Wittewronge TaylorRear Admiral of the Blueb.


Similarities in Navy service
Policarpus Taylor (ca. 1718-1780) and
Wittewronge Taylor (ca. 1719-1760)

It is noted in the biography of Policarpus Taylor in the "Dictionary of National Biography" Volume 19, Edited by Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee, page 457, published 1898-99, Oxford University Press, 1917, that there was some confusion as to the service of Policarpus and Wittewronge Taylor:

"In the spring of 1756 Policarpus was appointed to the Marlborough, but on 7 June to the Culloden, with orders to go out with Sir Edward Hawke and join her at Gibraltar. He seems to have brought her to England in the course of 1757 and to have had no more service, though by a confusion with Wittewronge Taylor, -aggravated by his connection with Knowles, the Cornwall, and Hawke-he is said to have commanded the the Ramillies in 1758.


Biography of Wittewronge Taylor
ca. 1719-1760

Taylor, Wittewronge (1719?-1760), Captain in the Navy, born about 1719, entered the Navy as a volunteer per order or king's letter-boy, on board the Kingston, about 1727, but the fact that he belonged in the next seventeen months to no fewer than seven ships seems to show that he was borne for time only without bodily presence.

In 1734 he was borne on the books of the Blenheim, a Harbour-ship, and his first sea-going experience would seem to have been in 1736 on board the Windsor. In her and afterwards in the Ipswich and Anglesea-in which last he was present at the abortive attack on Cartagena in April 1741-he served for about five years.

He passed his examination on 3 September 1741, being then, according to his certificate, more than twenty-two, and having been more than ten years at sea. Four days afterwards he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Duke on the home station.

In 1743-44 he was a lieutenant of the St. George, from which he was taken by Vice-admiral Davers in October 1744 to go with him to the West Indies in the Cornwall, in the rating of midshipman extra.

In August 1745 Davers gave him a commission as 5th lieutenant of the Cornwall (though the ship was only allowed four), and in November appointed him to command the Vainqueur tender.

Eighteen months afterwards he was recalled to the Cornwall, in which he was present in the action off Havana on 1 October 1748 and was afterwards promoted by Knowles to command the Weasel sloop and sent home. He paid her off in May 1749.

In March 1755 he commanded the Seaford, and afterwards the Raven in the Channel, and with the western squadron till posted, on 2 December, to the Monarch.

During the next two years Taylor held several temporary commands-the Magnanime, Neptune, Magnanime again, Royal William-and early in 1758 was appointed to the Ramillies, the flagship fo Sir Edward Hawke, with whom he continued through 1758 and the blockade of Brest in 1759, while Hawke was teaching the navy what the blockade of Brest meant.

After the many months at sea the Ramillies was in need of refitting, and when preparing to leave Torbay on 14 November Hawke struck his flag in the Ramillies and went on board the Royal George.

Taylor remained in the Ramillies, and took her round to Plymouth to be repaired. In the following February (1760) she sailed, one of a squadron of three-deckers under the command of Admiral Boscawen. A violent westerly gale drove them back; the ships were separated; the weather was thick and hazy, and the Ramillies was suddenly found in dangerous proximity to the Bolt Head. She let go her anchors, which brought her up for the moment; but the storm was at its height, the cables parted, and the ship was hurled on the rocks.

Out of the crew of 734, twenty-five only and one midshipman, improbably said to have been William Falconer (1732-1769), author of "The Shipwreck'-whose name does not appear in the ship's paybook-were saved.

Wittewronge Taylor, was the son of Reverend Thomas Taylor and Mary Wittewronge, born sometime between 1713-1719. Mary was the daughter of James Wittewronge of Rothamstead and Susanna Pedley.  Wittewronge married Catherine Vincent September 28, 1756 in Stoke Damerel, Devon, England. At the time of his marriage Wittewronge was Captain of the HMS Magnamine.

Wittewronge Taylor, wrote a will September 19, 1757. He states that he is commander of the HMS Royal William. His wife, Catherine, resides in Plymouth, in the county of Devon. Wittewronge appointed Catherine as his administratix, and devised and bequeathed "all such wages Sum and Sums of Money, said Goods, Chattels and Estate." No children are mentioned in the will.

