John Tayloe III
John Tayloe III
|Died||March 23, 1828 (aged 57)|
|Resting place||Mount Airy, Richmond County, Virginia|
|Education||Eton College, Cambridge University|
|Known for||Virginia Planter, Builder of The Octagon House, Founder of the Washington DC Jockey Club|
Hon. John Tayloe III (September 2, 1770 – March 23, 1828), of Richmond County, Virginia, was prominent in business, government, and social circles. A highly successful plantation owner and turfsman-leader in his day-he took an active part in public affairs and was considered the "Wealthiest man of his day". A military officer, he also served in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia for nine years. The Tayloe family of Richmond County, including John Tayloe III, his father, John Tayloe II, and grandfather, John Tayloe I, exemplified gentry entrepreneurship.
Tayloe was born September 2, or September 13, 1770. He was the son of John Tayloe II, and Rebecca Plater Tayloe; his uncles on his mother’s side, George Plater and brother-in-law of Edward Lloyd III, uncles on his farher’s side include Francis Lightfoot Lee, Edward Lloyd IV, Mann Page and Lawrence Washington brother of George Washington, later influencing his building of The Octagon House. His paternal grandfather was John Tayloe I. Of the nine children in the family, a twin brother did not survive more than a few days, and two sisters died while babies. All of his remaining siblings were girls. Before going away to school in England, Tayloe learned patriotism from his father. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge.
After returning home from England, he was ready to administer his estate for the benefit of the country as well as his own family. As he was the only surviving son, after his father's death in 1779, Tayloe was named in his father's will to receive most of his father's slaves, personal property, land and business interests. When his inheritance was turned over to him, the income was US$60,000; within a few years, he increased this to US$75,000. His father's iron- and shipbuilding interests were conserved and enlarged by Tayloe. His master shipbuilder at Occoquan was his slave, Reuben. Of Tayloe's other slaves, he reportedly sold 50 of them, mostly young girls, during the period of 1809 through 1828. In addition to shipbuilding at Neabsco Iron Works, Tayloe had other dealings in Prince William County, Virginia. In 1814, he purchased lots in Occoquan, and on the one that fronted Mill Street, he built the Occoquan Hotel. He served as a county postmaster for a time, and his stagecoach lines stopped in Occoquan, giving passengers a chance to disembark here.
During his residence at his summer home, "Mount Airy", the mansion was enlarged, having originally been built by his father. Among his guests were men of the American Revolution. Tayloe was a member of the Federalist Party, and he was a personal friend of General George Washington. He built the Octagon House in Washington, D. C. in 1799, residing there in the winter. The Octagon was designed by Dr. William Thornton, the first architect of the U.S. Capitol. While a resident of Washington, he helped organize St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square in 1814, served as a trustee in 1816 during its construction and upon completion served on the vestry and donated to the parish a communion service of silver, which Bishop William Meade, in his work on the old Churches of Virginia, says had been purchased by Col. Tayloe at a sale of the effects of the Lunenburg Parish Church in Richmond County, VA., to prevent its desecration for secular use.
As Captain of Dragoons, he went to Western Pennsylvania, to help put down the Whiskey Rebellion. In 1799, he was appointed Major of Light Dragoons, U. S. A. by President John Adams. When General Washington wrote to Tayloe a warm letter of congratulation, Tayloe hesitated to accept the commission as he had just been elected as a Federalist to the Virginia Senate, and he feared, as he wrote to Washington, that if he resigned his seat, the place would be filled by an opponent of the administration. On February 12, 1799, Washington replied that he was inclined to believe his civil service would be more important than military service. Tayloe served in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia, as Delegate and Senator. On the breaking out of the War of 1812, Tayloe was made commander of the cavalry of the District of Columbia, and saw active service.
Founding of the Washington Jockey Club
In 1798 a mile track was laid out which extended from the rear of what is now the site of Decatur House at H Street and Jackson Place, crossing Seventeenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue to Twentieth Street. The inaugural match featured John Tayloe III's Lamplighter and Gen. Charles Carnan Ridgely's Cincinnatus, for 500 guineas, ran in 4-mile heats, and won by the former, a son of Imp English bred stallion Medley. The only initial building was a small elevated platform for the judges. The "carriage folk" took to the infield for views of the contests and the strandees crested the outside of the course. The site of today's Eisenhower Executive Office Building, this first course's history was short lived as it stood in the path of L'Enfant's city plan.
In 1802 the Club sought a new sight for the tract, as the current one that lay the rear of what is now the site of Decatur House at H Street and Jackson Place, crossing Seventeenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue to Twentieth Street-today the Eisenhower Executive Office Building-was being overtaken be the growth of the Federal City. With the leadership of John Tayloe III and Charles Carnan Ridgely and support of Gen. John Peter Van Ness, Dr. William Thornton, G.W. P. Custis, John D. Threlkeld of Georgetown and George Calvert of Riversdale, Bladensburg, Maryland, the contests were moved to Meridian Hill, south of Columbia Road between Fourteenth and Sixteenth Streets, and were conducted at the Holmstead Farm's one mile oval track.
Tayloe's interests included American horse racing, being a leader in this sport during the period of 1791–1806. His son, Henry Augustine Tayloe, founded the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans with Bernard de Marigny in 1839. Like his father, John Tayloe III was a successful horseman, and owned such celebrated racehorses as Belair, Grey Diomed (who he imported, and for him sired Sir Archy whose progeny include Boston (horse), Timoleon (horse), Lexington, Secretariat and American Pharoah), and others.
