James Thurtell-Murray


 BORN 17 November 1790 at Hopton, Suffolk, England.
 BAPTISED 28 November 1790 at Hopton, Suffolk, England.
 DIED 1 December 1867 at Bethnal Green, England.
 BURIED 7 December 1867 at Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington (Grave 9361)
 FATHER John Thurtell (1762-1846)
 MOTHER Anne Browne (c1762-1834)
 MARRIED Sarah Holt (1793-1889) on 25 October 1818, at St Leonard's, Shoreditch, England.
 CHILDREN   Anne Thurtell (1820-1905)
Frances Jane Thurtell-Murray (1822-1902)
Ellen Thurtell (c1823-)
James Thurtell (c1825-)
Walter Murray (1826-1875)
Emma Thurtell-Murray (c1828-)
Sarah Josephine Thurtell-Murray (1832-1852)
Alexander Murray (1834-1870)

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James Thurtell, Schoolmaster and Farmer (according to Mrs Clist), auctioneer and registrar (according to the Post Office Directory for 1851), was the second child of a family of twelve.

Mrs Clist recounts that James was the son of a Norfolk squire. The old home (from April 1804) was at Hobland Hall in the Parish of Bradwell, Suffolk. (The family previously lived for a time at Hopton Hall, Hopton parish, where most of the children were born; this was only about a mile away from Hobland Hall and then also in Suffolk, though now in Norfolk; this may explain Mrs Clist’s mistaken placement of Hobland Hall in Hopton.) In a 1866 letter to his son Alexander, James recalls planting trees at Hobland.

The marriage of James Thurtell of Hobland to Miss Holt of Lexden was reported in The Bury and Norwich Post on 16 June 1819.

At the time Anne and Frances Jane (Fanny) were baptised in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Parish of Danbury (on 20 July 1820 and 31 March 1822 respectively), James Thurtell gave his abode as Danbury and his profession as Farmer. James, says Mrs Clist, was a student, a dreamer, a lover of books and learning. He was a schoolmaster, and wrote a book on his own methods of teaching English. Later in life, James was Secretary of the Hackney Building Society and lived at 430 Hackney Road, London, for many years.

Some time in the 1820s, consequent upon some family troubles, the surname was changed to Thurtell-Murray. Some members of the family (e.g. Fanny on the birth certificate of her son John) continued to use Thurtell; some (such as the brothers who emigrated to California) used Murray, as did James and Sarah in their correspondence with their sons, and indeed in the 1851 census. Other branches of the family used names such as Turner and Manfred.

James [Thurtell-]Murray died on 1 December 1867, aged 77, a month after a serious fall from an omnibus, and was buried in Abney Park cemetery in the same grave as daughter Josephine. He left effects of under £600.

James’s widow Sarah lived another 21 years, dying at age 94 on 15 Mar 1889 at her daughter Anne’s home at Brimscombe Court, Stroud, Glos., leaving effects valued at £701/14/6. She also was buried in Abney Park in the same grave as her husband and daughter.

Susan T. Miller has published much information about the Thurtell family on her website. Margaret Elaine Shearing (née Murray) wrote a family history, My Ain Folk, which has been published by her grand-daughter Margot Collett [M.Collett@ru.ac.za].

A number of members of the family emigrated to the New World before James’s sons settled in California. In 1853, at the then advanced age of 62, Aunt Everitt (Anne Thurtell, sister of James and widow of George Everitt) travelled to New York and Guelph, Ontario, where she had a reunion with her brother, Benjamin Thurtell, and his family; her nephew, Edward Brookes Thurtell, came from his home in Jamestown, Wisconsin, for the reunion. (Susan Miller has published an 1847 letter from Benjamin to Edward.) The diary Anne kept of her trip shows her as an observant, and remarkably enterprising woman. She died in England in 1866, leaving a legacy to brother James (see correspondence).

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