Monthly Archives: January 2016

Nathaniel Taylor (1618—1683)

Nathaniel Taylor’s brief emergence from obscurity came in 1653, when he was chosen to be a member of the short-lived Barebones Parliament.  His background is unclear, but it was sufficient to take him to Cambridge, where he studied at the Puritan Emmanuel College, matriculating in 1637. He followed that up with a stint at Gray’s Inn and became a barrister.  At some point he came into the orbit of the extensive Bridges family of Warwickshire and married Mary Bridges.

By 1652 he had moved to Cardington, just outside Bedford, where a daughter Elizabeth was baptized in March.  He was appointed a JP and sufficiently impressed the likes of William Dell and other radicals to be nominated as a representative for Bedfordshire in May 1653.  He doesn’t seem to have made much of a mark in parliament. He was appointed to a reasonable number of committees, in most cases presumably because of his legal expertise (there were a lot of committees and not many MPs) but does not appear to have gained any prominence.  He was counted as a radical politically, but those who counted considered him a pretty moderate radical by the standards of that parliament. After the parliament dissolved itself, he disappears again briefly, probably returning to Cardington where the house he was occupying was sold to his wife’s brother William Bridges in 1654.

Nathaniel Taylor was, however, clearly considered sound by Oliver Cromwell or his advisors.  In December 1655 he was elected Recorder of Colchester after a purge of the electorate by one of Cromwell’s Major-Generals to ensure the right candidates were chosen.  He was also presumably the Nathaniel Taylor chosen in November 1655 to be Clerk of the Commonwealth.  As Clerk of the Commonwealth he marched in the procession at Cromwell’s funeral.  Both of these appointments were contentious.  A long-running lawsuit by someone to whom the Clerkship had been promised finally resulted in Taylor’s dismissal in late 1659 or early 1660, and after the Restoration the entire Cromwellian slate of Colchester positions was purged.

Later, Taylor lived at St. Giles, Cripplegate in London. Taylor’s personal records are sparse.  As a radical during the interregnum, he may not have had much contact with the record-keeping of the Church of England.  He was known to be a member of George Cokayne’s Independent congregation, and left Cokayne a legacy in his will referring to him as “my loving friend”. Cokayne was, at least some of the time, a Fifth Monarchist so Taylor may have been more radical than is obvious.

Burke claims Taylor and his wife had “eighteen children…several died young.” Given the scarcity of sources for the period, it is impossible to verify this claim.  In his will, Taylor mentions three children only: a son John, a married daughter (Mrs.) Barnard, and a daughter Hannah.  Nathaniel Taylor apprenticed his son John to William Nutt of the Company of Mercers, and John prospered to become a very wealthy merchant. Hannah never married and lived until 1717 or 1718. Nathaniel Taylor died of a “feaver” in January 1683 and was buried at St. Giles Cripplegate.