John Taylor, Brewer (1790 to 1863)
Born: March2,9 139, 17902,5,9 Durham, England2 Chester, England5,9, 178016 March 13, 179716
Died: Sept 13, 18639 at 73 yrs.2 At 66 yrs 6 mos16
At 257 State Street, Albany, NY9
Buried: Albany Rural Cemetery9,16 lot 1 Section 5716
Parents: John T. Taylor9 (B. ?, D. >1808 probably Albany, NY); Phoebe16 Burnop9 (B. Jan 2, 175516, D. July 10th 183416 Albany)11
Elizabeth Taylor (D. 1790)
Mary Taylor Fidler16 (B. abt April 3, 178616, D. Nov 6, 183716) m. Lancelot Fidler aka Lancelot Howard Joseph Taylor (D. 1795)
Ann Taylor Gascoigne (B. 1792, D. 1834) m. James Bamber Gascoigne
Spouse: #1 Mary9,11,16 Richmond9,11,16 (B. May 18th 179611,16, M. May 13, 18199, D. March 14, 1843 Albany11,16)
#2 Esther3,9 E3lizabeth16 Wiltse9,16 (B. about Feb 11, 181716, M. May 15, 18449, D. Sept 18, 189816)
Children: By #1 John5,6,9 R6ichmond9 Taylor (B. 18194 or 182116, D. Feb 21, 185316) m. Eveline H. Wetherspoon Joseph5,6,9 B6urnop9 Taylor (B. abt 1822, D. Jan 10, 186816) Mary Jane (B. ~1823, D. aged 16 mos 1824)11,16 Edmund5,9 Briggs9 Taylor (B. 182416, D. 186316) Anna Maria (B. ~1829, D. at 3 mos 1829)11,16 William9 Henry9 Taylor (B. Oct 22, 1832, D. Feb 21, 187316) m. Jennie Agnes Dickson Anna Gascoigne Taylor Gilbert9 (B. 183416, D. 189716) m. Benj Chapman Gilbert Jane Elizabeth (B. 1836, D. at 1 mo 1836)11,16
By #2 Elizabeth9 Ellison9 Taylor (B. ~1849) m. Edwy Lycurgus Taylor
Immigrated: 1791 2
Religion: Episcopalian 9
Hobby: reading, gardening
Occupation: 1807-28: tallow chandler2,3
1822-1832: Fiddler & Taylor brewery3
1833-1844: John Taylor Brewery
1844-1863: John Taylor and Sons Brewery
1848-1849: Albany Mayor 2
Politics: Democrat 9
1791: Brooklyn, Kings Co, NY2,5;
1793 2 or 1794 5: Albany, Albany county, NY 2,5;
1819-22: 23 Hamilton Street, Albany3;
1823-24: 19 Hamilton Street, Albany3
1825: 49 Hamilton Street, Albany3
1826 &>: 73 Lydius Street
John Taylor was born on March2,9 139, 17902,5,9 in Durham, England2 or Chester, England5,9 to John T. Taylor and Phoebe Burnop. (Note: Burnop has also been recorded as Burnap.) The exact year of his birth is in question as even Albany Rural Cemetery recorded several different years.
John appears to have had numerous siblings including;
Elizabeth Taylor (D. 1790)
Mary Taylor Fidler (B. abt April 3, 1786, D. Nov 6, 1837) m. Lancelot Fidler aka Lancelot Howard
Joseph Taylor (D. 1795)
Ann Taylor Gascoigne (B. 1792, D. 1834) m. James Bamber Gascoigne
Note: Only two sisters appear to have survived into adulthood.
In 1791, John immigrated with his family to the US, where they initially settled in Brooklyn, NY. They stayed there for a very short period as by 1793 or 1794, they had settled in Albany. There were other Burnops in Albany during the 1800s. John was a natural entrepreneur. By the age of 17 years (about 1807), he had started in his own business as a tallow chandler (candle maker) with the financial backing of his father. (Note: This tells us that his father was alive in 1807 in Albany.) Fire has always been a major threat to the candle making business. In 1808, a fire struck and his factory was destroyed, but with his father’s help he rebuilt. Unfortunately the situation was repeated in 1810, when his factory burned for the second time. He was burned out two additional times, but he was determined and his business continued to survive. By 1813, the company had a contract from the US army. This business provided John with sufficient capital to move on to other activities. 2
Albany City Directories show that John’s early business was vertically integrated as his business was described as tallow, chandler, soap and glue. His raw materials were animal byproducts from the butchering business and he was using the fat to make tallow, candles and soap, and the hides to make hide glue.
