The Taylors of Ongar
The Taylors of Ongar
and others of their family



Robert Hackshaw (1653-1722). "The Orange Skipper"
Two family legends: The 'Orange Skipper' and Jane Hackshaw's elopement with Josiah Jefferys
Charles Taylor (1756-1823) The artist-scholar
Isaac Taylor (1787-1865)
Obituary of Isaac Taylor of Stanford Rivers
Isaac Taylor (1829-1901)
Autobiography of Mrs Gilbert (1782-1866)
Autobiography of Mrs Gilbert (1782-1866) (annotated)
Jane Taylor
Henry and Medland Taylor, architects of Manchester
Sarah Taylor and Charles Martin
Charles Howard Hinton (1853-1907)
Isaac Taylor Hinton (1799-1847)
William Howard Hinton (1919-2004)
Joan Chase Hinton (1922-2010)


Henry Taylor's Pedigree of the Taylors of Ongar (1895)
Henry Taylor's notes to his Pedigree of the Taylors of Ongar
Extended pedigree
The Booles of Lincolnshire


Ann Gilbert (nee Gee)
Recollections of Old Nottingham
Isaac Taylor  (1759-1829)
Scenes in America
Physical Theory of Another Life
Isaac Taylor (1787-1865)
The Family Pen
Jane Taylor
Essays in Rhyme on Morals and Manners
Little Ann and Other Poems
The Writings of Jane Taylor. Memoirs and Poetical Remains
Rachel. A Tale
Charles H. Hinton
Fourth dimension writings
William H. Hinton
Background notes to Fanshen (1983)

Writers on
the Taylors

Helen Cross Knight  Jane Taylor, Her Life and Letters
F.J. Harvey Darton
Thomas Bewick
Wesley and Methodism reviewed
Edith Havelock Ellis
The Leadenhall Press Sir Charles Grandison


An English literary family of the
18th and 19th centuries

By Stephen Painter

EARLY in 1811, the Rev Isaac Taylor moved with his wife and family to Ongar, a village in Essex, where he spent the rest of his life. Rev Taylor had previously lived in London and at Lavenham, a small village in Suffolk, and Colchester. In Lavenham he had become a deacon of the Independent Church, which in 1831, after Rev Taylor's time, became known as the Congregational Union of England and Wales (commonly known as the Congregational Church). He had moved to Colchester on January 20, 1796, to become minister of an Independent congregation in that town. He  had been ordained as a minister there in April 1796.

Rev Isaac TaylorBy the time Rev Taylor moved to Ongar, several of his children were young adults, and he, his daughters Ann and Jane, and a son, Isaac, had begun writing for publication, mainly poems, nursery rhymes and other literature for children. By 1814, Ann, Rev Taylor's wife, had also begun publishing, mainly books of advice for mothers and young women. Later, another son, Jefferys, also became a writer of children's literature. To distinguish them from another literary family of the time, the Taylors of Norwich, Rev Taylor's family became known as the Taylors of Ongar.

Rev Taylor was an engraver, a trade he had been taught by his father, also Isaac Taylor, who in turn had learned something of that art at the brass foundry of his father, William Taylor, in Worcester. Isaac Taylor senior (1730-1807) became a very well-known engraver in London, particularly of illustrations for books. He knew some notable personalities of his time such as the playwright Oliver Goldsmith and the engravers Thomas Bewick and Francesco Bartolozzi. Bewick was a student of Isaac Taylor, and Taylor's sons Isaac and Charles may have studied under Bartolozzi.

Rev Taylor and his wife Ann, their daughters Ann and Jane, and their sons Isaac and Jefferys are generally considered to be the Taylors of Ongar. Earlier and later generations of the family also wrote, and were involved in other artistic and creative occupations and activities, and most of the important family links were set out in 1895 by Henry Taylor, in a chart titled The Pedigree of the Taylors of Ongar. The association with Ongar continued after the death of Rev Taylor and Ann, as their son, Isaac Taylor, lived nearby at Stanford Rivers, and Josiah Gilbert, son of Ann Taylor, later lived at Marden Ash, near Ongar.

The best-known artists and writers in the extended Taylor family are: Isaac Taylor (1759-1829) and his brother Charles (1756-1823), Isaac's wife Ann Taylor (Martin) (1757-1830), Rev Taylor's children Isaac (1787-1865), Ann (Mrs Gilbert) (1782-1866), Jane (1783-1824) and Jefferys (1792-1853). The family's pursuit of literary activity continued into a third generation through Canon Isaac Taylor (1829-1901), Helen Taylor (1818-1885) and Josiah Gilbert (1814-1892).

