Elizabeth and Ada

This elegant angel stands in Warriston cemetry, Edinburgh. It was raised to remember two sisters:

Elizabeth Charlotte Turnbull who died aged 15 months of Typoid Fever:

Ada Isabella Turnbull who died aged 15 years of Rheumatic Fever:

When I came across this angel, and read the inscription below, one of my favourite poems by Iain Crichton Smith flew into my mind:

Elizabeth and Ada’s father, Andrew Hugh Turnbull, was an actuary who  directed the Scottish Widows Fund. Their mother, Margaret Lothian Black, was the youngest daughter of Adam Black twice Lord Provost of Edinburgh. His statue stands today in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

Their brother, Hubert Maitland Turnbull, went on to “revolutionize morbid anatomical practice and to raise the subject to the level of a science”. A biography of him states that he “seemed to have been without any particular [early] formative influence”. I would suggest that this is wrong. Throughout his life Hubert heard two girls singing: his sisters Elizabeth and Ada.

The family home was ‘The Elms’ , Whitehouse Lane, Edinburgh. Today, it provides residential care for older people with dementia ‘in a safe, homely environment’.

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