Item 13.4 - Correspondence of Dawson Turner

Identity area

Reference code



Correspondence of Dawson Turner


  • 1806 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 volume, measuring about 27 x 24 x 7 cm, containing a title-leaf, an index, two blank leaves, and 164 letters and other papers pasted onto guards. The volume also contains a number of botanical specimens (see Nos. 55, 73, and 135). 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 In later life he concentrated on antiquarian pursuits, amassing a valuable collection of historical documents and autographs, as well as a substantial library which was eventually dispersed in a series of sales.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 (NRO = Norfolk Record Office).

Letter from Hudson Gurney, 1 Jan. 1806 (TURN II K1/6).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 10 Jan. 1806.

Letter from Hudson Gurney, 26 Jan. 1806 (TURN II K1/7).

Letter from Mary Turner, 31 Jan. 1806 (TURN II KK4/8).

Letter from Mary Turner, 9 Feb. 1806 (TURN II KK4/9).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 1 Mar. 1806.

Letter from Hudson Gurney, 13 Mar. 1806 (TURN II K1/8).

Letter from Maria and Mary Turner, 19–20 Mar. 1806 (TURN II L1/2).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 26 Mar. 1806.

Letter from Mary, Elizabeth, and Maria Turner (Dawson Turner’s daughters), 22–23 May 1806 (TURN II KK4/10 and TURN II S2/1).

Letter from Mary Turner, 31 May 1806 (TURN II KK4/11).

Letter from Mary Turner, 5 June 1806 (TURN II KK4/12).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 2 July 1806.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 9 July 1806.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 13 Aug. 1806.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 11 Oct. 1806.

Letter from J. S. Cotman, 15 Oct. 1806 (NRO, MC 2487/2).

Letter from Elizabeth Turner (Dawson Turner’s mother), 7 Oct. 1806 (TURN II EE2/1).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 24 Nov. 1806.

Letter from Hudson Gurney, 26 Nov. 1806 (TURN II K1/9).

Letter from J. S. Cotman, 8 Dec. 1806 (NRO, MC 2487/3).

The General Index lists a letter from William Palgrave Sr dated 22 Dec. 1806, but this apparently refers to a letter of 22 Dec. 1804 formerly bound in O.13.3 and now TURN II W1/1.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

See the individual descriptions. On the spine is stamped ‘CORRESPONDENCE | JAN.–DEC. | 1806’. There is a title-leaf and an index. Turner has marked many of the letters with the date of his reply. The volume contains two letters from 1807 (Nos. 4 and 8), and one which was begun in 1806 but not completed till 1808 (No. 148).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The documents are numbered in the order in which they stand.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English
  • German
  • Latin

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Four loose documents—Nos. 38, 60–1, and 88—have been removed from the volume for safe-keeping.

Finding aids

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Rules and/or conventions used

In descriptions of ‘extent and medium’, a ‘single sheet’ is a single unfolded leaf of paper comprising 2 pages; a ‘folded sheet’ is a sheet of paper folded once, comprising 2 leaves and 4 pages.


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

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




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