Tracing Turner Calvert

The aim of this research note is to document the current position in identifying the original Turner Calvert who appears to have been born around 1804.   The name Turner is not used in the (Great Harwood) Calvert family before this, although the given name Turner is associated with Calverts in the USA much earlier than this.

Turner (bn: 1842) "Turner Jnr."

Working backwards in the family tree (from myself) I can get with certainty to Turner Calvert (bn. ~1842).
His name is shown on 1881 Census as Turner C Calvert but the birth certificate for William Turner Calvert (1877) shows the father as "Turner Calvert".   Ancestry has extracted the name as "Thomas C Calvert", but an examination of the source document shows this to be an error in transcription.

1851, 1861 & 1891 censuses show "Turner Calvert" so, although there was an issue with one census we can be sure his name was “Turner”
1851 living in "village"
1861 living at 126 Queen St, Gt Harwood.
1871 Living with parents at 132 Queen St, Gt Harwood, wife living with her parents at 58 Church St.
1881 & 1891 Census living at 21 MaryAnn St, Accrington

His calculated DOB , however varies slightly with census data :
1851 aged 9 = DOB 1842
1861 aged 18 = DOB 1843
1871 aged 27 = DOB 1844
1881 aged 38 = DOB 1843

There is a GRO birth record for Turner Calvert Bn Q4 1842 (Blackburn 21 31) so the 1842 date seems most accurate. Checking the certificate confirms that this Turner was the son of Turner Calvert, labourer of Lowertown and Ann Calvert (formerly Mercer).

From Census data we can also be certain his father was also known as Turner Calvert and his mother was Ann, he had two brothers, Robert & Daniel and two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary.

Turner (bn: ~1804) "Turner Snr."

We then have to establish a line back from there. The problem is identifying his father Turner Calvert (Snr). Census data shows him Bn: Gt Harwood and once more the likely DOB is somewhat obscure.
1841 aged 35 = DOB 1806 (but note the 1841 census rounded ages of adults to 5 years)
1851 aged 45 = DOB 1806
1861 aged 56 = DOB 1805
1871 aged 61 = DOB 1810

His death on 6-May-1873 - GRO Q2 1873 Blackburn 8e 194 (age 69) would place his DOB as 1804 but the accuracy of his age may well be tainted.

Casting around Parish records for this time (indeed for pretty well any time) we draw a blank with the name Turner Calvert.
Consulting other researches we have a statement from another researcher :

A lot of my information in the begining came from Eleanor Price who was Born in 1901 in Rochdale workhouse, the daughter of Ada Calvert and Gibson Price ( she was my Grandmothers sister ).
She told us a lot of things and we were never sure what was true and what was not until after she had died, not that we did not believe her but as you know you have to be sure of the facts when you are doing this sort of thing, it was her who said that the first Turner was known as Turner because there were too many Thomas Calverts in Great Harwood and the nickname stuck and was passed on down the family I did not know if this was true but in 1881 Turner 2 was down as Thomas (not a transcription error).
The reason that I started doing this was because Eleanor or auntie nellie as I knew her told us that we were related to John Mercer and told a tale about going to a solicitors in Blackburn with all the other branches of the family and her Father being given a bag of money from Maria Mercer estate, ....
The way that I got Turner name as Thomas was by finding the other siblings and then searching the Great Harwood parish register for children with the same parents and Thomas came up.

Checking the registers this last point is correct , i.e that the children of Richard and Elizabeth (Betty) Calvert were christened as John (died in infancy) John, Benjamin,Daniel, Thomas, Richard and Ann.

The Eleanor Price mentioned above was the Granddaughter of Turner Calvert (Jnr).

Examining the naming pattern of Thomas's siblings we discover the following. The relationship is shown to his Father, Richard.
Name DOB Name found at
John 1798 Richard's brother bn 1773 and G/Father bn 1703
Benjamin 1800 Richard's Father bn 1743
Daniel 1802 Richard's G/G/Father bn 1674
Thomas (or Turner) 1804 No Match for Turner. Thomas matches Richards uncle(bn 1731)
Richard 1808 SELF
Ann 1810 Richard's Mother and Sister bn 1788

Examining the naming pattern of Turner Snr.'s children we find the following.  I have used the designation "Thomas" to mean the person who we suspect of having the nickname "Turner", having been christened as Thomas.

Name DOB Related name
Robert 1837 Thomas' father's brother
Elizabeth 1839 Thomas' mother - Elizabeth / Betty Sourbutts
Mary 1840 Wife of Daniel (i.e. Thomas' sister-in-law)
Turner 1842 Father's Name
Daniel 1843 Brother of Thomas

Some of these are rather tenuous, with "traditional" naming patterns we might expect one of the sons to be named "Richard" after Thomas' father.

Another possibly relevant matter here is a reference to a Turner Sourbutts in 1823 . He was the son of Richard and Betty Sourbutts. "my" Turner/Thomas is supposed to be the son of Richard Calvert and Betty SOURBUTTS, perhaps the nickname Turner came from the Sourbutts (i.e. Richard Calvert's wife's ) family.

