Sir Robert Turnbull1

(21 February 1852 - 22 February 1925)
FatherRev Robert Turnbull2,3 (cir. Mar 1812 - Feb 1877)
MotherLouisa Philipine Maes (cir. 1813 - Mar 1897)
Relationship1st cousin 3 times removed of Lorna Henderson

BMDB data

     Robert Turnbull was born on 21 Feb 1852 Salop, Whitchurch, SAL, ENG, This date fits within the estimated date range for Robert being a grandson of Robert Turnbull and Eleanor Scott, and therefore the elusive "Sir Robert Turnbull" of Charlotte Turnbull nee Finlay's letters4. (not found on Free BMD Whitchurch 1851 to 1853, or Shropshire, options available on Free BMD include a Robert reg. Longtown, the home of the Turnbulls, Jun qtr 1853 and one reg. Blackburn Sep qtr 1852.)5,6,7,4
     Robert Turnbull married Kate Humbert, daughter of James Morten and Maria Skinner, bet. Jan 1889 - Apr 1889 Paddington, LND, ENG, indexed as Kate Humbert to Robert Turnbull, reg. March qtr 1889, in Paddington Vol 1a page 86; licence application by Robert Turnbull, Esq., shows Robert "of the parish of All Souls Harlesden" (MDX), bachelor of the age of twenty one years and upwards; Kate HUMBERT as "of the said new parish of Saint Stephen, Westminster Park, a widow."5,8,9
     Robert died on 22 Feb 1925 Gallow Hill, King's Langley, HRT, ENG, at age 73; dth notice reads: "Sir Robert Turnbull who died at King's Langley on Sunday, the day after his 73rd birthday, had devoted his carreer to railway working, as distinguished from railway policy or finance, and had done much valuable service in railway devlopment and research. By the time of his retirement in 1914 he had rasied the London and North-Western Railway to a high degree of technical efficiency, and other lines also benefited by seeking his expert advice.
     The son of the Rev. Robert Turnbull, Vicar of Wybunbury, Cheshre, he was born on February 21, 1852, and was sent to Whitechurch Grammar School, Shropshire. He joined the service of the London and North-Western in 1868, became assistant district superintendent at Liverpool under Mr James Shaw, in March, 1877, and in March, 1885, removed to London as superintendent of the Southern Division of the line. In 1887 he became assistant superintendent of the line, and on August 1, 1895, was promoted to be superintendent. In 1914, he became general manager, but retired and joined the Board of Directors in 1915. He was also a director of the old London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, and, after the amalgamation of the Southern Railway, in 1917, he returned to duty as acting general manager of the London and North-Western, in order to release the late Sir Guy Calthrop for war service as Coal Controller. (this is called helping out the family, Sir Guy being his brother-in-law as he had married Gertrude Morten, Kate's sister)
     The funeral will be at Stanmore Church to-morrow, at 3 o'clock. A special train leaves Euston at 2:10."10,2,11,12
     Sir Robert TURNBULL and Stephen TURNBULL were supposed to be cousins. According to Stephen's wife Charlotte4, Stephen (and therefore Ellen my great grandmother) apparently had a cousin in London "Sir Robert Turnbull". I had taken the "Sir" bit with a ton of salt, but subsequently found references1 to one in London in the right timeframe, so thought that it may yet prove correct.
The identification was strengthened by my findings of the 1861 census for Wybunbury in Cheshire3 which shows the Rev. Robert Turnbull as being born in Kirk Andrews, Cumberland, and of an age to be a previously unknown son in the family of Robert Turnbull and Eleanor Scott.
Rechecking my UK research I noticed that my search of the Parish records for Kirkandrews started from 1813, and a search of the Bishop's Transcripts to 1812 did not show a baptism of Robert. The link was finally confirmed when an ordered copy of the marriage certificate13 of the Reverend to Louisa, as it clearly showed his father as Robert, a joiner.4,1,3,13
Railways must run in the blood for this family as Robert's brother Walter appears in the 1881 & 1891 census records as a railway clerk, and in 1901 as a Superintendent of Railway. In addition, Sir Francis Henry Dent, the husband of Janet, another sister-in-law, was general manager of the South-Eastern and Chatham Railway.
Newfound information (Jan 2014) also shed light on the connection to the family Robert was with in 1871 - David and Eliza (LIVOCK) STEVENSON.
It turned out that Robert's father had firstly married Mary LIVOCK, Eliza's sister - another family with connections to the LNWR: a nephew of Mary & Eliza being an architect who desinged the Nuneaton Railway Station. David STEVENSON's memories of his time with the LNWR are published, and include his correspondence with his brother-in-law, the Rev. Robert TURNBULL.14,15,16,17,18

