Item 13.6 - Correspondence of Dawson Turner

Identity area

Reference code



Correspondence of Dawson Turner


  • 1808 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 volume, measuring about 27 x 24 x 6 cm, containing a title-leaf, an index, two blank leaves, and 139 letters and other papers pasted onto guards. The volume also contains a number of botanical specimens (see Nos. 30, 62, 80a, and 96). 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 In later life he concentrated on antiquarian pursuits, amassing a valuable collection of historical documents and autographs, as well as a substantial library which was eventually dispersed in a series of sales.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, 23 Jan. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 13 Feb. 1808.

Letter from James Turner, 1 Mar. 1808 (TURN II II1/1).

Letter from J. E. Smith, 19 Mar. 1808.

Copy of a letter from Hudson Gurney, 23 Mar. 1808 (TURN II K1/10).

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 13 Apr. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 19 Apr. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 24 Apr. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 16 May 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 19 May 1808.

Letter from Maria Turner, 24 May 1808.

Letter from Mary Turner, 2 June 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 13 June 1808.

Letter from Samuel Goodenough, 21 June 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 3 July 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 17 July 1808.

Letter from William Borrer, 21 July 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 22 July 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 29 July 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 9 Aug. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 4 Sept. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 17 Sept. 1808.

Letter from Elizabeth Turner (Dawson Turner’s mother), 21 Nov. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 13 Dec. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 23 Dec. 1808.

Letter from W. J. Hooker, 31 Dec. 1808.

The letter from William Borrer was probably removed by mistake along with the adjacent letters.

The volume Index also lists letters from the following:

Viscount Valentia, 25 Jan.

N. J. Winch, 18 Dec.

But it is uncertain whether these are references to letters which were formerly in the volume, since there is no indication that anything has been removed from the places where they would be expected to be. The first, in fact, almost certainly relates to O.13.5, No. 13, dated 25 Jan. 1807, which is not referred to in the Index to that volume.

In addition, the volume Index lists a letter of 19 May from Elizabeth Turner (Dawson Turner's daughter) and an undated letter from her and ‘H.T.’, while the General Index lists a letter of 1808 from Elizabeth and a letter of 19 May from Elizabeth and Harriet.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

On the spine is stamped ‘CORRESPONDENCE | JAN.–DEC. | 1808’. Turner has marked many of the letters with the date of his reply. The contents include one letter (No. 137) partly written in 1809.

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

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

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Existence and location of copies

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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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