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
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.
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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