Census/Where lived/Occupations

     The census of 7 Apr 1861 showed Robert and Walter and their sisters Louisa, Ellen, Sarah and Edith in the household of their parents Robert and Louisa Philipine Turnbull in the Vicarage, Wybunbury, Dist of Nantwich, CHS, ENG, enumerated as TURNBULL: Robert, head, 49 Vicar Wybunbury b Kirk on Esk, Cumberland; wife Louisa Philippine 48 b Dou?? France; Children (all scholars): Louisa Mary Ann 15; Ellen 14, both b Cambridge; Sarah 11 b Keighley, Yorkshire; Robert 9; Edith 7; Walter 5 all b Whitchurch, Shropshire.19 Robert Turnbull appeared on the census of 1871 Turnpike Rd, Nuneaton, WAR, ENG, as a visitor to David Stevenson and Eliza Stevenson.20
     Robert appeared on the census of 3 Apr 1881 Moody Hall 11 Moody Street, Congleton, CHS, ENG, enumerated as listed as Robert Turnbull, visitor, unm, 29, b Whitchurch, Shropshire, Railway Superintendent (with John Latham, solicitor and family.)21
     Robert and Kate Turnbull appeared on the census of 5 Apr 1891 48 Craven Park, Willesden, Par. of All Souls, MDX, ENG, as Robert Turnbull, superintendent on a railway, 39 b Whitchurch, Shropshire; wife Kate, 30 b Denham, Bucks; Sidney Humbert, step son, 6 b Watford, Herts; Noel Turnbull, son, 1 b Willesden, Middlesex; Maria Buckland, nurse, 49, b Bucks; Helen Litmuss, servant, 20, housemaid, Shelford, Bucks; Martha Bird, 28, cook, b Loudon, MDX; Clair Cowl (?Bowl), visitor, mar, 31, b Sutton, Hampshire.22
     Fr 1900 - 1913 Sir Robert Turnbull was the Superintendent of the Line, London and North-Western Railway (LNWR) probably in ?London, ENG, Robert is mentioned in this position in two Court Circulars:
     10 Oct 1904 .. the King shook hands with Mr Turnbull and thanked him .;
     21 Apr 1913 The King conferred the honour of Knighthood on Mr Robert Turnbull, Superintendent of the line..
     Earlier references include a 1900 letter, listed in a 2003 auction catalogue: from "Office of Superintendent of the Line, Euston Station, London. Robert Turnbull; and a 1902 newspaper report in The Nuneaton Observer and in an article about the LNWR .. (Sir) George Findlay chief traffic manager, later general manager from 1880 to 1893, who developed a highly efficient, sophisticated and centralized management structure overseeing 15,000 employees around the country: an organisation continued by able successors - Frederick Harrison, Prank Ree, Robert Turnbull, and Guy Calthrop, all of whom were knighted"
     However a book on the LNWR has him becoming Superintendent of the Line on the retirement of G P Neele in 1895 and adds: "Robert Turnbull was awarded a knighthood on 21 April 1913 during a visit by King George and Queen Mary to Crewe. After being received at the station by the town's mayor, LNWR signalman Frederick Manning, the royal party inspected Crewe works and then went to Crewe Hall for the investiture ceremony. (Robert Turnbull was only the second officer of the Company to recieve a knighthood.)". It goes on to say that he became General Manager in Feb 1914.1,23,24,25,26,10
     By Feb 1897 Sir Robert Turnbull was living 4 Craven Park, Harlesden, MDX, ENG, according to his sister Ellen's will written then (it clearly says 4, although the 1891 census shows Robert and Kate living at 48.)27
     Robert Turnbull was shown as the head of the household in the census of 1901 "Rosslyn", Great Stanmore, Par. of St John, MDX, ENG, with Kate enumerated as enumerated as Robert Turnbull, 49, b Salop, Whitchurch, Railway Superintendent; Kate Turnbull, wife, 40, b Denham, Bucks; Dorothy Humbert, step dtr, 18, b Watford, Herts; and 4 servants - cook, parlour maid, housemaid, kitchenmaid.5,15
     The census of 1911 showed Robert with his wife Kate Rosslyn, Stanmore, MDX, ENG, household enumerated as TURNBULL: Robert 59 Railway Superintendent, worker b Whitchurch, Salop; wife Kate 50, b Denham, Bucks, married 22 complete years, 1 child, still living; Son Noel 21 unm. student b Harlsden, MDX; 4 servants; living in a 17 room house.28 Sir Robert Turnbull was the General Manager of the LNWR, and the Company's representative on the Railway Executive Committee during the Great War fr Feb 1914 - Dec 1914 ?London, ENG.10 He was a Director of the LNWR, retiring from the Board of Directors in Jan 1922 when it amalgamated with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway fr Dec 1914 - Jan 1922 ?London.10


