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 short biography on Turpin in German: 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
Quartus said ...
An extract from a private letter written by W. T. Turpin to a dear brother:

47 Upper Grosvenor Road,
Tunbridge Wells,
December 3, 1890.

If Bexhill had dealt with an evil person in their midst, on the ground of either evil doctrine or practice,I should bow, even though I thought them mistaken, but that is not the case; but the unscriptural excommunication of a whole assembly and that unheard.

There are many reasons for my refusal to accept the action of Bexhill in this sad business. I do not say anything about the doctrinal part of it as you have no question on that head. I have no hesitation in saying the whole movement is an ungodly schism, and if I were to walk alone all my life I should never, by God’s help, be found in such an evil confederacy.
Sunday, Feb 19, 2023 : 05:52
Mark said ...

The extract from this letter sheds some light on the reason for WTT leaving "brethren" altogether. It has been said that it was on account of "Ravenism" so-called. Now, it seems not. 

Earlier I asked, 'If it was simply to escape "Ravenism" (so-called), why not go with those that became known as "Lowe" brethren?' This extract indicates the reason why not. 

I am convinced that much of the difficulty lies in his critics being wrong themselves in not a few places, and which must be taken into consideration to understand why Mr Raven worded things in the way he did. 

I quote from one of Mr Raven's letters: "Those who have left make no secret now that the attack was really meant for J.B.S., and unwillingly admit that, as far as the united Kingdom is concerned, it has grievously failed... Some time since I was told by Gibbons of Newport that the result produced on his mind by a conversation with Dr. Rossier was that Lowe's course in England was determined by the fear of having to break with the foreign brothers, for they had pretty well made up their minds to break altogether with England. It is certain that there has long been an unhappy feeling abroad in regard to England. Dr. R. said that they had not translanted anything of J.B.S.'s for twelve years. (Letters of F. E. Raven, New Series, pages 61-63.) 

It would appear to me that what lay behind this "schism" was an adherence by most to their leaders, with complete faith in them and their judgements with regard to the matters concerned. 

Monday, Feb 20, 2023 : 17:53
Dirk said ...
Where does this private letter come from? Has it recently been found? Is it published somewhere? Would be good to have a scan of the original.
Monday, Feb 20, 2023 : 19:16
Tom said ...

The letter of W.T.T. quoted is from 1890, and it was over 5 years later that he left. In that period, F.E.R. went from a relatively obscure 'teacher' to the focal point of the whole company. His errors also multiplied, no doubt made easier with the 'resistors' having left. Also need to remember it was a very different time, with the spread of 'information' far slower than today's world would allow. Added to this, many of FER's errors were introduced in verbal form at various conferences, often met with uproar, but then the controversial remarks removed from the published notes of whichever conference it was, so creating confusion and a difficulty to pin down exactly what he held and taught at any given time.

What convinces me though about WTT's state of mind in 1895 is to read the last few volumes of his periodical, Helops in Things Concerning Himself, both his own writings and the articules he included (e.g. "The Man Christ Jesus"). In fact one of the very last articles published, written by himself, says

"The great aim of the enemy is to induce us to surrender, whatever may be the plea or pretext ; these are various and most skilfully adjusted to the particular time and occasion ; the devil's great effort is to seduce God's people to let go what they have, for something supposed to be far superior ; "clearer light" and "advanced truth" are, alas ! too often the bait that cover his hook." 

Could there have been a simpler or more concise statement on how Ravenism was raveging the Assemblies at that time?

Monday, Feb 20, 2023 : 19:38
Mark said ...

Dirk’s question is relevant in order to assess fully the extract from the "private letter" above . 

Even so, clear enough is Mr Turpin's refusal of Bexhill’s action, and it is this rather than concerns he had with regard to “Ravenism” so called. Mr Turpin did not approve of such an action, and he was not alone in this. 

To say of Mr Raven, “His errors also multiplied,” is to assume that they were indeed errors in the first place. It was a matter for his local assembly at Greenwich, gathered to the Lord's name, with the Lord in the midst, to decide (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:4&13). The judgement then in His name, whatever it be, would be binding universally as bearing His authority, and as having been bound in Heaven. 

The evidence I have found so far is that there was no judgement at Greenwich which found Mr Raven's teachings erroneous, and the extract from the above letter is rather that Bexhill instead acted in a way which Mr Turpin regarded to be “the unscriptural excommunication of a whole assembly and that unheard.” 

