TAYLOR, Charles William (1770-1857), of Burcott House, nr. Wells, Som. and Hollycombe, nr. Midhurst, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1796 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 25 Apr. 1770, 2nd s. of Peter Taylor of Burcott House, Wells and Purbrooke Park, nr. Portsmouth, Hants; bro. of Robert Paris Taylor.1 educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 1787. m. 25 Apr. 1808, Charlotte, da. of John Buncombe Poulett Thomson of Waverley Abbey, Roehampton, Surr., 1s. 1da. surv. suc. fa. 1777, bro. 1792; cr. Bt. 21 Jan. 1828.

Offices Held

Lt. Som. militia 1789, capt. 1793, res. 1793.


The son and eventual heir of Dr. Johnson’s ‘scoundrel commissary’, the erstwhile Member for Wells, Taylor possessed ‘a kind of hereditary influence’ there and ‘by residing in the neighbourhood ... enjoyed a fair and honourable opportunity of cultivating an interest’. In July 1795 he was unanimously approved as candidate for the next election and came in unopposed. His relations with his constituents were prejudiced by his being cited as co-respondent in February 1798, when Edward Jervis Ricketts was awarded £5,000 damages for Taylor’s seduction of his wife: but no formidable challenger appeared and in 1802 a libel on him by Edward Spencer, accusing him of being an adulterer and a gambler, went too far. He was supported by his colleague Tudway and their alliance subsequently frustrated opposition.2

In the House, Taylor voted with opposition on the stoppage of Bank payments, 28 Feb. 1797, and spoke against the income tax assessments, 4 Dec. 1798. It is possible that he did not speak again in this period: several Taylors being in the House, attributions of speeches to ‘Mr’ Taylor present difficulties. He was in the minorities for inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s financial problems, 31 Mar. 1802, 4 Mar. 1803, and was said to be a familiar of the Prince at Carlton House and Brighton. About 1800 he bought a Sussex border estate, where he built a cottage ornée after Nash’s design and settled as a convivial host and sportsman.3 On 12 Apr. 1804 he joined Brooks’s Club. He was listed ‘doubtful’ by the Treasury in May 1804, but after joining the opposition to Pitt’s additional force bill in June was listed ‘Fox and Grenville’ in September. He voted with the majorities on Melville’s question, 8 Apr., 12 June 1805, and was listed ‘Opposition’ in July. His support of the Grenville ministry was unobtrusive: he paired in favour of Brand’s motion, 9 Apr., and voted against the Portland ministry on the address, 26 June 1807.

Taylor rejoined opposition on the Duke of York’s question, 15-17 Mar., on the allegation of ministerial corruption, 25 Apr., and on the Dutch commissioners, 1 June 1809. Voting with them on the address and the Scheldt inquiry, 23 Feb., 5 and 30 Mar. 1810, he was considered one of their adherents. On 21 May 1810 he voted for parliamentary reform. He was in the opposition majority on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811. Only two further votes of his are known before the dissolution: for sinecure reform, 4 May, and against the leather tax, 1 July 1812.

Taylor supported Catholic relief throughout in 1813 and again in 1817. On 1 May 1815 he opposed the Income Tax Act and on 25 May the address on the resumption of hostilities with Buonaparte. He was in the majority against the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment bill, 3 July 1815. He was in the minority on the army estimates, 28 Feb. 1816, and in the majority against the property tax, 18 Mar. He further voted for ministerial retrenchment on 20 Mar. and 3 Apr. and against the Bank restriction on 3 May. He opposed the civil list, 6 May, favoured a committee on public offices next day and opposed the Irish vice-treasurership, 20 June. He voted for Admiralty retrenchment, 17, 25 Feb. 1817, and on 26 and 28 Feb. opposed the suspension of habeas corpus. His only known vote in the session of 1818 was against the Bank restriction. He did not sign the Whig requisition to Tierney to lead the opposition. In the Parliament of 1818 he was in the minorities against the Windsor establishment, 22 and 25 Feb.; for Admiralty retrenchment, 18 Mar., and against the royal household bill, 19 Mar.; for the delay of the Camelford writ, 8 Apr., and for Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819.

‘A gentleman by birth, of liberal education and acquirements and polished manners, possessed of a handsome person, ample fortune, good health, and a cheerful disposition’, Taylor died 10 Apr. 1857.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Peter Taylor described Charles William (the ‘William’ is often omitted in other records) as his second son in his will (PCC 530 Collier). Mary, the mother of his elder son, died 29 Aug. 1770, ‘aged 61’.
  • 2. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 533; Oracle, 17 July 1795; see WELLS; The Times, 21 Feb., 26 Mar. 1798, 24 Nov. 1803, 10 Feb. 1804.
  • 3. Elwes and Robinson, Castles and Mansions of W. Sussex, 138.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. (1857), i. 617.