Deleted:John Taylor (Royal Navy)

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John Taylor
Born Scotland
Died Template:Death year and age
Nationality United Kingdom / Canadian
Occupation seaman, farmer, settler, poet
Known for An act of heroism won Taylor a handsome annuity, and an official portrait in the National Portrait Gallery

John Taylor was a seaman, who served in the Royal Navy, who later helped settle Guelph, in Upper Canada.[1][2]

Taylor was born in Scotland. It was his service during the Mediterranean campaign of 1798 that earned him a lifetime pension. His ship, HMS Alcmene, had captured an enemy ship, carrying important despatches.[1] When the enemy captain tried to prevent the English reading those despatches Taylor and another seaman dove into the sea after them. Both Taylor and the other man were awarded lifetime pensions of 20 pounds a year.

In his account of the incident Horatio Nelson quoted the Captain of Taylor's ship:[3]

"On the 22nd of August, the Alcmene captured La Legére, French Gun-Boat off Alexandria. 'We could not,' says Captain Hope in his official Letter, 'prevent the despatches for Bonaparte from being thrown overboard, which was perceived, however, by John Taylor and James Harding, of the Alcmene, who, at the risk of their lives (the ship then going between 5 and 6 knots) dashed overboard, and saved the whole of them. Both men were fortunately picked up, by the Boat that was sent after them, and I conceive it my duty to make known the very spirited conduct they showed on this occasion for the good of the service.'"[3]

Taylor later emigrated to Canada, where he was one of the original settlers in Guelph.[1][4] Accounts differ as to when he arrived—either in 1828 or 1834. The region of Guelph Taylor and other individuals from Scotland settled was known as the "Paisley Block".


According to Graeme Mercer Adam's 1891 book Toronto, Old and New... in addition to his lifetime pension, Taylor's heroism earned him a picture in the "National Gallery".[2]

Taylor's grandson, Josiah Bruce, was a prominent photographer in 19th century Canada.[2]

In 2018 Ed Butts, profiling Taylor for the Guelph Mercury, repeated a poem Taylor wrote, that became the lyrics to a song popular among Scottish settlers in the Guelph area.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 2018-01-01 (Ed Butts). "Guelph's first poet played bit part in Britain's war with Napoleon". Guelph Mercury. Retrieved 2018-10-05. "On Aug. 22, the Alcmene intercepted the small French warship Legere. Realizing imminent capture by the larger English vessel, the French captain threw a bundle of papers overboard. Hope was sure he had lost an opportunity to seize important enemy documents. But, within range of the French guns, Taylor and another seaman dove into the sea and grabbed the bundle before it could sink. A ship’s boat from the Alcmene plucked the men and their prize out of the water." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Graeme Mercer Adam (1891). Toronto, Old and New: A Memorial Volume, Historical, Descriptive and Pictorial, Designed to Mark the Hundredth Anniversary of the Passing of the Constitutional Act of 1791, which Set Apart the Province of Upper Canada and Gave Birth to York (now Toronto) with Some Sketches of the Men who Have .... Mail printing Company. p. 174. Retrieved 2018-10-05. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Horatio Nelson (1845). "The Dispatches and Letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson: With Notes, Volume 3". H. Colburn. p. 119. Retrieved 2018-10-10. 
  4. "Guelph’s Maritime History and "The Case of the disappearing old tar"". Guelph historical society. Retrieved 2018-10-05. "Prior to emigrating to Canada, Taylor served on the HMS Alcmene. He was recognized for bravery when he saved dispatches from Napoleon Bonaparte that were thrown overboard from a French gunboat. As a result, he received an annuity of 20 pounds per year for life"