James Taylor (Ceylon)
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James Taylor (March 29, 1835 Kincardineshire, Scotland - May 2, 1892 Kandy, Sri Lanka) was a British citizen who introduced tea plantation to Sri Lanka (Ceylon). He arrived to Sri Lanka in 1852 and settled down in Loolecondera estate in Galaha. Here he worked with Thomas Lipton, a Scottish immigrant, to develop the tea industry in Sri Lanka. He continued to live in Sri Lanka until his death (more than half of his lifetime).
Life in Loolecondera
Taylor visited India in 1866 to learn the basics of growing tea on plantations; following his return, he started a plantation in Loolecondera estate in Kandy. He began the tea plantation an estate of just 19 acres (77,000 m2) in 1867. He started a fully equipped tea factory on the Loolecondera estate in 1872.
During the period when Taylor lived on the Loolecondera estate, the export of tea accelerated from 23 pounds to 81 tonnes and in 1890 it reached the level of 22,900 tonnes.
The story of tea in Sri Lanka began in the year of 1867. A Scotsman, James Taylor had cleared 19 acres (77,000 m2) of forest in the District of Hewaheta Lower to plant the first seedlings in what is now known as the No.7 field of the Loolecondera Estate. Today even people who have never heard of Sri Lanka are familiar with Ceylon tea, which is known for its quality.
In year 1872 Taylor attended the work of building a larger tea factory in Loolecondera and after that it started manufacturing of packeted tea. He already wrote about his success of starting a larger tea factory as "I have a machine of my own invention being made in Kandy for rolling tea which I think will be successful". In 1875 Taylor managed to send the first shipment of Ceylon tea to the London Tea Auction.
Taylor and Lipton
Thomas Lipton a millionaire in United Kingdom visited Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in 1890's, during his journey to Australia, and met Taylor. They discussed the business of exporting tea from Sri Lanka. Lipton's company became interested and started buying Ceylon tea.
Death and after
The rapid growth of the Sri Lankan tea industry allowed the large tea companies to take over therefore the small farmers like Taylor were chased out from the industry. Because of this, Taylor was dismissed by the Loolecondera estate management.
Taylor died 1892, after the one year of his dismissal from Loolecondera estate due to severe gastroenteritis and dysentery. His body was buried in the Mahaiyawa Cemetery in Kandy . There is a written statement on his grave's headstone as "In pious memory of James Taylor of Loolecondera Estate Ceylon, the pioneer of the cinchona and tea enterprise in this island, who died May 2, 1892, aged 57 years".
In 1893 one year after his death one million packets of Ceylon tea of the first shipment to London were sold at the Chicago World's Fair.
The majority of the tea estates (more than 80 percent) were owned by British Companies from the time of James Taylor who began the industry in 1867 until 1971 when the government of Sri Lanka introduced a Land Reform Act which granted the ownership of tea estates to the government (nationalisation of the tea industry).
100th Death Anniversary
John Field, the High Commissioner for Great Britain in Sri Lanka made a comment in 1992 for the 100th anniversary of the passing of Taylor as: "It can be said of very few individuals that their labours have helped to shape the landscape of a country, but the beauty of the hill country as it now appears owes much to the inspiration of James Taylor, the man who introduced tea cultivation to Sri Lanka". A museum also built in 1992 to commemorate him in the place where he lived.
- "TED Case Studies - Ceylon Tea". American University, Washington, DC.
- "The rise of the Ceylon Tea Industry James Taylor and the Loolecondera Estate". Official Website of the Government of Sri Lanka.