Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Taylor, George (1758–1828)

by A. W. Taylor

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

George Taylor (1758-1828), farmer, was born at Balvaird, near Abernethy, Scotland, and in March 1791 married Mary Low of the same parish. With their eight children they occupied Balvaird Farm, leased by his family from the earl of Mansfield since the seventeenth century. In 1822 Taylor emigrated to Van Diemen's Land with most of his family, arriving in the Princess Charlotte at Hobart Town in January 1823. He brought with him the usual letter of recommendation from the Colonial Office and capital of £890, and received an 800-acre (324 ha) land grant on the Macquarie River, which he named Valleyfield. Three of his sons, Robert (1791-1861), David (1796-1860) and George (1800-1826) each brought a letter of recommendation and capital of £700, and each was granted 700 acres (283 ha) on the Macquarie south of Valleyfield.

In November 1824 George Taylor senior was a signatory to the address soliciting separation from New South Wales. A staunch Presbyterian, he was chairman of a meeting in January 1826 to consider the establishment of a Presbyterian church in the district; the church was built ten years later. In July 1824 the family successfully defended their home against a gang of seven bushrangers led by James Crawford, and including Matthew Brady and McCabe. The Taylors' defence was so vigorous that the bushrangers were forced to withdraw leaving behind their stores and ammunition. Crawford and another of the gang were captured and later executed in Launceston. Writing to Taylor later in 1824 Lieutenant-Governor Arthur highly commended the family's spirited defence of their home and held it as an example to other settlers. To lessen the inconvenience of the family's isolated situation Taylor paid the passage of fourteen Scottish labourers who were indentured to him; he also imported a large quantity of blacksmith's tools.

Taylor died on 19 April 1828, aged 70. His widow married Henry William Gage, and died in July 1850, aged 85. Robert, the eldest son, inherited the 2100 acres (850 ha) of Valleyfield; in addition to his original grant, he had already acquired some 2500 acres (1012 ha) and several town allotments in Perth and Campbell Town, and was renting another 2000 acres (809 ha). In 1838 he married Margaret, the daughter of George and Margaret Stewart of Stewarton, Macquarie River; they had eight sons and two daughters. The second son, David, sold his grant to Robert and bought Winton from Dr Adam Turnbull. He married Nancy, daughter of Andrew and Hannah Gatenby and in the early 1840s with Robert, bought Kenilworth from the Forlonge family, and half their outstanding Saxon merino flock. This was the origin of the later well-known Taylor stud.

George, the third son, after receiving an extra 500 acres (202 ha) in compensation for losing the use of an arm in the fight with bushrangers, was killed by Aboriginals in November 1826. John (1804-1850), the youngest son who arrived in the Greencock in January 1828, received 500 acres (202 ha) by grant, and bought the near-by property of an Indian settler Rum John Conn, naming his estate St Johnstone.

Three of the four daughters married settlers in the district; the eldest later settled in the Portland district.

Select Bibliography

  • correspondence file under George Taylor (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

A. W. Taylor, 'Taylor, George (1758–1828)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/taylor-george-2717/text3825, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 20 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Life Summary [details]

Birth

1758
Balvaird, Perthshire, Scotland

Death

19 April 1828

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence
Occupation