Taylor, John (d.1534) (DNB00)

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TAYLOR, JOHN (d. 1534), master of the rolls, was the eldest of three sons born at one birth in a humble cottage at Barton in the parish of Tatenhill, Staffordshire. Wood (Fasti, i. 62) says that the father was a tailor, and that the children were shown as a curiosity to Henry VII, who directed that care should be taken of them, and undertook the expense of their education. It is, however, probable that Taylor was born some years before 1485, when Henry VII came to the throne. He graduated doctor of civil and canon law at some foreign university, being incorporated at Cambridge in 1520 and at Oxford in 1522 (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. i. 50; Reg. Univ. Oxon. i. 124). In 1503, being then rector of Bishops Hatfield, he was ordained sub-deacon. In August 1504 he was sent with John Yonge (d. 1516) [q. v.], afterwards master of the rolls, to negotiate a commercial treaty with Philip, duke of Burgundy, and in or about the same year he became rector of Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire. On 3 Jan. 1508–9 he was admitted to the prebend of Eccleshall in Lichfield Cathedral.

In Henry VIII's reign Taylor's employments increased. He occurs as king's clerk and chaplain in the first year of the reign, and on 29 Oct. 1509 was appointed clerk of the parliaments, with a salary of 40l.; on 18 Nov. following he was made a master in chancery. In the parliament which met on 21 Jan. 1509–10 he was a receiver of petitions from England, Ireland, and Wales. On 25 Nov. 1510 he was presented by Henry VIII to the church of All Saints the More, London, and on 3 April 1511 to the rectory of Coldingham in Lincoln diocese. In June 1513 Taylor accompanied the king on his campaign in France, and his minute diary of events extending from 25 June to 21 Oct., with corrections in Taylor's hand, is extant in Cotton. MS. Cleopatra, C. v. 64. He was probably also the author of the king's speech which was delivered on 4 March 1513–14 at the dissolution of parliament (extant in Harl. MS. 6464). In the following June he was prolocutor of convocation, and a speech he delivered in that capacity is preserved in Cotton. MS. Vitellius, B. ii. On 18 April 1515 Taylor was sent to meet the Venetian ambassador Giustiniani and conduct him to London. He replied to the address of the envoys on their presentation to the king. In the same year he was installed archdeacon of Derby, and was prolocutor of the convocation that met in December, and was rendered memorable by Standish's case (Letters and Papers, ii. 1312 et seq.; cf. art. Standish, Henry). On 9 March 1515–16 Taylor delivered a speech in answer to the Spanish envoys (extant in Cotton. MS. Vespasian C. i. 98). On 24 Dec. following he became archdeacon of Buckinghamshire, and on 16 March 1517–18 he was presented to a prebend in St. Stephen's, Westminster. From 1517 onwards he frequently acted as deputy to the master of the rolls.

In 1520 Taylor accompanied Henry VIII as his chaplain to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and he was present at the subsequent meeting between Henry and Charles V. He was again a receiver of petitions in the parliament that met on 15 April 1523, but two days later he resigned the clerkship of the parliaments to (Sir) Brian Tuke [q. v.] In 1526 Taylor was sent ambassador to Francis I, nominally to congratulate him on his release from captivity, but really to induce him to violate the treaty he had just concluded with Charles V. (For details of this mission see Letters and Papers, vol. iv., which contains over two hundred references to Taylor; some of his correspondence is extant in Cotton. MS. Caligula D. ix. 219–32; four letters are printed in Ellis's Orig. Letters, II. i. 333–43; see also State Papers of Henry VIII, vols. i. vi. and vii.) In the autumn Bishop John Clerk [q. v.] succeeded him as ambassador, and on 26 June 1527 Taylor was rewarded for his services by being made master of the rolls. In the same year he was sent to invest Francis I with the order of the Garter (Rymer, xiv. 175). He was also named one of the commissioners to try the validity of Henry VIII's marriage with Catherine of Arragon. In 1531 he was again sent ambassador to France, in succession to Sir Francis Bryan [q. v.] He returned in 1533, and in that year was spoken of as a likely candidate for the next vacant bishopric. On 6 Oct. 1534 he resigned the mastership of the rolls, which was bestowed on Cromwell, and he died before the end of the year (cf. Newcourt, i. 249). Taylor erected a chapel on the site of the cottage in which he was born, and on the walls is an inscription to his memory.

[Harleian and Cotton. MSS. passim; Lansdowne MS. 979, f. 122; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols. i–vi.; State Papers, Henry VIII, 1830–40; Rymer's Fœdera; Despatches of Giustiniani; Dugdale's Orig. Jurid.; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl., ed. Hardy; Rutland Papers and Trevelyan Papers (Camden Soc.); Fiddes's Wolsey, pp. 186, 385, 532; Strype's Works (index); Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib.; Wood's Fasti, i. 62; Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII; Plot's Staffordshire, pp. 277–96; Harwood's Lichfield, pp. 213, 228; Shaw's Staffordshire, i. 114; State Trials, i. 312; Parl. Hist. iii. 25; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 49, 529; Foss's Judges, v. 235; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Lingard's Hist. and Brewer's Reign of Henry VIII; Colvile's Warwickshire Worthies; Simms's Bibl. Staffordiensis.]

A. F. P.