John Tayloe I

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John Tayloe I
John Tayloe I.jpg
Portrait of John Tayloe I of the Old House
Born (1688-02-15)February 15, 1688
Richmond Co, Virginia
Died November 15, 1747(1747-11-15) (aged 59)
Old House, Richmond County, Virginia
Resting place Mount Airy, Richmond County, Virginia
Nationality British/American
Occupation Planter, Agent
Known for Virginia Planter, Progenitor of the Tayloe's of Mount Airy

John Tayloe I (February 15, 1688 – November 15, 1747) was one of the richest plantation owners and businessmen in Virginia for his generation. Considered to be the chief architect of the family fortune,[1] he was known as the "Hon. Colonel of the Old House".[2] The Tayloe family of Richmond County, including John Tayloe I, his son, John Tayloe II, and grandson, John Tayloe III, exemplified gentry entrepreneurship.[3]

Early years[edit]

His father was the Hon. William Taylor (1645–1710) of London, England who emigrated to the Colony of Virginia in the 17th century. He took up land in Lancaster and Richmond Counties in 1650. He was the progenitor of the Tayloe's of "Mount Airy." It is not known why his orthography was changed from Taylor to Tayloe. He accumulated a vast estate, and was a liberal supporter of the Established Church. He was a Burgess in 1710, 1728 and 1730.[2][4] In 1685, William married Anne (1664–1694), daughter of Hon. Henry Corbin (ca. 1629–1676) and Alice (Eltonhead) Corbin, of "Buckingham House", of Middlesex County.[5] His siblings included Elizabeth (b. 1686), and William (1694–1770) [6] and inherited "Tayloe's Quarters," also known as "Mount Airy," from his father. The plantation home was known as the "Old House."


On February 7, 1710, Mr. John Tayloe was granted administration of the estate of his father, Col. William Tayloe, late of Richmond Co., VA., deceased. In 1711 Francis Yeates, of Richmond Co., was allowed by Act of Assembly to convey certain lands to John Tayloe, Gent. Tayloe served as High Sheriff of Richmond County and was in command of the county militia in 1713 at age 26, he was an influential member of the King's Council in 1732.[2] By April 6 1715, John Tarpley, Edward Barrow, Nicholas Smith, William Thornton son of the immigrant, John Tayloe and Richard Taliaferro were justices, Richmond Co., VA. A third-generation plantation owner from the Tayloe family of entrepreneurs. He acquired large holdings, 3,000 acres, known as Nanjemoy in Charles Co., MD, in Essex Co., VA Gwynnfield and in Prince William Co., VA, in 1734 5,000 acres called Neabsco, not far from the present day Quantico or Dumfries, where he operated the Neabsco Iron Works, which passed to his son, John Tayloe II in 1747 upon his death.[6] In 1730 he was a member of the House of Burgesses, became a member of Colonial Council in 1732 and later the King's Council.[7] In 1740 the Old House built by his father was destroyed by fire. He built a larger house at Mt. Airy which was destroyed by fire in 1758, after which the neo-Palladian Villa which still stands was built.

Politically, Tayloe was well-connected which he used to exploit his business interests to their full potential. In 1738, he convinced the Governor's Council of Virginia to "relieve himself and other adventurers in Iron Mines from port duties on iron ore imported from Maryland."[6] He held over 320 slaves[1] on the Northern Neck and in the Rappahannock River area, tending tobacco and other crops, toiling in ironworks, or working around the home as domestics, gardeners, or carpenters.[8] He held large holdings in Charles County, Maryland, and in Essex and Prince William counties, Virginia.

His son John Tayloe II and his first cousin Col. Thomas Lee (Virginia colonist) were named executors. He left Mount Airy to his son John. The will was proved with inventories. He gave to his widow the use of the plantation where he lived, 1200 acres; a large number of slaves, his chariot and six horses, plate and furniture, 1000 pounds sterling, and one-fourth of his stock of horses and cattle. He directs that these bequests are not to bar her from receiving her dower. To each of his two daughters he gave 2000 pounds sterling from his own estate and 500 pounds a piece in currency money, which had been left them by their grandmother, Mrs. Gwyn. Left to only son John 12,846 acres in Prince William Co., all his other estates (most of which were entailed) and all of his slaves and other property not bequeathed to his wife, together with the reversion of what was left her. Left a number of handsome legacies to friends, and a bequest of 300 pounds of currency money of VA, 10 cows and a bull to the parish of Lunenburg, in which he lived. The money was to be expended in repairs and necessary improvements to the glebe, and in clothing the naked and feeding the poor of the parish. He also directed that 6 slaves should be bought and placed on the glebe to work for the minister, and with this bequest made a provision that if these negroes were ever treated cruelly by the minister, they should be taken from him, and worked, under the orders of the vestry, for the benefit of the parish.

The inventory of his estate shows that on his plantations in Richmond, Essex, King George, Stafford and Prince William counties, VA, and in MD, he owned 279 slaves. The apartments in his house, the "Old House" (which preceded Mt. Airy), were "the counting house," "planter's hall", "the passage", "the green room", "the dining room" in which were a set of Reuben's Gallery of Lusenburgh, the "back passage", "Mrs. Tayloe's chamber", the "inner room", the "room under Mrs. Tayloe's", "the great chamber", "Mr. Fauntleroy's room", another "passage", "the room over the green room" and "Slater's closet" which was probably the butler's pantry, as it contained plate valued at 160 pounds sterling. The inventory included a coach with harness for four horses and a chariot with harness for six. The total value of the personal estate in VA was 10,035.10.10 pounds sterling. The personal estate in MD, including 40 slaves and the equipment of a large plantation, was not appraised.

Personal life[edit]

He married Elizabeth (Gwynn) Lyde (1692–1734), widow of Stephen Lyde, daughter of Maj. David Gwynn of Gwynnfield and Katherine Griffin, and resided at 'The Old House' in Richmond,[9] 2 miles from Mount Airy. The couple had four children: William Tayloe (1716–1726), who died at age 9, twins named John and Elizabeth (born 28 May 1721), and a daughter named Ann Corbin Tayloe, born 25 August 1723.[7]


  1. ^ a b McCusker, John J.; Morgan, Kenneth (2000). The early modern Atlantic economy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 347–. ISBN 978-0-521-78249-4. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Hardy, Stella Pickett (1911). Colonial families of the Southern states of America: a history and genealogy of colonial families who settled in the colonies prior to the revolution (Now in the public domain. ed.). Wright. pp. 499–. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Business History of the Virginia Gentry" (PDF). March 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2011.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  4. ^ Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, ed. Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. Volume 1. New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1915. OCLC 229136302. Retrieved February 16, 2013. p. 156.
  5. ^ Lancaster, Robert Alexander (1915). Historic Virginia homes and churches (Now in the public domain. ed.). Lippincott. pp. 343–. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Kamoie, Laura Croghan (2007). Irons in the fire: the business history of the Tayloe family and Virginia's gentry, 1700–1860. University of Virginia Press. pp. 62, 65, 183, 184–. ISBN 978-0-8139-2637-7. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Tayloe family". Rootsweb ancestry. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  8. ^ Wallenstein, Peter (2007). Cradle of America: four centuries of Virginia history. University Press of Kansas. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-7006-1507-0. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  9. ^ Valmarana, Mario Di; Center for Palladian Studies in America (Charlottesville, Va.) (1984). Building by the book. Published for the Center for Palladian Studies in America by the University Press of Virginia. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-8139-1022-2. Retrieved 17 October 2011.