HENRY TURNER (1852-1940)




Birth certificate


When and where born:

Fourteenth September 1852


Name, if any:       




Name and surname of father:

John Turner

Name, surname and maiden surname of mother:

Sarah Turner formerly Turner

Occupation of father:

Gardener and Seedsman

Signature, description and residence of informant:

John Turner



When registered:

Twenty Fifth September 1852


Marriage certificate


Marriage solemnized at the Tower Street Chapel, Launceston in the District of Launceston in the Counties of Cornwall and Devon.

When married:

Twenty Seventh August 1885

Name and surname:

Henry Turner                Jane Symons


32 Years                    22 Years


Bachelor                    Spinster

Rank or profession:

School Master

Residence at the time of marriage:

Guiseley                    Truscott

Yorkshire                   Saint Stephens

Father’s name and surname:

John Turner                 Samuel Symons

Rank or profession of father:

Seedsman                    Farmer


Witnesses: Samuel Symons, Jessie Johns


Death certificate


Death in the Sub-district of Leeds East in the County Borough of Leeds.

When and where died:

Seventh February 1940

12 Roman Avenue UD

Name and surname:

Henry Turner




87 years


Schoolmaster, retired.

Cause of death:

I.a. Uraemia

b. Septic bladder

following prostatectomy on 13.9.39.

Certified by C. Marshall, MD.

Signature, description and residence of informant:

Donald Turner



Bilton, Rugby

When registered:

Ninth February 1940


Extract from “Round and About Aireborough”, Vol IV, Martin Rigg, 1992


Henry Turner



Without any doubt this gentleman was one of Guiseley’s notables. Even today he is remembered with considerable affection amongst oldest locals despite his reputation of being “Handy wi't cane”.


Born in 1852 at Wetherby he trained to be a  teacher at the Wesleyan Teacher's Training college in 1873/74. He was head teacher at Deal, Marnington [probably an error for Manningtree] and Launceston where he met Janie Symmonds whom he wed before coming north to take the headship of the Guiseley Wesleyan Day School in 1882. There he remained as head until 1916. He is particularly remembered for his experiments with hot air balloons which consisted of a large

paper bag with cotton wool suspended beneath, soaked in Methylated Spirits and ignited."

He lived at No. 2 Oxford Villas and then in No. 1 which is now the Methodist Manse. He had three children, Winnie, Nellie and Donald. Nellie married Lancelot Daniels whose brother Lorenzo was from 1910-1912 the resident Wesleyan minister in Guiseley. In 1916 Mr Turner sent in his resignation as follows:


September 25th 1916.

Dear Sir...This is to give notice of my intention to retire as Head teacher of the above school (Guiseley Orchard Street) on 31st December. Please inform the education committee. I  take this opportunity of cordially thanking the sub-committee and yourself for the very kind consideration they and you have shown me during many years past. Yours Faithfully, Henry Turner.


Some interesting information can be gleaned from another newspaper report on his resignation.


In addition to his scholastic duties Mr Turner held various offices in the Township of Guiseley. He is one of the Trustees for the Wesleyan property in Guiseley and for many years acted as secretary to the trust. He has been a  local  preacher  and  class leader, Sunday School superintendent and teacher for twelve years and circuit steward for Yeadon Wesleyans for almost twelve years. On two occasions he has filled the office of president of the Wharfedale Branch union of Teachers and has occupied a number of other offices.


The report then goes on to highlight a few interesting educational statistics:


In 1882 when Mr Turner took charge at Guiseley, there were 218 scholars on the register and since then 2425 have been added to the mixed department (about 71 per annum) which consists of eight years old and upwards. The quality of his teaching is shown by the fact that since 1895

no fewer than 63 county minor scholarships have been won by his scholars - an average of three per year. One of these scholarship-holders who gained his in 1905 has quite recently become a wrangler [holder a double first degree in mathematics] at Cambridge University.


In the report Mr Turner reflected upon the change in educational methods. Seen by our representative, Mr Turner remarked that during the time he had been at Guiseley, great changes had been made in the methods of education and in the mode of financing it.


In 1882 he said:


“The system of (so-called) payment by returns was in vogue. Every individual scholar, quick or dull, hale or sickly, must be brought up to a certain standard in the “Three R's” or the government grant for that scholar was forfeited. The requirements of different inspectors were so various that there was constant anxiety and worry on the part of the teachers; and on the part of the scholars they were subjected to a continual grinding and cramming which was not education. On the contrary there was often produced a profound dislike for books and figures. So difficult was the task of maintaining the schools that boys and girls of thirteen of fourteen years with no previous training in teaching were put in charge of classes of thirty to fifty scholars after six hour’s exhausting work these unhappy teachers must spend three or four hours each evening in their own studies.... In 1882 one of the chief features of education was the development of memory and in storing it with a mass of undigested matter which was not all of use in later life... now the chief aim is to develop harmoniously all the powers of the child and a far wider scope has been given to the subjects taken, handwork has also taken

a much larger place. It is found not only to aid skilful manipulation but to arouse interest, to  aid  the  understanding and brighten the intelligence. More attention is given to the health of these children, to ventilation, cleanliness, physical exercises and organised games. Medical examinations of children is compulsory; a  beginning has been made with school clinics and a school nurse regularly visits the school.”


There were considerable tributes at Mr Turner's retirement. By today’s standards he would have been judged very strict or even harsh, but in his own day he was viewed as very humane and meticulous. From one conversation I had with a senior Guiseley Resident it appears that he had

musical interests and was involved with the Ilkley Music Festivals.


I recall a conversation with the late Annie Wilkinson of Yeadon who was at the school in the senior class at the outbreak of the Great War. She remembered how pupils whose fathers were called-up were singled out and given words of encouragement. Annie was a  weaver for a number of years but later felt a strong pull to go into child care. She started her new career in (I think) Tadcaster and recalled how in her first week she suddenly bumped into Mr. Turner. Rather gingerly she approached him and introduced herself. She was surprised that he remembered her and expressed his best wishes for her new venture. A week later she heard that he was dead.


Following his retirement Mr Turner had taken up residence in Sheffield where his son was at university. Later he returned to Roundhay where he spent the last years of his life. He died in 1940 and his wife three years later. He has direct descendants still resident in Guiseley.