Peter Turner, MD (1542-1614) was a physician and son of William Turner (c.1508–1568). He was born in 1542 and graduated with an MA at Cambridge, then obtained an MD at Heidelberg in 1571 (later “incorporating that degree at both Cambridge and Oxford.
He practised his profession in London and in 1582 was admitted a licentiate of the College of Physicians, although not before he had been fined for practising without the College’s licence. In 1580 he was admitted to the office of physician at St Bartholomew's Hospital, succeeding Dr Roderigo Lopez and being in turn succeeded by Dr Timothy Bright in 1584.
He represented Bridport in several of Elizabeth's parliaments and is said to have been zealous in in the Puritan cause in the House of Commons In 1606 he attended Sir Walter Ralegh in the Tower, and also numbered Ralegh’s friend and associate, Thomas Hariot, and the 9th Earl of Northumberland (‘the Wizard Earl’) among his patients.
He was the author of a pamphlet, 'The Opinion of Peter Turner, Doct. in Physicke, concerning Amulets, or Plague Cakes,' (London 1603). The cakes spoken of contained arsenic and were believed to ward off plague. Turner was also probably author of ‘A Spirituall Song of Praise' appended to Oliver Pygge's ' Meditations,' (1589), a hymn of thanks for England’s deliverance from the Spanish Armada.
He married Pascha, daughter of Henry Parry, Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral, and sister of Henry Parry, Bishop of Worcester. He died in the parish of St Helen Bishopsgate in the City of London on 27 May 1614. Although he had resided in St Helen’s parish for at least 20 years prior to his death, his body was brought to St Olave Hart Street for burial near his father.
Peter Turner’s monument was damaged when St Olave’s was struck by two bombs on 17 April 1941, one of the worst nights of the London Blitz. Although some portions of the monument were recovered when the church was being rebuilt between 1951 and 1954, the effigy of Turner went missing and was not finally restored to St Olave’s until 2011, following a year of negotiation with its then owner, a Belgian antique dealer, who had put it up for auction in 2010.
In 2013, Peter Turner’s monument was partly reinstated, using a mixture of the surviving stone pieces (including the effigy) and new cabinet work, while the monumental inscription, composed by Turner’s episcopal brother-in-law and recorded in the annals of the church, was recreated in gilt lettering on slate by Lucy Haugh. The conservation and cleaning of the effigy and the construction and installation of the new monument were carried out by Colin Bowles Ltd.