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Turnbull


The Turnbulls were known as a warlike, nuisance Border clan. They did however produce a few worthwhile individuals. After serving as Archdeacon of St Andrews and Lord Privy Seal, William Turnbull was Bishop of Glasgow 1448-54. William Turnbull (1729-76) was a notable physician. Thomas Turnbull (1824-1908) was an architect in San Francisco and then in New Zealand.

Legend has it that Robert the Bruce was saved from a wild bull by a man named Rule or Roull by holding on to its horns and wrestling it to the ground. For this act he was rewarded with the lands of Bedrule, Teviotdale, and he took the name of Turnbull.


This information kindly provided by Sandy Turnbull of Australia

Hector Boece in his History of Scotland, tells of the legend that William Rule saved King Robert Bruce (Robert the Bruce) by wrestling a charging bull to the ground in the Caledon woods. As a reward for his feat, William was awarded rich lands and became known thereafter as TURN-E-BULL.

Although there is a counter-claim that Turnbull is a derivation of Tumbald, meaning 'Strong and Bold', the name had never been recorded before 1315, when a charter granted William Turnebull estates in Philliphaugh, located on the Scottish/English border. From this time, mention of the Rules diminished and the new name of Turnbull rose.

One of the more infamous of the Turnbull clan was John, lord of Minto, nicknamed "out with the sword" because of his fiery temperament. He was taken prisoner in 1399, and imprisoned in the tower of London until 1413. He was later killed supporting the French in 1424 during the battle of Cravat.

William Turnebull, on the other hand, lost his life in 1333 at the battle of Halidon Hill. Historians tell of how he stood before the English army, with a mastiff dog by his side, challenging any of the English to single combat. Sir Robert Benhale, an English Knight accepted, slaying the dog, removing one of William's arms followed by his head.

The Turnbulls became well known for their misdoing and their name frequently appears in Pitcairns Criminal Trials. Their reputation for unruliness and disrespect for authority was so great, that in 1510 two hundred Clansmen were arrested by officers of King James IV and forced to stand before him wearing linen sheets, swords in hands and halters around their necks. Some of them were eventually hanged while others were imprisoned.

The mercenary tactics of King James caused many of the Clan to flee. Some went to Europe and joined mercenary bands, while others went further North.

The Turnbull castles comprised of Barnshill, built in the sixteenth century near the base of Minto Crags and Bedrule, in the Rule Valley which was destroyed by the English in 1545. They also held Fulton Tower, on the right of of the Rule Water and Minto Estates. These lands eventually came in possession of the Elliots.

The Turnbulls owned Philiphaugh estates in the Ettrick Forest for 300 years. The Murrays aquired part of these lands through marriage, followed by the remaining lands in 1572 when the last of the Turnbull Chiefs died. Today there are an estimated 750,000 Turnbulls throughout the World.

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