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George Taylor

Signer of the Declaration of Independence

GEORGE TAYLOR was born in Ireland in 1716. He is said to have been the son of a clergyman and to have received a liberal education and begun the study of medicine. He abandoned his studies however, to emigrate to this country in 1736 at the age of twenty. Leaving his home clandestinely and without money, he took passage as a redemptioner, and on his arrival at Philadelphia, was bound to an iron manufacturer at Durham, in Chester county Pennsylvania for a term of years. He worked there as a clerk rather than a common laborer for the owner of the furnace and forge. Several years later, when his employer died, Taylor married the widow, Ann Taylor Savage, and became proprietor of the works, which prospered under his direction. He later formed a partnership with an acquaintance and leased a large ironworks in Easton, Pennsylvania. Within just a few years, he would amass a considerable fortune.

George Taylor continued his successful business until he was forty-seven, he then retired and moved his family to a vast estate along the Lehigh River in Northampton County. It was here that his interest in politics motivated the voters to send him to the Pennsylvania assembly. He was appointed to the committee on grievances, and engaged effectively in the debate on the revision of the charter. Taylor held on to his assembly seat through five annual elections, but eventually lost in 1770. He returned to his business, which proved unprofitable under the Boston Port Act, and he held only the offices of county judge and colonel in command of a company of volunteers. 

Returning to Durham, he was again sent to the provincial assembly in 1775, and was placed on the committee of safety, which would direct Pennsylvania's war efforts. He was a member of committees on grants of the crown and military preparations. George Taylor also became a member of the committee that was appointed to draw up instructions for the delegates to the continental congress. These instructions, forbidding them to vote for separation, were revoked in June 1776, and because five of the delegates from Pennsylvania hesitated to agree to the Declaration of Independence, others were chosen in their place on July 20. George Taylor was one of those five new delegates. He took his seat in congress on the day of his election, and signed his name to the declaration with the other members when the engrossed copy of the document was ready August 2. He made a treaty in behalf of congress with several Indian tribes of the Susquehanna border at Easton, where he had resided in the neighborhood of his estates in Northampton County.  

In March 1777, George Taylor was elected to the new Supreme Executive Council of the state, but he retired after only a few weeks on account of illness. He then returned to Easton, Pennsylvania, where he remained "a country gentleman." He died on February 23, 1781.





Source: Centennial Book of Signers

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