Taylor was born in Hamilton Square, New Jersey, in 1836. His father James F. Taylor, owner of a brick yard, died when John was fourteen. Taylor entered the grocery business as a store clerk at seventeen. He quickly earned an interest with his company but left after a year to form his own partnership with James Ronan, which lasted for two years before Taylor bought Ronan's share. From 1860 through 1870, he worked in the wholesale grocery business in association with D.P. Forst. Shortly thereafter, Taylor began working in the pork and cattle packaging industry. This enterprise was organized into the Taylor Provision Company in 1888.
Taylor was a Republican active in Trenton's City Council, where he served as chairman of the finance committee. He was elected State Senator for Mercer County, serving from 1880 to 1883. He declined a second term. He helped to abolish the street markets of New Jersey, and organized the Inter-State Fair in 1888.
In 1860, he married Catherine Rowley who later bore him two sons: Harry C., born in September 1864, and William T., October 1869. He is buried in Riverview Cemetery in Trenton.
^Savage, Beverly. "JERSEYANA; Oink! If You Love Pork Roll", The New York Times, December 26, 2004. Accessed December 29, 2007. "The original Taylor Pork Roll was created by John Taylor, a New Jersey state senator, who began making it in Trenton near where it is produced today, said George Cumbler, president of Taylor Provisions."
^ abcdeBazley Lee, Francis. Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County, New JerseyJohn Taylor Lewis Publishing Company, 1907