He was born at Bere Regis in Dorset, a younger son of John Turberville and his wife Isabella, daughter of John Cheverell. John was a great-grandson of Sir Robert Turberville (d. 6 Aug. 1424) of Bere and Anderston. Sir Payn de Turberville, lord of Coity Castle in Glamorgan, was one of the legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan who conquered Glamorgan under Robert FitzHamon (d.1107), Lord of Glamorgan. The Turberville family held the manor of South Molton in Devon in the mediaeval era.
James was educated at Winchester College, and in 1512 was elected fellow of New College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. on 17 June 1516 and M.A. on 26 June 1520. He graduated D.D. abroad, but was incorporated on 1 June 1532. From 1521 to 1524 he filled the office of 'tabellio' or Registrar of the University of Oxford.
In 1529 he resigned his fellowship, being then promoted to an ecclesiastical benefice, and in 1541 he became rector of Hartfield in Sussex. On 8 September 1555 he was consecrated bishop of Exeter as successor to John Voysey. According to John Hooker, Turberville was concerned in the execution for heresy of Agnes Pirest, burned at Southampton.
In Elizabeth I's initial parliament he opposed the bill for restoring tenths and first-fruits to the crown, as well as other anti-papal measures. In 1559 he declined the oath of supremacy, and in consequence was deprived, a fresh congé d'élire being issued on 27 April 1560. On 4 December 1559 he joined the other deprived bishops in a letter of remonstrance, and on 18 June 1560 he was committed for a short time to the Tower of London. He was afterwards placed in the custody of Edmund Grindal, bishop of London, and liberated by order of the privy council on 30 January 1565 on sureties for good behaviour. The rest of his life was passed in retirement, and he died at liberty, it is said, in 1570.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Turberville, James". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
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