- Founder and trustee 1749-1779
Joseph Turner was born in Hampshire, England, in 1701. He came to America in January of 1714 without his parents. Early Philadelphia records identify him as a sea captain in 1724 and a businessman in 1726. For many decades prior to the American Revolution, he was in business with Chief Justice William Allen, and their firm, Allen & Turner, was one of the most important in the colonies. Turner entered into trade agreements and iron mining ventures, including Union Iron Works in New Jersey.
In addition to his business interests, Turner was also involved in politics. He was elected as a Philadelphia city councilman in 1729, an alderman in 1741, and a member of Pennsylvania’s Provincial Council in 1747. In 1745 he declined the mayoralty of Philadelphia, for which he was fined £30.
Turner was a member of Benjamin Franklin‘s Junto and of the Dancing Assembly of 1748. He was also a founder of the Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia, and then of the College (now the University of Pennsylvania). He served as a trustee of these institutions until his death in 1783.