Taylor Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Taylor Meaning
occupational name for a tailor comes via the
French tailleur from the Latin tailare, to
cut.   It
would seem that tradition has dictated that the spelling of tailor
refers to
the trade of tailoring, while the Taylor spelling is the surname form.

Taylor Resources on

Select Taylor Ancestry

The first
evidence of its use as a surname in England appears to have been in
Somerset in
the 1180’s.

Walter Taylard, born in the latter part of the 14th century,
was the forebear of the Taylards of
. This family was well established at Diddington
Tudor times.  Their name became Taylor in London in the late
Meanwhile the Taylors of Shadochurst in Kent were recorded from about
1400 and
were still there two hundred years later

Taylor name was also to be found in the south Suffolk
wool towns.  Rowland Taylor, the Protestant
martyr burnt at the
stake in
1555, had been a resident of Hadleigh in Suffolk (although he had been
born in
Northumberland).  Jane Taylor, who lived
at Lavenham nearby, composed the childhood song Twinkle,
Twinkle, Little Star

Adam de Tailour, recorded in
Nottinghamshire in 1282, appears to have been the forebear of a Taylor
who held lands in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.  One Taylor line
Nottinghamshire began with Richard Taylor, born around 1510.

the 19th
century, a larger number of Taylors was further north, in Lancashire
(35% of the Taylors in the 1891 census). 
Red House had been built in Gomersal in Yorkshire by
William Taylor in 1660.  It was home to a
Taylor family who were cloth merchants and manufacturers.  Mary Taylor of this family was
to the writer Charlotte Bronte.

Scotland.  Scottish
Taylors were to be found in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, and Aberdeenshire.

Taylors can trace their name from the nickname taillear dubh,
“black tailor.”  Tailiear dubh natuaighe (Black Taylor of the
battleaxe) was a legendary follower of Cameron of Lochiel in the 16th
century.   These Taylors were to be found in the Cowal
peninsula in
Argyll in the Scottish Highlands.

was a name brought by the English and Scots and mainly found in Ulster.  George Taylor, the son of a clergyman from
Ulster, emigrated to America in 1736 and, as a successful ironmaster in
Pennsylvania, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Taylor came to Ireland from Sussex in the 1650’s to oversee the fiscal
expenditures of Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland.  His
descendants established themselves at
Kells in county Meath.  Another Taylor
family from the 1650’s was to be found at Castle Taylor in Galway.

  Many early Taylors in
the United States were descended from the Protestant martyr Rowland
Taylor via
his son Thomas.  Colonel James Taylor,
whose family also claimed a family descent from the Cumbrian Earls of
Pennington, had come to Virginia from Carlisle in Cumberland in 1650:

seal of his family was brought to the colonies by James and is said to
be still
held by present members of his family.
The seal bears the crest and Taylor arms bestowed by the King
when a
Taylor knight slew a wild boar while on a hunt with the king.”

Zachary Taylor
Orange county, Virginia was grandfather to US President Zachary Taylor
and also
grand-uncle to another US President, James Madison.
Also in this line was General James Taylor
of Kentucky, one of the wealthiest early settlers in Kentucky.

Another Taylor family in Virginia began with Joseph Taylor
moved to North Carolina in 1756 to take up a land grant there.  His son Joseph, a Revolutionary War veteran,
migrated to Kentucky.  Among his children
was William Taylor, one of the Mormon pioneers.

Canada.  Matthew Taylor was an Irishman from Derry who had
to New Hampshire and then to Nova Scotia in the 1750’s.
His son James was a successful lumber
merchant.  Other early Taylors in Nova
Scotia were Loyalists.  William Taylor had
arrived there in 1783 from New Jersey.
His son and grandson were merchants in Liverpool, Nova Scotia
active in local politics.

Australia.  Robert Taylor was
originally from Wigan, a
mill town in Lancashire.  In 1819 he was
convicted of larceny and sentenced to transportation to New South Wales
for seven
years.  He was freed in 1826 and subsequently became a businessman
in Sydney.  Located on Robert Taylor’s land and named after him is
iconic Taylor Square.


Taylor Miscellany

The Taylards of Huntingdon.  The original progenitor of the family, according to the Visitation of the County of
in 1613, was Walter Taylard who lived in the early part of the 15th
century.  He was described “of
Wrestlingworth in Bedfordshire” and possessing estates in the county of

A later William Taylard established himself at Diddington (sometimes
spelt Doddington) in Huntingdonshre.  He
died in 1505 and an elaborate monument, containing effigies of himself
and his
wife, was built for him in Diddington church.

These Taylards were country
gentlemen and not in trade.  The
Visitation did allude to the
fact that the Taylard heir in the fourth
generation married a tradesman’s daughter and that, by the sixth
generation in
the late 1500’s, two of the younger sons were in trade themselves.It was at this time that Taylard was becoming
Taylor.  A will in 1579 began: “Philip
Taylor, citizen and draper of London, and son of Sir Lawrence Taylard,”
although the spelling was still quite flexible at that time.

Sir Lawrence himself died in 1584 and his sole inheritor was his young grand-daughter Catharine.  She must have been quite a catch.  She did in fact marry Robert Brudenell at the tender age of fourteen and he was able to gain access to the Taylard estates.  The Taylards’ home at Upwood in Huntingdonshire was sold to Oliver Cromwell’s family in 1605.

