William Turner probably received his early training in Oxford under William Delamotte. In 1804 he went to London and became a pupil of John Varley. Turner first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807 and in January 1808 was elected an Associate of the Society of Painters in Watercolours, becoming its youngest full member in November of the same year. He exhibited every year until his death, sending 455 works in total. In 1811 Turner returned to Oxfordshire and soon established himself as a drawing master in Oxford, where he was to remain for the rest of his life.
The contents of William Turner's studio were sold at Christie's, 9 March, 1863.