Adams was born of English parentage, in Demerara, British Guiana (now Guyana). In 1810 his father, Richard Adams, moved to Norwich, Connecticut. Adams attended Yale College, graduating in 1824. He studied of law in the law school of the Hon. Samuel J. Hitchcock, of New Haven, in 1824, and published a small volume of poems in 1825, but soon embarked in the dry-goods jobbing business in New York City, in partnership with Felix A. Huntington, of Norwich. It did not do well, and in 1828 he abandoned it and returned to Connecticut.
On Dec. 20, 1826, he married Hannah P. Huntington, daughter of Joseph Huntington, of Norwich, who died in Michigan, leaving a son and daughter, both of whom died before him.
In 1828 he started a newspaper called the Telegraph, in Stonington, Connecticut, which was merged the next year in the Norwich Republican, of which Adams continued the editor until 1834. Around this time he was admitted to the bar, and in 1835 he was elected Judge of Probate, but held the office for only a short period.
He practiced law in Cass County, Michigan, from 1836 to 1838, and then in Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania from 1840 to 1844. He returned to Norwich, Connecticut in 1844 and established a law practice there. In 1850 he abandoned the practice of the law.
On Sept. 7, 1839, he married Elizabeth Lee, daughter of Benjamin Lee of Norwich, and widow of James S. Dwight, of Springfield, Massachusetts. She died in Springfield, Jan. 9, 1865. Their marriage produced no children.
He published several tales of American life, such as The Lost Hunter and The Knight of the Golden Melice.
From 1860 to 1863 he represented Norwich in the Connecticut Legislature]], and in 1864 he was a member, and acting President, of the Connecticut State Senate.
He died at his home in Norwich at the age of 77.
- Poems. New Haven, CT: A.H. Maltby, 1825.
- The Lost Hunter: A tale of early times. New York: Derby & Jackson / Cincinnati, OH: W.H. Derby, 1856.
- The Knight of the Golden Melice: A historical romance. New York: Derby & Jackson / Cincinnati, OH: W.H. Derby, 1857\
- also published as The White Chief Among the Red Men; or, The Knight of the Golden Melice: A historical romance. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859.
- John Turvill Adams at English Poetry, 1579-1830
- John Turvill Adams at the Litchfield Historical Society
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