After the six writers who make up the Taylors of Ongar, Charles Taylor was the most prolific of the Taylors. An engraver, printer, bookseller, writer, librarian and translator, he spent 15 years translating, editing, annotating and illustrating Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible from French. He also edited Literary Panorama and wrote on topics including the history of baptism.

Errors in Taylor genealogy

There are two widely circulated errors on the genealogy of the Taylors of Ongar and their relatives. One is repeated in the otherwise excellent work by the Canadian scholar Christina Duff Stewart, The Taylors of Ongar: An Analytical Bio-bibliography (limited edition, 1975, Garland Publishing, New York and London): "The first Isaac Taylor (bookseller, publisher and, according to some the finest copper-plate engraver of his day) married the great-grand-niece and namesake of Milton's mother, Sarah Jefferys." In fact, there is no evidence that Sarah Hackshaw Jefferys (1733-1809), wife of the first Isaac Taylor, had any connection with the family of Milton, and such a connection is extremely unlikely. The error seems to have arisen from an unsuccessful genealogical effort by one of the Taylors.

A second error has been widely circulated in Ellice Hopkins's Life and Letters of James Hinton: "On his father's side, he sprang from the same stock as the Taylors of Ongar, Mr Howard Hinton's mother being Ann Taylor, daughter of Josiah Taylor, the engraver, and aunt to Isaac Taylor, the well-known author of The History of Enthusiasm, and his sisters Ann and Jane Taylor." In fact, this Ann Taylor's father was Isaac Taylor (1730-1807), not his brother, Josiah (1761-1834), who was a well-known and prosperous publisher, but had no children, as is shown in his will.

Ellice Hopkins recounts a meeting between the young Ann Taylor (later Hinton) and John Howard, the well-known prison reformer: John Howard Hinton, father of Dr James Hinton, "owed his name to the philanthropist John Howard, who was an intimate friend of Josiah Taylor, the grandfather, and who, just before starting for Russia, whence he was never to return, said to his friend's daughter, in sorrowful allusion to the blight which had fallen on his own happiness while seeking to alleviate the woes of others: 'I have now no son of my own; if ever you have one, pray call him after me,' a request which was held sacred."

Ellice Hopkins may be mistaken about the source of John Howard's acquaintance with Ann Taylor (Hinton), as the connection may have come about through their common dissenting connection. Isaac Taylor, Ann's father, was not a dissenter.

Ann Taylor (Gilbert), grand-daughter of the elder Isaac Taylor, writes of the same incident in her autobiography, published in 1874 as The Autobiography and Other Memorials of Mrs Gilbert: "The most important work executed by this Isaac Taylor was a large plate, the Flemish Collation, after Ostade. Howard the philanthropist took such notice of one of his daughters, when a child, that in later years she named a son after him — Howard Hinton, an eminent Baptist minister lately deceased. Of the three sons of Isaac Taylor, Charles, Isaac, and Josiah, the second was the father of the subject of these Memorials."

Rev James HintonThe Hintons

The impact on English writing of descendants of Isaac Taylor and Sarah Hackshaw Jefferys did not end with the elder Isaac's sons Charles and Isaac, and their descendants. Ann Taylor (1766-1832), sister of Charles and Isaac, married Rev James Hinton (1761-1823), a Bapist minister. Their sons, John Howard Hinton (1791-1873) and Isaac Taylor Hinton (1799-1847) were noted Baptist ministers, theological writers and cartographers, and their grandchildren included Dr James Hinton (1822-1875), a well-known writer on medical and philosophical matters. Dr James Hinton's son, Charles Howard Hinton (1853-1907), was a mathematician, teacher and writer, whose works include Speculations on the Fourth Dimension and some early science fictionCharles married Mary Ellen Boole (1856-??), daughter of George Boole (1815-1864) (a mathematician after whom Boolean logic is named) and their descendants include the nuclear physicist Joan Chase Hinton (1922-) and William Howard Hinton (1919-2004), writer of Fanshen and Shenfan, descriptions of life in a Chinese village during the Cultural Revolution.

Dr James Hinton's life and work is the subject of books by Ellice Hopkins (Life and Letters of James Hinton, London, 1878) and Edith Havelock Ellis, James Hinton: A Sketch, Stanley Paul, London, 1918). James Hinton's philosophical writings included material on morality and sexuality, and his work was known to the later sexuality researcher and writer Henry Havelock Ellis, husband of Edith Havelock Ellis, although Henry Havelock Ellis said that he disagreed with many of James Hinton's opinions and was not influenced by his work.

A circle of people influenced by James Hinton's views were later influential in the formation of the Fabian Society.