We do not know when his father died as his burial location has not been found. The following records exist in the early Albany City Directories for the name John Taylor and include this John the Mayor and Brewer and others including perhaps his father John.
John Taylor in the Albany City Directories Year Occupation Str Address (home & business) 1814 to 1816?????? 1817 Grocer food/drink 70 Washington 1818 “ “ 1819 tallow chandler soap/candles glue 23 Hamilton 1820 tallow chandler soap/candles glue 1820 coach man carriage transport 30 Eagle 1821 tallow chandler soap/candles glue 23 Hamilton 1822 “ “ 1823 Tallow… & merchant/commerce 505 S. Market 1823 tallow 19 Hamilton 1823 merchant/commerce 8 Water 1824 tallow 19 Hamilton Shop 505 S. Market 1824 merchant/commerce 8 Water Store 262 N Market 1825 tallow 49 Hamilton Shop bet Lydius & Hamilton house 30 Dock 1826 tallow 49 Hamilton, house Lydius 1826 merchant/commerce 59 Quay, 1826 house 30 Dock 1827 tallow Fidler and Taylor Brewery House Lydius Str 1827 merchant commerce 59 Quay house 22 Division 1827 30 Dean 1828 Lt Gov 50 state 1828 Tallow Fidler and Taylor, h. Lydius 1828 merchant 59 Quay h 30 Dean 1829 merchant 29 Dean 1829 grocer food/drink 41 Fox 1829 30 Dean 1830 brewer food drink Fidler and Taylor, h. Lydius 1830 grocer food drink 41 Fox 1830 grocer food drink 59 Quay h 30 Dean
On May 13, 1819, he married Mary Richmond, who was 6 years his junior. She has been recorded as a descendant of the Richmonds of Richmond Manor, which was a royal residence in on the Green in Richmond, United Kingdom. However at this point we do not know her parentage.
Over the next two decades John and Mary had at least eight children of which three girls died in infancy:
John5,6,9 R6ichmond9 Taylor (B. 18194 or 182116, D. Feb 21, 185316) m. Eveline H. Wetherspoon
Joseph5,6,9 B6urnop9 Taylor (B. abt 1822, D. Jan 10, 186816)
Mary Jane (B. ~1823, D. aged 16 mos 1824)11,16
Edmund5,9 Briggs9 Taylor (B. 182416, D. 186316)
Anna Maria (B. ~1829, D. at 3 mos 1829)11,16
William9 Henry9 Taylor (B. Oct 22, 1832, D. Feb 21, 187316) m. Jennie Agnes Dickson
Anna Gascoigne Taylor Gilbert9 (B. 183416, D. 189716) m. Benj Chapman Gilbert
Jane Elizabeth (B. 1836, D. at 1 mo 1836)11,16
With capital accumulated from his candle making business in 1822, he founded a brewery in Albany. The author Stanley Axelrod presumes that he “was apprenticed in the Boyd, Dunlop, or Burt brewery during his early years, so by 1822 he was competent enough to open his own brewhouse.”5 John initially was partners with Lancelot Fidler (or Fiddler), another local brewer, and the Brewery was thus called Fidler & Taylor, and operated under that name from 1822 to 1832. Fidler had previously been in business for himself at 70 South Pearl Street. Almost immediately the brewery won great praise as the Evening Journal on October 22, 1825 wrote it was the “...largest in the United States, capable of manufacturing 250 barrels of beer a day.” The Fidler & Taylor partnership arose from John Taylor’s sister Mary’s marriage to Lancelot Fidler. After Fiddler left the business in 1832, the brewery was named John Taylor Brewery and it remained with that name until 1844.
On July 10, 1834, John’s mother Phoebe Burnop Taylor died in Albany. She was laid to rest at the Episcopal Burial Grounds in Albany. Also buried there were John and Mary’s young daughters who died in infancy. (See above.) John’s father John Taylor was not recorded as having been buried there, which maybe because there was no headstone or record. We do not know the date of his death although it would appear that it was before Phoebe’s.
