alexander taylor esquire
From The Winslow Papers Edited by W. O. Raymond
Excerpt from Pages 463 and 464
Alexander Taylor to Edward Winslow
Miramichi, January 28, 1802
‘ … Dear Sir. – Upon my first arrival at Miramichi the Indians were a great terror to the Inhabitants there being but few settlers here … I was told by a brother-in-law and a sister that this Julian family had done a great deal for government. Had it not been for them and a family called Renews the other Indians would have murdered every English settler that were then there. Observe, my sister and her husband were here before me. I came in 1784; they came in 1777.
I have also found this same disposition in this Indian family ever since my coming here. The papers they now have in custody will show their Grievance and I’m greatly of opinion his Excellency the Governor will cause justice to be done to them. I have, so far as I could prudently do, informed myself of the matter between them and Gilliee, and by all I can understand great injustice is meaned them by that man and his neighbors. Last year I sent a brother of mine to privately view the place in dispute, and he reported to me that they were molested and wronged by this man Gilliee aided by some other … If you think proper to have his Excellency informed of it I do certainly think it would be a great charity because the very road of justice seems to be entangled against these poor creatures, and I’m sure that’s not his Excellency’s will. I beg you’ll forgive this liberty for I take God to witness I say nothing but for Charity’s sake.’
” … Alexander Taylor was a representative of the County of Northumberland and in the house of assembly in 1802 and 1809 … The Renous River is believed to have derived its name from this Indian family … Alexander Taylor’s sister at Miramichi was Agnes Brown.”
Excerpt from Pages 613 and 614
Alexander Taylor to President Edward Winslow
Burnside, Miramichi, April, 1808
‘ … Hon’ble Sir, – Since writing the other papers herewith sent (the bearer being obliged to return after proceeding 2 days on his journey, the ice breaking up) a though hath forcibly struck me, viz., to visit Great Britain, and my reason is I am but like a stranger here, and there I am not so.
My ancestors for seven centurys back were of consanguinity to his Grace the Duke of Gordon (North Britain) and his ancestors, and held of them and him a very handsome fen of land close by their castle. This small estate descended lineally from 5 Major Gordons down to my mother Helen Gordon and from her to me: but when I came of age and found my parents much troubled in mind how to bring up such an extensive family, I consented to let the land be sold and a will to be made agreeable to their wish. They made a very generous allowance to me, but I was very unfortunate, for in the course of 7 years thereafter I scarce could command one shilling. I was advised to apply to his Grace aforesaid, but my heart was too great, and hearing such vogue and encouragement about this place, I went privately to the Minister who baptised me and got a certificate of my behavior and character, and set out for here with a wife and six children. Now sir what makes me think that I would find friends there is this. In the first place this noble family all along did honor to all my ancestors, and when I came to this country, the present Duke, and his son, the Marquis of Huntley, did aliment my mother after my father’s death, and when she died had her honorably interred. Moreover one of my sisters did nurse the Duchess of Manchester and Duchess of Bedford in England, who are both daughters of His Grace the Duke of Gordon, and also did dry nurse the Marquis of Huntley, and these nobility have taken such notice of my said sister that they allow her everything that she can personally ask, and hath placed every child she has in fine places.
In short Sir will you wance more do me the honor to approve or disapprove of my thoughts, as I am very conscientious to myself that since I have been in this country I have never made any steps of consequence without first soliciting your advice.
I would not hesitate upon leaving this place of uncertainty and depend on the assistance of such men as I have mentioned, but alas what comfort can I expect to have in another corner, and leave here 10 sons, and 2 daughter and above 150 of my nearest in kin, all which, with many others, I have been the sole instrument of bringing to this country? If I am drove to the necessity I shall have to humbly beg your Honor’s Certificate of my conduct and stations I have occupied while here, – and with many other honors and favours conferred on me I shall always be bound to be Sir.’
Your Honor’s mo. obedient and
Most Humble Servant,
” … Alexander Taylor was elected a representative of the County of Northumberland in the House of Assembly in 1802 and again in 1809. He had a large connection at Miramichi, who, like himself, had emigrated from Scotland. His sister, Agnes Brown, came to Miramichi with her husband in 1775, and this probably led to Mr. Taylor’s own settlement there in 1784. His nephew Alexander Henderson, came shortly afterwards. Alexander Taylor was one of the early magistrates of the County of Northumberland – also Alexander Wishart.”
From A Letter from Ian W. Symon of Morayshire, Scotland, November 18, 1985.