As to "many of FER’s errors" is there the concrete evidence available of “two or three” witnesses from among those actually present that such "errors" introduced in verbal form at various conferences “often met with uproar” as so expressed? 

Regarding “controversial remarks removed from the published notes” there is a letter to such effect in the volume of “Letters of F. E. Raven, New Series, pages 146-147.” However, it was not written by Mr Raven but by a Mr Broomhead and inserted by the editor since it supported his own doctrine. However, without the actual words stated by Mr Raven written and approved by him, such a matter remains one of conjecture. 

Hence the “difficulty to pin down exactly what he held and taught at any given time.” With such flimsy evidence, how is it some spread abroad that Mr Raven was an "evil teacher" and would qualify as "an antichrist" as has been expressed elsewhere? 

Monday, Feb 20, 2023 : 22:47
Steve Noble said ...
Unless I have missed it in the thread above, the following letter by FER to G J Stewart (May 1896, New Series) may be of interest: "Things go on in the main quietly in England. There is fellowship, and I think that confidence is gaining ground. The brothers who have been disaffected remain much where they were. W. Turpin has not been to any meeting for some weeks, but has not, I believe formally withdrawn. Those most intimately acquainted with him do not believe that doctrine is the real cause of his disaffection. J.S.O. is much the same -- not happy but finding himself without support among those in fellowship. I fancy that brethren are tired of the matter of Hull. I hear nothing at all of it." (this is just my extract).
Sunday, Jan 14, 2024 : 19:19
Gabriele said ...

Just an appendix to what Steve Noble wrote: George James Stewart (1840–1918), of Australia, initially went with Raven, but later took a stand against him when FER denied the eternal sonship of Christ. As his efforts did not bear fruit, Stewart left the Raven party and in 1910 joined the Glanton Brethren.

The said J.S.O. is James Stewart Oliphant.

Monday, Jan 15, 2024 : 04:15
Syd said ...
I think it a testimony of immense Christian character and fortitude of Mr W.T. Turpin to exit the “Brethren,” and not to give reasons. Once again, the little snapshot on this page of the sad history of division among brethren of that time, is enough to discourage and sadden true servants of God.

The biography of WTT on SoundWords (on this page), is worth reading. The Turpin ecclesiastical ancestry is informative, and was perhaps a factor in Walter’s exodus. In the biography he was profoundly influenced by a Calvinist pastor William Henry Krause at Bethesda Chapel, Dublin (a free church), as a young man. It is said that during his studies at Trinity College, Dublin, he recalled the serious words of this preacher.

According to the biography, Walter left the Anglican Church and joined a meeting of “open brethren” in Glasgow in 1865. Later he moved to Ireland, still among the “brethren.” In 1868 he moved back to Scotland, left the "open brethren" and joined the "closed brethren," “where he became one of the most outstanding personalities.” In 1896 he left the brethren and pastored a small Calvinist congregation at Salem Chapel in Tunbridge Wells for that year. He then went to Eastbourne (East Sussex), where from 1899 to 1914 he was pastor at Emmanuel Church from 1899-1914. The biography records that, "the free, sovereign grace of God of which he had heard in his youth from pastor Krause, became more and more valuable to him in the evening of his life, as he declared a few years before his death.”

Perhaps one may speculate a bit. I don’t believe that WTT was a full-blown Calvinist—scrutinise his writings—and I don’t know what theological leanings there were in some assemblies in Scotland and Ireland at that time. But a form of Arminianism has taken hold in many “open assemblies,” and stems, I believe, from that time (perhaps someone can verify this!) Then, the division and doctrinal squabbles among brethren in the “closed assemblies” surely was a thorn in the flesh of WTT. Did the predictability, liturgical order and confessional style of the Anglican way lure him back to escape the “practice of the brethren” that he had witnessed?

One thing I believe to be certain. Mr Turpin had 30 years of “theological training” from some of the great men of the Word, and this I’m sure he retained, and taught this better way to his congregation during those final years of his life.

