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William Bligh Turnbull (1808–1892)

A Kempsey subscriber sent us a clipping from the Macleay Chronicle, from which we extract the following:–The death of William Bligh Turnbull removed from our midst an honest citizen, a loving husband, a kind father, a sincere friend, and closed the earthly career of the last member of the original Turnbull family. Mr Turnbull, senr., made one of the number of the second shipment of free settlers that came to the colony. He selected land on the Hawkesbury River at Ebenezer, where he spent the remainder of his days. His youngest child, William Bligh, was born at Ebenezer on the 8th of June, 1809, just about the time those exceptionally heavy floods which caused so much loss of property and life, visited the Hawkesbury River. Previous to coming to the Macleay, he occupied the greater portion of his time farming, but for some time he was trading to Sydney with a vessel called the La Casquarie. He was married in February 1838, and his eldest son, William John, and nine other children were born in the Hawkesbury district. Mr. Turnbull arrived at Kempsey during the month of December, 1868, and resided there until his death. The unfortunate circumstances which brought about his death are well-known and it [is]generally understood, that had it not been for an accident of the painful nature he would probably have lived many years, possessed as he was of that excellent physique which was the distinctive feature in his father's family. After the accident he lingered on to the end in a comatose condition with intervals of lucid reason. All that good nursing and attention could do did not avail, and he quietly drooped and died on the 11th inst. His remains were conveyed to their last resting place at Euroka cemetary the day following his death, a large number of people being present to pay their last tribute of reverence and respect. In the Hawkesbury district as well as on the Macleay he leaves a large circle of relations and friends to morn their loss. William Bligh Turnbull did not take any very prominent part either in political or religious matters, but, uninfluenced by theological hatred and free from sectarian bigotry, he tried to perform his duty prudently and independently, and did not suffer himself to be swayed by personal bias or popular prejudice. His genial and kind hearted disposition, his integrity and probity, won respect wherever he was known. There is little to add. No eulogies that we can make can in any way add to the purity of the reputation he leaves behind him. He was an honest man. To him may be applied the concluding words addressed by Antony to Octavius and Messala:–

His life was gentle; and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world: This was a man.

May the record of his useful life be an incentive to all earnest men and women to endeavour to follow the example he has set.

Original publication

Citation details

'Turnbull, William Bligh (1808–1892)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 June, 1808
Ebenezer, New South Wales, Australia


14 April, 1892 (aged 83)
Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

horse-drawn vehicle accident

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.