Taylor White

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Taylor White (1701–1772) in his robes as Puisne Justice of Chester.

Taylor White FRS (21 December 1701 – 27 March 1772) was a British jurist, naturalist, and art collector. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was the patron of several prominent wildlife and botanical artists including Peter Paillou, George Edwards, Benjamin Wilkes, and Georg Dionysius Ehret. He was also a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital in London and served as its treasurer for many years.[1][2]

Early life and legal career[edit]

Taylor White was born at his family's seat in Wallingwells, a hamlet in northwest Nottinghamshire. He was one of the five children, and the second son, of Thomas and Bridget (née Taylor) White. His father was for many years the Member of Parliament for East Retford and in 1717 was appointed Clerk of the Ordnance. His maternal grandfather, Richard Taylor, was the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and had also served as the Member of Parliament for East Retford.[3] White was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1720 where he studied law and was called to the bar in 1727. He practised as a barrister on the Northern Circuit (Yorkshire, Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmoreland) and eventually received several judicial appointments including Circuit Judge on the North Wales Circuit (1750) and Puisne Justice of Chester (1760).[4] In 1737 he had also been one of the four counsels retained by Georgia (then a British colony) in a dispute with its neighbouring colony South Carolina over trade with the Indians.[5][3]

The London Foundling Hospital[edit]

Portrait of Taylor White by Francis Cotes, 1758

A friend and associate of the British philanthropist, Thomas Coram, White worked tirelessly to raise funds enabling the establishment of Coram's Foundling Hospital in 1739. He became one of the founding Governors, and it was in White's London house that the announcement for its first intake of infants was drawn up. Along with Coram and the Duke of Richmond, White and his fellow Governors were present on the evening of 25 March 1741 when the first children arrived.[6] He became a key figure in running the institution, serving as its Treasurer from 1745 until his death, and was largely responsible for the establishment of the Hospital's branch in Ackworth, West Yorkshire. A portrait by Francis Cotes of White working on his ledgers hung in the Committee Room of the Hospital along with works by William Hogarth and George Lambert, and is now in the care of the Foundling Museum.[4] A keen art collector himself, White was instrumental in building up the Hospital's famous art collection, persuading many of the leading artists and collectors of the day to donate works to it. He also commissioned a large marine painting from Charles Brooking for the Committee Room and a painted glass window from William Peckitt for the Hospital's chapel.[7][8]

Death and Succession[edit]

Upon his death on 27 March 1772, White was succeeded by his eldest son, also named Taylor White, in his substantial estates. He was buried in the family church in Tuxford.


  1. ^ Allen, David Elliston (2010). Books and Naturalists, pp. 74–76. HarperCollins UK. ISBN 0007379730
  2. ^ Lysaght, Averil M. (1971). Joseph Banks in Newfoundland and Labrador, 1766: His Diary, Manuscripts, and Collections. pp. 103–107. University of California Press. ISBN 0520017803
  3. ^ a b Betham, William (1805). The Baronetage of England, Vol. 5, pp. 500–504. Miller
  4. ^ a b Allin, D.S. (2010). The Early Years of the Foundling Hospital, 1739/41-1773, pp. 431–432 and iv. Foundling Museum. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  5. ^ Davies, K. G. (ed.) (1963). "America and West Indies: January 1737", Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 43: 1737, pp. 1–21. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  6. ^ Wagner, Gillian (2004). Thomas Coram, Gent., 1668–1751, pp. 144–145. Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 1843830574
  7. ^ Brownlow, John (1847). Memoranda: Or, Chronicles of the Foundling Hospital, pp. 61–82. Sampson Low
  8. ^ Brighton, J. T. and Brighton, Trevor (1988). "William Peckitt's Commission Book". The Volume of the Walpole Society, Volume 54, p. 378. Retrieved 17 October 2013 (subscription required).
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Talbot
Puisne Justice of Chester
Succeeded by
John Skynner