Daniel TURNER (1710–1798)
Baptist Minister, Theologian, Hymn Writer
35 Ock Street, Abingdon
Daniel Turner was born near St Albans in 1710. After preparation for the ministry by Philip James of Hemel Hempstead he made his reputation as a preacher and in 1741 became the minister of the Baptist church in Reading. He transferred to Abingdon in 1748 and remained minister there until his death fifty years later. He built the Baptist congregation up to over 300 and was known as ‘Good Mr Turner’.
He was one of the pre-eminent non-conformist ministers of his generation. He passionately argued for the ‘open table’ allowing Christians of all traditions to celebrate communion together, anticipating the ecumenical movement by over a century. A prolific author, pamphleteer and hymn writer, he compiled one of the first Baptist hymn books, and wrote many works of theology such as the influential Compendium of Social Religion. He was a friend and correspondent of other leading dissenters such as the great hymn writer Isaac Watts. The liturgy composed by him in the study at Ock Street is still used in the Baptist communion worldwide. He is thought to have been awarded an honorary MA by the Baptist College of Providence, Rhode Island.
He was interested in education. Earlier he had kept a boarding school in Hemel Hempstead and in 1781 he had plans to set up an academy near Oxford for the children of dissenters. Works on English grammar were among his publications.
He was twice married and had two sons. He died in 1798 and was buried in the Baptist graveyard in Abingdon. His memorial inside the church describes him as ‘a poet, a scholar and a Christian’.
- Sources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, article by S. L. Copson;
Abingdon Baptist Church; A Sweet and Hopefull people – the story of Abingdon Baptist Church by Revd Michael Hambleton
- Pictures: Unveiling ceremony and The Revd Michael Hambleton after unveiling the plaque
The plaque was unveiled at 35 Ock Street on Sunday 17 July 2011 by the Revd Michael Hambleton, previously Baptist Minister in Abingdon.
Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board
Abingdon Baptist Church