TAYLOR, Edward (1774-1843), of Bifrons, nr. Canterbury, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1807 - 1812

Family and Education

b. 24 June 1774, 1st s. of Rev. Edward Taylor of Bifrons, rector of Patrixbourne, by Margaret, da. of Thomas Taylor (afterwards Payler) of Ileden; bro. of Sir Herbert Taylor educ. in Baden 1783-8; Merton, Oxf. 1793. m. 6 Sept. 1802, Louisa, da. and h. of Rev. John Charles Beckingham of Bourne House, 6s. 6da. suc. fa. 1798.

Offices Held

Capt. New Romney drag. 1795, Kent yeomanry 1803; lt.-col. Chatham and Dartford regt. Kent militia 1809; maj. E. Kent yeomanry 1820.


Taylor was an accidental Member of Parliament. In 1807 two ministerialists confronted John Baker* at Canterbury and Taylor was prevailed upon to become his partner. Nothing came of compromise proposals and he was returned in second place in an all-out contest. He was of a respectable local family, but his politics were a matter for speculation. An opponent described him as ‘an élève of the imperial Lord Grenville’, and a critic, ‘an independent freeholder’, wrote: ‘Mr Taylor is not individually known to us; nor are the situations to which the merits of his family have raised some of his near connections of a nature to be shut out from our observation’.1 This was primarily a reference to the fact that his brother Herbert, who had indeed been a protégé of Lord Grenville’s, was private secretary to the King.

Taylor’s conduct in Parliament, inconspicuous as it was, reflected this ambiguity. He surfaced in the examination of witnesses at the bar of the House on the charges against the Duke of York, 16 Feb. 1809, when he was called upon to identify his brother’s handwriting. On 21 Feb. he voted with opposition against the convention of Cintra and he may have been the ‘Mr Taylor’ who deprecated as unnecessary, an attempt to clear the reputation of Sir John Moore posthumously, 27 Apr. 1809. He voted with ministers on Lord Chatham’s memorial, 23 Feb. 1810, but changed sides on the same question, 5 Mar. The Whigs then listed him ‘hopeful’ and he did not disappoint them in the division of 30 Mar. on the Scheldt expedition, but no further vote on either side is known. He was absent on the Regency question, 1 Jan. 1811. When it was clear that he would have to fight for his seat in 1812 he withdrew, thinking it prudent to avoid the expense either to himself or to friends who offered to subscribe to his election, though his chances were thought good. Against his wishes, he received 329 votes. Also without his consent, he was a dummy candidate on the last day of the poll in 1818, again sponsored by John Baker’s friends.2

Taylor’s prudence about election expenses did not save him from financial straits. Like his father, but with a larger family, he was obliged to spend many of his later years on the Continent and, worse still, to part with Bifrons. He died at Dover, 22 June 1843.3

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Kentish Chron. 8 May 1807; Kent AO, Harris mss C67/37/1.
  • 2. Morning Chron. 30 Sept. 1812; Add. 38249, f. 259; The Late Elections (1818), 60.
  • 3. Taylor Pprs. 186, 217, 335, 362; Gent. Mag. (1843), ii. 330.