TAYLOR, WILLIAM HENRY, Anglican clergyman; b. 1820; d. at Clifton, Bristol, Eng., 19 Jan. 1873.
Prior to his arrival with his wife in Rupert’s Land, 5 Sept. 1850, William Henry Taylor had served for eight years in Newfoundland, where he had been ordained as a deacon. In 1847 he was listed as schoolmaster at Spaniard’s Bay.
Accepted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel as its first missionary in Rupert’s Land, Taylor was ordained priest by Bishop David Anderson* in St Andrews Church (near Lower Fort Garry), 22 Dec. 1850. By 1851 he had a “good congregation in a Licensed Schoolroom and a very regular Sunday School with fifty or fifty-two on an average.” In that year he built a parsonage on a site given by the Hudson’s Bay Company west of the Red along the Assiniboine River, on high ground used as a refuge from the floods. The cornerstone of a church was laid in 1853, but the flood of 1852 delayed construction so that it was not consecrated until 29 May 1855 under the name of St James. Taylor himself “laboured hard . . . both in the exterior and the interior; the painting he has done all himself.” By 1854 he had established a parochial lending library of nearly 200 volumes, “one of the grand levers to elevate our people in the social and intellectual scale of society.” By 1862 he also had two “nicely-conducted” schools and his congregation was increasing with increasing settlement. In 1854 he had been appointed first registrar of the diocese of Rupert’s Land.
Taylor appears to have been a faithful, modest, and singularly considerate man. He secured the cooperation of the not very promising population of settlers and pensioners among whom he and his wife worked so devotedly until 1867, though his last years were marred by a quarrel over the location of a school. He and Bishop Anderson were on terms of close friendship. The Taylors lived at the bishop’s house after their arrival in the settlement and the bishop and his family found shelter in their uncompleted parsonage during the flood of 1852. Bishop Robert Machray*, Anderson’s successor, was less impressed by the effectiveness of the “good Mr. Taylor” as a parish priest.
Taylor wrote regularly and extensively to the SPG and his letters are of considerable interest for their descriptions of the affairs of the settlement. He played some part in the intellectual life of Red River and was in 1862 elected to the council of the short-lived Institute of Rupert’s Land, established in an attempt to enrich the cultural life of the settlement.
In 1867 he and his wife were both in ill health; he retired from St James and returned to England. He had Worcestershire connections and owned a small freehold property at Clent. When he made his will in 1872 he was residing at Fearnall Heath in the parish of Claines and was curate of Martin Hussingtree in the diocese of Worcester. He died at Clifton, Bristol, where Bishop Anderson resided after he left Rupert’s Land. Taylor’s wife, the sole heir to an estate of under £300, survived him. They had no children.
Classified digest of the records of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1701–1892 (with much supplementary information) (London, 1895), 88–234. Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, Reports (London), 1862–63. [W. H. Taylor], “William H. Taylor’s journal, Assiniboia, 1851,” ed. F. A. Peake, Canadian Church Hist. Soc. J. (Toronto), XII (1970), 24–36. Boon, Anglican Church, 87. Pascoe, Two hundred years of the S.P.G. M. P. Wilkinson, “The episcopate and the Right Reverend David Anderson, D.D., first lord bishop of Rupert’s Land, 1849–1864,” unpublished ma thesis, University of Manitoba, 1950. T. C. B. Boon, “The Institute of Rupert’s Land and Bishop David Anderson,” HSSM, Papers, 3rd ser., no.18 (1961–62), 92–114.