Taylor, Isaac (1759-1829) (DNB00)
|←Taylor, Isaac (1730-1807)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 55
Taylor, Isaac (1759-1829)
|Taylor, Isaac (1787-1865)→|
TAYLOR, ISAAC (1759–1829), of Ongar, engraver and writer for the young, son of Isaac Taylor (1730–1807) [q. v.], by his wife Sarah, daughter of Josiah Jefferys of Shenfield, Essex, was born in London on 30 Jan. 1759. With his elder brother Charles (1756–1823) [q. v.], after some education at Brentford grammar school, he was brought up as an engraver in the studio of his father, and he developed considerable skill both in landscape and portraiture. During his apprenticeship the plates for Rees’s ‘Cyclopædia’ were executed under his superintendence at his father’s establishment, and he always considered that these and his frequent interviews with Dr. Rees during the progress of them were a primary means of exciting his thirst for all kinds of knowledge. In 1781 he commissioned Richard Smirke to paint four small circular subjects representing morning, noon, evening, and night, which he engraved and published; and two years later he painted and engraved a set of views on the Thames near London. In 1783 he moved from Islington to Red Lion Street, Holborn, and in June 1786 he left London for Lavenham in Suffolk, where he rented a house and a large garden for 6l. a year. In the meantime he continued his work as an engraver. He was commissioned to engrave a number of plates for Boydell’s Bible and for Boydell’s ‘Shakespeare.’ In 1791 he engraved the assassination of Rizzio after Opie (for which the Society of Arts awarded him their gold palette and twenty-five guineas), and in 1796 he completed a book of forty plates illustrating the architectural details of the fifteenth-century church at Lavenham, entitled ‘Specimens of Gothic Ornaments selected from the parish church of Lavenham in Suffolk’ (London, 4to). He also sketched in watercolours and engraved a series of Suffolk mansions. From the commencement of the war with France the export of English engravings, which had increased rapidly since 1775, as rapidly diminished. The prospects for an engraver were not bright, and Taylor, who had acquired some fame locally as a preacher, moved to Colchester in 1796 upon receiving a call to act as pastor to the independent congregation in Bucklersbury Lane. While there he continued working upon a number of plates for Boydell’s ‘Shakespeare’ which he had commenced at Lavenham. That of Henry VIII’s first sight of Anne Boleyn, after Stothard, when completed in 1802, brought the engraver 500l. In 1812 he engraved a delicate set of designs for Thomson’s ‘Seasons.’ A number of his portrait and other engravings are in the print-room at the British Museum.
In December 1810 Taylor was called as nonconformist pastor to Ongar in Essex, and there he lived during the remaining eighteen years of his life. It was in consequence of the long series of books dated thence by various members of his family as well as himself, and in order to distinguish them from the contemporary literary family, the Taylors of Norwich, that the family of the second Isaac Taylor became known from this time as the Taylors of Ongar. Of a family of eleven, six survived childhood, and from the time of his residence at Lavenham Taylor devoted the greater part of his spare time to the education of his children. He himself was self-taught, and he sought to convey to his children the wide stores of miscellaneous information which his curiosity had prompted him to acquire. Instructive books were habitually read at meal times, and charts were engraved by him or by the children under his instruction to be filled in with names, places, or other details respecting a singular variety of subjects. Years of systematic teaching led him to evolve a series of educational manuals. The stimulus to publish was probably supplied by the success attained by the children’s books written by his daughters. The demand for children’s manuals was then greatly in excess of the supply, and Taylor’s homely little works, made graphic by his own pencil, shared in the success which was primarily due to his daughters. His books comprise: ‘The Biography of a Brown Loaf’ (London, n.d. 12mo); ‘Self-cultivation recommended, or hints to a youth on leaving school’ (1817, 12mo; 4th ed. 1820); ‘Advice to the Teens’ (1818, 12mo, two editions); ‘Character essential to Success in Life’ (London, 1820, 12mo); ‘Picturesque Piety, or Scripture Truths illustrated by forty-eight engravings, designed and engraved by the author’ (London, 1821, 8vo); ‘Beginnings of British Biography: Lives of one hundred persons eminent in British Story’ (London, 2 vols. 12mo, 1824, two editions); Beginnings of European Biography’ (London, 2 vols. 1824–5, 12mo; 3 vols. 1828–9); ‘Bunyan explained to a Child’ (London, 1824, 2 vols. 12mo, and 1825); ‘The Balance of Criminality, or Mental Error, compared with Immoral Conduct’ (London, 1828, 12mo).
