John was born to John Turner and Ann McArthur on 20 May 1796, in Dunann, Knapdale; his future bride Lilly was born in 1807 in nearby Glassary parish.
John was a parochial schoolmaster and a registrar. Archibald Currie’s little book on North Knapdale “A description of the antiquities & scenery of the parish of North Knapdale, Argyleshire” , written in 1830, mentions him:
“At Bellanach there is one of the established schools of the parish, taught by Mr Turner with great success; in which the children, at the usual annual examinations, have acquitted themselves so well in their respective studies of Latin, arithmetic, English, and Gaelic, as to do much honour to the care and fidelity of their teacher. It is much to be regretted that such a useful class of men as the parochial schoolmasters of Scotland are in many instances still much neglected; particularly in such parishes as this, where the legal salary is divided, and where the teachers pay rent both for their schools and dwelling-houses. In such cases, where the salary is only about £17 sterling, yearly, a deduction therefrom of nearly £5 annually of rent, much diminishes the penurious allowance granted them by law. I am convinced, were the state of the schoolmasters in this parish properly represented to the liberal and enlightened proprietors, that they would immediately order that no rent should be in future exacted from persons whose services are so valuable to the community where they reside.”
Their children were Anne, Bella, Mary, Niel Stewart, Margaret, John, Lillias, and Dugald, all born in North Knapdale. Sadley Anne, Bella and Lillias died young.
John and Lilly buried their three lost daughters with John’s mother Ann McArthur in Kilmahumaig burial ground, near Crinan.
In 1837 Pigot’s Directory lists him as Parochial Schoolmaster at Bellanoch, but in the valuation Roll of 1858/59 he had been replaced by his son Neil Stewart Turner who continued to teach there until 1874, finishing soon after the new North Knapdale School Board took over education in the parish.
In 1871 they were living on a farm in Kilmichael and had a Glaswegian timber merchant called Samual Cameron lodging with them. By April 1881 they had moved in with their daughter Margaret in Auchentenval.
John died six months later, in October 1881, in Tayvallich of old age. His death was recorded by his grandson Donald McCalman. I’ve not yet tracked down Lilly after the death of her husband.
Next steps for me are to discover what happened to Lilly, and where John and Lilly are buried. And to track down a copy of Mr Currie’s book!
© Text copyright Lynne Black 7 August 2014
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/john-turner