George Watson Taylor

1770 - 6th Jun 1841

Claimant or beneficiary

Biography

  1. An MP; father of Simon Watson Taylor, a member of the Eyre Defence Fund committee in 1866-67.

  2. Watson Taylor was among other things a picture collector; there are 3 portraits of him in the National Portrait Gallery.

  3. The Taylor family including left an important collection of papers detailing, among other things, plantation life in Jamaica: see Taylor family of Jamaica (1770-1835), collection of papers in the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. George Watson Taylor's wife was Anna Susannah Watson Taylor (1781-1853) who inherited the estates in Jamaica: Simon Taylor (1740-1813) left his estates to his nephew, Sir Simon Richard Brissett Taylor (1785-1815); after the latter's death his eldest niece, Anna Susannah Watson Taylor (1781-1853), inherited the estates. She had married George Watson in 1810 and the additional name Taylor was assumed at the time of the inheritance.

  4. The Taylor Family Papers have been combined with the Vanneck-Arcedekne Papers from Cambridge University Library into a microfilmed collection on Plantation life in the Caribbean by Adam Matthews Publications.

  5. In 1819, Joshua Smith MP for Devizes died and his house and estate at Erlestoke, Wiltshire, were sold to 'a flamboyant and fabulously wealthy Jamaican plantation owner, George Watson Taylor. His fortune, derived from sugar but dependent on slave labour, enabled him to number among his close friends the king, William IV, and to throw extravagant entertainments. But when he failed in his campaign, waged as a Devizes MP, against the abolition of slavery this life-style became unsustainable, and after 1832 Taylor descended into virtual bankruptcy, dying in 1841. The house was let to another colourful figure, Byron’s friend Cam Hobhouse, until around 1860, when the Watson Taylor family returned. Erlestoke became once more the centre of a large estate extending over many parishes until its sale and dispersal in 1919.' (Joshua Smith was himself married to the daughter of Nathaniel Gilbert of Antigua).

Sources

T71/872 Hanover claim no. 21 (Haughton Grove Pen); T71/879 St Kitts claim no. 26; T71/867 St Thomas-in-the-East claim no. 100.

  1. Nicholas Draper, The Price of Emancipation. Slave-Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009), Appendix 13.

  2. http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp04426/george-watson-taylor [accessed 06/08/2012].

  3. ICS description: http://www.casbah.ac.uk/cats/archive/135/ICSA00040.htm [accessed 06/08/2012].

  4. http://www.ampltd.co.uk/collections_az/plantation-life-1/description.aspx [accessed 06/08/2012].

  5. For George Watson Taylor in Wiltshire see the parish history by John Chandler (which has some more details of the Watson Taylors in the 1860s). http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getconcise.php?id=93  [accessed 06/08/2012]. For Joshua Smith see http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1754-1790/member/smith-joshua-1732-1819 [accessed 01/08/2013].

We are grateful to Gareth Evans for his assistance in compiling this entry.


Further Information

Absentee?
British/Irish
Occupation
Politician and plantation owner

Associated Claims (1)

£2,512 0S 3D
Beneficiary

Legacies Summary

Political (1)

MP
Tory 
election →
Newport, Isle of Wight Hampshire
1816 - 1818
election →
Seaford Sussex
1818 - 1820
election →
East Looe Cornwall
1820 - 1826
election →
Devizes Wiltshire
1826 - 1832

Addresses (1)

Erlestoke, Devizes, Wiltshire