George Taylor Irish Born Signer of the Declaration of Independence
An Ulster Irishman by Birth
George Taylor of Pennsylvania is one of three signers, along with Matthew Thornton and James Smith, of the Declaration of Independence who were born in Ireland.
Not much is known about him as he focused his life on family and work and did not appear in the public eye until his country needed his services and he answered its call to duty.
Most accounts of his life agree that he was born in 1716 in Ireland and came to America at the age of twenty in 1736. Many accounts place his origins in Ulster in Northern Ireland and generally agree that he was of Scot Irish ancestry.
Some accounts indicated that his father was a clergyman and this is probably correct as George did have an education despite his not being able to afford passage from Ireland to Pennsylvania.
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Paid for His Passage from Ireland With Commitment to Work
The Presbyterian Historical Society claims George Taylor as a Presbyterian. Given that he emigrated to Pennsylvania and ended up in the inland area settled mainly by Irish and German Protestants and that most accounts, while differing on the specific graveyard, all put his original burial in the cemetery of one of the German Protestant churches, it is probably safe to assume that George Taylor was an Ulster Protestant.
Why George Taylor chose to leave Ireland and emigrate to the colonies is unclear. Many accounts have him coming to the colonies as a redemptioner or indentured servant, a practice by which individuals who could not afford the price of passage would travel for free.
Upon their arrival in the colonies their passage paid for by a local citizen. In exchange for the cost of the passage and room and board, the redemptioner would work for that person for free for a fixed number of years (usually seven).
Petty criminals were also often given the option of prison or being transported to the colonies as indentured servants.
He Married His Boss'es Widow
Upon arrival in Philadelphia, George Taylor went to work or was most likely indentured to a Mr. Savage, the owner of an iron forge in Chester county Pennsylvania.
He appears to have started work for Mr. Savage as a laborer but was soon promoted to clerk and responsible for keeping the company's books.
Following his indenture, he continued working at the forge and, upon the death of Mr. Savage, George Taylor married his widow, Anne in 1742 and remained in the iron business all of his life. He was a good businessman and was very successful financially.
At the age of forty-seven he was a wealthy man and able to retire. Following his retirement he moved to nearby Northampton County where he acquired an estate along the Lehigh River.
Active in Revolutionary Politics
It was during this period that he became involved in local politics. He was elected to the Colonial Assembly five times before being defeated for election in 1770. He remained active in politics and eventually became involved with the growing revolutionary movement.
In 1775 he was again elected to the colonial assembly where he obtained a seat on the committee of safety which oversaw the colony’s war efforts.
As independence grew near he became a member of the committee appointed to draw up the instructions for Pennsylvania’s delegates to the Second Continental Congress.
Despite the fact that Benjamin Franklin, who was to become one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, was on the delegation, the committee originally instructed the delegates not to vote for independence.
But, as support for independence grew, these instructions were revoked in June of 1776. Hesitating to take such a drastic and unprecented action, five of the members of the delegation balked at the new instructions and, on July 20th, were replaced in the delegation. George Taylor was among the five chosen as replacements.
Wasting no time, George Taylor immediately traveled across town to Independence Hall and took his seat in the Second Continental Congress the same day, July 20, 1776, he was appointed to the post. When the Declaration was presented to him shortly after he boldly signed it.
Following the publication of the Declaration of Independence, George Taylor continued to work for victory.
He traveled back to Northampton County and negotiated treaties on behalf of Congress with Indian tribes in the area thereby helping to secure the frontier and allowing the local militia to focus on fighting the British. He was also appointed Colonel of a local militia but his unit never saw action in the war.
George Taylor Died Just Before End of American Revolution
Illness in 1777 forced him to retire from public service and retire to his estate on the Lehigh River where he lived out the remainder of his life as a country squire.
George Taylor died on February 23, 1781, a little less than six months before George Washington accepted the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19th which effectively ended the armed conflict, leaving the details of the peace to be worked out by the diplomats meeting in Paris.
George Taylor was buried in the cemetery of a neighboring German Protestant church, accounts differ as to which one, but his remains were later removed to the Easton Cemetery in Easton, Pennsylvania where he rests to this day.
Links to My Other Hubs on Irish Signers of Declaration of Independence
- George Read - Voted Against Independence then Signed Declaration of Independence
After first voting against resolution to declare independence, Delaware delegate George Read later signed Declaration of Independence after other two members of Delaware's delegation to Second Continental Congress voted for independence.
- Matthew Thornton - Second Last Signer of the Declaration of Independence
Sent by his home state of New Hampshire as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in September 1776, the Irish born Matthew Thornton arrived in time to be the second last signer of the Declaration of Independence.
- James Smith Irish Immigrant and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
During the American Revolution many men and women answered the call to duty. Many, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, etc. became famous. Others, like James Smith, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, did their duty a
- Thomas McKean Irish Born Colonial Patriot and of Declaration of Independence
A very busy man, Irish born Thomas McKean served in the 1st and 2nd Continental Congress, fought in the Army, signed the Declaration of Independence and was the Presiding Officer (in effect President) of Congress when England sued for peace during Am
- Charles Carroll of Carrollton Longest Living Signer of Declaration of Independence
By signing his name on the Declaration of Independence as Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Revolutionary War patriot Charles Carroll of Maryland left no doubt as to who he was. This would have made it easy for King George III to identify and hang, draw
- Tragic Life of Thomas Lynch Jr an Irish Signer of Declaration of Independence
A third generation Irish-American, Thomas Lynch and his father, Thomas Sr. were the only father & son to serve together in the Second Continental Congress. Ill health forced Thomas Jr. to leave the Army. He was then sent to Congress where he sign
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