JAMES TAYLOR (OF ASHTEAD AND EWELL)

Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos


I may have said elsewhere that you sometimes have to make what is hopefully an educated guess about the identity of some of the sitters in this collection. The wrapper is marked 'Mr Taylor, Ashtead' and the next one in sequence is 'Mrs Taylor'. In the 1861 census, which is the nearest to the date we think most of these photos were taken (i.e. early to mid-1860s), there were 11 male Taylors in the village. We can discard the curate, Rev. Barrington Taylor, since he was far too old to be this man and never married, and another Mr Taylor was born in 1810, so he's out too. Two were children and most of the others were adults but too young to be this person. That only leaves one, who was James Taylor, butler to Rev. William Legge, the Rector. As for Mrs Taylor, it is very likely that she had died and that an existing picture had been taken to Cuthbert's studio to be re-photographed and printed. James Taylor fits the bill on that score too, so I think these are the right people and shall proceed on that basis. If you can confirm the identity of the sitters, please contact the webmaster.

Probably James Taylor
Probably James Taylor
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

James was born in Ore (Hastings) in about 1827. The 1851 census found him as a footman at Coleshill House in Berkshire, country home of the Earl and Countess of Radnor: the house was demolished several decades ago after a devastating fire.

Coleshill House Berkshire
Coleshill House Berkshire
Drawn by JP Neale and published 1818 in Views of the Seats of
Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

In 1861 he had gravitated to Ashtead and was butler to Mr Legge. On 24 July 1861 at St Giles, Mr Legge conducted the nuptials for James and one Mary Greer, who was the cook at Ashtead Park. Mary was born in Ireland somewhere around 1827.

Probably a photograph of Mary Greer (Mrs Taylor)
Probably a photograph of Mary Greer (Mrs Taylor)
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Unfortunately Mary died on 16 March 1863, aged 35, and was buried at St Giles, the service again being conducted by Mr Legge. James was still at the Rectory in 1871 and on 22 April 1873 at St Giles he married Elizabeth Fanny Penny, who was Mr Legge's housemaid. However, Mr Legge had died in 1872 (at Ashtead Park) and the new Rector was William Richard Manby Colegrave, who, interestingly, had started out as a Roman Catholic priest (he seems to have given up the priesthood entirely after a couple of years in Ashtead and by 1881 he was a married financial agent in Folkestone -he died there in 1897).

Elizabeth's father, James Penny, had been the village schoolmaster and sub-postmaster until his death in 1869. James Taylor and his new wife remained in Ashtead until about 1875/6 and then moved to Ewell. By 1878 they were running the Organ Inn. By 1891 they had retired and were living in Meadow Walk. James died in 1902 and was buried on 1 March of that year. Elizabeth remained in Ewell with her eldest son, also James, and his wife, who briefly ran the Queen Adelaide in Kingston Road, Ewell - they were there in the 1911 census. I think Elizabeth died in 1936, aged 91.

Linda Jackson 2018