Independent Church

Rev Taylor and his family were members of the Independent Church, a minority denomination that was sometimes persecuted in England at that time. Earlier generations of Independents and other Protestant dissenters had been actively persecuted, but after the Religious Toleration Act of 1689, under William III (William of Orange), dissenting Christians other than Catholics were guaranteed freedom of worship, and persecution was largely limited to sporadic outbursts, such as the mob incident in Lavenham during the Napoleonic wars, described in The Family Pen and the Autobiography of Mrs Gilbert. Nevertheless, as a minority, Independents tended to associate to a large extent with each other and to intermarry.

Isaac Taylor's memoir of his sister, Jane, makes it clear that it was only in early adulthood that Jane became more open-minded towards other denominations such as the Methodists, and even the Established (Anglican) Church. She even went so far as to observe a Catholic ceremony, which was evidently such a novelty for her that she describes it in a letter. Already in Jane Taylor's writing it's clear that relations had become easier between the Independents and the Church of England, as she mentions attending Established Church ceremonies in places where no Independent congregation existed. In later life, around 1850, Isaac Taylor of Stanford Rivers and his brothers Martin and Jefferys became Anglicans. Isaac's motivation for this may have been discontent with his father's treatment by some members of the Independent congregation in Colchester about 50 years before, but was more likely his study of early Christian history.

A generation later, Isaac Taylor (1829-1901), son of Isaac Taylor of Stanford Rivers, became a canon of the Anglican Church. Sarah Taylor (1829-1919), grand-daughter of Charles Taylor, was christened in the Independent Church, but married in the Anglican Church in 1851 and was a practising Anglican after moving to Australia in 1856.

The Independent connection seems to have begun with Sarah Hackshaw Jefferys, who married the elder Isaac Taylor in 1754. Isaac Taylor was evidently not a dissenter, as after his death he was buried in the Anglican churchyard at Edmonton, north of London, while Sarah was interred in the Hackshaw family vault at Bunhill Fields, the non-conformist burial ground.

Sarah Hackshaw Jefferys was from a family of London merchants that had an attachment for several generations to the Independent Church. Josiah Gilbert, in his introductory note to the autobiography of his mother, Ann Taylor (Mrs Gilbert, 1782-1866), writes: "The Hackshaws (or Hawkshaws) were either of Dutch extraction, or belonged to the Puritan emigration in Holland, for the father of the above-named Robert Hackshaw, was purveyor to King William III, and came over with him to England. He was called the 'Orange skipper', from having been employed, before the Revolution, to carry despatches backwards and forwards, concealed in his walking-cane."

Josiah Gilbert appears to be recounting an oral tradition in his family, but at eight generations removed its accuracy may be questionable. There is evidence, however, that Robert Hackshaw (1635-1738), merchant and son of a merchant of the same name, was arrested and later released on a charge of sedition in January 1685 following the Rye House Plot of 1683. This seems to indicate that this Robert Hackshaw could have been in contact with Protestants involved in the opposition to kings Charles II and James II that led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought to the throne James' Protestant daughter and her husband William of Orange.

At this stage there is nothing to indicate that Robert Hackshaw was of Dutch descent or belonged to the Protestant emigration in Holland, as both he and his father were residents of London. The Hackshaws did, however, have extensive ties with Dutch immigrants and expatriates in London, mainly merchants. Robert's sister, Sarah, married a merchant with a Dutch name, Gerard van Heythuyson, whose father also Gerard van Heythuyson, appears to have been naturalised, along with others, by an act of the British Parliament in February 1656. Gentleman's Magazine of April 1735 carries a death notice for "Mr John Hackshaw, a Dutch merchant, by a fall from his horse", perhaps indicating that a branch of the Hackshaw family resided in Holland, but there is no evidence that this John Hackshaw was related to Robert Hackshaw. The elder Robert Hackshaw did have a brother called John, but that brother would probably have been at least 70 years of age by 1735.

It is also known that Robert Hackshaw, great great grandfather of Sarah Hackshaw Jefferys was admitted to the Grocer's Company in London in 1646 after serving an apprenticeship with one Joseph Alfred, and became a liveryman of the company. He married Sarah Smart, the daughter of another merchant, John Smart. He or his son, also Robert, is described as "citizen and grocer of London" in a surviving document of December 1670.

Sarah Jefferys' father, Josiah (1709-177), was a cutler who supplied his wares to the royal family. One of Josiah's brothers, Thomas, was a London map engraver and geographer to Frederick Prince of Wales, later King George III. Another brother, Nathaniel, was a wealthy London jeweller.


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