John Thurtell

 BORN 12 August 1762 at Norwich, England.
 BAPTISED 29 August 1762 at St Julian, Norwich, England.
 DIED 10 September 1846 at Willow Lanes, St Giles, Norwich. Link 
 BURIED Blundeston Church.
 FATHER James Thurtell (1737-1801)
 MOTHER Winifred Nunn (c1740-1795)
 MARRIED Anne Browne (1762-1834) on 25 September 1787 at St Mary's, Blundeston, Suffolk, England.
 CHILDREN   John Thurtell (1788-1837)
Anne Thurtell (1789-1790)
James Thurtell-Murray (1790-1867)
Anne Thurtell (1791-1866)
Maria Thurtell (1793-1866)
Edward Thurtell (1794-1852)
Benjamin Thurtell snr (1795-1854)
Walter Thurtell-Murray (1796-1880)
Caroline Thurtell (1797-1857)
Alfred Thurtell-Murray (1798-1875)
Harriet Thurtell (1800-1800)
Charlotte Thurtell-Murray (1801-1861)
Sophia Thurtell (1803-1891)
Alexander Thurtell (1805-1884)

Norfolk Squire(?)

Lived at Hobland Hall, Bradwell, Suffolk, England.

John Thurtell, father of James Thurtell-Murray and grandfather of Frances Jane Kraushaar, grew up in Flixton Parish in Suffolk, since his parents had moved there by 1772. He was later a land surveyor in Norwich and is thought to have owned numerous properties in Lothingland Hundred, Suffolk, where he lived. He settled in Hopton Parish in Suffolk prior to his marriage. At that time, his elder sister Sarah was living with him, probably as his housekeeper, as she was married in Hopton church.

Family tradition relates that John Thurtell and Anne Browne were married in a triple wedding ceremony. Her sister, Susanna Browne (b. 1764) married his brother, Thomas Thurtell, and her brother, Robert Browne (b. 1760), married his sister, Sarah Thurtell, on the same day.

The parish record of Blundeston says:
John Thurtell of the parish of Hopton, single man, and Ann Brown of this parish, single woman, were married in this Church by Licence 25 September 1787. Signed John Thurtell, Ann Browne. Witnesses James Thurtell, Robert Browne.

Thomas Thurtell of this parish, single man, and Susanna Brown of this parish, single woman, were married in this Church by Licence 25 September 1787. Signed Thomas Thurtell, Susannah Browne. Witnesses James Thurtell, Robert Browne. [These were the parents of the murderer.]

The parish record of Hopton says:
Robert Browne of the Parish of Blundeston single man and Sarah Thurtell of this parish single woman were married in this Church by Licence this 25th day of Septr 1787. Signed Robert Browne, Sarah Thurtell. Witnesses Elizabeth Colver and Eliza(be)th Thurtell.

So it seems they were married on the same day in two different parishes. They may well have had a triple wedding breakfast somewhere in Blundeston.

Three sets of tea cups and saucers were presented to the three brides on their wedding day by the Lowestoft China Works. The grandfather of the three Brownes married on that day was Robert Browne, one of the founding partners in 1757 of the Lowestoft China Works. Their father was John Browne who married Mary Skoulding; all their children were apparently born in Lowestoft.

After their marriage, John and Anne Thurtell lived in Hopton for 15 years, perhaps at Hopton Hall or a nearby farm. At this time, John Thurtell was at loggerheads with Rev. Norton Nicholls over the payment of his tithes: see letter of 24 Nov 1803 regarding a false receipt. Nicholls made a note to himself that he had not replied other than to send a corrected receipt.

The family moved from the Parish of Hopton to Hobland Hall Farm in the Parish of Bradwell on 6 April 1804. (See letter of 02 Apr 1804 asking the Rector what he wanted done with the Hopton parish records.) The clashes with Rev. Nicholls over tithes continued (see letter of 29 Oct 1804 on the subject of turnips). From correspondence held by Yale University Library we learn that John’s brother Thomas, later Mayor of Norwich and father of the murderer, also repeatedly quarrelled with Rev. Nicholls.

In 1823, the John Thurtell family moved (back?) to Hopton Hall, less than one mile away from Hobland Hall. In that year Hobland Hall and other extensive properties belonging to John Thurkell (Thurtell), a bankrupt, were sold by auction in Yarmouth as announced in the local newspaper. The Ipswich Journal of 11 and 26 July 1823 has advertisements for sale of this manor at the Bear Inn, Yarmouth, 9th August 1823, by order of the assignees of the estate of John Thurtell, a bankrupt, of the Equity of Redemption of Estates situated at Bradwell, Hopton, Belton, etc. of the sites of the Manors of Hobland and Hopton, also a mansion house called Hobland Hall, several farms, etc., containing about 630 acres.

Either John Thurtell avoided total ruin, or possibly Hopton Hall where he afterwards lived was by then the property of his eldest son, John Jr. This was the time of an unprecedented number of bankruptcies in England. Indeed, these must have been grim times for the family, for 1823-4 was also the time of the Thurtell murder scandal.

By 1842 John Thurtell was living just outside Norwich, as early in that year his granddaughter Elizabeth Anne Thurtell wrote to her cousin Edward Brookes Thurtell that Grandfather still is declining and will not so he thinks be long spared, but he walks into the City twice a day, and is in his 80th year. Despite his pessimism, he lived for another four years, dying in Willow Lane, St Giles, Norwich on 10 Sep 1846 and being buried beside his wife in the Thurtell vault in Blundeston church.

John and Anne Browne Thurtell had twelve children who survived childhood. All twelve were believed to have been born at Hobland Hall, Bradwell Parish, and christened in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Blundeston. However, contemporary records of baptisms in the parish of Hopton have now been found for all but one of the children, and in some instances the birthplace too is given as Hopton. They may still have been baptised in Blundeston. Norton Nicholls, Rector of Bradwell, seems to have been responsible also for Hopton (John Thurtell certainly asked him what he wanted done with the Hopton Poor Records when John moved to Bradwell). It is possible that he baptised the children in Blundeston, which was more convenient for him since he lived there, but put the baptisms in the Hopton Parish Record because their parents lived in Hopton. The youngest son, Alexander, was born in Bradwell in 1805, so perhaps by then they were living at Hobland Hall (see above).

(In fiction, Charles Dickens created David Copperfield, who lived in Blundeston.)

The only one of these children who lived in the area for any length of time was John, the eldest, some of whose children were baptised in Hopton, but he died in Great Yarmouth. Benjamin was married in Hopton. John’s brother George’s son, George Jr, died in Lound, but is buried in Blundeston, as are John and Anne.

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⬩⬩⬩ web page made 22 January 2006; edited  ⬩⬩⬩