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John Louis Taylor

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John Louis Taylor
1st Chief Justice of North Carolina
In office
January 1, 1819 – January 29, 1829
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byLeonard Henderson
Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of North Carolina
In office
November 26, 1814 – December 8, 1817
Preceded byRobert Williams (as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee)
Succeeded byCalvin Jones
Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee
In office
December 12, 1802 – December 12, 1805
Preceded byWilliam Polk
Succeeded byJohn Hall
Personal details
Born(1769-03-01)March 1, 1769
London, England
DiedJanuary 29, 1829(1829-01-29) (aged 59)
Raleigh, North Carolina
Resting placeOakwood Cemetery,
Raleigh, North Carolina
Alma materCollege of William and Mary, read law under George Wythe
OccupationJurist, politician

John Louis Taylor (March 1, 1769 – January 29, 1829) was an American jurist who served as the first chief justice of North Carolina from 1819 to 1829.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in London, England, he is the only foreign-born Chief Justice in state history. He was brought to America at the age of 12 and attended the College of William & Mary.


Taylor was elected to represent Fayetteville, North Carolina in the North Carolina House of Commons in 1792, 1794 and 1795. He became a state Superior Court judge in 1798 and turned over most of his law practice to his brother-in-law, young William Gaston, who later became a North Carolina Supreme Court judge and U.S. Congressman.

Before 1818, several North Carolina Superior Court judges met en banc twice each year, to review appeals and disputes from their own trial courts. This was eventually called the "Supreme Court". He sat as part of this Court often and in 1810 was chosen as its chief justice. When the North Carolina General Assembly decided to create a full-time, distinct Supreme Court in 1818, the legislators chose three men to make up the new Court: Taylor, Leonard Henderson, and John Hall. The three met and elected Taylor to once again assume his title of chief justice.

Taylor served on the Court until his death, near Raleigh, in 1829. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Elmwood, his home at Raleigh, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

Taylor was a prominent Freemason and served as Grand Senior Warden of North Carolina, while William R. Davie was Grand Master, and he himself served as Grand Master from 1802 to 1804 and from 1814 to 1817.[3] He was a member of Phoenix Lodge No. 8, A.F. & A.M., Fayetteville, North Carolina.[4]

Taylor's namesake grandson, John L. T. Sneed, served as a justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.[5]

Selected works[edit]

  • The North Carolina Law Repository (two volumes, 1814–16)
  • Term Reports (1818)
  • On the Duties of Executors and Administrators (1825)


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ John Baxton Flowers, III; Mary Alice Hinson (July 1975). "Elmwood" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  3. ^ List of Grand Lodge of NC Officers
  4. ^ An Address Delivered to Phoenix Lodge No. 8 at the Dedication of their Present Lodge Building by James Banks, June 24, A. L. 5858, A. D. 1858
  5. ^ Albert D. Marks, "The Supreme Court of Tennessee", Part III, The Green Bag, Volume 5 (1893), p. 233.

External links[edit]

Masonic offices
Preceded by Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee

Succeeded by
Preceded byas Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee
Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of North Carolina

Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by
New office
Chief Justice of North Carolina
1818 - 1829
Succeeded by