Dr. Peter Turner


Peter Turner (Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, United States; September 2, 1751; - East Greenwich, Kent County, Rhode Island, United States; February 14, 1822) was a medical surgeon who served in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment of the Continental Army under General James Varnum and Colonel Christopher Greene, as well as on General George Washington's staff at Valley Forge, where he established a friendship with the Marquis de Lafayette, who also stayed in the Washington camp.


Peter Turner was born on September 2, 1751 in Newark, New Jersey and was the youngest son of Dr. William Turner (1712-1754) and Mehitable Foster (c. 1715). In 1754, his father died and Peter was placed in the care of his half-brother, Dr. Jabez Campfield (1737-1821), who was his mother's son with the late Benjamin Campfield.

On March 21, 1776, he married Elizabeth Child (1752-1819), just before the start of the war, and they had nine children, including Mehitable Foster (1780-1853), named after their mother. After the Revolutionary War, Peter and Eliza moved their family to Rhode Island, settling in East Greenwich, across the street from their brother-in-law, General Varnum, whose wife, Martha Child, was Eliza's sister.


Peter Turner graduated from Princeton and worked as a surgeon, first serving in the Continental Army from 1776 to 1781. In 1777, Turner volunteered as a surgeon in the First Rhode Island Regiment under Colonel Christopher Greene (1737-1781), serving for three years, including at Red Bank, Rhode Island, and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

After the war, he ran a large surgical practice in East Greenwich, Rhode Island until his death in 1822.


Peter Turner died after a stroke on February 14, 1822, at the age of 70. His remains rest in the Newport Cemetery in Rhode Island, United States.


  • Peter Turner Papers, 1774-1789, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.
  • The Turner family documents. Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport, Rhode Island.


  • Turner Family Papers, RLC. Ms. 573, Redwood Library and Athenaeum.