BEFORE BLAKE

Chapter 1

London Survey
From: A NEW & ACCURATE PLAN of the CITIES of LONDON & WESTMINSTER & BOROUGH of SOUTHWARK with the NEW ROADS & new BUILDINGS to the present YEAR 1799 from a late SURVEY to which is added many usefull TABLES VIEWS, & c. LONDON Pulbifh’d Jan y.1st. 1799. by J. EVANS No. 12 Long Lane, Weft Smithfield. From the Mary Lynn Smith collection.

Historic accounts and tales about Charlotte Taylor usually include references to ‘her roots’.  Most believe that she was born in England, likely London, where she resided during her youth.  She died April 25, 1841 in Tabusintac, New Brunswick, Canada, after a lingering illness.  Her Death Certificate, ostensibly filed at the Office of the Common Clerk in Saint John, New Brunswick, has disappeared.  Tragically, the Great Saint John Fire of June 1877 destroyed two-fifths of the city and most of the official documents stored there.  April 27, 1841 the St. Andrews Standard printed an obituary of Charlotte Hierlihey whose death occurred on “Sunday morn” at the age of 89.  The May 5, 1841 edition of the Royal Gazette also published an obituary, which announced that “Charlotte Hierlihey, an old and respected inhabitant and the third British settler on the banks of the Miramichi”, had died in her 89th year.  If her age was recorded accurately in the St. Andrews newspaper, then she was born in 1751 or 1752.  If her age was recorded accurately in the Royal Gazette, then she was born in 1752 or 1753.  Did the St. Andrews newspaper print an error about her age (89), which was perhaps corrected about a week later in the Royal Gazette (in her 89th year)?  Neither paper recorded her age at death as (85).

Charlotte Hierlihey’s [Hierlihy’s] maiden name was Charlotte Taylor.  In 1980 a memorial marker was placed within the Tabusintac Riverside Cemetery – a tribute to the “Mother of Tabusintac . . . 1755-1840” by descendants.  The year of death on the marker is incorrect and, based on the obituaries, the year of birth is questionable.  

In order to ‘find’ Charlotte, detailed research was and is required.  A search of birth and christening records in the British Isles for the years 1749-1755 provided ten (1-10) results for the name Charlotte Taylor (various spellings), along with one marriage record (11) that revealed a 1754 year of birth.  The sources for these are: the IGI (International Genealogical Index), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Reference: FHL Film Numbers), and Parish Registers:

1. Tayleur, Charlotte
Christening: 26 Nov. 1752 Great Bolas, Shropshire, England
Father: Cresswell Tayleur
Mother: Phyllis
Possible marriage 20 March 1777 to Thomas Pigot.
As per a descendant: This Charlotte should be excluded.
FHL Film Number: 908235
 
2. Taylor, Charlotte
Birth: 2 April 1753
Christening: 29 April 1753, Westminster, St. Marylebone, England
Burial: 6 August 1753
Father: Charles Mclisher Taylor
Mother: Mary
As per Mrs. C.J. Thain 10 March 1986: “Child Born 2 Apr 1753.
Burial Child, Charlotte Taylor, 6 Aug 1753.”
FHL Film Numbers: 580904 and 580905
Parish Register – Church of England
 
3. Taylor, Charlotte
Birth: 1 Jan. 1754
Christening: 20 Jan. 1754 Richmond-Sunbury on Thames, London, England
Mother: Ann Taylor (No Father listed in Register Entry)
FHL Film Number: 577573
Parish Register – Church of England
 
4. Taylor, Charlotte Susanna
Christening: 10 March 1754 Ratley, Warwickshire, England
Death: 8 May 1754
Father: James Taylor
Mother: Jane
FHL Film Numbers: 548392 and 5551437
Parish Register – Church of England
 
5. Taylor, Charlotte
Christening: 21 May 1749, Inkpen, Berkshire, England
Father: Edmand Taylor
Mother: Sarah
Note: Possibility of marriage to John Potter 12 Dec. 1775.
FHL Film Number: 88303
 
6. Taylor, Charlot
Christening: July 1754, Firth and Stenness, Orkney, Scotland
Father: David Taylor
Mother: Margaret Corstan
Note: Possibility of marriage to John Essen 1782.  
FHL Film Number: 919500
 
7. Taylor, Charlotte
Birth: 5 Nov. 1755
Christening: 9 Nov. 1755, Holborn Lying in Hospital, Endell Street, London, England
Father: Charles Taylor
Mother: Ann
FHL Film Number: 916633 (RG8)
General Register Office – Births . . . Surrendered to non-parochial Registers Commission of 1857 and other registers and church records; Class number: RG8; Piece Number: 62-1 (Christening)
 
