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Taylor, James (1820–1895)

The Darling Downs Gazette has a sketch of the career of the late Hon. James Taylor, from which we extract the following:—

Although it was rumoured during the past few days that Mr. Taylor was again unwell, a fatal termination to his illness was not expected, and the members of his family were away attending to their duties on their various pastoral properties. At the time of his death Mr. Taylor was 76 years of age. He leaves a widow, four sons, and three daughters, his eldest son, Mr. John Taylor, and his youngest daughter, Mrs. Metcalfe, having pre-deceased him. Messrs. Con, Warry, and Fred. Taylor were summoned by wire, and by dint of riding all night were able to arrive in time for the funeral, which took place yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Taylor first arrived on the Downs in 1848, when he travelled overland, in the wake of the earliest of the pioneers, with sheep for new country he purposed stocking at the head of the Dawson. The sheep he left at Cecil Plains, whilst he journeyed on his way to Juandah, his new station. Upon his return to Cecil Plains a few months later he entered into a partnership agreement with the then proprietor, Mr. Henry Stuart Russell. In 1859, after paying a visit to the old country and returning, Mr. Russell sold his share in Cecil Plains to Mr. Taylor, in whose possession it has since remained.

Early in the sixties Mr. Taylor took up his permanent residence in Toowoomba, and for more than thirty years he has been a prominent personality in the local history of the town. He has identified himself at one time or other with all our social institutions, and has rendered great assistance in the development of the place. He largely interested himself in the establishment of the first Benevolent Society on the Darling Downs, and took a prominent part in the initial meeting held in 1861, and erected for its use buildings at his own cost, for which he received public acknowledgment. In the same year he became first president of the Toowoomba School of Arts, and also one of its trustees, and for a long course of years he rendered it not only pecuniary assistance, but also the aid of a powerful and vigorous intellect in the management of its internal affairs. Mr. Taylor was one of the promoters of the Royal Agricultural Society, and was indefatigable in his exertions for its advancement and his zeal and energy always displayed in its cause has ever won the esteem and encomiums of the members. He was appointed one of the first trustees in conjunction with Messrs. John Watts and White, on the 1st of August 1861, when the society was established. For many years past Mr. Taylor has been elected president of the society without opposition, and though sickness had laid him aside for the past three of four years, yet his meritorious work in the society's interest has always been recognised by electing him to the position of president. In sporting matters Mr. Taylor took an interest as in any other subject which engaged his attention. The "sport of kings"—horseracing—found a patron in Mr. Taylor. He always identified himself with the sport, and remained president of the Toowoomba Turf Club to the time of his death. He loved the sport for the sport's sake, and would not tolerate anything mean or of a tricky nature. For very many years he kindly allowed the old Aubigny Cricket Club the use of his paddock in Russell-street, adjoining Mr. Cory's residence, for practising and match purposes, and the same concession was extended to the football clubs.

Until recent years Mr. Taylor took a keen interest in matters pertaining to the Anglican Church, and presented to St. James's Church the allotment of land on which it is situated. He was first elected a churchwarden of St Luke's Church in 1861, when the Rev. V. F. Ransome was incumbent, and subsequently assisted in the management of the church affairs both at St Luke's and St James's. When the Grammar School was first mooted, Mr. Taylor was among those who interested themselves most prominently in its erection, and donated £100 towards the building fund.

Mr. Taylor in the old colonial days was an ardent politician. He was elected to the first Parliament of Queensland, which met on Wednesday, 22nd May, 1860. With Mr. T. de Lacy Moffatt he occupied a seat for Western Downs, which constituency he represented for very many years. He was invited to join the Lilley Administration in 1869, receiving the portfolio of Minister for Lands, and his administration of the department was characterised by a broad-minded interpretation of the Act which has rarely been shown since.

In November, 1871, he accepted a seat in the Legislative Council, which he continued to hold until the 17th August, 1893, when he resigned owing to continued ill-health.

Mr. Taylor served many years in the Municipal Council. In 1890 he was elected to the civic chair, and few mayors have been able to leave behind them a record equal to his for earnestness of purpose and good municipal work.

As an employer of labour Mr. Taylor won and maintained the esteem of his employees, who found in him a kind master and a generous and warm hearted friend. His servants were not anxious to leave his employ, and upon the shearing floor at Cecil Plains are to be found men of mature years who served their time upon the floor as pickers-up. Through his liberality and kindness many of his servants have been settled in comfortable homes of their own, and the kindly acts of their former master are to-day touchingly remembered.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Taylor, James (1820–1895)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/taylor-james-4693/text25126, accessed 24 April 2018.

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