Dr John Sidney Turner, J.P., F.L.S., F.Z.S., M.R.C.S.

Profile of One of the OEMC’s Founder Members

Mr Turner.jpg

Born in Old Shoreham, Sussex in 1843, educated at Merchant Taylor's School and St. Guy's Hospital, this distinguished gentleman had an illustrious career in the field of medicine, becoming House surgeon at Guy's, pro-sector of Anatomy Royal College of Surgeons, Fellow of the Zoological Society, member of the council of the Lister Society, to name just a few of his offices. He specialised in biology and contributed regularly in the chief medical journals of the day.

A practitioner of eminence he was heavily involved in the Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine.

He began showing dogs in 1862, became a Kennel Club member in 1881, committee member in 1886 and its Chairman in 1889, the second in its history, a post he held for 22 years.

During his period of office he did much to advance the sport of dog showing, which he loved so much and advanced the influence of the Kennel Club through public speaking.  As a judge, his opinion was greatly respected and his advice was sought on the difficulties of breeding good Mastiffs. He judged the Kennel Club's 23rd Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, where 50 Mastiffs were present.

In 1883, he was one of the four main founders of our Club and one of the architects of our Breed Standard.

An author of renown, writing in umpteen periodicals for decades, he was the general editor of the Kennel Encyclopaedia and his articles on Mastiffs are still the major reference ideal together with those of his friend Walter Taunton, for those genuinely interested in learning about the breed and breeding for its improvement. The learned articles written by him on the Mendelian theory of breeding still hold true.  His knowledge and expertise was sought after by breeders here and in the States, where the Mastiff was becoming more strongly established.


His celebrated Mastiffs included Champions Beaufort, Hotspur, Orlando, Lady Isabel, Lady Elaine, Seabreeze, Isolde, Ayrshire, plus many more.  Owning large Kennels of Mastiffs for over 50 years, his breeding records are meticulous, in beautiful copperplate handwriting, with every detail of the dogs written down, including height, weight, length, head circumference, length & depth of muzzle, width of skull, tail length, girth, leg circumference and faults.

Ch The Lady Isabel.jpg

He had great skill in modelling dogs in wax, which he subsequently cast in bronze.  The passion he felt for dogs led to him becoming Vice-president of Battersea Home for Lost Dogs and Chairman of the Society for the prevention of Hydrophobia.

He was chosen to stand for the by election in Dulwich for the Conservatives in 1910, but stood down in favour of Mr Bonar Law.

During the First World War he was also Chairman of his local Military tribunal.  His Mastiffs Lady Isabel and Beaufort were often used for many advertisements, especially on the cigarette cards that later became collectables. 

Written by Sian Pass for The AW TML 2015