James Turner

10th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1802 to 1805

Date Born: December 20, 1766

Date Died: January 15, 1824

Place Born: Bute County, NC

Place Buried: Bloomsbury Plantation in Warren County, NC

Residence: Warren County, NC

Occupation: Farmer


James Turner was born on December 20, 1766 in Bute County, NC, the son of Thomas and Rebecca Turner. James Turner received little education in local academies. By 1790, James Turner had twenty slaves on two plantations: Bloomsbury near Warrenton in Warren County, and Oakland near Williamsborough in Granville County, North Carolina.

At fourteen (14) years old, he served as a Private under Capt. John Macon, Maj. Agrippa Nichols, and Col. Thomas Eaton in the Warren County Regiment of Militia. Capt. John Macon and Maj. Agrippa Nichols are known to have served at the battle of Camden, SC (8/16/1780), where Capt. John Macon was captured by the British and subsequently paroled. It is very possible that James Turner was at this engagement, but there is no definitive proof thereof.

In 1783, James Turner married Mary Anderson of Warrenton, and they had four children. She died in 1802. In 1803, he married a second time, to Anna Cochran. They had no children and she died in 1806. In 1810, Turner married a third time, to Elizabeth Johnston, widow of Dr. William Johnston, and they had two daughters.

In 1798, James Turner was first elected as one of two men to represent Warren County in the House of Commons of the:
- 23rd General Assembly that met in 1798
- 24th General Assembly that met in 1799
- 25th General Assembly that met in 1800

In 1801, James Turner was first elected to represent Warrent County in the NC Senate of the:
- 26th General Assembly that met in 1801
- 27th General Assembly that met in 1802

In 1802, the General Assembly elected John Baptiste Ashe as the next governor of North Carolina, but he died before taking office. James Turner was their next choice and he took office on December 6, 1802. He was re-elected to two more terms and left office on December 10, 1805.

When Montford Stokes declined to serve after having been elected, the General Assembly elected James Turner to the U.S. Senate on November 21, 1805. Turner resigned as governor to join a Washington delegation from North Carolina dominated by Nathaniel Macon, then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Turner embraced the Louisiana Purchase and staunchly supported the conduct of the War of 1812.

When he was unable to leave for the session of 1816, Senator Turner sent a letter of resignation, dated November 21, 1816, to Governor William Miller. With his public career over, James Turner retired to his Bloomsbury estate where he died on January 15, 1824, and where he was subsequently buried.


James Turner (20 December 1766 -- 15 January 1824) was the Democratic-Republican governor of the state of North Carolina from 1802 to 1805. He later served as a U.S. Senator between 1805 and 1816.

Turner was born in Southampton County, Virginia; his family moved to Warren County, North Carolina in 1770. Raised in a family of farmers, Turner served in the North Carolina volunteer militia in 1780.

In 1798, Turner was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons; he served there from 1799 to 1800, and served in the North Carolina Senate from 1801 to 1802. In 1802, the General Assembly elected John Baptista Ashe governor, but he died before he could assume office; Turner was chosen in his place and sworn in on 5 December 1802. He served the constitutional limit of three one-year terms and, at the end of this time as governor, was named to the U.S. Senate.

Turner served as a U.S. Senator for eleven years, re-elected to a second term in 1811 and resigned due to ill health in 1816. During his time in office, he supported the administration of President James Madison during the War of 1812.

Turner was married three times; first to Marian Anderson in 1793 (they had four children), then to Ann Chocran in 1802, with no children, and finally to Elizabethg Johnston in 1810 (resulting in two children). Turner died in 1824 and is buried on his "Bloomsbury" plantation in Warren County.


James Turner was born in Southampton County, Virginia on December 20, 1766. After his family moved to North Carolina, Turner attended the common schools of Warren County. During the Revolutionary War he served briefly in the Warren County militia in the 1781 campaign under fellow future governor Benjamin Williams. Turner first entered politics as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, a position he held from 1797 to 1800. He also served in the North Carolina Senate from 1801 to 1802. Turner next won election to the governorship in 1802. He went on to win re-election annually until 1804. During his tenure, a border disagreement with Georgia was dealt with; and a public school system was proposed that would be financed by state revenue. After completing his term, Turner served in the U.S. Senate, an office he held from 1805 to 1816. Governor James Turner passed away on January 15, 1824, and was buried on his Bloomsbury estate in Warren County, North Carolina.

<< Last Governor - Benjamin Williams    

 Next Governor - Nathaniel Alexander >>



© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved