LIVES OF THE BISHOPS OF EXETER
JAMES TURBERVILLE, descended of the ancient family of that name, settled at Beer Regis, in the county of Dorset, was the second son of John Turberville, Esquire, by his wife Isabella (Cheveral). Having distinguished himself in the College at Winchester, and at New College, Oxford, he took the degree of Doctor of Divinity, and was a Prebendary of Winchester when King Philip and Queen Mary, on 10th March, 1555, issued their congé d'élire to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter for his supplying their vacant see. On 6th May the elect was allowed its temporalities from the Michaelmas last past, and he was consecrated at St. Paul's, London, by its bishop, Edmund Bonner, in the company of Hugh Curwen, elect of Dublin, and William Glynn, elect of Bangor, on 8th September, 1555. Early in the ensuing March he reached Exeter, and on 16th April received from Cardinal Pole, the Primate, and Legate of the Holy See, ample power to make the visitation of his diocese. To Queen Mary's honour be it said, that she released the clergy from the payment of tenths and first-fruits to the Crown, whose livings did not exceed the yearly value of twenty marks ('Heylin's Hist.' p. 53), a concession which her sister and successor, Queen Elizabeth, withdrew four years later (Heylin's 'Hist. Queen Elizabeth,' p. 108). She also restored to the see, on 18th July, 1556, the borough and manor of Crediton ('Act Books of the Chamber,' p. 84). Our bishop must have also gained possession of the favourite residence of his predecessors at Clist, for we find him holding some small ordinations in its chapel of St. Gabriel on 13th March, 8th and 11th June, and 18th December, 1557; on 26th March, 1558, and 3rd September that year. His other ordinations were held in St. Mary's Chapel, within the palace of Exeter, on 8th and 11th June, and 18th September, 1557, and again on the eves of Easter and Trinity Sundays, 1558, and in the church of the Holy Cross at Crediton, on 16th September in the last mentioned year. His Register proves his moderation of conduct, and diligent attention to his episcopal duties; and to those who have examined the wills proved during his short pre-eminence, it must be gratifying to witness a reviving spirit of commendable zeal to contribute to the beauty of God's house, and to provide for the wants and comforts of the poor. On 18th March, 1557-8, he blessed a spot of ground at Ringswell, given by John Petre, Esq., for the interment of executed criminals, and which was inclosed by the charitable widow, Mrs. Joan Tuckfield. About Michaelmas 1558, he left the diocese for London. The Queen's dissolution was rapidly approaching, and she expired on 17th November, 1558, aged 42. Queen Elizabeth, on 5th December, summoned our bishop to attend the new Parliament to be holden at Westminster on 23rd January, 1559: but as his conscience would not suffer him to subscribe to her Majesty's supremacy in all spiritual and ecclesiastical causes as well as in civil, he was subjected to the penalty of deprivation of office on 18th June that year, and at once committed to the Tower. Hoker says, "he was soon enlarged, but commanded to keep his house in London, where he lived a private life; and in the end, there died." He was certainly living on 23rd January, 1560, but the precise date of his death we have looked for in vain. In Izacke's manuscript, in the 'Archives of the Mayor and Chamber of Exeter,' it had been originally written "he was buried at Beer Regis, Dorset;" on a subsequent revision, a stroke was drawn through the words as above, and the following substituted, "in the body of the choir of his own church." The Cathedral Register of Burials, commencing full thirty years later, can throw no light whatever on the subject. Heylin, in his 'History of the Reformation' (Part ii. p. 114), merely states, that he was permitted "to enjoy his liberty; and being by birth a gentleman, could not want friends to give him honest entertainment." Yet Dr. Nicholas Sanders, in his treatise 'De Schismate Anglicano,' numbers Turberville amongst the bishops "who died either in prison, or exile," and Dr. Bridgewater, towards the end of the 'Concertatio,' writes as follows: "Rmus Turbevilus Eps Exoniensis obiit in vinculis." Godwin relates "cum per multos annos privatus vixisset, in summâ libertate defunctus." But Mr. T. Duffus Hardy, in his 'Fasti Ecclesias Anglicame, 1854,' vol. i. p. 378, believes that "he died 1st November, 1559, and was buried in Exeter Cathedral. Letters of administration to this bishop were granted so long after his death as April, 1667! See the Calendar of that year."
Arms: - According to Izacke - ermine, a Lion rampant, gules, crowned, or, langued and armed wave; according to Westcote - argent, a Lion rampant, gules, crowned, or.
Previous Bishop Return to list of Bishops Next Bishop