Rowland Taylor the Martyr.  The narrative of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs described Rowland Taylor’s return to Hadleigh to
meet his death as follows:

man is conducted by slow steps to his beloved Hadleigh.
He is placid and even merry to the last.  He
jests upon his burly and corpulent frame
and holds that the worms in Hadleigh churchyard will be deceived, for
carcass that should have been theirs will be burned to ashes.  He asks to be taken through Hadleigh.  The streets are lined with his old
parishioners.  He could see them.  But they could not look upon his face which
had been covered through his journey with a hood, having holes for the
eyes and

February 9, 1555 Rowland Taylor was burned at the stake at
Hadleigh.  His wife Margaret was there
with three of their children and ran to him to say goodbye.  According to Foxe, Rowland addressed his last
words to his young son Thomas, aged just six at the time.
This Thomas is thought to have been the
forebear of the James Taylor who came to Virginia in 1650.

the 13th century St. Mary’s church at Hadleigh today is a chapel
honoring his memory.  A stained-glass
window depicts his trial and martyrdom.
In the chapel is an ancient bronze plaque commemorating his

The Line of Zachary Taylor.  Zachary
Taylor and his wife Elizabeth were buried at
Meadowfarm in Orange county, Virginia, the Taylor cemetery being
located a mile
and a half out of Orange.   A plaque
the wall inside the cemetery reads:

Memory of the first Master and
Mistress of Meadow farm who are buried here:

  • Zachary
    Taylor 1707-1768, son of James Taylor II of Bloomsbury, knight
    of the Golden Horseshoe,
  • and
    Elizabeth Lee 1709-1753, daughter of Hancock Lee
    of Ditchley and granddaughter of Richard Lee.

were the grandparents of
President Zachary Taylor, the great aunt and uncle of President James
and the great grandparents of Sara Knox Taylor, wife of President
Davis of the Confederacy.”

Another historical marker in Orange marks the
location of his father’s plantation:

“A mile north is Bloomsbury, estate of
the pioneer, James Taylor, ancestor of Presidents James Madison and
Taylor.  He was a member of Spotswood’s
over the mountains in 1716.”

Spotswood’s expedition was in fact called the Knights of the Golden
Horseshoe expedition across the Blue Ridge mountains.
James, born in 1675, had grown up in New Kent
county, Virginia where his immigrant father James had held land.

Joseph Taylor’s Antecedents.  Joseph Taylor who moved to North Carolina in 1756 to take up a land grant there was the forefather of William Taylor, one of the Mormon
pioneers.  Just where the Taylor line ran
before that is not quite clear.

Pleasant Green Taylor family paid a
professional genealogist to investigate just who “Mr. Taylor,” the
father of Joseph Taylor, was.  He
concluded that “Mr. Taylor” was Richard Taylor, son of Richard and
grandson of Richard who lived at the junction of Julian Creek and the
branch of the Elizabeth river in Norfolk county, Virginia.
However, the evidence he found, though
comprehensive, was circumstantial.

digging has uncovered some more evidence, but still circumstantial,
supported this Richard theory.  It is
speculated that the first Richard Taylor might have come from London.

Taylors in the 1891 Census

Taylor (000’s) Number Percent
Lancashire    41    22
Yorkshire    24    13
London    21    11
Elsewhere   100    54
Total   186   100

Mary Taylor – Victorian Feminist.  Mary Taylor, born in 1817 into a woollen merchant’s family at Gomersal in Yorkshire, was to flout the accepted norms for women in
19th century Victorian society.

became a friend and inspiration to the writer Charlotte Brontë,
encouraging her
to venture abroad.  Later she herself
travelled.  Challenging the strictures of
her time she
taught boys in Germany, she emigrated alone to Wellington in New
Zealand in
1845 (when that country was still new to colonization), she ran a shop
there, and
she wrote three books.

returned to West Yorkshire in 1860, Gomersal Lodge was built as her
home.  There she wrote articles for the
magazine The Victoria.  In
these articles she would outline her
feminist views, such as calling on women to earn money to look after
so that they would not be so dependent on men.
Joan Bellamy’s 2001 book More
Precious Than Rubies
is a biography of her life.


Taylor Names

  • Rowland Taylor was the Protestant
    martyred by Queen Mary in 1555.
  • Robert Taylor was an early 19th
    century English Radical who challenged the Established Church.
  • Zachary Taylor was in 1849 the 12th
    President of the United States.
  • F.W. Taylor was a pioneer in
    the study of scientific management.
  • Guy Baker Taylor was the inventor of nylon.
  • A.J.P. Taylor was a distinguished British historian.
  • Elizabeth Taylor was the many-married British-born actress and celebrity.

Select Taylor Numbers Today

  • 458,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in West Midlands)
  • 268,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 165,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Taylor is the #3 ranked surname in the UK.


Select Taylor and Like Surnames   

The various medieval trades and occupations were a source of surnames as John the baker would over time would become known as John Baker.  Some skilled craftsmen – such as chandlers, fletchers and turners – were able to form guilds, protective organizations, and style themselves Worshipful Companies.  These are some of the occupational surnames that you can check out.




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