Dr John Taylor

Dr John Taylor was the eldest son of Thomas Taylor, a member of a wealthy Ashbourne family, who lived at The Mansion, Church St.

When Boswell and Johnson were collected from Lichfield to stay with Dr Taylor in March 1776, they were transported by ”Dr Taylor’s large, roomy post-chaise, drawn by four stout, plump horses, and driven by two steady jolly postilions,”

Dr John Taylor inherited The Mansion along with a considerable fortune in 1731 when he was only 20 and still at Oxford University. John Taylor was expected to follow his father and grandfather into the legal profession.  However, he decided on ordination instead and became an absentee parson, receiving the income from a number of benefices in which he was non-resident.

Dr Taylor had a love of conspicuous consumption and ostentatious display.  He was known locally as the “King of Ashbourne” and exercised considerable patronage in the town through his habit of periodically giving large amounts of food and drink to the rich and poor alike.  Boswell observed that Taylor had an income of £1,000 per year from the Church alone but “he does very little duty”.  Dr Johnson wrote sermons for him but Taylor never preached more than four to five times per year.  He did carry out one clerical duty though, preaching at Johnson’s funeral.  Taylor had hopes of high office right up until his death, but they were never fulfilled. 

One of the largest and most imposing gentleman’s town house in Georgian Ashbourne. Originally built in the 1680s and improved to the latest Georgian fashions (partly by Joseph Pickford) in the second half of the 18th Century.

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Dr Taylor had a love of conspicuous consumption and ostentatious display.

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