Taylor also issued, with engravings from designs mostly by himself (a few were by his son Isaac), a series of topographies ‘for little tarry-at-home travellers,’ which, commencing with ‘Scenes in Europe’ and ‘Scenes in England’ (1819), extended to ‘Scenes in Asia,’ ‘Scenes in Africa,’ ‘Scenes in America,’ ‘Scenes in Foreign Lands,’ ‘Scenes of British Wealth,’ and (posthumously in 1830) ‘Scenes of Commerce by Land and Sea.’
Taylor died on Saturday, 12 Dec. 1829, and was buried on 19 Dec. at Ongar. A portrait engraved by Blood from a drawing by himself was published in the ‘Evangelical Magazine’ for 1818. A portrait in oils is in the possession of Canon Isaac Taylor at Settrington. On 18 April 1781 Taylor married at Islington Ann Martin, and had issue: Ann, born at Islington on 30 Jan. 1782, who married Joseph Gilbert [q. v.], and is herself separately noticed [see Gilbert, Ann]; Jane Taylor [q.v.] ; two Isaacs who died in infancy; Isaac Taylor (1787–1865) [q.v.] ; Martin Taylor (1788–1867), the father of Helen Taylor (see below); Harriet, Eliza, and Decimus, who died in infancy; Jefferys Taylor [q. v.]; and Jemima (1798–1886), who married, on 14 Aug. 1832, Thomas Herbert.
Born on 20 June 1757, from the time of the removal to Lavenham at midsummer 1786 Mrs. Ann Taylor (1757–1830) shared the educational ideals of her husband. From an early date she corresponded copiously with her children during their absences from home, and this correspondence was the nucleus of a series of little manuals of conduct in which a mild Benjamin Franklin type of morality is developed. Like the kindred works emanating from members of the family at Ongar, they had a widespread sale. They comprise: ‘Advice to Mothers’ (London, n.d. 12mo); ‘Maternal Solicitude for a Daughter’s best Interests’ (London, 1813, 12mo; 12th ed. 1830); ‘Practical Hints to Young Females, or the duties of a wife, a mother, and a mistress of a family’ (London, 1815, 12mo; 11th ed. 1822); ‘The Present of a Mistress to a Young Servant’ (London, 1816, 12mo; several editions); ‘Reciprocal Duties of Parents and Children’ (London, 1818, 12mo; 3rd ed. 1819); ‘The Family Mansion’ (London, 1819, 12mo; a French version appeared in the same year; 2nd ed. 1820); ‘Retrospection, a Tale’ (London, 1821, 12mo); ‘The Itinerary of a Traveller in the Wilderness’ (London, 1825, 12mo); and also ‘Correspondence between a Mother and her Daughter [Jane] at School’ (London, 1817, 12mo; 6th ed. 1821). Mrs. Ann Taylor died at Ongar on 4 June 1830; she was buried beside her husband under the vestry floor of Ongar chapel.
Helen Taylor (1818–1885), the daughter of Martin Taylor of Ongar (1788–1867), by his first wife, Elizabeth Venn, made a few contributions to ‘Missionary Hymns’ and the ‘Teacher’s Treasury,’ and, besides a small devotional work, ‘Sabbath Bells’ was author of ‘The Child’s Books of Homilies’ (London, 1850, 18mo). She died in 1885, and was buried at Parkstone, Dorset.
The literary productiveness of Isaac Taylor of Ongar, his collaterals, and their descendants led Mr. Galton, in his inquiry into the laws and consequences of ‘Hereditary Genius’ (1869), to illustrate from the history of the family his theory of the distribution through heredity of intellectual capacity.
[Gent. Mag. 1830, i. 378; Congreg. Magazine, 1830, p. 398; The Nation, May 1875; Taylor’s Family Pen — Memorials of the Taylor Family of Ongar, 1867, vol. i. passim; Mrs. Gilbert’s Autobiography; Bryan’s Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong; Redgrave’s Dict. of English Painters; Halkett and Laing’s Dict. of Anon. and Pseudon. Lit.; Davids’s Nonconformity in Essex; Essex Review, April 1898; Tuer’s Bartolozzi and his Works; Allibone’s Dict. of English Literature; English Cyclopædia; Brit. Mus. Cat.]