He married Ann Ogle (1775–1855) in 1792. She was the daughter of Provincial Maryland Governor Benjamin Ogle and Henrietta Margaret (Hill) Ogle, of "Belair", and granddaughter of Samuel Ogle, Proprietary Governor of Maryland. The Tayloes raised a family of 15 children: sons Benjamin, Edward, Charles, William Henry, John, Henry Augustine, George, Lloyd, Robert Carter; daughters Henrietta, Catherine, Rebecca, Ann, Virginia, Ann Ogle, Elizabeth.
The memorial by one of his sons, Benjamin Ogle Tayloe, says that "his manners were refined and elegant. He was distinguished for his nice sense of honor, and a scrupulous regard to his word at all times. His wife was esteemed for sincerity and kindness of heart, graceful and dignified manners, and true and unaffected piety."
Children of John Tayloe III (1771–1828) and Ann Ogle Tayloe (1772–1855)
The Tayloes had 15 children over the course of 22 years, 13 of whom survived to adulthood. Seven of the children were born at The Octagon House, and nearly all of them resided there at various times in their lives. None of the children were living in the house at the time of their deaths. The following is a list of the Tayloe children, as well as birth, marriage, and death information for each of them.
- John Tayloe IV (August 2, 1792 – May 15, 1824). Buried at Mount Airy. Married Maria Forrest (Daughter of Colonel Uriah Forrest). Lieutenant in US Navy, served on the USS Constitution during the War of 1812. Age at death: 31
- Henrietta Hill Tayloe (December 4, 1794 – June 11, 1832). Died at Tudor Hall, Maryland. Married to H.G.S. Key (brother of Francis Scott Key). Age at death: 38
- Benjamin Ogle Tayloe (May 21, 1796 – February 25, 1868). Died in Rome, Italy, buried in Troy, New York. Married Julia Maria Dickinson of Troy, NY on November 8, 1824. Julia died on July 4, 1840. Benjamin was married a second time on April 17, 1849 to Pheobe Warren of Troy, NY. He lived in the Benjamin Ogle Tayloe House on Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.. Age at death: 72
- Rebecca Plater Tayloe (September 7, 1797 – March 24, 1815). Buried at Mount Airy. Unmarried. When Rebecca died, the Madisons lived in the Octagon, not the Tayloes. The 1992 edition of the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society Magazine states that the family was "grief stricken by the loss through illness of their eighteen-year-old daughter Rebecca Plater while at Mount Airy". Age at death: 18
- William Henry Tayloe (January 27, 1799 – April 10, 1871). Died Georgetown (Washington, D.C.). Inherited Mount Airy Plantation, presumed buried at Mount Airy. Married Henrietta Ogle, daughter of maternal uncle Benjamin Ogle II of Belair on May 4, 1824. Age at death: 72
- Ann Tayloe (March 23, 1800 – April 23, 1800). Died in infancy. Age at death: 1 month
- Catherine Carter Tayloe II (born April 1, 1801). Died in Barcelona, Spain. Married May 18, 1824 to James Baker of London, then British assistant consul general in Washington D.C., and moved with him to Europe. Age at death: unknown
- Edward Thornton Tayloe (January 21, 1803 – December 1876). Born at the Octagon, died at Powhatan, a house he completed in 1832 in King George County, Virginia. Married December 16, 1830 to his cousin, Mary Ogle (sister of Mrs. William Henry Tayloe, Henrietta Ogle). Age at death: 73
- George Plater Tayloe (October 15, 1804 – 1897). Married October 14, 1830 to Mary Elizabeth Langhorne, daughter of Colonel William C. Langhorne of Botetourt County, Virginia. Built Buena Vista at Roanoke, Virginia. Age at death: 93
- Elizabeth Mary Tayloe (March 21, 1806 – March 21, 1832). Born at the Octagon, died in Washington D.C.. Married her first cousin, Robert Wormeley Carter II of Sabine Hall (Warsaw, Virginia) (son of Catherine Tayloe, daughter of John Tayloe II who was married to Landon Carter II). Age at death: 26
- Henry Augustine Tayloe (1808–1903). Born at the Octagon, died in Washington D.C. Married April 19, 1838 to Narcissa Jamieson, daughter of John and Virginia Jamison of Alabama. Resided at Gallion, Alabama. Age at death: 95
- Charles Tayloe(February 15, 1810 – 1847). Born at the Octagon. Married August 3, 1831 to Virginia Anne Turner of King George County, Virginia, daughter of Richard Turner. Age at death: 37
- Virginia Tayloe (July 23, 1813 – April 5, 1883). Born at the Octagon, died in Baltimore, Maryland where she resided. Unmarried. Age at death: 70
- Ann Ogle Tayloe (August 11, 1814 – July 25, 1876). Born at the Octagon, died in Baltimore, Maryland where she resided. Married November 30, 1841 at the Octagon to Henry Howell Lewis, who became captain of the Confederate States Navy and was the great grand nephew of George Washington. Age at death: 62
- LLoyd Tayloe (November 8, 1815 – August 8, 1816). Born at the Octagon, died before his first birthday. Age at death: 10 months
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