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Turner's Rage: Chapter One

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James Seymour

03 March 2024, 2:06 AM

Turner's Rage: Chapter OneDive into the world of Gerringong author James Seymour - every fortnight a new chapter

Dedicated to the memory of my Dear friend



Alexander Pinkerton Crawford


1952 – 2017



We miss his wonderful humour, fellowship and fun.


He was a blessing to so many.


We will meet again.




The language used in this story is modern English, with a few hints of the Georgian and Regency eras. The purpose here is to make the novel easy to read – helping everyone with their time management.


The novel is the first in a series of books primarily about William Turner and his adventures as he grows into manhood. While writing the first novel, I found the characters so interesting that there was a need to expand the series so that the Turner family’s life runs in parallel with William. The focus will remain on William, but this first book also aims to fully introduce the characters who create the action and suspense. Each book contains a complete story; the reader will gain a richer experience chronologically following the series.


In this first book, the period from July to November 1826 is covered. William’s large family, which surrounds him, enriches his adventures. This allows exploring several family life issues in and around 1826, defining William’s character and future. While this is a work of fiction, it draws heavily on the history of the early nineteenth century, the rapid expansion of technological change, and the struggle against poverty that threatens all classes of English society.


The period of the novel is only eleven years since the end of the Napoleonic wars. The naval sequences provide an initial opportunity to explore what is happening across the Irish Sea and the coming revolts. The initial discussion is from the English point of view; however, the future books restore the balance with some exciting developments.


The characters surrounding William give us a unique insight into a community that was still traditional despite the changes taking place around them.


I have added a detailed list of characters assisting readers with the large cast.


I hope you enjoy the first book in this series as much as I enjoyed writing it. Keep an eye out for the release date of Book 2 from the publisher.


James Seymour, October 2020.



In 1826, England was in the end years of the first industrial revolution, a time of increasing poverty as the country still felt the effects of the Napoleonic wars. History shows us that slavery was continuing, and Catholic emancipation, while soon to be achieved, did little to help the plight of the Irish. Political unrest in the north of England and Ireland was spreading, and the government carefully guarded against any movements threatening the country's stability.


Members of the aristocracy in the House of Lords were more interested in maintaining their way of life than assisting social change. But change was coming, and many brilliant men in the British parliament worked tirelessly to achieve Catholic emancipation legislated, and the slave trade ended. The Corn Laws, not to be repealed for another twenty years, were a huge concern in the northern industrialised cities. Workers' families were starving because of low wages, excessive rents, and the high price of bread.


The Church of England remained a powerful force in England with many good-natured and well-meaning clergymen. The great evangelical movement commenced and saw the founding of so many missionary organisations, reforming the English conscience. The Church of England and the Methodists were the catalysts for much reform, charity, social justice, and the importance of the family.


Due to the miserable conditions in the industrialised cities, unrest was building. Various groups were fermenting for workers’ rights, and massive rallies were held in the north of England. The government was determined to stamp out unrest, and it was before this time that the transportation of convicts was enacted. Magistrates were not slow in handing down harsh sentences, many for the slightest crimes.


It was a time when women were dependent on their husbands and were denied the right to vote. Women who did not marry usually ended up in the most difficult circumstances of poverty and isolation. In most cases, women who inherited property or money found their wealth transferred to their husbands in marriage. For good reason, we notice the growing disenchantment of women and the seeds of ‘rights for women’ developing.


Significant discoveries were made in medicine, which was still primitive compared to today. Similarly, engineering advances saw experimentation with the refinement of cast iron into steel. The steam engine, which was transforming many industries, saw greater use of robust steel components rather than those made from wood. Companies scrambling for train line routes were changing England’s transport infrastructure forever.


It was ten years before the reign of Queen Victoria, a coming time when the Victorians invented some of the most significant technological changes of all time.


In this setting, we find the Turner family, who, a generation before, depended on a small but successful Guildford bakery business in Surrey. Jonathan Turner, carrying on and expanding the family business, is determined his family will not fall into poverty, no matter the cost.


William Turner, a perceptive and intelligent six-year-old, awakens from his dreams and faces challenges he will only understand in the distant future.

