TAYLOR, ALEXANDER (1749-1817)
TAYLOR, ALEXANDER, businessman, customs official, militia officer, JP, and MLA; b. Speymouth parish, Morayshire, Scotland, 14 Jan 1749, s/o Patrick Taylor and Helen Gordon; m. Jean - ; d. Miramichi (will registered 4 Oct 1817).
Alexander Taylor stated that his ancestors for seven centuries back were "of consanguinity to His Grace the Duke of Gordon (North Britain) and his ancestors." Through his mother, Helen Gordon, he received "a very generous allowance," but when he discovered seven years later that he "scarce could command a shilling," he decided to emigrate with his family and settle on the Miramichi. He was knowledgeable concerning the opportunities which the Miramichi afforded from a sister who had been settled on the river since 1777.
Taylor claimed to have emigrated with his wife and six children, and he may have done so, but it would seem that, while he came to the river by way of Halifax in 1784, some, or all, members of his family did not arrive until 1787. The land surveyor Daniel Micheau noted in 1785 that Alexander Taylor, "lately from Scotland," had improvements on lot 63 west of Bartibog River. This was later the site of Taylor's home, which he named "Burnside," after the family's place of residence in Scotland. John Taylor, whom he referred to as his brother, and who was the occupant of adjoining lot 64 in 1785, is shown in family Bible statistics to have been born in 1761 at "Burnside, Parish of Dipple, County Elgin"; that is, at Burnside of Dipple, parish of Speyside, Morayshire, on the west bank of the River Spey, seven miles east of Elgin. Taylor bragged in his correspondence that he had brought 150 of his "nearest in kin" and other Scots to the Miramichi, but few of these people have yet been identified. Besides John Taylor, his known kin were two siblings whose baptismal data match his own; that is, his older sister Anne Taylor, the wife of the William Brown of Scottish origin who was settled on the Miramichi, and his younger brother Patrick Taylor. Although no baptism record has been discovered for her, Catherine Taylor, the wife of Alexander Henderson Sr, would also appear to have been an older sister, which would place the seven Henderson children who came to the Miramichi in the 1770s among the kin.
Taylor's land transactions and the contents of his will reveal that he had substantial holdings at different locations around the Miramichi and was involved in trade and commerce. He farmed the land on which he was settled, and the fact that he owned a lot on Fox Island indicates that he had a commercial interest in the fishery. In 1803 he was preventive officer in the customs service on the Miramichi, and he was still listed as holding this position in 1814.
Taylor was appointed a justice of the peace in 1788. He was one of the seven magistrates present at the first session of the Northumberland County Court of Quarter Sessions in 1789, and he was among the most active of the justices in the years prior to 1802. Other justices came and went, but he, James Fraser, and James Horton did the most to manage county affairs and to mete out justice to the residents in that period. His interest in his role as magistrate flagged after he was elected in 1802 as one of the two county representatives in the House of Assembly. He was re-elected in 1809 and sat until 1816.
Taylor was the captain of a militia company in 1798 and was promoted to major when the 1st Battalion of Northumberland County militia was organized in 1799. In 1809 he was made lieutenant colonel and placed in command of the battalion. He retired with his rank on 20 August 1813. His brother Patrick Taylor was also an original officer of the 1st Battalion and served as its adjutant within the precise dates of Alexander Taylor's command.
Taylor's letters and other writings show that he was more literate and more broad-minded than many of his Miramichi contemporaries. He played a leading part in efforts to have schools established in the county. He urged greater commercial development and the building of towns. He was one of the only public figures on the Miramichi to intervene with provincial authorities to curb the injustices which settlers were perpetrating against the Indians. On the other hand, he was accused by some of his fellow magistrates and others of vindictiveness in office and of drunken, violent, threatening behavior. Some of these accusations may have arisen from actions taken by him against smugglers and other lawbreakers in his capacity as preventive officer, but he was sufficiently worried in 1808 about being stripped of such authority and privilege as he enjoyed that he appealed to Edward Winslow, the acting administrator of the province, for support.
Taylor's will was registered on 4 October 1817. He probably died in September of that year, at age sixty-eight. He was survived by his wife, Jean, two married daughters, and seven of his eight sons. His deceased son, John Taylor, who was married to a daughter of the Rev. John Urquhart, was drowned in 1814.
[b] LDS-IGI / Baxter; DCB; Facey-Crowther; Ganong; Graves; Williston research
i) Ganong speculates in his History of Tabusintac that Charlotte Taylor, c1751-1841, "the Mother of Tabusintac," and widow of John Blake, William Wishart, and Philip Hierlihy, was a sister of Alexander Taylor, but it would appear that she was not. The following are the children of Taylor's parents for whom birth/baptism information has been found: Patrick (1st), 1743; Anne, 1745; Charles, 1747; Alexander, 1749; Margaret, 1751; Jean, 1753; and Patrick (2nd), 1756. Those thought to be children but missing from the list are Catherine Taylor, the wife of Alexander Henderson, and John Taylor, born in 1761. ii) It has been stated that Taylor was married twice, but this is not shown in the available documentation either.