Edward Turberville

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Edward Turberville or Turbervile (c. 1648 – 1681) was a Welsh informer, who perjured himself in support of the allegations of a Popish Plot.


His father was from Sker, Glamorganshire. Edward Turberville, a younger son, was brought up a Roman Catholic, his elder brother Anthony being a monk at Paris. He entered the family of Lady Molyneux, daughter of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Powis, and remained in the household until the close of 1675. It was then proposed that he should become a monk himself, but once over the Channel he took service as a trooper in the French army, receiving his discharge at Aire[disambiguation needed] after six months' service in August 1676. After this he went to Douai to the English College, and then to Paris.

He later alleged that in Paris he had he met William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford and was prompted by him to return to England with a plan of killing Charles II. This story he first told at the bar of the House of Commons on Tuesday, 9 November 1680, when the House were hearing any evidence that might be forthcoming against the five popish lords. Another witness William Bedloe having recently died, anxiety was expressed as to Turberville's safety, and, as a measure of precaution, application was made to the king to grant the witness a general pardon for all treasons, crimes, felonies, and misdemeanours that he might have committed. 'The Information of Edward Turbervill' had been printed by command of the House. In December Turbervill gave evidence at the trial of Lord Stafford. His dates differed materially from those printed in the affidavit; and he swore that Stafford was suffering from gout at the time of their interviews, whereas it was shown that Stafford had never been so afflicted. It was not known to the court, but when Turberville was converted to Protestantism he expressly told William Lloyd that, apart from vague rumours, he knew nothing whatever of the details of Catholic intrigue. Early in 1681, after Stafford's execution, one of Turberville's friends, John Smith, who was also well known as an informer, wrote a vindication of his evidence called 'No Faith or Credit to be given to Papists ' (London, 1681).

After the trial of Edward Fitzharris, Turberville read the straws in the wind, which was shifting against the extreme Whigs and the credibility of the Plot. On 17 August 1681 he felt constrained to give evidence against Stephen College in opposition to his old ally, Titus Oates. He was one of the eight witnesses against Shaftesbury at his trial on 24 November 1681. A few days later he fell ill of smallpox, and died on 18 December, attended on his deathbed by the rector of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, Thomas Tenison. He made no confession of his perjuries.