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Patrick Taylor

By: Andrew Eyden

Published: 26 April 2024


Patrick Taylor book image_edited.jpg

How a young orphaned boy became a well educated, religious man and a leading figure in the town's affair.

The Flemish-style town of Montrose in Scotland was the birthplace of Patrick Taylor in 1807. The family had a large, impressive property at Kirktonhill, and the family tree can be traced back to the 1500s. In the family tree, an amazing assortment of versions of the Taylor surname is displayed -: Tailour, Taileur, Tailzeor. This is not entirely due to ancient spelling; Colonel John W. Renny-Tailyour, a sprightly old relative of Patrick's still living in the Scottish family home, wrote in 1963, "The family name is Tailyour, but a Patrick Tailyour married a daughter of George Taylor of Jamaica and took the name of Taylor on being promised to be made his heir. He never was!

Most of the Kirktonhill Tailyours (if not all) have now changed back to the original spelling and can be traced back to the descents from John Tailyour, who was Bishop of Lincoln. Queen Mary ordered him to be burnt at the stake, so he wisely hopped it. He died in 1554 in the County of Angus". The Scots Ancestry Research Bureau confirms the colonel's story, while the Western Australian branch of the family has virtually died out, there being only two female descendants remaining in Scotland and England, they are quite numerous and include a company director, a retired Brigadier, a Naval Commander, and a Major-General in the Marines.

A Western Australian relative, the late Doctor Robert Fairbairn, records that Patrick's parents died when he was young and that his guardian brought him up. As a schoolboy, he was allowed £1 ($2) a week pocket money (a princely sum in those days) to encourage him to be generous with his friends.


Why Patrick migrated is not known but he was well acquainted with Sir James Stirling, a fellow Scotsman and Patrick set sail in 1833 on board the James Pattison which also bought Sir James and Lady Stirling, W. B. Sherratt, Peter Belches, Captain Cheyne, Mrs Bussell senior and her eldest daughter Mary. The Bussell’s were on their way to rejoin the rest of the family settled at "Cattle Chosen", Busselton.


Mary wrote a fascinating diary of her shipboard life. Enjoying her role as the only eligible girl on board the ship, she describes long conversations with various young men. Like most passengers of the period, she was constantly engaged in attending to her livestock – bees, fowls, a cat, and a dog.


The family background was that of an Anglican parsonage. The deceased Rev. W. M. Bussell had been perpetual Curate of St Mary’s Portsea and had baptised novelist Charles Dickens, so it is unsurprising that Mary was deeply interested in religion. There are several accounts in her diaries of shipboard services, and once, she and her mother were invited to Sherratt's cabin for Sabbath service.


This somewhat upset Mary for she had hoped for an invitation from Taylor, who conducted morning service for his servants. Mary had to comfort herself with the "deep-toned voice of the youngest patriarch issuing from the adjoining cabin.”


When the "James Pattison" reached Australia, it had followed the usual course Antipodean’s-bound vessels sailed along the 40 latitudes. Albany was reached on May 12th, 1834. The weather was so stormy that the ship was forced to remain for two months. It seems inevitable that they met Sir Richard Spencer, the new Government Resident. Stirling and Spencer were well known to each other; Sir James had heartily recommended Spencer's appointment to the Home Government, especially to the Under Secretary for Colonies, H. H. Hay.

Mr. Robert Stephs supplied the information about Taylor's land purchases. The June records for 1835 show: -

Albany building Lot S44 offer for fee simple by Patrick Taylor: Improvements buildings £250 ($500), Enclosures £ 10 ( $20), Sundries £ 40 ( $80), Total £300 ($600).


Lot S44 was initially assigned to John H. Morley on 29 March 1832 and transferred by him to Patrick Taylor by public auction. Among other things, Morley had been the local commissariat officer and occupied the Old Farm before Sir Richard Spencer's arrival. The Patrick Taylor Cottage still stands upon Lot S44.

Taylor's early years in the colony were hectic. Having inspected land at Albany, he was anxious to return to it from the Swan and hitched a ride with Captain Blackwood, commander of the "Hyacinth", sloop of war.


Due to contrary winds, he was carried right past and ended up in Tasmania. Here, he stayed with the Henty's, that well-known Eastern States pioneering family who first migrated to the Swan, then transferred to Tasmania, and later won fame as the earliest pioneers of Victoria. Old Mr Henty described Patrick to a friend as a "very pleasant well, -educated, gentlemanly young man who had come out for the benefit of his health and had entirely recovered."

1837 was a restless year. Early in January, he made a daring excursion looking for land in company with Doctor Thomas Harrison. They visited the Hay River, where Sir Richard Spencer's two eldest boys were farming.