To Mary Lynn Smith.
” … Alexander Taylor who emigrated in 1784. I have managed to identify exactly who he was … Alexander Taylor was the son of Patrick Taylor of Haugh of Burnside, Dipple, Parish of Speymouth, and his wife Helen Gordon, daughter of Alexander Gordon alias ‘Major’ of Dallachy. He was christened January 14, 1749. Patrick Taylor and Helen Gordon married in the parish of Bellie (in which Dallachy is situated) on March 5, 1734. They had a daughter Catherine baptised on October 19, 1734, a piece of simple arithmetic will show that Helen would have been expecting this child at the time they got married. Patrick or Peter as he seems to have been usually called in the Parish of Bellie seems to have been something of a Casanova. Only a month before his wedding to Helen Gordon he had a natural, i.e., illegitimate daughter by a girl called Marjorie Wishart baptised. At the time of both baptisms he was stated to be resident in Nether Dallachy, and in both instances he is called ‘Peter Taylour Younger’ so I’m pretty confident the same person is referred to as the father at both christenings.
The next we hear of Peter or Patrick Taylor and Helen Gordon is in the parish of Speymouth in whose register we find recorded the baptisms of:
Patrick October 22, 1743
Anne June 29, 1945
Charles June 25, 1747
Alexander January 14, 1749
Margaret April 21, 1751
Jean September 30, 1753
Patrick March 23, 1756 * The first Patrick had presumably died by then.
In each of these cases the baptism is stated to have been performed by ‘a Romish or Papist priest’, in all cases bar one the name of the priest is given as Mr. Godsman and in one case (Jean) the priest’s full name is given as Mr. John Godsman. It therefore transpires from the Speymouth Parish Register that the couple were Roman Catholics. This probably accounts for the gap in the records between the baptism of their first child Catherine in 1734 and that of Patrick in 1743 and is highly unlikely that no children were born to the couple during the intervening period. That the children who may have been born during that gap were or may have been all girls is confirmed by the fact that ‘Alexander son of Patrick Taylor in Burnside of Dipple obtained Sasine (i.e., title to the land) on the 28th of June 1774. He would not have inherited or in this instance acquired his father’s property (Patrick the father died in 1782) in the normal course of events unless he was the eldest son. We have already noted that Patrick the 1st one of that name had died by 1756. This would mean that by 1774 no son born to the couple (Patrick and Helen Gordon) before 1749 had survived. There therefore remains the possibility that a daughter named Charlotte may have been born between 1734 and 1743. On a note of caution one has to note that this doesn’t fit in at all well with the estimate of the birth date for the Charlotte Taylor you are researching, and also that Charlotte was a rare name at that time (in Scotland) and unlikely to be chosen as the name for one of the earlier female arrivals. … The quoted extract from a letter written by Alexander Taylor (to Edward Winslow in April,1808) was very interesting. At first sight it looked a bit legendary but research has proved it to be true in most respects … It is very interesting that it should have been in 1784 that Alexander Taylor emigrated to Canada. From a list of interments in the Speymouth Parish Register one finds the following entry: ‘a natural son of Alexr. Taylor of Burnside died 14 March 1784 ; buried at Dipple the same day’. The arrival of this unfortunate child and his death may have caused a family row and probably created a scandal. In any case Alexander probably left under something of a cloud … You will recall that I mentioned that all the Taylor children bar one (of the Speymouth baptisms) were baptised by a Roman Catholic priest called Mr. Godsman. Two Godsmans became Catholic priests. John Godsman almost certainly the one who christened the Taylor children founded St. Ninians Chapel at Tynet quite near … Dallachy around the 1750s. The building originally disguised as a cowshed is the oldest surviving Catholic place of worship in Scotland. John Godsman died April 1, 1769 aged 70. The Rev. Alexr. Godsman, the other priest of that name, died at Fochabers mid May 1770 aged 50.”
Notes from Mary Lynn Smith:
1. It has been suggested in several documents that Charlotte Taylor was a sister to Alexander Taylor. The information provided above conclusively disproves this theory, as the date of Charlotte’s birth was sometime between the years of 1752 and 1755.
2. Interestingly, William Davidson, who received a large grant on the Miramichi River, was known as John Godsman until he changed his name when he left Scotland for North America in 1765. He was born in the Parish of Bellie, near Fochabers in Banffshire. He was one of three children of William Godsman who married a daughter of William Davidson.