     Robert Turnbull was named as an executor of the will of Ellen Bolton on 15 Feb 1897 Braeside, West Kirby, CHS, ENG, and received a legacy of £30 (but presumably not until she died in 1918!)27,29,30 Sir Robert Turnbull was confirmed as executor of the estate of Louisa Philipine Maes on 28 Apr 1897 London, LND, ENG; Probate index reads: TURNBULL, Louisa Philipine of Hatherton Harlesden MDX widow died 21 Mar 1897 Probate London 28 Apr to Robert TURNBULL, gentleman Effects £593/7/8.31 Sir Robert Turnbull was confirmed as executor of the estate of Mabel Moore Turnbull on 12 Aug 1903 London, LND; Probate index reads: TURNBULL, Mabel Moore of 34 Greenhill Park, Harlesden, MDX, spinster died 18 Apr 1903 Probate London 12 Aug to Robert TURNBULL, Esq., effects £1092/1/8 Resworn Oct 1903 £1257/16/8d.32 His estate was probated on 18 Mar 1925 London, LND; National Probate Calendar index shows Sir Robert as knight of Gallow Hill, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, died 22 Feb, probate granted London 18th March to Noel TURNBULL, solicitor, effects £25,391/2/7d.12

All the other info

     Sir Robert Turnbull was considered as a potential duplicate of Robert Turnbull, but this has been discounted; one the Superintendent of the Line, Sir Robert Turnbull, the other an 1852 chr London to a John, one of the original possibilities for (Sir) Robert's father. It is now known however that (Sir) Robert Turnbull was born in Whitchurch, not London, and to the Rev Robert Turnbull not a John. This father/son of John and Robert did prove to be connected however, John being Sir Robert's uncle.33
     Robert Turnbull was educated at the Grammar School, Whitchurch, SAL, ENG.34 He and Kate Turnbull were 1st class British passenger list shows Robert 55, Kate 48, Noel 18 arriving from Montreal on 24 Sep 1907 on the "Lake Manitoba", Liverpool, LAN, ENG.35
     His entry in de Brett's in 1913 reads: Robert Turnbull M.V.O. son of the late Rev. Robert Turnbull, V. of Wybunbury, Cheshire, b 1852 ed at Whitchurch Gram. Sch. entered London and North Western Railway Co's service 1868; was Sup. London Div 1885-7; Assist Sup. of the Line 1887-94 since when he has been Sup. of the LIne. m 1889, Kate da. of James Morten of Denham, widow of Sydney Humbert cr M.V.O. (5th class) 1911 Rosslyn, Stanmore, Middlesex.36
     On 21 Apr 1913 Sir Robert Turnbull was knighted, the reference reading: "The King conferred the honour of Knighthood on Mr. Robert Turnbull, Superintendent of the Line, London and North-Western Railway."1 In Jan 1923 a report in The Times said: "The following directors were elected at the special general meeting of the respective companies: ... Sir Robert Turnbull" (appears to be as a result of the merger of the three southern railways.)37
     Sir Robert seems to have had a train named after him as an auction catalogue lists Sir Robert Turnbull (apple green) with train in plum & spilt milk at Bletchley in July 1948.38