In 1836 Lancelot Fidler received permission from the New York State Legislature for his family to change their surname to Howard. The reason for this name change is unknown. But a year later on November 6, 1837, John’s sister Mary Taylor Fidler (Howard) died. Her remains and those of two of her children are buried in John’s Albany Rural Cemetery plot. Since they date before the establishment of Albany Rural Cemetery, they were obviously relocated to this plot.
By the 1830s, people were beginning to actively promote prohibition. Alcohol abuse was seen as one of the major problems effecting American families. One of the first major skirmishes happened in Albany regarding the John Taylor & Sons Brewery. Edward C. Delavan, a former wine merchant and active prohibitionist, spread a rumor that the Taylor Brewery used contaminated water. This resulted in an investigation by the NY State legislature where all the active brewers in Albany and Troy had to testify.
On April 30th 1835, John Taylor testified before Daniel W. Mills the Commissioner of the investigation that:
He owned a brewery in Albany.
He had been involved with brewing in Albany for past 12 yrs (1823).
He never used or saw used contaminated materials like drugs.
The only additives he used were white sugar and honey, which was not unexpected.
On May 1st 1835, William Amsdell testified:
He had been a brewer for 21 yrs (1814).
He brewed for John Taylor for last 3 yrs (1832).
He never saw or used contaminated materials…
He was in full charge of John Taylor’s brewery.
On April 1st 1835, John G. Northrop testified:
He had charge of the office and books of John Taylor’s brewery for last three yrs
In response to the rumors, John Taylor sued Edward Delavan for libel. In April of 1840, the trial was held in the Albany Circuit Court, it was the case of John Taylor vs. Edward C. Delavan. A book was written about this case, A Report of the Trial of the Cause of John Taylor vs. Edward C. Delavan, Prosecuted for an Alleged Libel; Tried at the Albany Circuit, April 1840. And Mr. Delavan’s Correspondence with the Ex. Committee of the Albany City Temperance Society by Hoffman, White and Visscher 1840 Albany 48 pp Octavo (5”x8”) This book has sold recently for $600.00.
John’s beloved wife Mary Richmond died on March 14, 1843 in Albany. He laid her to rest in the Episcopal Burial Grounds in Albany. Years later all the remains of this cemetery, which had been located in the intercity were relocated to Albany Rural Cemetery. Mary’s remains, those of her young infant daughters and John’s mother Phoebe were relocated to Lot 1 Section 57 a plot at Albany Rural Cemetery owned by John Taylor.
A year later on May 15, 1844, John married Esther3,9 E3lizabeth Wiltse9, who apparently was many years younger than he as she was born in 1817. They would have one daughter Elizabeth Ellison Taylor who was born in 1849. Elizabeth would ultimately marry Edwy Lycurgus Taylor.
As John’s sons grew to adulthood they joined the Brewery business and in 1844, John added “& Sons” to the name to include them. The addition of his two eldest sons, John and Joseph allowed the business expanded to NYC and Boston. His sons settled in those cities to handle business there2; John, his eldest son settled in Boston and Joseph in NYC. His son William Henry would ultimately assist him in Albany.
In 1848, he was elected the Mayor of Albany. His tenure as mayor is remembered for the brawl by private firemen that resulted in a major fire consuming numerous properties as the firemen stood by fighting to be the ones to handle the blaze. This event resulted in the establishment of the city fire department.
In addition to his brewery and political activities, he apparently had an orchard as in 1848 he submitted Gloria Mundi apples and Virgoulouse pears at the Albany and Rensselaer Horticultural Society12. From the US census records we know that he had a full time gardener.
In 1850, his brewery advertised in the 1850 NY Mercantile Union Business Directory: “John Taylor and Sons Albany Imperial Pale and Amber Ale constantly on hand and for sale in hogsheads, barrels and half barrels, either for city use or shipping. Brewery- No. 83 Greene St Albany; 342 Greenwich St New York; and 74 Commercial St Boston Agents: Jas Preston Charleston, SC, F. Sheils, Savannah, Ga; A. D. Grief and Co, New Orleans, John Taylor, John R. Taylor, Joseph B. Taylor”
John and his family were recorded as follows in the 1850 US Census for Albany, NY Ward 10. This record shows that he was very well to do for the time and had servants to handle household and gardening responsibilities. John Taylor 60 male, brewer, $60,000, Eng Esther 34 ----- (no birthplace given) (B. 1816) William H. 19 clerk Anna G. 16 NY Elizabeth E. 1 NY Amelia ?Jimmer? 23 Eng no occupation given Mary ?Coltes? 23 Ireland no occupation given Octavis Hallet 18 Gardner Eng John McCullen or McCulles 45 Ireland
This was the record of John’s eldest son John Richmond Taylor in the 1850 US Census in Albany, NY: J. R. Taylor 31 yrs brewer NY (B. ~1819) Eveline 23 yrs NY (B. 1827) John 3 yrs NY (B. 1847) James 9/12 NY (B. 1849) Julia Cashen 21 yrs Ireland
In 1853, his eldest son John Richmond Taylor died and his son Edmund became a partner in the business. Joseph continued to run the business in NYC and William in Albany.
