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William Turnbull (1846–1940)

As briefly announced in our last issue, the death occurred at his residence, "Wenona," Wilberforce, on Tuesday of last week of one of the Hawkesbury's most widely-known and respected identities, and one whose passing is regretted by the whole community, in the person of Mr. William Turnbull, at the advanced age of 94 years.

The deceased was a native of Colo, being a twin son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Turnbull, who were among the pioneers of that centre, where they were engaged in farming operations. Deceased and his twin brother, Ralph, who were inseparable companions for the greater period of the latter's life — Ralph predeceased his brother some five years ago, in his 89th year— inherited a love of the land from their parents, and in their younger days jointly conducted farming operations at Wilberforce. Later, however, after his brother was married, the subject of this notice moved to Queensland, where he lived for several years, but finally the call of his native district could be ignored no longer, and he returned to take over a farm at Freeman's Reach. He worked this property until, at 75 years, he retired, and moved to Wilberforce, where he resided until his death.

Throughout their lives there were probably no district residents who were generally known and widely esteemed as "the Turnbull twins," as they were generally known. Coming of that sturdy pioneer stock to which the present-day Hawkesbury owes so much, they had inculcated in their parental training those simple, and honest precepts which distinguished their generation, and better neighbors or citizens it would be difficult indeed to discover. Their forthright honesty and invariable kindliness earned them a legion of friendships and the severing of their David and Jonathan partnership by the death of Ralph was a sorrow for William which was shared by the whole community.

Deceased took a keen interest in all progressive projects in his own area and the Hawkesbury generally, and for many years, with his brother, served on the council of the Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association, of which deceased was a Life Vice-President. He had been at all times a keen supporter of the Hawkesbury Show, and the association owes much to the service which he rendered it as a member of the council. In connection with the service of the Turnbull twins on the council, incidentally, there has arisen a tradition probably unique in the history of such bodies. Both being confirmed tea drinkers, the twins, for convenience at the "cup of tea" which traditionally follows meetings of the council even to this day, supplied their own cups — huge affairs more than twice the size of ordinary cups. These were a stock subject for badinage from their colleagues, but later, after they had left the council, it was decided that one of these cups, suitably ornamented, be presented as a trophy for perpetual competition, and now the "Turnbull Cup" has become the chief and most prized trophy in the Clydesdale section of each successive show.

And so, after a full and useful life, much of which was devoted to the interests of his fellow man and the district which he loved, William Turnbull has gone to join the Great Majority, leaving not an enemy in the world, and an army of friends to lament his passing. No monument will be needed to keep his memory evergreen in the Hawkesbury.

In addition to a sister (Mrs. T. Salter, Haberfield), deceased is survived by a family of three sons, Malcolm (Riverstone), Ralph (Wilberforce) and Dio (Tom), of Mulgrave, and four daughters, Fanny (Mrs. C. Greentree, Wilberforce), Linda (Mrs. Stinson, Haberfield), Ruby (Mrs. E. Salter, Wilberforce) and Vera (Mrs. Stewart, Haberfield), to whom heartfelt sympathy is extended in their bereavement.

The wide esteem in which deceased had been held by all sections of the community was evident from the attendance at the funeral, which moved from the residence to St. John's Church, Wilberforce, where a service was conducted by Rev. K. F. Saunders, during which the hymn "Abide With Me" was sung by the congregation, and at the conclusion the Funeral March was played by the organist, Mr. F. J. Palmer. The interment took place in the family enclosure of the Church of England cemetery, the grave being covered with a profusion of floral tributes, including a wreath from the Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association (which was represented by a number of councillors) and one from the Wilberforce P. and C. Association.

Original publication

Citation details

'Turnbull, William (1846–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 June, 1846
Wilberforce, New South Wales, Australia


6 August, 1940 (aged 94)
Wilberforce, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.