Almost upon return, he set out once more into the hot, brassy inland, journeying from Albany to Perth in 12 days travelling time with Mr James Harris and party. He and Mary Bussell were married in September at Lieutenant Bull's house at Fremantle. The wedding was a quiet one for family friend Capel Carter, who had just died, but the guest of honour was Sir James Stirling, who acted as the father of the bride.


They almost hadn't got married for the aboriginal runners bringing Mrs Bussell's consent had dawdled and Mary was on the verge of returning to "Cattle Chosen". The happy young couple returned to the Sound by ship, accompanied by bridesmaid sister Fanny. An ill-omen greeted them as they entered the harbour. Chief Constable James Dunne, a passenger on the "James Pattison'', had an arm blown off by the cannon while firing a salute in their honour.


Their home was at “Candyup” at the time, another property bought by Patrick. This was on the Kalgan River, a farm now owned by Mr Sewell. At that time the house was situated just below the present one, on an elevated hill with enchanting vistas of the Kalgan and Oyster Harbour. Fanny wrote: "The country is now an exquisite green, and Candyup abounds in pretty grassy slopes covered with close fine sward. The cattle are looking extremely well, and when this house is plastered, their sitting room will be one of the finest in the colony". A series of economic disasters soon shattered this sylvan existence. To his dismay, his agent in Scotland absconded to America with a considerable portion of his fortune. Nothing was right at "Candyup" - cattle died and even the hens wouldn't lay.


Patrick wrote to his wife's sister that Mary was obliged to search the nests from early morning to night to obtain only a few eggs. Even if they had grown all their requirements and more besides, it would have been to no avail. Their problem was the same as all settlers of the first colonial days - there were no markets. Whaling ships calling to port were the only buyers of produce.


There was a family argument with the Bussells. At "Cattle Chosen'' a decision had been reached about finances. In future only those who were sharing the work of the moment would share in the profits. Patrick claimed that his wife had shared the early hardships, therefore she should benefit to some extent. John Garrett Bussell wrote a dramatic farewell to his brother in-law, of whom he was genuinely fond, and from then on, Taylor seems to have had little contact with his wife's relatives.


Patrick Taylor was a leading figure in the town's affairs for several years. A fanatically religious man, he was deeply concerned with the death of clergymen in the new colony. While on board the ship, he had guaranteed £200 ($400) for the stipend, claiming that the presence of a minister "would remove the only objection to a settler's life." Taylor was closely acquainted with Wollaston, who mentions him in his Picton and Albany journals.

In 1841, the Government Resident called a meeting "of the inhabitants to consider the propriety of building a church at Albany." Thus, St John the Evangelist's Church was born.

The sixth of the 11 resolutions passed were: ''That it being well-known that Patrick Taylor, Esq., takes a deep interest in promoting religious instruction and desires Albany's welfare, the trustees do write to him requesting his subscription".


This was the year of his significant financial losses. Despite this, in company with Lady Spencer, Government Resident Phillips, Peter Belches, George Grey (later Sir), Taylor donated £10 ($20), Mary £5 ($10), while humble tradesman and builder of the first local church, the Octagon, R. B. Sherratt gave £25 ($50).


To decentralise responsibility for the maintenance of widely scattered districts, Governor John Hutt passed an “Improvement of Towns Act” in 1841. It was Western Australia's first experiment in local government and got off to a slow start in Albany for it was not until 1843 that the first town trust was formed, with public-minded T.B. Sherratt as its first Chairman.

Patrick Taylor was a member of that body in 1845, as he was in 1846 and 1847, while in 1849, the town trust failed to function. Taylor was chairman of a public meeting in 1846, which was hurriedly summoned to deal with a local catastrophe. York Street suffered one of its periodic floodings, which persists today.


Patrick Taylor sent a memorial to the Governor, asking for assistance for the town to rebuild the street, which had been scoured with gullies deep enough to hide a man. The emphatic wording of the petition served no purpose. Resigned to official procrastination, the locals erected footbridges over the gullies and the road was not repaired until 1870, 24 years afterwards. From the period of the unsuccessful petition, Patrick Taylor seems to have retired from public life. The original diaries of Mrs Taylor, spanning the years 1873 - 1875, tell of a dreary existence at Candyup.


Daughters Fanny and Kate did much of the hard work on the property assisted in a desultory fashion by a farm labourer and some local aboriginal's. Eldest daughter Mary, born at Candyup, was married to Edward Dempster, and son John lived at Northam; Campbell was pioneering at Esperance. Occasionally, a visitor in the person of Sir T. Campbell, one of the Hassell, Egerton - Warburton or Spencer boys would drop in, and the harmonium would assist in making the evening pleasant.


Patrick Taylor died in 1877. He and his wife, Mary who died on 11 March 1887, infant Christina, and son Campbell all share the same headstone in the cemetery on Middleton Road.

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