William Turner - Encyclopedia




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WILLIAM TURNER (d. 1568), English divine, botanist and physician, was born at Morpeth in Northumberland, and was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he was elected junior fellow in 1530. He learnt Greek from Nicholas Ridley, and, hearing Hugh Latimer preach, threw in his lot with the new faith. In 1538 he published his herbaria, and in 1540 set out to preach in different places. For doing this without a licence he suffered imprisonment, and on his release travelled in Holland, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, always increasing his knowledge of botany and medicine, collecting plants, and writing books on religion which were so popular in England that they were forbidden by proclamation in July 1546. On the accession of Edward VI. he became chaplain and physician to the duke of Somerset and in 1550 prebendary of York. In November 1550 he was made dean of Wells, but in 1553 was deprived, and during Queen Mary's reign lived at various places in Germany, mostly along the Rhine. Returning to England in 1558 he regained his deanery, and did all he could to disparage episcopacy and ceremonial, and to bring the Anglican Church into conformity with the Reformed Churches of Germany and Switzerland. On the complaint of his bishop, Gilbert Berkeley, he was suspended for Nonconformity in 1564. He passed his last days in Crutched Friars, London, and died on the 7th of July 1568. Turner was a sound and keen botanist, and introduced lucerne into England. He was a racy writer, a man of undoubted learning, and a vigorous controversialist.

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