External links

     Click here to see Robert's page on WikiTree, a (free) collaborative on-line tree.39


Kate Morten (bet. Mar 1860 - Jun 1860 - Mar 1929)
  • Noel Turnbull22,40 (bet. Jan 1890 - Mar 1890 - Nov 1959)
Last Edited18 Feb 2018


  1. TURNBULL: misc. www & corres. "The Times" archives, Court Circular dates Apr 21 in paper for 22 Apr 1913, found during a free search period via the National Library of Australia Apr 2004.
  2. Newspaper clippings, Dth notice 1925 Sir Robert TURNBULL, from The Times Digital Archive, Tues Feb 24th 1925, extracted Jul 2004.
  3. 1861 Census images, England & Wales, via, Wybunbury, Cheshire Dist 34 RG10/3711 Folio ? Page 24 Schedule #119, hsehold of Robert & Louisa TURNBULL, extracted Jan 2005.
  4. Murray FINLAY (29810), "EM TURNBULL/FINLAY ex Murray F," e-mail to L McIntosh (1), Mar 2002.
  5. PRO ENG online at, 1901 Census online, RG 13 Piece 1211 Folio 64 Page 37 Schedule #196, extracted May 2004 (copy held).
  6. Www FreeBMD ENG online at, Birth Robert TURNBULL (searched 1851 to 1853, Shropshire or just Whitchurch), searched May 2004.
  7. Newspaper clippings, )Dth notice 1925 Sir Robert TURNBULL, from The Times Digital Archive, Tues Feb 24th 1925, extracted Jul 2004, supplied exact birth date.
  8. Www FreeBMD ENG online at, Marriage Mar qtr 1889 Robert TURNBULL to Kate HUMBERT (searched for marriage Robert TURNBULL to Kate someone 1881 to 1901), extracted May 2004.
  9. online at, Marr. Licence application 4 Feb 1889 Robert TURNBULL Esq (& Kate HUMBERT, widow), to marry St Stephen, Westminster Park, MDX, from London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597-1921, extracted Mar 2014.
  10. TURNBULL: misc. www & corres. The London & North Western Railway b M C Reed (ISBN 0-906899-66-4) extract rcvd May 2004 (from Paul ROUET in reply to an email to the LNWR web site).
  11. Julie FITZGERALD (41148), "EM MORTEN of Denham, BKM ex Julie F," e-mail to L Henderson (1), Rcvd Aug 2005, with thanks for highlighting the relationship between Sir Robert Turnbull and Sir Guy Calthrop.
  12. online at, Dth 22 Feb Probate 18 Mar (London) 1925 Sir Robert TURNBULL, M.V.O, of Gallow Hill, Kings Langley, to Noel TURNBULL, solicitor, from England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941, extracted Aug 2011.
  13. Various, BDM Certified copy, Mar. 1844 Robert TURNBULL and Louisa MAES, copy rcvd Mar 2005.
  14. 1881 Census transcripts, UK, via Family Search/LDS CDs, FHL Film 1341889 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 3714 Folio 104 Page 59, extracted Feb 2005.
  15. 1901 Census images, England & Wales, via, Handsworth, STS Dist 36 RG13/2713 Folio 60 Page 9 Schedule 54, hsehold of Robert & Kate TURNBULL, extracted Feb 2005.
  16. Julie FITZGERALD (41148), "EM MORTEN of Denham, BKM ex Julie F," e-mail to L Henderson (1), From "The Times" 21 Apr 1920 pg 19: Court circular dth notice 1920 Lady DENT (Janet MORTEN) wife of Sir Francis Henry DENT, transcr. rcvd Aug 2005.
  17. London Metropolitan Archives: Birth death marriage (filmed originals): , Marr. 12 Jan 1843 Robert s/o Robert TURNBULL; Mary Ann d/o John LIVOCK, St Pancras Ch, St Pancras, MDX, from Register of marriages, P90/PAN1, Item 081 online under London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921, copy d/loaded Jan 2014.