8. Taylor, Charlotte
Birth: 21 July 1754
Christening: 2 Aug. 1754 St. George, Hanover Square, London, Westminster, England
Father: Thomas Taylor
Mother: Elizabeth Taylor
Parish Register – Church of England
 
9. Tayler, Charlotte
Birth: 8 Nov. 1753
Christening: 8 Nov. 1753 St. James’, Westminster, Middlesex, London, England
Father: William Stanton
Mother: Charlotte Tayler
Note: Possibly married to George Patterson 5 April 1779 at Hounslow-Heston (London, England – Church of England Marriage Banns)
FHL Film Number: One 042308
Parish Register – Church of England
 
10. Tailor, Charlotte
Christening: 18 May 1755 Hillingdon, St. Margaret, Uxbridge, Middlesex, England
Father: John Tailor
Mother: Mary
Marriage Banns: 2, 9, 16 Feb. 1772 No. 70 St. John the Baptist, Hillingdon, England to James Weston
Marriage: 12 July 1772, Hillington, Middlesex, England to James Weston
FHL Film Number: 496694
Parish Register – Church of England
 
11. Taylor, Charlotte
Birth: 1754
Marriage to John Meadows 6 March 1775 Ipswitch, Suffolk, England
FHL Film Number: One 595991
Note: Possibly the same Charlotte as either (3) or (8).

It is emphasized that some births and christenings during this period were undocumented, and records of those that were did not always survive.  So it is likely that other Charlottes were born between 1749-1755 in the British Isles.  Of the eleven records above some can probably be ruled out based on supplementary information supplied.  Many records included spelling ‘errors,’ i.e., different versions of the same name.  The IGI Marriage Records are interesting insofar as one date is concerned: Marriage of Charlotte Taylor to Thomas Radford on May 7, 1770 at Saint Martin’s in the Fields, Westminster, London, England.  That marriage may or may not have involved a Charlotte listed above.  The IGI Death Records also have two interesting entries: Death of Charlotte Taylor on December 23, 1806 in London, England with Relative listed as Ann T. Partington, and Death of Charlotte Taylor on September 19, 1839 at London, England with Relative listed as Ann Taylor Partington.  Were these two deaths, years apart, connected to a Charlotte on the above-referenced list?

The 1841 New Brunswick obituaries cast doubt on Charlotte Taylor number (7), whose 1755 birth and christening took place in the City of London at the Holborn Lying In Hospital.  Perhaps this girl  was named for her father Charles.  Interestingly, there are two IGI Christening Records, for infants Charles Taylor and Ann Taylor, dated 5 June 1757.  Their parents were Charles and Ann Taylor and the christenings took place at Lying In Hospital, Endell Street, Holborn, London, England.  These children were likely her twin siblings.  Charlotte Tayler number (9) is of interest – within the original parish register for St. James Piccadilly (St. James, Westminster) a baptism was recorded on 8 November 1753 for a child born that same day.  She was Charlotte BB Daughter of Wm. Stanton and Charlotte Tayler.  This child did not have a last name recorded in the register.  Nor did many others with the BB designation after their first names.  The reason for this was that the parents were not married.  When the parents were unmarried, the mother’s maiden name was always recorded.  When the parents were married, the mother’s maiden name was never recorded.  The BB designation shown after the given names would ‘brand’ these children for life.  

At any rate, to this day, we do not know for certain where, when, or to whom Charlotte Taylor was born!

London (Reference: See image shown above, London and Westminster, 1799) in the year 1762, described by James Boswell in his Boswell’s London Journal, was a settled and widely-serviced city.  St. Martin’s-in-the Fields, where a Charlotte Taylor married Thomas Radford in 1770, and the Holborn area, where Charlotte Taylor number (7) was christened in November 1755, were both well known areas.  Boswell noted the presence of significant churches, gardens, squares, theatres, markets and government buildings of the day; along with the taverns, inns, coffee houses, and dark streets that were there.  His observations provided an interesting and hard-edged look into the world of Charlotte Taylor when she was a young girl.

The ‘by-tradition’ stories of her life usually mention her father, a London merchant or a military man.  Stories of her mother have not been circulated.  There was a black stableboy or butler working at their dwelling or business, and Charlotte became involved with him.  Around 1775 they ran off to the West Indies, to escape the heavy-handed disapproval of her family.  The young man may have been a West India merchant according to other tales.  An interracial relationship would have been more acceptable in the West Indies.  On the Islands during the 18th century there was almost complete abandonment of monogamy and marriage.  ‘Concubinage‘ or cohabitation without marriage, was the custom of the Islands.  The European population was composed mostly of transient men with coloured mistresses.  The progeny of these relationships, bought free by their fathers, became part of an influential coloured middle class.  In 1775 the word coloured was commonly used and there were ‘whites’ and ‘coloureds’ on the Islands of the Caribbean.  Did Charlotte and her young man hastily board a sailing ship and leave their lives in London behind?

