Captain Polycarpus Taylor
Lords Commissioners of Prizes

Admiral Taylor appeared at Whitehall, England, before the Right Honourable the Lords of Commissioners of Appeals in Prize Causes,  in two court cases contesting the prizes of the two seized ships the "Le Mentor" and "Ann Maria St. Felix."

June 14, 1750

Polycarpus Taylor, Esquire, Commander of his Majesty' Ship the Fowey, on behalf of himself and other Officers and Mariners of the said Ship the Fowey vs. the appellants: James Ross and Thomas Seel, Jr., and Company, owners of the private ship of war, the Thurloe.

The ship Le Mentor, from Martinico was forced to join an English convoy, (June 1745) just before the news of the declaration of war with France, lest she should carry the news of the convoy to France.  In this position she was seized by the privateer Thurloe, which knew of war being declared.  The question at issue was whether the frigate Fowey under the command of Polycarpus Taylor, had not already taken possession of her.

March 12, 1752

The Spanish ship Anna Maria St. Felix, was taken off the island of Cuba, September 3, 1748, by Admiral Knowles squadron, consisting of Rear-Admiral Charles Knowles, Esq., Polycarpus Taylor, Esq., David Brodie, Esq., and Edward Clarke, Esq., while on a voyage from Carthagena and Havana to Spain. Admiral Knowles condemned, and divided among the captors, the goods of the Anna Maria y St. Felix in Jamaica, and after being gutted, was burned, 26 days after the signing of peace.

The owners, James Tierney, of London, merchant, in behalf of the said Francis Molla, the Master of the Anna Maria St. Felix, and of Don Libino Bernardo Vandenbrouke, of Cadiz, in the Kingdom of Spain, merchant, and others, subjects of the King of Spain, the Owners and Proprietors of the said Ship, her Tackle, Apparel, and Furniture, and of the several Goods, Wares, and Merchandizes, laden on board the same, at the time of her being taken seized were seeking compensation for their losses.

James Tierney, Francis Molla, and Don Libino Bernardo Vandenbrouke,  obtained a verdict on the 26th of March, 1752, by which the said money and goods, to the full value of 13,619l 7s 10d were adjudged to be restored.

On January 26, 1756 the petitioner (owners) had not been able to receive satisfaction for the said sum, or any part thereof, appealed to the majesty to order that payment be made of the said sum to the petitioner. The petition was laid before the parliament, who referred it immediately to a committee.  The owners of the money and effects of the ship were granted 13,869 pounds by the British government committee in 1756.

 

 


Policarpus Taylor
Rear Admiral - HMS Marlborough
90 gun, 2nd Rate ships
1756-1757


 

In the spring of 1756, Policarpus was appointed to the Marlborough as Rear Admiral. No mention is made in either Charnock's Biographia Navalis nor The Dictionary of National Biography as to what Policarpus did while in England from 1748-1756. Taylor was appointed in June of 1756 to the Culloden, with orders to go out with Sir Edward (afterwards Lord) Hawke and join her at Gibraltar.

 


Execution of Admiral Byng - 1757

 

Did the court martial and execution of Admiral Byng affect Rear Admiral Taylors dedication to serve? Admiral Taylor brought the HMS Culloden to England in 1757 and from that point on appears to have had no more service.

In late May of 1756, Admiral Byng was engaged in battle with the French. The HMS Minorca was lost in the battle due to Byng failing "to fight with sufficient vigour against the French." Upon arriving in England in July 1756, Admiral Byng was arrested and court-martialled under the Articles of War. The ministry covered up its own failings in preparations for the war and focused the blame on Admiral Byng.

Did Rear Admiral Policarpus Taylor participate in politics? In the ten year interim between a naval officer becoming a Post Captain and promotion to an Admiral, he could serve in the House of Commons or on the Board of Admiralty.

Life at sea had many perils. The number one killer of men was disease. Lack of citrus fruits resulted in scurvy. Tropical diseases, distemper, smallpox, and yellow fever were frequently brought in to seaports in London and spread to the general population. Moreover, loss of limbs was common among seamen.

 


Rear Admiral 1757-1762

 

Policarpus Taylor retired from the service, in 1762, with the rank and half-pay of a read-admiral on the superannuated list.

Eighteenth century British Navy had four type of Rear Admirals. The "red" was titled "Admiral", the "white" was titled "Rear Admiral," the "blue" was titled "Vice Admiral" and "yellow" for "Retired" from service with a pension due to old age or a health disability. This is commonly referred to as "superannuated."

The Rear Admirals Superannuated upon half pay of 17s 6d a day included nineteen men (Esquires) in 1781:  Roger Martin, Hon. G. Murray, Thorpe Fowke, Polycarp. Taylor, Robert Robinson, George Elliot, John Hardy, Ed. Falkingham, Henry Dive, W. Bladwell, Charles Knowles, Robert Jefferyes, Henry Rosewell, T. Knowler (Knowles?), John Hale, Richard Knight, I. Galbraith, John Harrison, and M. Whitwell.

A note of interest for the year 1781: Rt. Hon. Lord Hawke, K. B. Vice Admiral of Great Britain, and Lieutenant of the Admiralty received a monetary compensation for 16 servants while Sir George Brydges Rodney, Bart, Rear Admiral of Great Britain received compensation for 12 servants.

Sir Richard Hughes, Bar. was superannuated commissioner of the Navy in 1781, and received 500l a Year.

 

 


Retirement 1762-1780
Norton, Durham, England

 


Admiral Taylor purchased a retirement home in the countryside of Norton, Durham Parish, with the assistance of land agent Thomas Hogg.  He died sometime in January 1781 and the presentation of his will to London court in February of 1781.

Admiral Policarpus Taylor is buried in north transept of Norton Church called the 'Blakiston porch' in Durham, England. A memorial slab reads:


"Sacred to the memory of Admiral Policarpus Taylor, whose naval conduct had in a variety of public services reflected honour upon his country.  He died at the age of seventy-four, and in the year of redemption MVII*LXXXI (1781) possessing many Christian qualities which rendered him to his friends, and marked his character with general esteem-Death is swallowed up in victory."

Adjacent to the memorial slab of Admiral Taylor is the burial of his son-in-law Captain Robert Gregory, Esquire, and daughter Mary Taylor.

"Here lyeth the body of Robert Gregory, Esq., late Captain in the Royal Navy, who bore with manly fortitude a long and painful illness, the consequence of a broken constitution acquired in the service of his country.  He died the 18th of Feb. 1774, aged 30.  He was a most indulgent husband and a tender parent, which makes his loss truly afflicting, to his affectionate widow, who in justice to his memory hath caused this stone to be laid.  The above Capt. Gregory was son of the late Robert Gregory, Esq., of Greenwich in Kent, also of the Royal Navy. - Also the remains of Mary (Taylor) Gregory, relict of the above, ob. 8 Feb. A. D. 1811, aetat 71."

 

 


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By Barbara Lewellen
Copyright 2003 Lewellen