< Turner's Rage: List of Characters >

Keep track of characters here



“With Age Comes Understanding”



July 1826, High Street, Guilford, England


Chapter 1

William pressed his nose against the small bedroom window far above High Street and noticed puffs of mist drifting across the Guildford meadows and disappearing behind the castle ruins. The house was quiet – almost too quiet. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he remembered the horrible scene he encountered last night. A chill came over the boy of six. He dropped back under the blanket stopping the shivers, hiding from the memory that was blazing on his mind.


Opening his eyes again, he noticed his big toe sticking out from under the crinkled blanket. He pulled it under quickly as if a fox chased it. What was his father doing? Why was he beating her? The memory put fear in his heart. He was sure his father saw him peeking around the bedroom door. Would he receive a belting again today?


From downstairs came a muffled cry of alarm. Then footsteps came running up the stairs. His sister, Anne, broke into the room and cried out, “Sim! Quick, run and fetch Doctor Stephens. Mother is very unwell!”


Simeon, waking from a deep sleep, turned over and faced her.


“Hurry! Once you have told Doctor Stephens, run to the bakery and tell father that mother has taken ill. He should return home!”


She stood there, ensuring Simeon was awake. Anne Turner was a thoughtful, quiet girl of seventeen, helping in the house and working mornings at her father’s bakery. Her elder sister Bethany excelled in education and found a position as governess with the Reverend Charles Upton at Woking. With Beth being away, Anne was now the eldest daughter at home and took on more domestic responsibilities. Her mother’s health was slowly fading, worrying both sisters for some time. Anne would advise her sister of the home situation – sending a letter today! She ran back down the stairs.


The moaning cry came again. This time louder, and William was sure it was his mother. He heard Clementine’s alarmed, loud voice, “Simeon, hurry and fetch the Doctor.” 


Clementine was three years younger than Anne and of an age and nature where panic came too quickly. Her voice was loud and usually achieved a quick result, but never calming. This time it worked, with Simeon climbing out of bed half asleep. William’s elder brother by two years was a calm and methodical boy, always sent on missions that needed someone reliable.  


William watched as Simeon stumbled out of bed, pulled on his trousers, then shirt, and flew through the bedroom door, down two flights of stairs and out the front door. He heard Sim ask Anne, “What shall I tell the doctor if…..”. The voices trailed off, and someone quietly closed the front door. 


Pulling on his clothes, William tip-toed down the stairs past the same door he peeped into last night. Sheets and towels covered in blood lay in the hallway. William gasped and suddenly felt sick. He became dizzy as he smelled the blood.


Mrs Jennings, coming through the bedroom door, almost colliding with the boy, noticed his face colour turning white. “Come with me, young William.” The small, thickset housekeeper grabbed him under one arm, the sheets and towels in the other, and struggled down the stairs. She pushed William into the kitchen, seating him beside Madeline.


“Have some breakfast before your father returns!” Mrs Jennings was sympathetic towards William, knowing how unfair the treatment from his father usually was.


“Mrs Jennings, may I see Mother, please?”


“Not now, William. She is unwell and needs rest. The doctor will be here soon, then we will know. Now, please eat your breakfast, as your chores are waiting before school. Reverend Taggart is very particular about the starting time.”


William watched Madeline struggling with four-year-old Marcia Turner. The youngest of the Turner children also asked for her mother and became quite difficult about her food. Madeline, a calm girl who spoke softly, settled Marcia down for breakfast.


The young lad found that his stomach was not ready for breakfast due to the upstairs sights. Last night, his father was angry when William peeped into their room. Safety in his mother’s arms was no longer an option, and the pending return of his father was not a pleasant thought. At age six, he was astute, some would say ‘street smart’, having the perception of an older lad that now warned him of the danger lying ahead.


Pocketing a piece of bread, some cheese and an apple, he darted out the back door, calling Snups, the lolloping family dog who was his partner in adventure. Round the back of the neighbouring houses and down the garden slope towards the river, they galloped. William hated the continual suffering he endured from his father and the consequences that came with it. Whatever happened, father always blamed him and then the belting came. Being out of the line of fire was safer than staying at the table. He made himself scarce and headed for the river. 


While sitting beside her mother, Anne glanced out the window and noticed the little head bobbing behind some hedges. She frowned, immediately recognising William’s mop of dark brown hair and thinking, “This will not go well for William.” As his head moved out of sight, she refocused on her mother and grimaced at the bruising showing on the cheeks and arms.


“Has he been beating you again, Mother?”


Anne’s mother, Eleanora Turner, lay there with her eyes slightly closed, her body shaking. She was tense, exhausted, and in pain. She murmured, “Just call the Doctor, please.” Anne gently held her hand and whispered, “Simeon has gone for the doctor – it won’t be long now.” Anne wiped her mother’s brow with a damp clean cloth. She understood that a married couple would have disputes, but never with such results.


In her mind, Eleanora was miles away – her body floated over the pain as she questioned why her husband was treating her so. ‘I know he loves me dearly, but why does he need union every night? How do I explain that I am no longer able? How do I fulfil my marital duty for him? But I so much need rest.’ Then she felt Anne’s warm, steady hand holding hers and the comfort it brought. “Thank you, Anne, you are such a blessing ………” and she drifted back into sleep again.


Anne’s father, Jonathan Turner, was intelligent but driven by passion and the need for success. His violent rage at times became all-consuming. On occasions, his wife and children felt its full force. He believed punishment for a misdemeanour was always warranted, which was the converse of his children’s thoughts, particularly the girls.


Jonathan was a tough man, coping with volatile times in the early nineteenth century as Britain struggled with the reforms needed for an industrialised society. His business had generated some slight wealth, and the family now benefited. Through foresight and strong management, his bakery was successful. His children were gaining an education and the skills needed for this new century. It was essential for the family’s future that his business continued to grow and build on the progress already achieved. 


After alerting the Doctor, Simeon ran on towards the river. He was now tiring and running out of breath. At the bakery, he found his father and passed on the message. Jonathan was not pleased with being disturbed.


“Are you sure they need me?”


“Yes, Father, mother is very unwell – Anne insists! They also asked that I fetch the doctor.”


Jonathan Turner stared at the boy, considering what action he should take. He was becoming agitated by this unnecessary interruption. His wife was sleeping perfectly well when he left for the bakery at three this morning. He stared at Simeon, who shuffled on his feet, uncomfortable that his father would doubt his word and being eager for some breakfast at home.


Jonathan knew that of all his children, Simeon was trustworthy and reliable – he would not overstate an issue. There was a mountain of work here, but there must be a problem if Anne insisted and had called the doctor.


“Come then, boy - this urgent call must be serious! William is not involved, is he?”


“No, Sir!”


Simeon knew well that William was usually blamed for everything. William, with boundless energy, needed activity all the time. He inherited the attributes of his father - strength, coordination, and a quick mind, but lacked concentration and sometimes displayed his father’s temper. Simeon desired the coordination that William called on naturally, yet he must be happy with what the Lord gave him – as the Reverend Taggart had advised him. William, with his energy, was quite often the one left holding the stick. For this, he suffered greatly at the hands of his father, and Simeon was thankful for being spared this pain.


“Thomas, you best come too, as I might need you running messages. Jeb can take over. We have finished baking, so he can handle the staff. Come on then, hurry up! Oh, please remind Jeb, the stable men must have all the delivery carts ready within the half-hour and the chimney sweeps attend the house once finished here.’


Jonathan Turner moved off towards home with Simeon.


Thomas, Jonathan’s eldest son, quickly searched for and found Jeb. “I must go with father….”.


“I heard! I know the tasks. I’ll get it all going!”


“Thanks, Jeb. Do not forget Slope, the Chimney Sweep!”


Having worked with the Turners for nearly six years, Jeb Hiscock, a tall, lean young man, was skilled at all the jobs in the bakery. He was steady, reliable and street smart, coming from a labourer’s family in Batton Place. Jonathan Turner knew that Jeb would manage the bakery one day, while Thomas might manage another bakery in Woking. The baking business was thriving, the benefits lifting his children above the chains of poverty. Hardened men like Jeb saw the effects of poverty firsthand and desired a better life. Hard work was a quality he would instil in his children if he ever married.