Widow Catherine Taylor secondly married Port Admiral of Pylmouth, Philip Durell in 1761. Philip Durell was born in 1707, at St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, the son of John Durell and Elizabeth Corbet. This was the third marriage for Admiral Durell. His previous wives being Madeline Saumarez and secondly Miss Skey of Bristol. Vice Admiral of the Blue, Philip Durell died 26 August 1766, at the North American Station, and was buried at St. Paul's, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Catherine Taylor, thirdly married Sir Frederick Rogers, 4th Bt, a Captain in the Royal Navy and later Commissioner of the Plymouth Dockyard, on May 17, 1769 in Stoke Damerel, Devon County, England.  Catherine wrote a will on February 22, 1803, which was was probated July 7, 1803.

Biography Source: [The memoir in Charnock's Biog. Navalis, Volume 6, page 151, is very meagre; further details are to be looked for in the logs, pay-books, and captain's letters in the Public Record Office.] J.K.L. The Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 19, Founded in 1882 by George Smith, Edited by Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee. From the Earliest Times to 1900. Originally Published 1898-9. Reprinted at the University Press, Oxford 1931-1932. Great Britain. Pages 479-480.

Lineage Source: "Pedigree of Wittewronge of Ghent in Flanders, Stanton Barry (Bucks) & Rothamstead House (Herts)" by Gery Milner Gibson Cullum F. S. A., 1905, Mitchell Hughest Clarke of London. Page 12.

Biography Source: Vice Admiral of the Blue- Philip Durell. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.




Policarpus Taylor

Wittewronge Taylor


Approximate Birthdate




Approximate Birthdate


Went to sea at approximate age of 13-16.




King's letter-boy

May 4, 1733

Passed Lieutenant's Exam - Approx age 19-22




ship Windsor-1st sea-going experience

21 June 1739

Promotion to 2nd lieutenant -ship Augusta with Sir Chalonor Ogle.


April 1741


ship Anglesea-abortive attempt at Cartagena

June 1741

Moved by Vernon to his own Flagship-Boyne


3 Sep. 1741


Passed examination-Age- more than 22. 10 years at sea.

7 Sept 1741


Promoted to Lieutenant-ship Duke

2 May 1743

Promoted to Captain -frigate Fowey-on the Jamaica
station. Continued on the Fowey until 1747




Lieutenant -ship St. George

Oct 1744


Mid-shipman extra - ship Cornwall-West Indies with Vice-admiral Davers.

Aug 1745


5th lieutenant commission-ship Cornwall

Nov 1745


Command the Vanqueur tender

Dec 1746


Recalled to the ship Cornwall


Moved by Rear-admiral Sir Charles Knowles to the Elizabeth, 64 guns, and after the abortive attempt on St. Iago de Cuba, to the Cornwall, Knowles' own flagship.


1 Oct 1748

As flag-captain-of Cornwall-engagement off Havana.

ship Cornwall-Havana action


Senior officer of the ship Ripon. Appointment by Knowles. Following autumn he was recalled, and arrived at Spithead early in January 1749-1750.

Promoted to the Weasel sloop and sent home

March 1755


Commanded the Seaford, and Raven -in the Channel

2 Dec 1755


Posted to the ship Monarch

Spring 1756

Appointed to the Marlborough


7 Jun 1756

Ship Culloden. Orders to go out with Sir Edward Hawke and join her at Gibraltar.



Brought ship Culloden back to England.

Temporary positions in the Magnanime, Neptune, Magnanime again, Royal William (Commander)

Early 1758

Seems to have no more service, though by confusion with Wittewronge Taylor-he is said to have commanded the Ramillies in 1758.

Appointed to the Ramillies, the flagship of Sir Edward Hawke



Blockade of Brest with Sir Edward Hawke

Nov 1759


Took ship Ramillies to be refitted at Plymouth

Feb 1760


Ship Ramillies hurled on rocks at Bolt Head. Wittewronge Taylor killed along with over 700 of his men..


Superannuated (retired) with the rank of rear-admiral.



Died in Norton, Durham, England.


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