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Updated : 22 Oct 2011
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Matthew Turnbull

Matthew Turnbull

Cornhill Glass Works Sunderland

1859- 1953

Matthew Turnbull was born in 1825 and died on the 22th of November 1893. He was 68 years old .He married his wife Ann Graham in 1851 and after her death in 1858- he married Hannah Burdes in 1866. He is buried at the Marley Plott’s Cemetery Sunderland. Thomas Graham Turnbull his only son was born on the 14TH of Feb 1853 (1853-1937) and took control of the firm after his death in 1893. He lived at 7 View Forth Terrace Fulwell. Matthew Turnbull lived at 11 Fulwell Village with his wife Hannah and they had 2 servants.


Matthew Turnbull started the business in 1859 at Carr’s Hill, in Sunderland, probably as a sole trader. In 1861 Matthew Turnbull was employing 15 people in the Glassworks – 7 men – 7 boys – 1 woman. The company moved to a new site in 1863 at the Cornhill Glass works.


Inside the next ten years the business expanded so that by 1871 Matthew Turnbull were employing 77 people in the glassworks- 30 men- 42 boys and 5 women . In the early 1880’s there was at least two furnaces on the site. Due to the demand for replacement globes (chimneys) for paraffin lamps one furnace was devoted to the production of same. Thomas Graham Turnbull was by now working in the company having served time working as a clerk in a glass manufacturing firm in Gateshead.

1893 -1937

T. G. (Tumbler) Turnbull was now in charge of the business and it expanded and was prosperous.


When Thomas Graham Turnbull died in 1937 his sister Anne Graham Race (1886?-1944) took over the company.


Mr John Howarth and his wife, granddaughter of Matthew Turnbull took over the running of the company during the last 9 years of its life. In 1946 the company was incorporate and was now known as Mathew Turnbull Ltd. The company ceased trading in 1953 . After the company close Mr John Howarth was subsequently joint owner and MD of George Davidson Glass in Gateshead from 1959. His partner in Davidson Glass was Mr Pollock-Hill.

I consider Mathew Turnbull progressive and invocated in their design work: take a look at Stephen and Glen Thistlewood Site. They have been researching the May Day Baskets of Matthew Turnbull for many years.

Mathew Turnbull published a pattern book in 1929. The company designed and manufacture Royal commemoratives. One piece- The Queen Elizabeth 11 Coronation bowl is on display at the Sunderland Museum glass collection. This was made before the factory closed in 1953.

During the firms time in business they registered the following designs number that is 15 design registration numbers between 1879 and 1898. Obviously more will surface in time.

Registration Number Date & Year
338093 – P7 11- August 1879
111661 19-October 1888
117815 21- January 1889
119318 9- February 1889
127515 2- June 1889
127516 2- June 1889
143884 11-Febuary 1890
145008 28-Febuary 1890
169410 9-April 1891
208367 1- March 1893
213374 10-June 1893
219638 04-October 1893
233062 30-May 1894
245720 10-December 1894
250515 02-March-1895


They were dependant on F. W. Woolworth & Co, Ltd for their survival and lost the contract in 1953 and ceased trading.

This is the last known advertisement for Matthew Turnbull Ltd which appeared in the POTTERY GAZETTE AND GLASS REVIEW in 1951.


We can see from the advertisement that they produced ornate domestic pressed glass ware for everyday use. This advertising may include all the patters that they were manufacturing before they closed down. We can see pattern no 105 in the advertisement. This was introduced to the market place in 1928. It is similar to the Bagley’s Glass Registration Number 698049 May 1923(Queen’s Choice). It is an interesting pattern that was made in a Quart Jug –Round Dish – Oval Dish –Salad Bowl – Plain Vase – Celery Vase –Sugar Basin with Foot – Flat Base Sugar Basin –Creamer with Foot – Flat Base Creamer. There was 10 different items made with the same pattern. Hey Presto I finally found an id for my Thistle Butter Dish. Any-how if pattern number 105 was produced in 10 different items this means that pattern number 504 may have a similar number of items

I have come across an advertisement from 1948 in the POTTERY GAZETTE AND GLASS REVIEW by Jules Lang & Son .Hey Presto there is a picture of Matthew Turnbull pattern 504 .The patterns is called The Windsor Suite.



The Winsor Suite is interesting in the sense that it begs one to ask the question. What became of the moulds after the closure of Matthew Turnbull ltd in 1953?


Thomas Turnbull-1832

The popular belief is that the Turnbull Family were involved in Wear Flint Glass Company, at long last we find Thomas Turnbull in the partnership of the Deptford Flint Glass Works with William Booth – see below Notice from the London Gazette, 1832. Thomas Turnbull is the father of Matthew Turnbull Ltd, Cornhill Glass Works Sunderland (1859 – 1953).

NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership here to

Subsisting between and carried on by us, as Flint Glass-

Manufacturers, at Deptford, in the County of Durham, under the firm of Booth and Company, has this day been

Dissolved by mutual consent; as witness our hands the 18th day of September 1832.

William Booth.

John French.

William Wilkinson.

Thomas Turnbull.

William Ferry

Thomas Turnbull- 1836

It is interesting that Thomas Turnbull with John Booth was involved in partnership with William Ferry at Carr-Hill, trading as Flint Glass Manufactures under the style of Ferry and Company. The company was declared bankrupt in 1836.

John Booth was at one time the Manager of the Union Flint Glass Manufactory at Bromley. He is probably the brother of William Booth. He is listed in 1842 as living at Stuart Street Spitalfields an agent for William Booth glass at Deptford.


1841 Census

Church Street, Deptford, Township of Bishop Wear Mouth, Sunderland, Co. Durham

Thomas Turnbull Senior (Grandfather Thomas Graham Turnbull) age 58 Glassmaker was married to Mary age 49. They had 5 children

George, 17, Glassmaker - born about 1824

Matthew, 16, Forge man, born 1825

Isabella, 13, born about 1828

James, 6, born about 1835

Mary, 2 born 1837.

We can see that Matthew Turnbull was involved in the glass industry at an early age.

1891 Census

Matthew Turnbull’s son (Thomas Graham ) was married to Elizabeth Ann Morgan and they had four daughters Meta age 9 –Elizabeth age 8 – Hannah age 6 and Doherty age 1. They had 4 servants. This is an indication that the business was prosperous. They had previously lived with Matthew Turnbull’s brother George at 52 High Southwick Sunderland. One of Thomas Graham daughter’s (Elizabeth or Hannah) was involved in operating the business during 1944-1953.

The Turnbull Clan believe;

I will add more information as it becomes available. If you wish to make a contribution in lieu of credit - please e-mail me at

References used:

Turnbull Clan Genealogy Collection

English Pressed Glass 1830-1900 Raymond Slack

ISBN 0-7126-1871-6

I wish to thank the librarian in Trinity College Dublin Ireland for given me access to the resources in the library.

See web link below

There is a large collection of goods book in the library on English Pressed Glass including the POTTERY GAZETTE AND GLASS REVIEW which I have use for some references.

POTTERY GAZETTE AND GLASS REVIEW in 1970 - it became Tableware International.

I also had some help from


The best reference book on Davidson Glass with 1 page on Mathew Turnbull LTD

Davidson Glass A History available from Chris and Val Stewart

Bagley Glass by Angela Bowey, Derek & Betty Parsons. ISBNO – 473 – 09836/9

Glassmaking on Wearside.

[Newcastle upon Tyne] ([Sandyford House, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 1ED]): Tyne and Wear County Council, 1979.


Copypyright: Thomas Joyce 2010

May Day Basket-pattern number 480
© Copyright. Thomas Joyce 2009.