Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Taylor, Edgar

TAYLOR, EDGAR (1793–1839), legal writer, translator, and biographer, fifth son of Samuel Taylor, a grandson of John Taylor (1694–1761) [q. v.], was born at Banham, Norfolk, on 28 Jan. 1793. He was at school at Palgrave under Charles Lloyd [q. v.], who made him a good classical scholar. In 1809 he was articled to his uncle, Meadows Taylor, solicitor, of Diss, Norfolk. He had mastered Italian and Spanish before coming to London in 1814; subsequently he learnt German and French. In 1817, in conjunction with Robert Roscoe, a son of William Roscoe [q. v.], the historian, he inaugurated the firm of Taylor & Roscoe, solicitors, in King's Bench Walk, Temple. He was an original member of the ‘Noncon Club,’ founded in July 1817. His legal career, chiefly in equity practice, was prosperous. During 1824–6 his (anonymous) translations from the ‘Kinder und Haus-Märchen’ of J. L. and C. G. Grimm were published under the title ‘German Popular Stories,’ with illustrations by George Cruikshank [q. v.] A second edition, entitled ‘Gammer Grethel,’ appeared in 1839. Attacked in 1827 by an incurable disease, and compelled (from 1832) to relinquish much of his professional work, he found literature a solace amid pain. His interest in the legal recognition of the rights of nonconformists was keen and untiring. He had taken, as a dissenting deputy, an active part in the movement for repeal (1828) of the Test and Corporation Acts; in 1837 he was appointed a commissioner (unpaid) for carrying out the Dissenters' Marriage Act. In ecclesiastical politics he co-operated with Robert Aspland [q. v.] His personal charm and strength of character were very great. After long suffering, heroically borne, he died at Bedford Row on 19 Aug. 1839, and was buried in the Highgate cemetery. He married, in 1823, Ann, daughter of John Christie of Hackney, who survived him, with an only daughter.

Among his publications were:

  1. ‘Lays of the Minne-singers … with Historical and Critical Notices,’ 1825, 8vo (illustrated).
  2. ‘The Book of Rights,’ 1833, 12mo (a digest of constitutional law, with comments).
  3. ‘Master Wace his Chronicle of the Norman Conquest, from the “Roman de Rou,” translated with Notes,’ 1837, 8vo (woodcuts); his notes are appended to Sir Arthur Malet's translation, 1860, 4to.

Posthumous were:

  1. ‘The Suffolk Bartholomeans: a Memoir of John Meadows’ (or Meadowe [q. v.]), 1840, 8vo (edited by Emily Taylor, see below).
  2. ‘The New Testament … revised from the Authorised Version … by a Layman,’ 1840, sm. 8vo (edited by William Hincks [see under Hincks, Thomas Dix]; a version of singular merit and beautifully printed).

He wrote in the ‘Jurist,’ ‘Legal Observer,’ ‘Retrospective Review,’ ‘Westminster Review,’ and ‘Morning Chronicle.’ Among his contributions to the ‘Monthly Repository’ are a ‘Memoir’ (1819, pp. 248 sq.) of John James Wetstein, the biblical critic; and ‘Observations on Mahometanism’ (1820, pp. 257 sq.).

Emily Taylor (1795–1872), sister of the above, wrote numerous historical tales, works of instruction for children, and popular biographies; she was also the writer of many hymns, some of considerable merit. Originally a dissenter, she joined the church of England under the influence of Frederick Denison Maurice [q. v.] She died in 1872.

[Field's Memoir of Edgar Taylor, 1839; Christian Reformer, 1839, pp. 739 sq. (includes a sketch from the Morning Chronicle by Henry Crabb Robinson [q. v.]); Prefatory Notice to Suffolk Bartholomeans, 1840; Memoir of Robert Aspland, 1850, pp. 404 sq.; James's Memoir of Thomas Madge, 1871, pp. 153 sq.; Clayden's Samuel Sharpe, 1883, pp. 40, 79 sq.; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, 1892, p. 1117.]

A. G.