Item 13.11 - Correspondence of Dawson Turner

Identity area

Reference code



Correspondence of Dawson Turner


  • 1814–15 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 volume, measuring about 27 x 24 x 10 cm, containing two title-leaves, two indexes (one for each year), eight blank leaves (four after the tables of contents and four after the second title-page), and 228 letters and other papers pasted onto guards. One of the title-leaves is at the beginning, followed by the indexes; the other is after No. 92. One of the letters (No. 58) has botanical specimens pasted to it. There is a stiff fly-leaf at the front and another at the back. Half-bound in light-brown leather and marbled paper.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Dawson Turner was born and spent much of his life at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. He was admitted as an undergraduate at Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1793, but returned to Yarmouth before graduating, in order to take his place in the family banking business.

For some years Turner's chief interest was botany, particularly mosses, and he published several works on the subject and corresponded with many of the notable botanists of his day. In later life he concentrated on antiquarian pursuits, amassing a valuable collection of historical documents and autographs, as well as a substantial library which was eventually dispersed in a series of sales. He was a Fellow of various learned bodies, including the Royal Society, the Linnaean Society, and the Society of Antiquaries.

In 1796 Turner married Mary Palgrave, by whom he had eight surviving children. Mary Turner and her daughters were talented amateur artists; they were tutored in drawing by John Sell Cotman and also mastered the arts of etching and lithography. Between them they produced a significant number of sketches and prints, especially portraits and architectural studies, examples of which were often used by their father to embellish his books.

Archival history

See the general note under O.13.1. The following letters were removed from the volume before it came to the Library. Their current locations, where known, are shown in brackets.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 25 Jan. 1814.

Letter from Joseph Hooker, 18 Feb. 1814.

Letter from Hudson Gurney, 17 July 1814 (TURN III A10/1).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 7 Aug. 1814.

Copy of a letter from Hudson Gurney, 21 Aug. 1814.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 31 Aug. 1814.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 10 Sept. 1814.

Letter from Hudson Gurney, 18 Sept. 1814 (TURN III A10/2).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 29 Sept. 1814.

Letter from Hudson Gurney, 1 Nov. 1814 (TURN III A10/3).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 13 Nov. 1814.

Letter from James Turner, 15 Dec. 1814 (TURN III A32/1).

Letter from Elizabeth Turner (Dawson Turner’s mother), 30 Jan. 1815 (TURN III A30/2).

Letter from Hudson Gurney, 14 May 1815 (TURN III A10/4).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 24 June 1815, with an etching of him.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 16 July 1815.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 2 Aug. 1815.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 17 Aug. 1815.

Letter from Maria Hooker, 17 Aug. 1815.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 15 Sept. 1815.

Letter from Elizabeth (Dawson Turner’s daughter) and Mary Turner, 30 Sept. 1815.

Letter from Mary Turner, 14 Oct. 1815 (TURN III A33/1).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 14 Oct. 1815.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 18 Nov. 1815.

The correct date of the letter from Elizabeth and Mary Turner is 1 Oct., but it is variously dated in the Indexes.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

On the spine is stamped ‘CORRESPONDENCE | JAN.–DEC. | 1814–1815’. Turner has marked some of the letters with the date of reply.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The documents are numbered in the order in which they stand. In a few cases different numbers were mistakenly given to parts of the same document when the contents were originally numbered. These superfluous numbers (Nos. 7, 17, and 131) are now marked ‘Number not used’.

Conditions of access and use area

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Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Latin

Script of material

    Language and script notes

    Physical characteristics and technical requirements

    One loose document (No. 47) has been removed from the volume for safe-keeping.

    Finding aids

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    Dates of creation revision deletion

    This description was created by A. C. Green in 2021.




        Accession area