Henry Taylor and family: Correspondence and Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of manuscript notebooks, correspondence, and business and family papers of Henry Taylor, with additional papers relating to the family of his wife Christian (ne Fox). The correspondence includes letters sent between Taylor and members of his family (7901/1 and 7901/2). This is supported by correspondence with those outside the immediate family circle. There are letters from Henry Taylor to Mrs. Ann Jebb, who wrote during the 1770s under the pseudonym of 'Priscilla', on religious topics of contemporary interest (7901/3.). There are also copies of letters between Taylor and Mrs. Elizabeth Salter, wife of Dr Samuel Salter, headmaster of Charterhouse, contained in a MS notebook (7903), although there are only a few examples of Taylor's correspondence with Samuel Salter (7901/4/19 and 20; 7901/8/6 and 7). Another correspondent is Benjamin Hoadly, father of John, a school friend of Taylor's, who ordained Taylor to the diaconate and the priesthood (7901/9/1 and 2) and as Bishop of Winchester took an interest in his career.

Taylor's career is illustrated in the collection by documents concerning his publications (7901/7) and relating to his ecclesiastical preferences (7901/9). His interest in gardening is represented by a small group of treatises and notes (7901/11). A few drafts of letters and of a 'Dialogue' are all that survive of the correspondence concerning Taylor's quarrel with Christ's College, Cambridge, over his son's Tancred Studentship (7901/8). There are also sermons, prose and poems by Henry Taylor, his father William, and their friends and contemporaries (7902; 7904-7908). The collection also contains correspondence of the Fox family (7901/13), and a bundle of genealogical material amassed by John Charles Fox (7901/14).


1. 44 letters or fragments of letter from Henry Taylor to Christian Fox, later his wife, 1739-1766.

2. 20 letters, fragments of letters and drafts of letters between Taylor and other members of his family, in alphabetical order of correspondent, c. 1722-1785.

3. 26 letters, fragments of letters and drafts of letters from Taylor to mainly Mrs Ann Jebb, 1772-1785.

4. 26 letters or fragments of letters, mainly drafts, from Taylor to miscellaneous correspondents, in alphabetical order of correspondent, 1745-1785.

5. 39 letters or fragments of letters, mainly from Taylor to miscellaneous correspondents, in alphabetical order of correspondent, 1740-1784.

6. 10 letters from the correspondence of Taylor's sons, Henry and Peter, in alphabetical order of correspondent, 1769-1784.

7. 21 documents relating to the publication and circulation of various theological works of Henry Taylor, 1760-1790, contained in a folder labelled 'Letters and accounts relating to publication of "Ben Mordecai"', probably in the hand of John Charles Fox, c. 1900.

8. 14 documents relating to a dispute between Henry Taylor and Christ's College, Cambridge, concerning the terms of tenure of a Tancred Studentship by his son Peter, c. 1763-1767.

9. 37 documents relating to the career of Henry Taylor, especially his ecclesiastical preferments, 1733-1776.

10. 29 fragments of verse and prose, some attributable to Henry Taylor.

11. 4 documents concerning gardening, mainly in the hand of Henry Taylor.

12. 7 miscellaneous documents concerning the Taylor family.

13. 21 letters between members of the family of Christian Fox, wife of Henry Taylor, 1730-1781.

14. 32 items containing genealogical information relating to the Fox family, compiled c. 1900, apparently by John Charles Fox.

15. Small portrait of Henry Taylor, oil on canvas, in a wooden frame.


MS notebook containing four sermons of Henry Taylor, written when he was Rector of Crawley and Vicar of Portsmouth, Hampshire (1755-1785).


MS notebook containing copies of correspondence between Henry Taylor and Mrs. Elizabeth Salter, 1763-1764.


MS notebook, written in a variety of hands, containing poems and short prose pieces by Henry Taylor, his father William, and others.


MS notebook, written in a variety of hands, containing poems and short prose pieces by Henry Taylor, his son William, and others.


MS notebook, mainly in the hand of Henry Taylor's son Henry, containing poems by Henry Taylor and his father William Taylor.


MS notebook, mainly in the hand of Henry Taylor's son William, containing poems by Henry Taylor, his father William, and others.


Folder containing copies of poems and short prose pieces by Henry Taylor and others, on loose sheets of varying sizes, written in a variety of hands. Some of these pieces are found, occasionally with variant wordings, in the notebooks, MSS.Add.7904-7907.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rev. Henry Taylor (1711-1785) was born at South Weald, Essex, the third son of William Taylor (1673-1750), a London merchant who achieved some fame as a writer of poetry, mainly humorous or epigrammatic. Henry Taylor was educated at Hackney School and Queens' College, Cambridge (B.A., 1736; Fellow, 1733; M.A., 1735). He was ordained to the diaconate in 1733 and to the priesthood in 1735. During his career he obtained a number of ecclesiastical preferments in the dioceses of Oxford and Winchester. He and his family lived for many years at Crawley, Hampshire, where he was appointed rector in 1755. In 1779 his son Peter was appointed rector of Titchfield, Hampshire, where Taylor seems to have spent most of his last years. He died at Tichfield in 1785.

Taylor's achieved fame through his theological writings, especially the Apology of Benjamin Ben Mordecai (London, 1771-1774). His unorthodox beliefs occasioned some controversy. He did not shrink from argument on any point on which he held strong views. As well as his literary attacks on the views of Soame Jenyns and Edward Gibbon, he campaigned against the requirement that all clergy of the Church of England should subscribe to the Royal Supremacy, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the use of the Book of Common Prayer. At a more personal level, he fought bitterly against the attempts of the Master and Fellows of Christ's College, Cambridge, to enforce residence in Cambridge upon his son Peter when the latter held a Tancred Studentship for theological studies in the 1760s. Like his father, Taylor produced a large quantity of poetry. Most of this was light-hearted in tone, although there were some examples of slightly barbed satire on contemporary events, as well as a number of verses in the classicising pastoral style of the eighteenth century.

In 1740 Taylor married Christian (d. 1769), daughter of the Rev. Francis Fox of Reading. The marriage produced eleven children, of whom six survived infancy: two girls and four boys. The elder sons, Henry (1742-1822) and Peter (1745-1791), followed their father into the Church. Daniel (1751-1807), the third son, undertook a mercantile career, but fell into debt and disgrace in the 1780s. The fourth son, William (1755-1843), enjoyed a successful business career. He also wrote poetry, but few of his pieces survive.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased 1971.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue. A card catalogue to correspondents and authors to whom poems are attributed is also available in the Manuscript Reading Room.

Related Material

The British Museum holds some papers of Peter Alfred Taylor, Addit. MSS 37682-37686 and Addit. charters 54653-54700, consisting largely of manuscript copies of poems by Henry Taylor, his father William, and their friends and contempories; deeds relating to properties held by the family; copies of wills; and documents dealing with the ecclesiastical preferments of members of the family.


The collection and other family papers were used by Peter Alfred Taylor, great-grandson of Henry Taylor in Some Account of the Family of Taylor (formerly Taylard), printed for private circulation, London, 1875. In this work P.A. Taylor printed a substantial selection of family correspondence, as well as some poems by his ancestors, followed by detailed pedigrees.