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Turnbull Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: I SAVED THE KING

Let me share with you the intriguing history of your family, the Turnbulls, which is shrouded in a fascinating legend of its beginnings. As recounted by the sixteenth-century historian Hector Boece, a man named Rule from the Borders region once intervened to save Robert the Bruce from an enraged bull. This heroic act led the king to bestow upon him the name Turnbull and reward him with lands, aptly named ‘Bedrule.’ It’s interesting to note that in Teviotdale, the name is often pronounced as Trumell, possibly hinting at its derivation from the Old English ‘Trumbald,’ meaning strong or bold. The family coat of arms, featuring three bull’s heads, carries a playful pun on the name.

Your family, the Turnbulls, held sway over various lands across the Borders. As early as 1315, William Turnbull received a charter from Robert the Bruce for land near Philiphaugh. Similarly, John Turnbull was granted the lands of Hundleshope by David II. The Turnbulls became known as one of the most spirited families in the Borders region. Just before the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333, a daring Turnbull, accompanied by a formidable mastiff, challenged the English host to single combat. This audacious move, unfortunately, led to his downfall. Sir Robert Benhale accepted the challenge and, despite his smaller stature, managed to sever Turnbull’s left arm and swiftly follow it with his head.

In the annals of your family’s history, there’s John Turnbull, nicknamed ‘out-with-sword’ due to his fierce temperament. He found himself listed as a Scottish prisoner of war in England around 1400. Another prominent figure was William Turnbull, who held a papal appointment in 1433 and was recorded as a canon of Glasgow Cathedral in 1452. The influence of your family extended even to education, with Stephen Tournebulle representing Scottish interests at the University of Orleans in the sixteenth century. The name William Turnbull appears again, this time associated with Bishop of Glasgow, who secured a papal charter to establish the University of Glasgow in 1450. Today, the university proudly displays Turnbull’s arms on its tower.

Your family’s legacy also ventured across oceans. William Turnbull, born in Midlothian in 1820, made his mark as a distinguished American ornithologist in the nineteenth century. Herbert Turnbull, a mathematician who passed away in 1961, significantly advanced the field of algebra. And from the art world, William Turnbull, born in Dundee in 1922, left a mark as a celebrated sculptor and painter. His work graced prestigious exhibitions, etching his name in creative history.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: I SAVED THE KING

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