The history and families of Turvey in Bedfordshire, England

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John Higgins of Turvey

Turvey Abbey Higgins

John Higgins of Turvey Abbey

1768 - 1846

The nephew and heir of Charles Higgins of London. Became Lord of the Manor of Turvey with his inheritance.  He was a County Magistrate and Deputy-Lieutenant and then High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1801.

Turvey Abbey

He was a talented water colour artist and painted some lovely scenes of the village, such as this picture of his home, Turvey Abbey.  Some were lithographed and sold to the villagers.  

His wife was called Teresa. They had two sons, Charles Longuet Higgins who inherited the Abbey and Lord of the Manor title, and Rev. Henry Hugh Higgins who was an eminent naturalist.  He also had a daughter called Mary (bapt 1808) who married Rev E.H. Steventon and went to live in Southborough, Tunbridge Wells.

In 1829 he conveyed 13 acres of land, called ‘Ball’s Pasture’, in trust for the Sunday School.

For many years John kept a large notebook in which he recorded local and national happenings, thoughts, poems and illustrations. He called it “The Turvey Scrapbook”.

Both John and Theresa died in 1846 and are buried in the family mausoleum in Turvey churchyard.

Click to enlarge the photograph.

The Life of John Higgins

1768 - born

1781 - John first sees Turvey Abbey

1787 - first meets William Cowper the poet

1791 - death of his mother, Mary

1792 - uncle Charles Higgins dies, inherits           Turvey Abbey

1801 - High Sheriff of Bedfordshire

1806 - son, Charles Longuet, born

1808 - daughter, Mary, born

1829 - began the Sunday School

1846 - John and Theresa both died

He met the famous poet, William Cowper in early 1787 and soon became very good friends with him, even liasing with Cowper and his banker, Joseph Hill.

In a letter dated 27 March 1791, and sent to his dear friend Lady Hesketh, Cowper writes By the next Hall-cart I shall send you two very neat Landschapes [sic] by our Weston artist, which I beg you to get framed and glazed for me. We both agree that you can send him nothing better than a waistcoat.- referring to John Higgins.

John Higgins made a drawing of Cowper’s profile from a shadow picture in early 1791.  

Higgins remained fond of Cowper, who died in 1800,  and always wore some of his shoe-buckles that he had managed to obtain in 1826.

In 1829 he conveyed 13 acres of land, called  Ball s Pasture , in trust for the Sunday School.