Brethren Archive

Walter Thomas Turpin

Born: 1834
Died: 20th December 1914
Appears in Glenny / Raven / Reynolds / Turpin Family Tree

Death Location
Eastbourne, East Sussex, England

Intro, Biographical Information, Notes etc:

A detailed biography is in progress.

Biographical Data

Kindly provided by Gabriele Naujoks


Joshua said ...

Apart from the short comment in Neatby , are there accounts as to why Turpin went back to Anglicanism?

Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023 : 10:22
Mark said ...

Could it have anything to do with all the bickering and squabbling among those known as "exclusive brethren" at the time? According to Neatby, it would appear so, although he regards WTT's departure from "brethren" merely from an anti-Raven standpoint. 

If it was simply to escape "Ravenism" (so-called), why not go with those that became known as "Lowe" brethren? Only he knows maybe, and we cannot ask him (!), but a number were leaving the "exclusives" and making their way to the "open" brethren. 

Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023 : 17:03
Tom said ...

It is a while now since i looked into this, but my conclusion reading the last volume of Helps in Things Concerning Himself:, was that WTT had become increasingly concerned about the direction the teaching (led by F.E.R.) was heading. However I fully admit my own bias, and I'm aware there are others more favourable to F.E.R. who believe this had nothing to do with it - in fact if you search for Turpin on this page there is a claim by a family member to that extent. One deeply versed student of Brethren history told me that he believed WTT returned to be a clergyman as he needed the income that position would give him. Again I have seen no proof though.

Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023 : 23:42
Steve Noble said ...
I find it doubtful that WTT left the Brethren because he ‘needed the money’. As Neatby observes (p272-274), it was possible to ‘live by faith’ among Brethren, and WTT clearly had a gift that would attract financial support. If he disliked the trends in Ravenism, then (as others have said) there were other very large groups of Brethren at the time that he could have identified himself with. The fact that he did not do so, suggests a more deep-seated disillusionment with the movement as a whole. Indeed, to re-embrace clericalism implies that he re-evaluated what caused him to join the Brethren in the first place (anti-clericalism is such a fundamental tenet of the Brethren that it is hard to imagine that this did not form part of his reasons for originally quitting clericalism). Incidentally, many others have taken the same path of going back on what they formerly held, and at least part of the reason has to be that faith is invested in a ‘group’ of people rather the Word of God.
Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 : 03:48
Mark said ...

We may never know the reason why Mr Turpin returned to Anglicanism, but a "more deep-seated diillisionment with the movement as a whole" is not outside the bounds of possibility. 

The value of Brethren Archive is that now, long after the dust has settled, is a means to study documents written at the time objectively. However, much  regarding the "Raven controversy" is one-sided in that, unless the volumes of his ministry, that of his letters, and the notes of the readings and addresses at Quemerford are available, the only evidence is the writings of his critics. 

Interestingly, at one point Mr Raven wrote, "I had learnt by bitter experience the use to which expressions taken out of their connection could be turned." (Letters of F E Raven, New Series, page 39.) 

Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 : 05:14
Jonathan said ...
FER's writings are publicly available - link below, for example - and I do not think that it is a lack of availability of his writings that led (and still lead) many to conclude that he was in error. I can see no profit in adding his writings en masse to this archive - though that is a decision for the webmaster of course.

Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 : 18:07
Mark said ...

Indeed, there are twenty volumes of Mr Raven's ministry and a volume of his letters available for anyone to read on line or purchase if they so wish, but it cannot be expected that everyone read through and study them all. 

In fact, the volumes of his ministry are taken from notes of readings and addresses, rather than having been written by him. The volume containing his letters are his writings of course. 

However, many of the references to Mr Raven in historical documents are found in books published and printed some 120 years ago, but might now be so easily found in the New Series, though many are placed in date order if that is known. The index volume might help to find the subject matters in question.

The point is that the actual notes of the relevant readings or addresses having come in for criticism, condemnation even, need to be identified, read in their context, carefully examined, and the arguments against him not used to interpret what Mr Raven meant by what he said. 

As stated by another above, however, the real source of the controversy is that of too much faith being placed in a 'group' of people rather than the Word of God. 

This is pertains to matters quite recently also, reading things into some Bible verses and explaining away clear statements in others to suit prevailing notions.

Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 : 18:53
Jonathan said ...
Mark, I do not see any particular evidence that controversy is arising because people are placing faith in groups of people rather than the Word. But I think you ought to be open to accepting that it's possible to read enough of Raven, the history surrounding him and also to examine the consequences that flowed from his teachings, including those he experimented with later in life, to conclude - not because of bias or group-think - that he was indeed in error. I'm not saying *you* have to conclude that, but such is my conclusion, and I do not think I am unduly influenced by group-think to arrive at that point.
Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 : 21:32
Mark said ...

I was quoting another with regard to groups of people, not exactly finding fault with the expression, but because by far the most of those in these "groups" - "parties" might be another word - have to rely very much on the judgement of their leaders. There was in this case not only the question of doctrine but also the manner in which it was handled. 

Now, I am uncertain as to your meaning in writing, "But I think you ought to be open to accepting that it's possible to read enough of Raven, the history surrounding him and also to examine the consequences that flowed from his teachings, including those he experimented with later in life." I suspect you might mean among those who after 1908 were known as the "London" brethren. If so, I am not so sure that the things which later developed among them can be attributed to Mr Raven. 

The "Glanton" brethren (so-called after the date of the division given this name) have been criticised for not judging "the evil teachings of F E Raven" as some call them. Yet, they have always stood well for the eternal sonship of Christ and list among others Mr Raven as one who held it. Similarly, with regard to Christ's manhood. 

