Major William Echlin Turney (1830 – 1904)
Major William Echlin Turnley was born at Belfast and rose through the ranks to become an officer. He joined the 54th Regiment of Foot at the age of 14 and was promoted to Quartermaster in 1863. He transferred to the 1st Regiment of Foot (the ‘Royal Scots’) in 1871 and became Honorary Major in 1883.
The birthplaces of two daughters flag up some of his postings when in India – Jessie was born at Rourkee about 1862 and Fanny at Beneres (now Varanasi) some two years later.
One of Major Turnley’s most vivid memories must have been as a ‘Sarah Sands’ survivor. ‘Sarah Sands’ was sent to India in 1857 with reinforcements during the Mutiny. Overcrowded and with poor rations, it took two months to travel from Portsmouth to the Cape of Good Hope, where some of the soldiers conducted their own mutiny. In the next stage of the journey, a strong squall carried away the foremast. Then, between Mauritius and Ceylon and in shark-infested waters, the ship – stocked with much gunpowder – caught fire.
In 1891, the Turnley family were living at 29 Chaucer Road, Brixton but in the following year the name William E Turnley made its first appearance at 52 Thurlestone Road in the electoral register. The 1901 census lists him at that address along with his wife Maria (c.1832-1925) and an unmarried daughter Jessie. When Major Turnley was buried at West Norwood cemetery he left effects valued at a total of £395. His widow, and daughters Jessie (48) and Fanny (46) were still living at 52 Thurlestone Road in 1911. The daughter Jessie’s home was still 52 Thurlestone Road at the time of her own death in 1927.