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Taylor, Charles (DNB00)

TAYLOR, CHARLES (1756–1823), scholar and engraver, born in the parish of Shenfield in Essex on 1 Feb. 1756, was the son of Isaac Taylor (1730–1807) [q. v.], engraver, by his wife, Sarah Hackshaw, daughter of Josiah Jefferys of Shenfield. Charles was educated at a grammar school at Brentwood in Essex, and on completing his fifteenth year was articled to his father as an engraver, and studied under Bartolozzi. In 1777 he visited Paris, the principal school of engraving in Europe. After his return he adopted the course, then usual with engravers, of executing ornamental proofs on his own account. These engravings were for the most part after pictures by Robert Smirke and Angelica Kauffmann. In 1780 Taylor's house was burnt down during the Gordon riots, and he removed to Holborn, and afterwards to 108 Hatton Garden. In later life he devoted himself almost entirely to the revision of Calmet's ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ which he began to publish anonymously in 1797. It immediately attracted great attention and commanded a considerable sale. Numerous inquiries were made as to the editor, but Taylor acknowledged himself only the publisher and the engraver of some of the plates. The large demand for the work occasioned the issue of a fourth edition by 1824, and the work of revision occupied Taylor during the remainder of his life. After his death he was acknowledged to be the editor. He died at Hatton Garden on 13 Nov. 1823, and was buried in the Bunhill Fields burial-ground. In 1777 he married Mary Forrest, niece of Cornelius Humphreys, chaplain of the Tower, by whom he had a son, Charles (1780–1856), and two daughters, Mary and Sarah. His portrait, painted by himself about 1774, is at present at Braeside, Tunbridge Wells.

As an engraver Taylor possessed some ability. His brother Isaac credited him with ‘artistic feeling but no delicacy of tool.’ His chief artistic publications were:

  1. ‘Picturesque Beauties of Shakespeare,’ London, 1783, &c., 4to; the illustrations are by Thomas Stothard [q. v.] and Robert Smirke [q. v.], engraved by Charles and Isaac Taylor.
  2. ‘Picturesque Miscellanies,’ 1785.
  3. ‘The Cabinet of Genius,’ London, 1787, 4to.
  4. ‘The Artist's Repository or Drawing Magazine,’ London, 1788, &c., 8vo.
  5. ‘The Elegant Repository and New Print Magazine,’ London, 1791, &c., 8vo.
  6. ‘Elegant Historical Engravings,’ London, 1791.
  7. ‘The Landscape Magazine,’ London, 1791–3, 4to.
  8. ‘The Shakespeare Gallery,’ London, 1792.

He was the author of:

  1. ‘The General Genteel Preceptor,’ London, 2nd edit., 1797, 8vo.
  2. ‘A Familiar Treatise on Drawing for Youth,’ London, 1815, 8vo.
  3. ‘Facts and Evidences on the Subject of Baptism,’ London, 1815, 8vo.
  4. ‘A Familiar Treatise on Perspective,’ London, 1816, 8vo.
  5. ‘The Baptist Self-convicted,’ London, 1819, 8vo. He also edited the ‘Literary Annual Register,’ London, 1808, 8vo, afterwards merged in the ‘Literary Panorama,’ and translated the ‘Adventures of Telemachus’ from the French of Fénelon, London, 1792, 8vo.

[Private information kindly supplied by Mr. Henry Taylor; Memoir prefixed to Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible, 5th edit., 1837; Canon Taylor's Family Pen—Memorials of the Taylor Family of Ongar, 1867; Autobiography of Mrs. Gilbert, 1878, pp. 7, 44, 112–13.]

E. I. C.