Captain Nathaniel Turner

Captain Nathaniel Turner

Nathaniel Turner lived on Nahant Street and owned the whole of Sagamore Hill. He applied to be admitted a freeman, 19 Oct. 1630, but did not take the oath until 3 July 1632. He was representative in the first seven sessions of the General Court, and a member of the first County Court at Salem, in 1636.
In 1633, he was appointed captain of the militia, and in 1636 and 1637 had a command in several expeditions against the Pequot Indians. In 1637 his house was burned. In 1638, he became a member of the Anciet Artillery Company (he was 12th on the Artillery Roll), and the same year sold his land on Sagamore Hill to Mr. Edward Holyoke, and removed, with others, to Quilipeake, where a new settlement was begun, and called it New Haven (Conn.). His name is preserved in Turner`s Falls. In 1639 he was one of the seven members of the first church at New Haven. In 1640 he purched for the town of Ponus, the Indian Sagamore, the tract of land which now is the town of Stamford, for which he paid in "Coats, shoes, hatchets, & etc." His active and useful life was soon after termated in a melancholy manner. In January, 1647, he sailed for England, with Capt. Lamberton, in a vessel which was never heard from again. Govenor Winthrop informs us that in June, 1648, the apparition of a ship was seen under full sail, moving up the harbor of New Haven, a little before sunset, in a pleasant afternoon, and that as it approached the shore, it slowly vanished. This was thought to have a reference to the fate of Capt. Lamberton`s ship.

The following epitaph was written to the memory of Capt. Turner:

Deep in the Atlantic cave his body sleeps,
While the Dark sea, its ceaseless motion keeps,
While the phantom ships are wrecked along the shore,
To warn his friends that he will come no more.
But He who governs all with impulse free,
Can bring from Bashan and the deepest sea,
And when he calls our Turner must return,
Though now his ashes fill no sacred urn.

In 1639, Capt. Turner, in connection with Rev. Davenport and 4 others, at New Haven, was appointed to "have the disposing of all house lotts, yet undisposed of about this towne, to such persons as they shall judge meete for the good of the plantation; and thatt none come to dwell as planters here without their consent and allowance , whether they come in by purchase or otherwise." In 1640, Capt. Turner, as agent for New Haven, made a large purchase of land on both sides of the Delware River---sufficient for a number of plantations. The purchase was made chiefly with a view to trade, though the establishment of Purtian churches was an object. Trading houses were erected, and nearly fifty families sent out. In all fundamental matters the Delware colonies were to be under the jurisdiction of New Haven. In the same year he made the purchase of the Indian territory of Rippowams-Stamford--as noted by Mr. Lewis, partly of Ponus and partly of Wascussue, another chief. He gave for the whole, "12 coats, 12 hoes, 12 hatchets, 12 knives, 2 kettles, and 4 fathom of white wampum." In a sale to the people of Wethersfield, a while after, the tract was valued at 30 pounds of sterling.
In a list, made in 1643, giving the names of a hundred and twenty-two New Haven planters, with the number of their families, including only parents and children, and the value of their estates, the family of Capt. Turner is put down at seven, and their estate at f800, the latter being as high as any on the list, with the exception of ten.
But the land speculations of New Haven do not seem to have turned out in any degree profitable. The Delware trade was not successful; and the Dutch were troublesome at Stanford. And she seems literally to have struck a vein of ill-fortune, in which she was destined to struggle for some time. It was under a desperate effort to retrive her fortunes, that the planters sent to Rhode Island and had a ship of a 150 tons built, hoping to open a profitable foreign trade.
By joining their means, the planters were able to freight her in a satisfactory manner. Capt. Turner, with 5 others of the principal men embarked, and she sailed from New Haven in January, 1647. Nothing was ever heard either of the vessel or any on board, unless the apparition which appeared in the harbor, the next June, immediately after a great thunder storm, the renowned "phantom ship", be regarded as tidings. Capt. Turner had kept alive his friendship for the people of Lynn, and while "New Haven`s heart was sad," there were many here to mourn his fate.

Source: Three Hundred Colonial Ancestors

It is thought, by some, that Captain Turner was the brother of Humphrey Turner, who with his family, arrived in Plymouth in 1628.