Item 13.17 - Correspondence of Dawson Turner

Identity area

Reference code



Correspondence of Dawson Turner


  • Jan.–June 1819 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 volume (27 x 24 cm), containing a title-leaf, an index, four blank leaves and a couple of stubs, and 130 letters and other papers pasted onto guards. 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 In later life he concentrated on antiquarian pursuits, amassing a valuable collection of historical documents and autographs, as well as a substantial library which was eventually dispersed in a series of sales.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 documents were removed from the volume before it came to the Library. Their current locations are shown in brackets.

After No. 1: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 3 Jan. (TURN III A10/35).

After No. 1: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 5 Jan. (TURN III A10/36).

After No. 5: Letter from W. M. D. Belcombe, 10 Jan. (whereabouts unknown).

After No. 5: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 13 Jan. (TURN III A10/37).

After No. 9: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 18 Jan. (TURN III A10/38).

After No. 9: Etching of James Alderson (whereabouts unknown).

After No. 11: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 20 Jan. (TURN III A10/39).

After No. 17: Letter from J. S. Cotman, 30 Jan. (whereabouts unknown).

After No. 19: Letter from W. J. Hooker, 5 Feb. (whereabouts unknown).

After No. 22: Letter from Mary Turner, 9 Feb. (TURN II KK4/22).

After No. 23: Letter from Elizabeth and Mary Turner, 10 Feb. (TURN II KK4/23).

After No. 24a: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 18 Feb. (TURN III A10/40).

After No. 26: Letter from Elizabeth Turner, 24 Feb. (TURN II EE2/2).

After No. 26: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 25 Feb. (TURN III A10/41).

After No. 26: Letter from W. J. Hooker, 26 Feb. (whereabouts unknown).

After No. 33: Letter from W. J. Hooker, 7 Mar. (whereabouts unknown).

After No. 33: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 8 Mar. (TURN III A10/42).

After No. 38: Letter from W. J. Hooker, 13 Mar. (whereabouts unknown).

After No. 41: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 15 Mar. (TURN III A10/43).

After No. 43: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 16 Mar. (TURN III A10/44).

After No. 63: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 13 Apr. (TURN III A10/45).

After No. 88: Letter from Mary Turner, 10 May (TURN II KK4/24).

After No. 89: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 10 May (TURN III A10/46).

After No. 95: Letter from Hudson Gurney, 20 May (TURN III A10/47).

After No. 95: Letter from T. F. Dibdin, 22 May (whereabouts unknown).

After No. 112: Letter from Mary Turner, 15-16 June (TURN II KK4/25).

After No. 116: Letter from Mary Turner, 24-5 June (TURN II KK4/26).

The former locations of some of the documents are conjectural. The letters from W. M. D. Belcombe and T. F. Dibdin were probably removed by mistake when adjacent letters were cut out.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

On the spine is stamped ‘CORRESPONDENCE | JAN.–JUNE | 1819’.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The documents are numbered in the order in which they stand. In one case different numbers were mistakenly given to parts of the same document when the contents were originally numbered. This superfluous number (No. 13) is now marked ‘(Number not used.)

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

    Script of material

      Language and script notes

      Physical characteristics and technical requirements

      One loose document, No. 27, has been removed from the volume for safe-keeping.

      Finding aids

      Allied materials area

      Existence and location of originals

      Existence and location of copies

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      Notes area

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      Preferred form of reference


      Access points

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      Level of detail

      Dates of creation revision deletion

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




          Accession area