There is no record of Charlotte’s life during her brief stay on the Islands, if in fact she spent time there.  Trade was well established in the 18th century between the West Indies, Africa, Great Britain, North America, and the Mediterrean.  Ships laden with fish, lumber, and manufactured goods arrived in Island ports; others brought in African slaves to work on sugar cane plantations.  A West Indies life may have been the only option for Charlotte Taylor under the circumstances.  But something went awry and again there are different versions.  Charlotte’s lover perished from Yellow Fever in the West Indies, or he drowned off Miscou Island (present-day New Brunswick) when accompanying her to North America.  Out of concern for him, I think it unlikely that Charlotte Taylor would emigrate with a black man to a remote northern wilderness where slavery was practised.  There are records of black slaves living in Nova Scotia before the founding of New Brunswick in 1784, e.g., black slaves were common at Fortress Louisbourg during the French regime.  In May of 1783, as a result of the American Revolution, black people arrived at what would soon become the Province of New Brunswick on the Loyalist high tide, as slaves, indentured servants, free blacks or black Loyalists.  More likely, the demise of Charlotte’s partner was the result of Yellow Fever.  This disease was pandemic in the Caribbean at that time, and the old burial grounds on all of the Islands are filled with its victims, and with the casualties of the countless wars fought there.  The death of this man must have been a devastating development for Charlotte, if, as has been told, she was carrying his child.  Her condition may have prevented her from returning home, should she have even considered it.  This reality may well have forced her hand, and led her to another bold and radical decision when the opportunity presented itself.  She might have had little choice in the matter.

An unlikely assist presumably came from “the most famous privateer Britain has ever known”, Commodore George Walker.  Walker had commanded a fleet of armed merchantmen during the War of the Austrian Succession.  He went on to fame and fortune as commander of the Royal Family, a fleet of privateering vessels.  His spectacular naval battle with the Spanish Glorioso is recorded as his most memorable.  A legend in his time; he was a kind, brave, competent and widely respected individual.  His naïveté about financial matters enabled the unscrupulous owners of his vessels to take advantage of him.  Locked away in debtors’ prison, it would be years before he was exonerated and freed.  His knowledge of the Scottish fishing industry, and his desire to employ its successful practices in the rich northern waters of the Bay of Chaleur, led him to undertake a new venture after his release.  He relocated to present day Bathurst, New Brunswick where he set up a trading establishment in 1768.  He owned several ships that enabled him to successfully carry on his enterprise.  One of them, commanded by Captain Skinner, would bring Charlotte Taylor to the area and to a very different life than she had planned.

Commodore Walker was partnered initially with wealthy Scottish lawyer Hugh Baillie, and later with John Shoolbred.  They supplied the capital and he managed the day-to-day affairs.  By 1775 he was living in luxury at Alston Point where he had a splendid, elegantly furnished summer residence and five stores.  Another large residence stood at Youghall, near the head of the harbour.  Walker was also the local magistrate, empowered to perform marriages, baptisms, and burials.  Twenty British subjects worked for him in his fishing, shipbuilding, lumbering and fur trading business.  One of them was a Mr. Young who eventually married an Indian woman.  Another was master cooper James Robertson who lived on a farm in the Bathurst area until his death on October 29, 1834, at the age of 98.  Walker and his employees developed a lucrative trade with the Indians and Acadians of the area.  The Commodore also did business with other Englishmen who had set up similar ventures in that area of the Gulf of St. Lawrence; the Robins of Jersey and London merchant William Smith.

Walker’s ships left the (Bathurst) area loaded with lumber and fish from the bountiful Restigouche River region.  They sailed to ports in the Mediterranean and Great Britain where they took on manufactured goods.  From the Caribbean, they transported rum, molasses, and salt.  Frequently the ships stopped at Liverpool, Nova Scotia to unload and take on new cargoes in that bustling little town.  The Diary of Simeon Perkins, penned by a local merchant over a period of years, chronicled the activity and the movement of vessels into and out of that port.  It provides a fascinating look at days gone by.  Captain Blake, a frequent visitor, was likely in the employ of Commodore Walker or associated with him.  The Diary reveals that Blake arrived in Liverpool a few days before July 24, 1775 with a load of molasses and salt which he sold to Simeon Perkins and Captain Dean.  He remained there several weeks loading his ship with fish and boards and set sail after settling his accounts on Thursday, September 12, 1775, “with a good wind”.  Was this mariner Blake the one destined to marry Charlotte Taylor and father three of her children? Perhaps she was actually with him at this time.

