Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Taylor, Richard (1781-1858)

TAYLOR, RICHARD (1781–1858), printer and naturalist, born at Norwich on 18 May 1781, was second son of John Taylor (1750–1826) [q. v.], hymn-writer. He was educated in a day school in that town by the Rev. John Houghton. He was soon apprenticed, on the recommendation of Sir James Edward Smith [q. v.], to a printer named Davis, of Chancery Lane, London. His leisure was employed in the study of the classics and of mediæval Latin and Italian poets, and he became proficient in French, Flemish, Anglo-Saxon, and kindred Teutonic dialects.

On the expiration of his apprenticeship he for a short time carried on a printing business in partnership with a Mr. Wilks in Chancery Lane; but on 18 May 1803 he established himself in partnership with his father in Blackhorse Court, Fleet Street, subsequently removing to Shoe Lane, and finally to Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, where the firm ultimately developed into Taylor & Francis. His younger brother Arthur was his partner from 1814 to 1823, and his nephew, John Edward Taylor, joined him from 1837 to 1851, Dr. William Francis, subsequently head of the firm, becoming his partner in the following year. The firm gained a reputation for careful printing, and Taylor and his partners produced many important works in natural history, as well as many beautiful editions of the classics.

Science chiefly interested Taylor. In 1807 he became a fellow of the Linnean Society, and in 1810 was elected a secretary. He was also a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Astronomical and Philological societies, and was an original member of the British Association.

In 1822 he joined Alexander Tilloch [q. v.] as editor of the ‘Philosophical Magazine,’ which subsequently developed into the ‘London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine.’ He established the ‘Annals of Natural History’ in 1838, with which the ‘Magazine of Natural History’ was incorporated in 1841, and the two were carried on as the ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural History.’ He also edited and issued five volumes between 1837 and 1852 of ‘Scientific Memoirs selected from the Transactions of foreign Academies of Science,’ as well as an edition of Warton's ‘History of English Poetry,’ 1840. For thirty-five years he represented the ward of Farringdon Without on the common council of the city of London. He took an active part in all matters of education, and assisted in founding the city of London school and the corporation library, while he promoted the establishment of the London University (afterwards University College) and of the university of London.

In 1852 his health gave way, and he retired to Richmond, where he died on 1 Dec. 1858.

In addition to the works already named, he edited Priestley's ‘Lectures on History,’ 1826, Horne Tooke's Ἐπεα πτερόεντα, 1829 and 1840, and contributed to Boucher's ‘Glossary of Archaic and Provincial Words,’ 1832.

A portrait from an engraving by R. Hicks, lithographed by J. H. Maguire (Ipswich series), is in the possession of the Linnean Society.

[Proc. Linn. Soc. 1859–9 p. xxxvii, 1888–90 p. 45; information kindly supplied by Dr. W. Francis, F.L.S.; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

B. B. W.