Turner, Prout, and Yates families papers, 1753 – 1838

Historical Note
This Turner family of Rhode Island can be traced back to John Turner, ironworker, an early settler of Lynn, Massachusetts in 1643. He and his sons worked as ironworkers and masons at Hammersmith Village (now Saugus Ironworks) and at Taunton, Massachusetts. Later generations removed to Newport (now Middletown), Rhode Island and had land interests in Jamestown and Westerly. Joseph Turner (born ca. 1717) was the youngest of the thirteen children of Mary and Lawrence Turner, yeoman, of Middletown. Joseph married twice, firstly to Abigail Smith in 1744 and secondly to Sarah Thurston in 1751, both of Newport. Joseph’s household in Newport consisted of nine occupants according to the 1774 Census. Joseph belonged to a local mechanic’s association and probably died in Newport, or elsewhere, between 1776 and 1779 during the British Army occupation. Sarah (Thurston) Turner was born on May 25, 1729 to Benjamin and Sarah (Casey) Thurston. She died on March 2, 1797.

Joseph and Sarah (Thurston) Turner had five daughters. Ruth Turner never married. Hannah Turner married Seth Yates, who was a painter. They lived in Newport and Providence and are buried at Swan Point. Sarah Turner married John Gardner. Susanna Turner married Tim Prout in Nova Scotia, and Mary Turner married John Jakways. John and Mary (Turner) Jakways had three children. Their daughter died at a young age, and their two sons were named Henry and John Jakways.

  • Beaman, Alden Gamaliel, comp. Rhode Island Vital Records. Princeton, MA: Alden G. Beaman, 1977.
  • Radasch, Arthur and Katherine Radasch. “John Turner of Lynn, Mass. And Some of His Descendants.” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 123 (January 1969): 33-44.
  • Stiles, Ezra. The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, ed. Franklin Bowditch Dexter, vol. 2 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901), 131.
  • Ullman, Helen Schatvet. “Joseph and Sarah (Thurston) Turner of Newport, Rhode Island.” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 160 (2006): 215-223.
Scope and Content
This collection contains marriage certificates, receipts, a will, and letters written by members of the Turner family. The correspondence within the collection reveal family dynamics, discuss the inheritance of property, and provide insight into 18th century health and travel conditions. The bulk of this collection is made up of family letters between the Turner sisters. The letters date from 1792-1807. Letters written by Tim and Susanna (Turner) Prout discuss their marriage, the landscape of Nova Scotia, and the Turner siblings’ relationships with one another. Letters also discuss family inheritances, the Philadelphia Yellow Fever outbreak, and cases of influenza within the family.

This collection also contains a copy of Sarah (Turner) Gardner’s will. Highlights from this document include the naming of Ruth Turner as her executrix and sole heir.

This collection also includes the marriage license of Jonathan Remington and Mary Thurston, and the marriage certificate on Seth Yates and Hannah Turner.