It is not a question of "Glanton" or any others being "the right group" as though there is such a thing, but of finding those who are walking in holiness and truth. That means of course that I must be doing so likewise. 

Everyone in all the fragments of "brethren" thinks they are in the right bit, some even going so far as claiming to be the "primitive company" or that they are the "original brethren" - I thought they lived in the first century ! - but there is something amiss somewhere. 

Matthew 18 verse 20 has been the resource, but it might be said that the Lord's teaching in the chapter as a whole has not been heeded.

Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 : 22:31
Tom said ...
FWIW, FER's 'Ministry' (sic) is not on the website because I don't have any scans of it, rather than that being an editorial decision.
Thursday, Feb 2, 2023 : 22:57
Mark said ...


I doubt if anyone would expect all twenty volumes plus letters of FER be put on the website. 

My point is that those who quote him should quote full sentences, even full paragraphs if necessary maybe, without omissions, or ellipses if there are such. In some instances, questions asked in readings and previous comments of others cited to assess his answers and responses. Immediate context as well as general background are also important to avoid at least misunderstanding and at worst misrepresentation. 

The letters of Mr Raven are of interest since among them are his responses to his accusers. 

It is of no personal gain to me in terms of point scoring as to whether or not Mr Raven is proved right or wrong on everything. Indeed, there are things on which he is not clear, or at least does not express matters clearly, and which could be interpreted as evasive, even erroneous. However, that his critics were never once in error I do not accept, nor can I have it that he qualifies as an antichrist. 

The point is, that at this stage well over a hundred years later, these questions can now be examined objectively from all sides. The idea that an assembly judgement once made, even if proved later to have been entirely wrong, must nevertheless be for evermore upheld everywhere, is taking the matter of assembly administration to an unjusifiable extreme. 

Friday, Feb 3, 2023 : 00:21
Tom said ...

Those hungering for more than the 20 volumes of F.E.R.'s published ministry can now use ChatGPT to generate their very own ... quite indistinguishable from the real thing if you ask me!


(first 2 paragraphs)

Friday, Feb 3, 2023 : 01:05
Rodger said ...
FER’s ministry being so readily available, the only value to adding scans to this site would be if someone has scans of the original Morrish editions. I have been told more than once that there are significant revisions in the Stow Hill (KBT following SH) printings, having to do with statements that run counter to the path the “London party” went down. These would be worth documenting.

But poor WTT has had his page overrun with the never-ending FER controversy! I, for one, have been intrigued for a long time with his return to Anglicanism, and would welcome any hints about why and what his perspective was looking back on his years with “brethren.”
Friday, Feb 3, 2023 : 02:13
Rodger said ...
Also, in addition to Tom’s last comment, there are some *new* volumes of FER, beyond the 20 (+1 Letters) “red books,” available from CD&GP.
Friday, Feb 3, 2023 : 02:16
Nick Fleet said ...

Rodger, many years ago I had a request from a old Glanton brother (now with the Lord) who wanted a particular volume of FER in the Morrish edition. I asked him, "do you think it is significantly different from the Stow Hill edition?". He said, "I do, yes!"

Btw, the original Stow Hill Bible Depot in Newport (Monmouthshire) was contemporary with Morrish at 20 Paternoster Square.  So, even if a book was published by Stow Hill, it may differ from later 'Stow Hill' editons.

Friday, Feb 3, 2023 : 04:17
Mark said ...

The entrance of the "the never-ending FER controversy" came about through having read the short comment in Neatby listed above, viz., "In some cases it was the gradual pressure of Ravenism that forced the malcontents out. Of these lingerers the best known was Mr. W. T. Turpin." 

However, I recommend the link Tom mentions above and to read that said of Mr Turpin found just before arriving half way down the page. Indeed, the whole page is of interest, though there are later developments among the "London brethren" with which I cannot go along. 

The Notes of Addresses at Quemerford have been very much my sources rather than the Stow Hill new series, though these latter do not seem to have gone about removing or modifying Mr Raven's frequent mention of the "Eternal Son." 

Friday, Feb 3, 2023 : 05:09
Steve Noble said ...
I have a complete set of the old Morrish version of Raven which I obtained because I was aware of differences between it and the new series. It would be quite an undertaking to compare the two series but if anyone is concerned about accuracy then they ought to consult the versions published nearest the author's lifetime. A couple of points about the old series might be of interest - the contents are often pamphlets or booklets (sometimes with the original covers) that have been bound together. I am fairly confident therefore that these are the 'original' versions of whatever was printed. The dates are also often given of when published - and as some of these are after Raven's death, he cannot always have had opportunity to revise the 'notes' that were made of his lectures. As for Mr Turpin, he abandoned not just Ravenism, but Brethrenism as a whole. That is a simple fact. As another contributor to this thread has already said, we may never know why. Neatby, being originally a Kellyite (he ended up with Quakers) almost certainly did not have first-hand knowledge of the reasons.
Saturday, Feb 4, 2023 : 01:47
Timothy Stunt said ...
Anecdotal evidence. I was told, many years ago, by the late Professor PhilipMcNair, that when, in 1865, Walter Turpin left the Established Church (in which he had been ordained seven years earlier) his clerical gown remained hanging on a hook on his study door. It was apparently still there thirty years later and available for him to use when he rejoined the Anglican Church in 1896. To be treated with all the caution that anecdotal evidence warrants! Timothy Stunt
Sunday, Feb 5, 2023 : 03:56

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