How did Charlotte Taylor become involved with Commodore Walker and Captain John Blake?  It is possible that she first encountered them in London, if her father had indeed been a merchant there.  But it is more probable that she met one of them, likely Blake, after the death of her young man in the West Indies.  She set out for Walker’s compound, or to the Miramichi River area, in one of Walker’s ships and is said to have first come ashore at Miscou Island.  This is probably true as it was generally the first land sighted by vessels bound for ports in Gloucester County (New Brunswick), and a place to take on fresh water. Rugged, indented with creeks and gullies, and lying in deep water, Miscou sits at the entrance to the Bay of Chaleur.  Charlotte was expecting, or was already the mother of an infant daughter born sometime in 1775.  Blake was probably with her and had presumably brought her there.  Simeon Perkins confirmed in his Diary that a Captain Blake had definitely been in the Caribbean when he recorded the July 1775 purchase of Blake’s cargo (molasses and salt).

If Charlotte did spend time at his compound, Walker would have been welcoming and solicitous.  As the local magistrate he could have officiated at the marriage of Captain Blake and Charlotte Taylor.  Perhaps he christened her baby Elizabeth Williams (or Williamson), the presumed last name of the child’s late father.    Maybe Charlotte had been married to this man Williams (or Williamson), for that story has also been told.  As a short note of clarification here, Elizabeth Williams was the woman who married Duncan Robertson at Bay du Vin, New Brunswick on September 22, 1791.  This Elizabeth is thought to be the eldest daughter of Charlotte Taylor.  In the Census of 1851 for Alnwick Parish, Northumberland County, N.B., she was enumerated as Widow Elizabeth Robertson, age 76.  This verified that she had been born around 1775.  She was described as English, although her son with whom she was residing was noted as Scotch, the nationality of his father.  The record of that Census also states that she was born in the colony.  If this is correct, and it must be emphasized that errors were common on these Census Reports, then Charlotte Taylor probably arrived along the Gulf of St. Lawrence (New Brunswick) in 1775 before the birth of Elizabeth.  It is likely that the last name of this girl was Williams, a name prevalent in the vital statistics records of the West Indies in those days.  However, at the 4 November 1806 baptism in Tracadie, New Brunswick the parents of Catherine Robersson [Robertson] were identified within a French document as Duncan Robersson and Elizabeth Williamson.  Duncan’s surname was, of course, Robertson, and likely Elizabeth’s maiden name was mis-spelled also (lost in translation).  The name Willisams has also been discussed.  There is an interesting IGI record of a marriage between Elizabeth Willisams and John Cotlam in Nottingham, England on August 22, 1774, consequently the name Willisams may be an outside possibilty.  At the end of the day it is my belief that her maiden surname was probably Williams.

Captain John Blake, Charlotte Taylor, and the infant Elizabeth, may have quickly relocated to Black Brook on the Miramichi River.  The American Revolutionary War was erupting and American privateering vessels began their campaign of terror around the northeast coast (Canada) in 1775.  Blake may have felt it wise to get away from Walker’s compound which was probably under constant siege. Indeed he may have left there as a result of the hostilities.  Commodore Walker, like most of the other traders in that area, became a principal victim of the privateers.  His establishment was burned to the ground in 1776 or 1777 and the aging ‘privateer,’ of Glorioso fame, was compelled to set sail for England.  Charlotte and Captain Blake may have fled Walker’s compound at the same time; but Charlotte’s background probably prevented her from returning to England.  Commodore Walker was a philosophical man and a survivor of a lifetime of serious setbacks.  He presumably took his misfortunes in stride, as he had throughout his long and colourful history.  He may have planned to take command of another ship and involve himself in the new battle between Great Britain and her rebellious colonies.  But his seafaring days were over and he died of ‘apoplexy’ (stroke), soon after his return to London in 1777.

And so the story moves on to the time of John and Charlotte Blake, and to the beginning of their life together at Black Brook.  Many believe that they married soon after their arrival on the Miramichi River, and not before.  There were tremendous opportunities in that area, particularly in the fishery; consequently settlement was beginning.  Captain Blake had sailed in the region since 1758, and for certain knew it well.  He may have conducted business from time to time with William Davidson, who had established a business there similar to Commodore Walker’s in 1765.  Blake may have divided his time between the Walker compound and the Miramichi area. Life would continue to be tumultuous and unsettled for the Blakes.  The American Revolution was beginning and it would have a great impact on their lives.  The Miramichi would not provide a safe haven.  The next eventful chapter in the life of Charlotte Taylor will be detailed in Blake’s Time – Chapter 2 (CT’s Story).

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