Taylor, Dan (DNB00)

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TAYLOR, DAN (1738–1816), founder of the new connexion of general baptists, son of Azor Taylor, a pitman, by his second wife, Mary (Willey), was born at Sourmilk Hall, Northowram, West Riding of Yorkshire, on 21 Dec. 1738. In his fifth year he worked in a coal-mine with his father. He had no schooling till he was twenty, but early developed a taste for reading, taking his book with him into the mine. He came under methodist influence at the age of fifteen, joined the Wesleyan body in 1759, and first preached for them in a dwelling-house at Hipperholme, West Riding, in September 1761. Dissatisfied with the methodist organisation, he withdrew from membership by midsummer 1762. At Michaelmas 1762 he ceased to work as miner, and became preacher to a small methodist secession at Wadsworth, West Riding. The study of the historical defence of infant baptism (1705) by William Wall [q. v.] turned him against the doctrine. To Calvinistic baptists he applied in vain for immersion, and was baptised in the river Idle at Gamston, Nottinghamshire, by Joseph Jeffery on 16 Feb. 1763. In May he became a member of the Lincolnshire association of general baptists. In the following autumn he was ordained as baptist pastor at Wadsworth. His congregation, which is reckoned the first general baptist church in Yorkshire, built in 1764 the Birchcliffe meeting-house, Taylor working at it with his own hands. In 1765 and 1767 he represented the Lincolnshire association at the general assembly in London. Doctrinal differences were now rending the assembly, owing to the prevalence of antitrinitarian views in the southern congregations [see Caffyn, Matthew]. At Michaelmas 1769 a meeting was held at Lincoln, and the formation of a ‘new connexion’ resolved upon. The first assembly of the new connexion was held on 6 June 1770, by representatives of sixteen churches, at the meeting-house of John Brittain, Church Lane, Whitechapel, London; the new connexion was dissolved in 1891, when its congregations joined the ‘Baptist Union.’ Taylor did not formally leave the old ‘general assembly’ till 1803. He devoted much energy to evangelising in the north. At Halifax, where he had preached from 1772, a church was formed in 1782; to this he removed as its pastor on 8 Oct. 1783. On 8 June 1785 he became colleague at Church Lane, succeeding as sole pastor on Brittain's death (18 Sept. 1794). In 1791 he opened a bookseller's shop in Union Street, Bishopsgate. In January 1798, retaining his pastoral charge, he became the first theological tutor of ‘the general baptist evangelical academy’ at Mile End. This post he held till June 1813, when the academy was removed to Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Taylor was a man of short stature, strong physique, and great natural ability. He frequently presided at meetings of the ‘three denominations’ in London. After 1809 his powers began to fail. He died on 26 Nov. 1816, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. His portrait, painted by J. Robinson, was engraved by Joseph Collyer. By his first marriage (November 1764) he had thirteen children, of whom a son and five daughters survived him. His first wife, Elizabeth Saltonstall, died on 22 Oct. 1793; on 12 Aug. 1794 he married Elizabeth Newton (d. 14 Oct. 1809); on 24 March 1811 he married Mary Toplis, a widow (d. 18 Dec. 1812). Shortly before his death he was married (21 Oct.) to a fourth wife, Mrs. Saunders.

Angus gives a list of forty-nine publications and thirteen ‘association letters’ by Taylor. Besides sermons, tracts, and controversial pamphlets, he published: 1. ‘A Compendious View of Christian Baptism,’ 1772, 8vo (nine editions). 2. ‘Fundamentals of Religion,’ 1775, 8vo; enlarged as ‘The Principal Parts of the Christian Religion,’ 1802, 8vo. 3. ‘The Consistent Christian,’ 1784, 12mo; 1795, 8vo. 4. ‘Dissertation on Singing in … Worship,’ 1789, 12mo. 5. ‘The Eternity of Future Punishment,’ 1789, 8vo (2 parts, against Elhanan Winchester). 6. ‘Essay on … Inspiration,’ 1790, 8vo. 7. ‘Memoirs of … William Thompson,’ 1796, 8vo. He wrote ‘An Elegy’ (1763) and three hymns, published in his ‘Hymns and Spiritual Songs’ (1772). He edited from 1798 to 1800 ‘The General Baptist Magazine’ (monthly). He contributed to its sequel (from 1802), ‘The General Baptist Repository’ (half-yearly, and from 1810 quarterly), edited by his nephew and biographer, Adam Taylor (d. 1833), schoolmaster in London and historian of the general baptists.

Dan Taylor has been confused with David Taylor, a footman in the service of Selina Hastings, countess of Huntingdon [q. v.], afterwards one of John Wesley's preachers, whose preaching (1741–5) was the precursor of the general baptist movement in Leicestershire.

John Taylor (1743–1818), younger brother of the above, was born on 16 June 1743. Having been an independent at Halifax, he joined (1771) his brother's church at Birchcliffe, began to preach (28 Nov. 1772) at Queenshead, near Halifax, and was pastor of the general baptist church there from 1773 till his death on 26 Dec. 1818. His elder son was Adam Taylor (see above); his younger son, James Taylor (1774–1845), was general baptist minister at Derby (1799), Heptonstall (1807), and Hinckley (1822).

[Memoirs by Adam Taylor, 1820 (portrait); Life by Underwood, 1870; Monthly Repository, 1816 pp. 730 sq., 1817 pp. 9 sq.; New Evangelical Magazine, 1816; Adam Taylor's Hist. of Engl. General Baptists, 1818, ii. passim; Adam Taylor's Memoirs of John Taylor, 1821; Wood's Hist. of Gen. Baptists, 1847, pp. 158, 173 sq., 199, 222, 272, 310; Jones's Bunhill Memorials, 1849, p. 274; Angus's Baptist Authors, No. iv, Catalogues, July 1889; Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892, p. 1117.]

A. G.