Taylor, Rowland (DNB00)

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TAYLOR, ROWLAND (d. 1555), martyr, was born at Rothbury, Northumberland, near the birthplace of Ridley and Dr. William Turner (d. 1568) [q. v.] (Turner to Foxe in Ridley, Works, pp. 489–90). In his early years he lived on terms of intimacy with Turner, and, like him, was educated at Cambridge. He was ordained exorcist and acolyte at Norwich on 20 Dec. 1528. He graduated LL.B. at Cambridge in 1530 and LL.D. in 1534, and on 3 Nov. 1539 was admitted an advocate. About 1531 he became principal of Borden hostel. While at Cambridge Turner secretly procured for him a copy of the well-known protestant manual ‘Unio Dissidentium,’ which had been proscribed by Tunstal in 1527, and induced him to attend Latimer's sermons. These had such an effect upon him that he ‘entered with readiness into our doctrine’ (ib.) Before 1540 Cranmer appointed Taylor his domestic chaplain; in that year he was a member of convocation (State Papers, Henry VIII, i. 634). In 1543 he was one of the two commissioners appointed to inquire into the charges brought against Cranmer by the prebendaries of Canterbury, and in 1544 the archbishop presented him to the living of Hadleigh, Suffolk.

Taylor is said by Strype to have been one of the ecclesiastical visitors appointed in 1547, but this is apparently a confusion with Dr. John Taylor [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Lincoln. On Tuesday in Whitsun week, however, Rowland Taylor preached ‘a notable sermon’ at St. Paul's (Wriothesley, Chron. ii. 3), and in the same year he was presented to the third stall in Rochester Cathedral (Shindler, Registers of Rochester Cathedral, p. 74). In 1549 he was placed on the commission against anabaptists, and in 1551 he was appointed chancellor to Bishop Ridley of London and one of the six select preachers at Canterbury. On 22 Oct. in that year he was made a commissioner for the reformation of the ecclesiastical laws (Council Warrant Book in Royal MS. C. xxiv. f. 150), the appointment being renewed in February 1551–2 (Lit. Remains of Edward VI, pp. 398–9). On 10 Jan. 1551–2 he was one of the two selected to exercise episcopal jurisdiction in the vacant see of Worcester. In 1552 he was also appointed archdeacon of Exeter by Miles Coverdale.

Taylor must have made himself peculiarly obnoxious to Mary, possibly by abetting Northumberland's schemes, for on 25 July 1553, only six days after her proclamation as queen—a fact hitherto overlooked by Taylor's biographers—the council ordered his arrest and committed him to the custody of the sheriff of Essex (Acts of the Privy Council, 1552–4, pp. 418, 420, 421). If the account given by Foxe is correct, Taylor must have been released and allowed to resume his ministry at Hadleigh. According to the martyrologist, Taylor in March 1553–4 offered strenuous opposition to the performance of mass by a priest in his church at Hadleigh; information having been laid before the council, Taylor was arrested. On 26 March 1554 the council ordered the sheriff of Essex to send him up to London, where he was imprisoned in the king's bench. On 8 May following he signed the confession of faith of the religious prisoners and their protest against the way in which disputations were managed. He was examined on various occasions by Gardiner, whom he charged with breaking his oath to Henry VIII and Edward VI. On 22 Jan. 1554–5 he was condemned to death, on the 29th he was excommunicated, and on 4 Feb. he was degraded by Bonner. He was removed to Hadleigh, and on 9 Feb. was burnt on Aldham Common, near Hadleigh. (Foxe, whose account is confused, says Taylor was in prison a year and nine months from Palm Monday 1553–1554, which would bring it to December 1555; there is a notice of a Rowland Taylor being summoned before the privy council on 24 Oct. 1555 in Acts P. C. 1554–6, p. 189, and Foxe makes Taylor date his will 5 Feb. 1555, which would naturally mean 1555–6; nevertheless Machyn and Wriothesley both place his death in February 1554–5, and that date is confirmed by the despatch of Michiel, the Venetian ambassador; see Cal. State Papers, Venetian, 1555–6, i. 31.) A stone, with an inscription, marks the spot where Taylor was burnt, and in 1818 Dr. Hay Drummond, then rector of Hadleigh, placed a monument near it with a poetical inscription (Gent. Mag. 1818, ii. 390–1). A brass was also placed in Hadleigh church with an inscription to his memory.

Taylor was a man of ability and learning. Foxe represents him as the beau-ideal of a parish priest, and his unblemished and attractive character has made him one of the most famous of the martyrs who suffered in Mary's reign. He is commemorated in many popular poems (cf. Corser, Collectanea Anglo-Poetica, ii. 108–10; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. xi. 281, 350). By his wife, whom he married probably about 1539, he had nine children, of whom four survived him. The eldest son's name was Thomas, and a daughter Anne married William Palmer (1539?–1605) [q. v.] His widow married one Wright, a divine (Parker Corresp. p. 221). Jeremy Taylor [q. v.] is said (Heber, Life of Jeremy Taylor) to have been a lineal descendant of Rowland Taylor, but the assertion has not been proved (Notes and Queries, 7th ser. ii. 56).

[Authorities cited; Thomas Quinton Stow's Memoirs of Rowland Taylor, 1833; other biographies were published by the Church of England Tract Society in 1815, and by the Religious Tract Society, No. 308; these are derived with more or less accuracy from Foxe's Actes and Monuments. See also Lansd. MS. 980, f. 196; Machyn's Diary (where he is indexed as Dr. John Taylor); Wriothesley's Chron.; Bradford, Ridley, and Hooper's Works and Zurich Letters, 3rd ser. (Parker Soc.); Burnet's Hist. of the Ref. ed. Pocock; Strype's Works; Wordsworth's Eccl. Biogr.; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 123; Maitland's Essays on the Reformation; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl.; Dixon's Hist. Church of England; Froude's Hist. of England.]

A. F. P.