  18. TURNBULL: misc. www & corres. Livock/Turnbull corres. ex Michael LUMB, rcvd Jan 2014.
  19. 1861 Census, ENG, Wybunbury, CHS RG9/2617 Page 2 Schedule #10, hsehold of Robert & Louisa Philippine TURNBULL, p/copied Mar 2005.
  20. 1871 Census images, England & Wales, via, Nuneaton, WAR, ENG Dist 20 RG10/3170 Folio 69 Page 27 Scheduled #160, hsehold of David and Eliza STEVENSON, extracted May 2005.
  21. 1881 Census transcripts, UK, via Family Search/LDS CDs, FHL Film 1341846 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 3534 Folio 3 Page 1, extracted May 2004.
  22. 1891 Census, Various, RG12/1042 Middlesex, Parl. Borough of Harrow, Par. of All Souls, Page 13, Schedule 93, extracted Aug 2004.
  23. TURNBULL: misc. www & corres. "The Times" archives, Court Circular dates Oct 10 in paper for 11 Oct 1904, found during a free search period via the National Library of Australia Apr 2004.
  24. TURNBULL: misc. www & corres. The Royal Connection & King Edward VII: The Nuneaton Observer, Friday Dec 12, 1902 (…), extracted Apr 2004.
  25. TURNBULL: misc. www & corres. YesRail catalogue of printed railway material for sale. No. 198, June 2003, part 6 (, extracted May 2004.
  26. TURNBULL: misc. www & corres. "London & North Western Railway" by M C Reed (ISBN 0-906899-66-4)(from Paul Rouet in reply to an email to the LNWR web site (…), extract rcvd May 2004.
  27. Cheshire Records Office online at, Will 1897 Ellen BOLTON nee TURNBULL, probated 1918, copy rcvd Feb 2006, MF91/65, WR59 P723.
  28. 1911 Census images, ENG, ,, Rossly, Stanmore, Hendon MDX, hsehold of Robert & Kate TURNBULL, copy d/loaded May 2009.
  29. Cheshire Records Office online at, Wills db 1918 Ellen BOLTON, index searched Feb 2006, MF91/65, WR59 P723.
  30. "Lorna's Family History Musings", Feb 2006.
  31. UK Probate Calendar by via online at, Dth 21 Mar Probate 28 Apr (London) 1928 Louisa Philipine TURNBULL, widow of Hatherton, Harlesden, MDX,to Robert TURNBULL, gentleman, from England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941, extracted Aug 2011.
  32. online at, Dth 18 Apr Probate 12 Aug (London) 1903 Mabel Moore TURNBULL, of 34 Greenhill Pk, Harlesden, to Robert TURNBULL, Esq., from England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941, extracted Aug 2011.
  33. "Lorna's Family History Musings", May 2004.
  34. Newspaper clippings, Dth Notice 1925 Sir Robert TURNBULL, The Times Feb 24, 1925, From their Digital Archive, extracted Jul 2004 (exact birth date).
  35. online at, "Lake Manitoba" 24 Sep 1907 Robert, Kate & Noel TURNBULL, arr. Liverpool from Montreal, extracted May 2009.
  36. British & Irish Biographies 1840-1940: Various publications, de Brett's Peerage 1913 (14.073 fiche 29), extracted May 2004.
  37. Newspaper clippings, The Times Jan 05, 1923 "The Southern Railway. Chairman and Directors appointed:" From their Digital Archive, extracted Jul 2004.
  38. TURNBULL: misc. www & corres., extracted Apr 2004.
  39. WikiTree online at, Oct 2011.
  40. Julie FITZGERALD (41148), "EM MORTEN of Denham, BKM ex Julie F," e-mail to L Henderson (1), From "The Times" 16 Nov 1959 Dth notice Noel TURNBULL, transcr. rcvd Aug 2005.

E. & O. E. Some/most parish records are rather hard to read and names, places hard to interpret, particularly if you are unfamiliar with an area.