This is W.T. Turpin’s page. I would rather freely read his collected writings (on this page) than negotiate through those of Raven. The latter was certainly a true servant of God with immense knowledge of the Scriptures, but alas! one always expects some “strange fire.”
Monday, Jan 15, 2024 : 13:19
Nick Fleet said ...
If I may say, Gabriele, I think you are mistaken in what you say above about GJ Stewart leaving the Raven party over FER's denial of the Lord's eternal Sonship. Actually, it was Charles Webb in 1909 (some 6 years after FER's death) and his being put out of fellowship over it was supported at that time by JT Sr!
Monday, Jan 15, 2024 : 18:16
Gabriele said ...

Nick, I am sorry, if the information about Stewart is wrong. It is given by Ouweneel in his article “Eeuwig zoonschap” (Eternal sonship) on WJO writes:

(2) De dwaalleer dat de Heer Jezus, hoewel van eeuwigheid een Goddelijke Persoon, pas bij Zijn vleeswording de Zoon van de Vader werd, was al omstreeks 1855 in Ierland onder de "Broeders" ingeslopen, maar doeltreffend de kop ingedrukt door het prachtige boek van J.G. Bellett over De Zoon van God. In 1902 kwam de dwaalleer opnieuw naar voren, nu bij monde van F.E. Raven op een reis door Amerika, maar zijn extremistische uitlatingen hierover werden onder de tafel gewerkt (zie hst. 10). In 1909 stak de valse leer voor de derde maal de kop op, en wel in Melbourne bij monde van Ch. Webb. Daar werd de leer krachtig bestreden door G.J. Stewart, echter met weinig resultaat, zodat deze zich met een aantal anderen in 1910 bij de Glanton broeders voegde. Later echter kwam J.S. Giles (zie § 111), die nog krachtiger optrad, met het gevolg dat Webb en de zijnen werden uitgesloten. Een jaar of vijf jaar later beleed Webb zijn dwaalleer, schreef een verontschuldigende brief aan Stewart en werd weer toegelaten in Melbourne.

Monday, Jan 15, 2024 : 22:47
Gabriele said ...

The biography on W.T. Turpin Syd refers to is written by me. You can find it here: For those who don't understand German: The text can be translated using deepL. A more detailed biography is in progress. It will also contain some quotes by Turpin, from which one could deduce why he left the brethren. I am planning to post some quotes in the next few days.

Monday, Jan 15, 2024 : 23:02
Gabriele said ...

W.T. Turpin wrote (in the article “The Lord Jesus Himself”):

May the Lord deliver us from every object that would seek to intrude itself into the place HE HIMSELF ought to have in our hearts! The devil is not wanting in skill and stratagem to draw the minds and affections of the saints to various points which are indeed connected with Jesus, but which are not “HIMSELF,” and to make these (right and proper in their place) the all-absorbing subjects for the mind; and when he succeeds, what is the result? A manifest chill among the saints of God, a coldness which must ever be the consequence of having any object but “HIMSELF” next the heart. (Emphasis in original text)

In 1916, two years after Turpin’s death, the article was published in the periodical of the open Brethren The Witness (ed. Henry Pickering), in vol. 46, p. 89, under the heading “Messages from Well-known Brethren”. Pickering adds an interesting footnote which, although it does not give the exact date of writing, provides information about the circumstances in which Turpin found himself when he wrote his thoughts: His thoughts had been “written in a time of great, spiritual stress and sorrow”. The article has also been published inTruth & Testimony, 1999. The date of first publication is unknown to me.

Friday, Jan 26, 2024 : 03:23
Martin Arhelger said ...

I think this article was first published in "The Evangelist" 1867, p. 136 - 139 and signed simply with "T.".

It was reprinted in "Helps by the Way", New Series 2 (1880), p. 203-206 (signed "W. T. T.").


Friday, Jan 26, 2024 : 07:15
Gabriele said ...

Thank you, Martin, knowing this is very helpful to put it into the right context.

Friday, Jan 26, 2024 : 23:31
Gabriele said ...

To follow up on what Steve Noble said on 2 February 2023 regarding the reasons of Turpin’s departure from Brethren –  There were other very large groups of Brethren at the time that he [WTT] 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 – I found a quote from a friend of Turpin’s from the Anglican Church supporting Steve’s statement:

“He found ... that the ideal which he thought was there was in fact not there. Not finding what he had expected he gave that up.”  (Eastbourne Chronicle,  26 December 1914. From the memorial address by A.C. Tessier, delivered on 23 December 1914 in Emmanuel Church in Eastbourne)

Friday, Feb 2, 2024 : 23:55

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