Over the course of his lifetime, Theodore Turley married five women. He and his first wife, Frances Kimberley, were married in their hometown of Birmingham, England in 1821. For a short time in the 1840s, Theodore Turley practiced the early Latter-day Saint system of plural marriage. While living in Nauvoo, Illinois, Theodore married an additional three women, all sisters: Mary Clift, Eliza Clift, and Sarah Ellen Clift. These plural marriages were shortlived. By the summer of 1850, Theodore was thrice widowed and once divorced. He then married his fifth and final wife, Ruth Jane Giles, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Theodore and Ruth spent over twenty years together before Theodore’s death in 1871.
- Frances Kimberley (1800-1847)
- Mary Clift (1815-1850)
- Eliza Clift (1813-1882)
- Sarah Ellen Clift (1817-1847)
- Ruth Jane Giles (1812-1880)
Theodore Turley had about twenty-four biological, adopted, and step-children. All of his wives except his first, Frances, likely had children from previous relationships prior to their marriages to Theodore. (Historical records suggest that a few long thought to be Theodore’s biological children, from plural marriages with Mary Clift and Eliza Clift, likely had other fathers.)
We are aware of at least ninety-five grandchildren for Theodore Turley from his five wives.1 The vast majority of Theodore’s posterity descend from his first wife, Frances Kimberley, but each of Theodore’s five wives have living descendants today.
Parents and Siblings
Theodore Turley was the fourth of nine children born to William Turley (1770-1841) and Elizabeth Yates (1775-1848) of Birmingham, England. Theodore was the oldest son of the family. Only one other brother, John Turley, grew to adulthood. Two brothers died as teenagers: William and Frederick. All five of Theodore’s sisters grew to adulthood and married: Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Sophia, Ann, and Charlotte Bradbury. Family members will recognize many of these given names, as they were reused often in later generations of Theodore’s family.
Theodore’s family members appear in the journals of several Latter-day Saint missionaries who served in England in the 1840s. These family members, in both Birmingham and London, assisted the elders even though they didn’t necessarily embrace the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Theodore’s missionary journal is the source, in fact, of much of what we know of his family in England.
The Turley surname is common in the West Midlands of England where Theodore was born and appears in England itself back to the time of the crusades. What we know of Theodore’s ancestry on both his maternal and paternal lines appears to remain in the West Midlands for several hundred years.