A marriage cert for Turner (Snr.) and Ann Mercer would have been useful but they married two years before the start of Civil Registration !

Conclusion (1)

I have not yet found hard evidence to support the theory that Turner Snr. was the son of Richard Calvert & Elizabeth (Betty) Sourbutts. There is a verbal statement from his Great Granddaughter, this seems rather removed in time to be classed as "direct knowledge", but could support the Sourbutts connection.   We are really reduced to two main points :
  1. If Turner was not Thomas then who was he - was he unrelated to the Great Harwood Calverts, christened Turner and moved to the area from elsewhere.
  2. Turner was a nickname for Thomas as claimed by Eleanor Price.

Later Information

The above was the position on 10 March - I have retained it in this note to show the early research and to explain why some documents may still show links to Richard and Betty..  In June 2007 some more information came to hand which caused me to re-think the above. The information was a transcription of Turner Snr.'s burial record which includes the information “son of John”, the question then is which John ?

Examining the PRs there are four families with Children around 1800 where the father is named John :

John and Alice, John and Ann, John and Esther, and John and Peggy

John and Alice

Looking at marriages this is likely to be :p 272 John CALVERT Weaver (Widower) & Alice HINDLE married 20 Apr 1795

John's first wife was probably the  Jane, wife of John Calvert, age 42 years, buried 3 Nov 1794, - there is a marriage of John Calvert to Jane Smalley 1 Jan 1771. which shows him as "of Harwood".  By Jane there was issue daughters  Jane bn 1782 and Ann bn 1785.

Alice could be the Alice, wife of John Calvert, RISHTON, buried 4 Sep 1812 although this would mean he moved to Rishton as their children  Sarah and Thomas were born at Micklehey (which is in Rishton) and Alice (the daughter) was born in Rishton. 

By Alice there was issue  Sarah, bn 28 Oct 1809 and Thomas bn 11 Apr 1810, they were baptised together on Sept 16 1810; and Alice, bn March 20 1811 and baptised Dec 6 1812, "the daughter of Jno. and the late Alice Calvert of Rishton."

A Turner born of this marriage would almost certainly be "of Rishton".

John and Ann

The only references I can discover for John & Ann are births of daughters Elizabeth (1798) and Ann (1800).

John and Esther

Likely to be  : p 273 John CALVERT & Esther BIRTWISTLE married 30 Mar 1797

They had

Robert , bn 9 Sep 1797
Ann, bn 28 Feb 1799
Ann, bn 31 Mar 1803
Benjamin, bn 25 Dec 1801

Between 1799 and 1803 they had moved from Harwood to Rishton, where Ann(2) and Benjamin were born. This couple appears a little lax in having their children christened – Benjamin was not christened until May 1803, along with Ann (2). If  Turner were the child of this marriage and he was christened late then any record could could be difficult to discover as two folios are missing from the original Parish Register which cover the period July 7 th 1806 to May 9 th 1807. This point though has now been resolved by checking the Bishops Transcripts where the relevant pages still exist.   Turner does not appear during this period.

Further examination of this family shows another son, born ~1811 and named Jonathan.   Although he does not appear in the Parish Records he is with the family in the 1841 census and  in 1851 he is to be found in the Village with his sister Ann, a pauper, deaf & dumb.   This again shows that John & Esther were lax in having their sons baptised.

In November 2007 my attention was drawn to the marriage in 1830 between Benjamin Calvert & Peggy Bentley where Turner Calvert and <unclear>. Pickles were witnesses.   It was usual for siblings to act as witnesses to marriages and Turner as the brother of Benjamin would support his identity as the "son of John" .

John and Peggy

All I can find of them is the birth of a daughter Mary Calvert in 1807 which places them in Harwood, and a burial :

Peggy Wife of Jno Calvert of Blackburn 27 years 7 Dec 1808

Have we found Turner ?

My original informant says that Turner was actually christened Thomas and a Thomas, son of John and Alice was indeed born on 11 Apr 1810. If, however, he was 69 when he died in 1873, which is what the GRO index shows, that would place his birth around 1804. His DOB calculated from his reported age does seem to vary with censuses, In 1871 his age was shown as 61 which would make his DOB 1810, however if 61 was a mis-transcription for 67 that would agree with a DOB of 1804. Overall I am of the opinion that too much evidence points to a birth-date around 1804 and not as late as 1810 to give any confidence in claiming Turner to be the Thomas born to John and Alice.

Most of the evidence points to Turner being the son of John Calvert and Esther Birtwistle and, as with Jonathan, his brother, he was not baptised.

Conclusion (2)

The original conclusion, that Turner was the son of Richard Calvert and Elizabeth Sowerbutts was clearly flawed and all the evidence now points to his being the son of John Calvert and Esther Birtwistle.


Robert Calvert
18 November 2007