Dr James William Cecil TURNER LLD MC

Born1886 Farnborough, Kent
Died1968 Cambridge
FatherJames William TURNER (1842 – 1913)
MotherEmma COWPE-PENDLETON (1850 – 1918)
OccupationA Distinguished Writer on Roman and Criminal Law

Biography and Notes

Dr James William Cecil Turner. a distinguished writer on Roman and criminal law, former Fellow and Bursar of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and university lecturer, died on Friday at Cambridge at the age of 82.

Turner was borm on October 2nd 1886 at Farnborough, Kent and educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, and Queens' College, Cambridge. He took a First in Part I of the Classical Tripos in 1909, and then turned over to law, taking Part II of the law Tripos in 1910. Turner was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple and during ths First World War served with the Royal Field Artillery in France as a Second Lietenant and was awarded the Military Cross.

After the war Turner returned to Cambridge and taught law, with a special interest in Roman Law. He was elected to a fellowship at Trinity Hall in 1926, and two years later was appointed to a university lectureship in law. In 1930 he was appointed bursar of his college and later steward as well. He retired in 1952; in 1963 he was awarded a LL.D by Cambridge University for his contributions to the literature of the criminal law.

Turner's contribution to law studies at Cambridge, and to legal writing generally was a great one; Roman law and criminal law were his special interests. In 1953 he published Introduction to the Study of Roman Private Law. His work in the field of criminal law and criminal science, was probably one of the greatest contributions anyone has made to that subject since Kenny published his Outlines of Criminal Law in 1902. Turner edited and very substantially re-wrote the 16th, 17th, 18th and the current 19th editions of Kenny. In the same area, he edited the 10th, 11th and the current 12th editions of Russell on Crime, and in 1953, jointly with A. LI. Armitage, he brought out an entirely new volume of Cases on Criminal Law.

His great interest in this branch of the law and in its practical application found expression in a great deal of social work outside the university. He was an early and devoted sponsor of the Deartment of Criminal Science at Cambridge, of which he was for many years the Secretary. His untiring efforts on behalf of that department, particularly as joint editor with Professor Radzinowicz of the Cambridge Studies in Criminal Science, played a very large part in its rapid development into the present Institute of Criminology.

Turner was a magnificent teacher in the great Cambridge tradition of Henry Bond, Frank Carr, David Oliver and Percy Winfield. he had a wonderfully sympathetic understanding of the vagaries of the youthful mind and to those who knew him it was no surprise that he loved every moment of his lengthy tenure as University Proctor. Many will remember his untiring efforts to help any person or any cause in which he believed and his sharp and subtle wit, always just the right amount of tartness and always totally devoid of malice.

His interests in life were manifold and various. In his time he seems to have kept as a pet almost every animal from a horse to a hummimg-bird and in later life he derived great pleasure from his garden. For a considerable period he was treasurer of the Cambridge University Cricket Club and the former Department of Estate Management in the University owed much to his guidance as its chairman over many years. Cecil Turner married Beatrice Maud Stooke in 1924 and they had six children.

The Times
2nd December 1968

Footnote. His son, David wrote the following piece in July 2014 for a research group which was examining the effect of WW1 on their village.

The First World War had for both my parents, in common with so many others at that time, a profound influence on their lives. It also led indirectly to my coming to live in this village. My father, born in 1886, was the youngest by eight years in a family of five children. I don't think he would dispute that he was spoiled by his family and circumstances. His father had made his way through the Victorian era as a highly successful opera singer. Starting from very modest origins in Sutton in Ashfield in Nottinghamshire he had literally sung his way around the world by the time he was twenty four years old. He was very comfortably off when my father was born and my father benefitted from this, going to King Edwards School Birmingham, a foundation of similar vintage and origin to KEGS in Chelmsford, and then on to Cambridge. He had started to read for the Bar, playing cricket at County level for Worcestershire in the hot summers immediately before WW1, an era described by Siegfried Sassoon when Britain's power and position in the world seemed secure.

One of his sisters was living in Germany at that time and he spent lengthy spells with her acquiring a good knowledge of German. Called up at the end of 1915 he was training as a gunnery officer in 1916 at Totnes Barracks when he met my mother who was then seventeen years old and training as a nurse. Her father was a postman in Dawlish in Devon but she had seized the opportunity of free medical training. As society was then, the likelihood of their ever meeting would have been remote, had it not been for the war. Not long after they had met my father was posted to France with the Royal Field Artillery. My parents were not to marry until 1924. That this was so was a direct result of the war.

First my father, because of his knowledge of German, remained in the army until 1920 stationed in Cologne as part of the occupying forces. When he returned he had to complete his preparation for his Bar Finals. I understand that his experiences during the war turned him towards following an academic career and he returned to Cambridge where he remained for the rest of his life. On his return he bought the house, Hundred Acres, up by St. Elizabeth's Centre, as a place for his sister, who had been interned in Germany for part of the war, to live in with her two children.

My mother having completed her training had moved to London working as a nurse. She had seen so many women lose their husbands during the war that she was determined to acquire a full professional training so that should that happen to her, she would be able to support any children that she might have. With this aim she studied in night school and became a fully qualified Physiotherapist. Only then did she agree to get married.

Many survivors of that war never discussed their experiences and my father was one of those. I knew that he had been awarded the Military Cross but had never collected it. Only later did I discover the citation from the Public Record Office which states that he, having withdrawn his battery under heavy fire, returned under continuing fire and rescued his wounded battery sergeant whom they had been forced to abandon. There were at home a number of books of peoples's memoirs and when I showed interest in them he pointed me towards "Her Privates We" a bowdlerised version published in 1930 of a book subsequently published as "The Middle Parts of Fortune" written by Frederick Manning. That book, along with "All Quiet on the Western Front", was for him the best description of what he had lived through. In 1964 at the very end of his life, the BBC in the Fiftieth anniversary year presented a series of programmes showing footage and photographs of the war which he watched with interest. But even then he could not be drawn on the subject. At home a couple of brass shell cases from his battery's six pounder guns and a bayonet in a battered scabbard were the only momentos that he kept. The bayonet in a shell case stood on a window sill by our front door for the rest of his life. The other shell case stood on the hearth by the fire.

David Turner
Anthony Cobbold.

Life Events

1913Death of father James William TURNER
1918Death of mother Emma COWPE-PENDLETON
1924Married Beatrice Maud STOOKE in Dawlish, Devon
1925Birth of daughter Dr Jennifer Lesley TURNER
1927Birth of daughter Gillian Mary TURNER (-HOLLIS)
1930Birth of son Prof. James Charles Robin TURNER MA, Phd, ScD, FICM
1932Birth of daughter Angela Rosalind (Lindy) TURNER
1935Birth of daughter Margaret (Marnie) Elizabeth TURNER
1938Birth of son David Andrew TURNER

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