The bakery and store buildings were beside the river near High Street. Jonathan Turner and Simeon walked quickly, and within minutes Thomas was following. The journey home was about fifteen minutes.


Earlier, William emerged from the back of the houses and ran through the long grass on the riverbank. This was an adventure land where his dreams came into being as he and his pirates sailed the seven seas. Here he would play with his mother, brothers and sisters. They would go on conquests, have picnics celebrating pirate victories, and laugh in the sunshine as the river ran its silent course towards the ocean. It was a happy place for him.


William had suffered many a beating from his father. He understood that suppressing a situation was a better option than attracting attention. Unfortunately, being at such a tender age, sometimes the adventure far outweighed the risk assessment, and William landed on the wrong end of his father’s outburst. He was now very wary, which made last night’s scene even more of a burden. Should he confide in either his brother or sisters? Could he talk with his mother? Given the attention she was receiving, they would not let him see her, and even if they did, his father would be there.


Mother was always his confidant. She cuddled him close, reassured him, and never let his father touch him. But his mother was out of reach! He was near bursting point with the burden of what he had seen. Perhaps he should speak with Anne – she always protected him – perhaps!


Terrified of his predicament, he considered a possible escape. Unfortunately, his strategy was a bit lean on detail and might come undone later in the day.


‘I must keep clear until Father eats breakfast. Perhaps then he will not belt me!’ William knew how much his father enjoyed a hearty breakfast. He always seemed more contented after this. A possible short delay before his return home may be prudent.


He sat down on the riverbank with Snups, watching the barges being loaded or untied from their berths and slowly heading off with cargoes for up and down the river Wey. William’s dreams of pirates on the high seas and adventures of fame and fortune took over his thoughts. Picking up a stick, which became a sword, he started fencing and repelling the boarding pirates. Snups jumped up, barking and darting around him, occasionally jumping as his teeth grabbed at the sword. William quickly entered his imaginary world of safety with a little smile appearing on his face. Running around him, Snups yelped for joy.


A light rain was now falling, and as the southerly breeze increased, the temperature dropped a few degrees. Another pirate ship was approaching, but William was shivering from the wet and cold. Perhaps it was time for breakfast. He stood and slowly started walking home. Then, it occurred to him that his mother may be well now. He walked faster.


William was unaware that the footpath from the High Street offered an excellent view of the riverbank. Jonathan Turner glanced sideways and saw William dancing with his stick and a barking Snups darting around him as a barge passed. The tension tightened in Jonathan’s chest as he felt his temper rising. He stopped and took a deep breath.


‘What was Anne thinking letting William out at this time in the morning when he should be taking breakfast, finishing his chores and dressing for school? Why do I waste my hard-earned money on him?’


Jonathan took a deep breath, “Thomas, go and clip his ear and get him into the kitchen. I’ll have some words with him there.”


In Eleanora’s bedroom, Anne continued watching over her mother. She was sleeping but not peacefully and exhibited all the signs of exhaustion. Anne was sure that their mother had been beaten by her father again last night. Unnoticed, Doctor Jeremy Stephens quietly moved into the room. Anne smiled in relief, welcoming their family doctor beside her.


Jeremy Stephens looked down at Eleanora and immediately saw the bruising that was obvious on her cheeks and arms. He frowned, “How did she come by this bruising Anne? It is very recent!”


Anne was aware of her predicament. She went to speak but then closed her mouth. As the emotion stirred within her, tears rolled down her cheeks. She dared not speak out!


Jeremy put his arm around the girl and reassured her that her mother would recover. He gently asked for a towel and hot water. As Anne left the room, Eleanora’s eyes opened and focused on their old family doctor. She smiled in recognition and held out her hand to him.


Jeremy gave her hand a gentle squeeze of affirmation and said, “Now tell me, Eleanora, what has happened here?"¹


¹ Domestic violence is a horrid and vile crime and must never be tolerated or left unreported. It has only been in the last fifty years that western countries have attempted combating and putting in place laws against this scourge. Unfortunately history demonstrates that domestic violence has been used as a method of control through the ages and continues to this day. If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, seek help. In Australia call 1800 RESPECT. In other countries search ‘Domestic Violence Help’ on the web. Most western governments ensure support is available. Do not become a victim – seek help today!