William Turnbull (bishop)

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William Turnbull (died 1454) was a Scottish politician and bishop, credited with founding Glasgow University. He served as the Bishop of Glasgow, from 1448 to 1454 and was the first chancellor of Glasgow University.


He studied arts at the University of St Andrews (1419), canon law at Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium and studied at the University of Pavia, Italy for a doctorate in canon law (1439).

Upon his return to Scotland, he befriended King James II and became Keeper of the Privy Seal (1440-1448) and Royal Secretary (1441-1442). In 1447 he was appointed Bishop of Dunkeld, then a year later Bishop of Glasgow which he held until his death in 1454.

On 28 October 1447, John Pigott, the manorial lord, presented Ven William Turnbull, "Bishop of Dunkeld," to the Rectory of Abington Pigotts, in the Diocese of Ely.

During his time as Bishop, he pursued the formation of a university in Glasgow with the encouragement of King James. On 7 January 1451, Pope Nicholas V issued a papal bull decreeing the foundation of the University of Glasgow, which started classes in the Glasgow Cathedral buildings, with Turnbull as the first chancellor.

Turnbull High School in Bishopbriggs is named after him, as is Turnbull Hall, the Catholic Chaplaincy at the University of Glasgow.


  •  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1899). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FTurnbull%2C_William_%28d.1454%29_%28DNB00%29 "Turnbull, William (d.1454)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. 57. London: Smith, Elder & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Political offices
Preceded by
William Foulis
Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland
Succeeded by
Thomas Spens
Bishop of Galloway
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
James Bruce
Bishop of Dunkeld
Elect 1447
Succeeded by
John Raulston
Preceded by
James Bruce
Bishop of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Andrew de Durisdere
Academic offices
Preceded by
University established
Chancellor of the University of Glasgow
1451 to 1454
Succeeded by
Andrew de Durisdeer