Midshipman then Curate.
From 20 May 1806, midshipman in RN, lieutenant from 3 February 1815; retired as lieutenant at the peace in 1815. He was ordained in 1820, preached his first sermon at Topcroft in Norfolk (near Bungay) and preached there for two months during the illness of a friend. He then became curate of Pakefield, then curate of Butley and Iken, near Woodbridge, and later was incumbent of Leck, Thornton in the Fylde (1837-41) and then Caton (1841-1852). In 1829 he was in charge of religious instruction at the Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge — a school that was immortalised by Charlotte Brontë in Jayne Eyre. (The Brontë sisters were in Cowan Bridge in 1824-5). His story is recounted in a Memoir by his son. Children called themselves Manfred: (Sarah) Annie and Carrie (Caroline), who ran a boys’ school in London at 14 Pembridge Crescent, Kensington; Henry, a doctor, who lived in Cincinnati but died on 25 September 1898 in Bournemouth leaving an estate of nearly £4000; Charles who also lived in Cincinnati (he disgraced himself by pleading alienship to avoid fighting in the Civil War, subsequently boarded with his brother and sister-in-law and died 4 January 1868 [of TB?] — letters of 6 November 1864, 3 November 1865, October 1867, 3 April 1868 and 18 June 1868); Edward, an architect, who died in London in summer of 1859 aged 40, seemingly of liver disease caused by
intemperate living (his son Edmund emigrated to NSW); and Herbert Manfred, author of the Memoir, who died in 1857 in St. Thomas district (Jamaica, or possibly Barbados).
My Ain Folk Edward and Sarah had six children. Of these Herbert (the 2nd son) died in the West Indies. A grandson, Edmund, settled in Australia.
On the north wall of the chancel in Caton Church a tablet was erected to his memory by his parishioners as a record of affectionate regard.
Edward, third son of John and Anne Thurtell, was born at Hopton in Suffolk on the 7th April 1794; he was one of a family of 12 children, of whom all survive to mourne his loss, with the exception of his eldest brother, who lived many years, much respected in Yarmouth, in Norfolk and died at that place, after a short illness on the 6th December 1837.
Mr. Thurtell’s earlier years were happily spent in the bosom of his family, and his brothers and sisters recall with pleasure, the numerous occasions on which he exhibited traces of that tenderness of feeling and gentle playfulness of disposition, which shed such a charm over his character in later years. His partiality for the sea induced his family to avail themselves of an opportunity of his entering the navy at an early age, and it cannot, be doubted that the associations and influences by which which he was surrounded, in Yarmouth and its neighbourhood, materially influenced his mind in the choice of his vocation in life. At that time, the expected invasion of Napoleon kept the inhabitants of the South East coast of England in a state of feverish excitement, which can scarcely be realized at the present day: the roads of Yarmouth, were crowded with His Majesty's ships; the coast was lined with signals, whose blazing light might give immediate alarm to the inland districts, in ease the enemy should land, and every family received a copy of instructions respecting the immediate destruction of their property and the line of their retreat.
On the 20th May 1806, Mr. Thurtell was appointed midshipman on board His Majesty’s ship Majestic, and at the early age of 12 years, exchanged the comforts of home, for the adventures and privitations of a seafaring life. It is deeply regretted that no papers or letters written at this period of his life have been preserved; little is known of him till the following year, when an incident occurred to which he always alluded in after life with particular pleasure. A small Dutch vessel, named the Vrow Rebecca (Vrou is the spelling I would choose to use) had been captured off the coast of Holland, and the captain offered the command of her to be the most diligent and promising of the young midshipman; Mr. Thurtell, though at that time little more than thirteen years of age, was selected, eight men were placed under his command, and the following instructions issued by his captain were found among his papers after his decease:
I desire that you will take charge of the galliot Vrow Rebecca, detained for the opinion of the High Court of Admiralty by His Majesty's Ship Majestic, and proceed with her to Yarmouth, where you are to follow the directions of Mr. John Richards, taking care to observe and most strictly obey the instructions which you will receive with this order.
Given under my hand, on board the Majestic, At Sea, this 19th day of July, 1807
George Hart, Captain.
To Mr. Edward Thurtell,
Midshipman, H.M.S. Majestic