayflower (with many left behind) for the journey, finally departing on September 9.
During the voyage fierce storms blew the ship off course, arriving at Cape Cod on the Eastern Massachusetts coastline on November 9th. For two days they attempted to sail south to Virginia but exhausting supplies and fierce storms caused them to abort this effort and drop anchor at what is now Provincetown Harbor. On November 11th, the group decided to settle here and start their own colony. They wrote a governmental contract called the Mayflower Compact, John was 22nd of 41 signers on this document.
About the middle of December 1620, the ship moved and dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor. All the while the pilgrims were conducting several exploring missions of the area and negotiations with the local natives. Almost half of the passengers died, suffering from an outbreak of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. In the spring, they built huts ashore, and on March 21, 1621, the surviving passengers disembarked from the Mayflower into their new settlement at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Marriage & Family
John Turner had a daughter named Elizabeth who remained behind in Holland, came to New England later, and married there--perhaps in Salem. Unfortunately her identity has not been discovered, and with a common name like Elizabeth it will be extraordinarily difficult to do so with any level of certainty.
- Son1 Turner (c1602-1621), born around 1615 and died in Plymouth Colony in the winter of 1620/1.
- Son2 Turner (c1604-1621), born around 1615 and died in Plymouth Colony in the winter of 1620/1.
- Elizabeth Turner (1619-aft1650), was born about 1619. She was listed as “Lysbet Turner” an English orphan, in the 1622 Leiden poll tax, apparently residing with someone other than her mother. She arrived in Salem sometime before October 1635 which is when she is recorded as witnessing a property deed between William Lord and John Woolcott of Salem, and a few months later joined the Salem church. She was married in Salem sometime between 1637 and 1650, but the name of her husband is unknown. No further information about her has been found and no descendants of hers are known.
|Offspring of John Turner and unknown parent|
|Son1 Turner (c1602-1621)||England||1621 onboard the Mayflower, Provincetown Harbor, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts|
|Son2 Turner (c1604-1621)||England||1621 onboard the Mayflower, Provincetown Harbor, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts|
|Elizabeth Turner (1619-aft1650)|
1650 Bradford's Journal
"John Turner, and 2 sons; he had a duaghter came some years after to Salem, where she is now living."
"John Turner and his 2 sons all died in the first sickness. But he hat a daughter still living at Salem, well married, and approved of."
Cole's Hill Memorial
A large monument was erected in 1921 on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts to honor the many pilgrims who came to Plymouth Colony in the Mayflower but died during the first terrible winter and were buried here. This person is one of those person's listed thereon.
National Monument to the Forefathers, commemorates the Mayflower Pilgrims, (including this person) who came to Plymouth Colony in 1620 on the Mayflower. Dedicated on August 1, 1889, it is thought to be the world's largest solid granite monument. Located on an 11 acre hilltop site on Allerton Street in Plymouth, Massachusetts.