Alfred Edward Turner

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Caricature of Sir Alfred by "WHO" in Vanity Fair, 1910

Major-General Sir Alfred Edward Turner, KCB (3 March 1842 – 20 November 1918) was a British Army officer of the late nineteenth century, who served in administrative posts in Ireland.

Early life[edit]

Turner was born on 3 March 1842, the eldest son of Richard E. Turner and his wife Frances (née Johnstone). Richard Turner was a barrister and a bencher of the Inner Temple. Alfred attended Westminster School and then the Addiscombe Military Seminary, entering the Royal Artillery in 1860.

Staff service[edit]

In 1882, Turner was appointed an aide de camp and military private secretary to Earl Spencer, the Viceroy of Ireland; he held the post until 1884, when he was given the position of deputy assistant adjutant-general in the Nile Expedition, for which he was mentioned in despatches. In 1885, he returned to a staff appointment in Dublin, as the assistant military secretary to Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, and the following year was appointed the private secretary to the Viceroy. From 1886 to 1892 he served as a Commissioner of Police in various Irish counties, and was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the civil division.[1]

From 1895 to 1898, Turner was the assistant adjutant-general for the Royal Artillery, for which he was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the military division, and from 1900 to 1904 he was the Inspector General of Auxiliary Forces. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 1902 Coronation Honours list published on 26 June 1902,[2][3] and invested as such by King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace on 24 October 1902.[4] In September 1902 he attended the maneuvers of the 14th German Army Corps at Donau, Oeshingen, attached to the Staff of the 29th Infantry division.[5]


Turner was interested in psychical research and identified as a spiritualist.[6] He was a member of the International Club for Psychical Research.[7]

He attended séances with the materialization medium Cecil Husk. He became convinced that Husk could materialize spirits and defended the medium in various newspaper articles. During one of the séances he stated that he had witnessed the materialization of W. T. Stead.[8][9] Turner also claimed to have experienced apports and spirits in his own home.[10][11]

Later life[edit]

In retirement, he was the chairman of the Alliance Franco-Britannique, a director of the North Borneo Chartered Company and the Manchester North Borneo Rubber Company, and chairman of North Borneo State Rubber. He wrote two books of military history, on Napoleon's invasion of Russia (The Retreat from Moscow and Passage of the Beresina) and on the Franco-Prussian War (From Weissenburg to Sedan), and a volume of memoirs, Sixty Years of a Soldier's Life (1912).[1]


Turner married first, in 1865, (Emma) Blanche Hopkinson. His first wife died in 1899, and on 23 August 1902 he remarried at Battersea to Juliette Elizabeth Marie Whiting, only daughter of Henry Whiting.[12] He died on 20 December 1918, survived by two sons and a daughter.[1]



  1. ^ a b c Who Was Who
  2. ^ "The Coronation Honours". The Times (36804). London. 26 June 1902. p. 5.
  3. ^ "No. 27448". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1902. p. 4190.
  4. ^ "Court Circular". The Times (36908). London. 25 October 1902. p. 8.
  5. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36863). London. 3 September 1902. p. 4.
  6. ^ Turner, Alfred Edward. (1912). Sixty Years of a Soldier's Life. London: Methuen. p. 334
  7. ^ Anonymous. (1911). Union Of Theosophy and Spiritualism. Secular Thought: A Monthly Journal of Rational Criticism in Politics, Science and Religion. 37 (1): 254-255.
  8. ^ Anonymous. (December 15, 1913). Spirits Appear at Seance in London. The Salt Lake Tribune.
  9. ^ Anonymous. (December 15, 1913). Stead's Ghost Floating Around. The Daily Gate City.
  10. ^ Anonymous. (December 14, 1913). Gen. Turner Finds Spirit Medium. Chicago Sunday Tribune.
  11. ^ Anonymous. (December 14, 1913). Says Stead's Spirit Talked With Him: Major-General Turner Declares Journalist's Ghost Described Titanic Disaster. The Sun (New York City).
  12. ^ "Marriages". The Times (36856). London. 26 August 1902. p. 1.

Further reading[edit]

  • "TURNER, Maj.-Gen. Sir Alfred Edward", in Who Was Who (Online ed.). London: A & C Black. 2007.