During the Civil War, the Taylor brewery was using advanced technology for the day which was pressure kettles with a capacity of 600 to 1000 barrels that could boil at elevated temperatures.
The following is part of poem from book published about John Taylor after his death. It gives us some perspective of the beers that the Taylor brewery sold. The book appears to have been written by Barry Gray and John Savage and A. F. J. Brown, published by NY, Russell’s American Steam Printing House 1866:“A Runlet of Ale
Among the ales most famed in story,
From Adam’s down or old or new
There’s none possessing half the glory
Or half the life of Taylor’s brew.
Their amber brand is light and cheery,
Their XX is strong though pale,
But give to me, when dull and weary,
Their cream, imperial Astor ale”
The 1860 US Census for the Third Ward of Albany recorded the family. Their financial assets had increased dramatically in the last decade. John Taylor: 65 yrs, brewer RE$128,300, PP$200,000, born NY Esther E.: 40 yrs, NY (B. 1820) Anna: 22 yrs, NY Eliza: 11 NY at school Anne Pitsman: 25 servant Ireland Bridget Pitsman 21, servant Ireland Moses Hall 21 coachman NY Next house William Taylor 29 brewer $-, $1000, NY Jane Taylor: 25 yrs NY Margaret McBride 29 yrs, servant Ireland Note: This is John’s son William Henry and his wife Jennie Agnes Dickson.
It appears that John may have run for Mayor again in 1860, but he was defeated by George Hornell Thacher.
By 1862 during the Civil War, the Taylor brewery in Albany had about 200 employees. On July 10, 1862, the Brewery notified their employees that they would support their employees who choose to enlist in the Civil War by providing half of their salary to their families while they were gone and insuring that their jobs were available when they returned. These were amazing benefits for the time!
On March 17, 1863 John’s son Edmund Briggs Taylor who managed the Boston business died in that city. This left John with his sons William Henry Taylor in Albany and Joseph Taylor in NYC to help manage the business.
On June 15, 1863, the dock workers in Albany went on strike, as additional men joined the strike to support the dock workers the protest spread throughout the city. They went throughout the city and ransacked various businesses. They went to the Taylor’s brewery in the afternoon and broke through the gates and ransacked the brewing and malt houses. The Brewery employees fled in fear.
John was an avid reader, who was so devoted that he had the largest and most valuable library in the entire city.
Joel Munsell of Albany published a photo of John Taylor in his book which shows a stately older man with short cropped light colored hair probably gray given his age and a long face and nose.
On September 13, 1863 John Taylor died in Albany.
After his death, he was remembered for “his charity, integrity, industry and possessed finest private library.”9 Joel Munsell remembered him as “an upright and benevolent citizen.”
He was buried in his family’s Albany Rural Cemetery Lot #1 Section 57. He purchased this plot earlier and relocated the remains of his family from Albany’s Episcopal Burial Grounds there. This is a very large lot with at least 36 burial plots. It appears that there are several large monuments as well as headstones. Some of the graves are obviously infants from the size (length) of the individual sites shown on the Albany Rural Cemetery layout. The plot is very long with generally two rows deep but in some places three possible given the small dimensions of the infants’ plots.
In 1866 John’s son Joseph Briggs Taylor applied for a US passport and in it he was described as 44 years of age with a medium forehead, short nose, round chin, florid complexion, dark brown eyes, regular mouth, brown hair and round face. In the absence of photographs this may give us some insight as to the appearance of John’s family.
After John’s death, the Brewery was renamed “John Taylor’s Sons” and operated under this name until 1873.
On January 10, 1868, John’s son Joseph Burnop Taylor died leaving only his son William Henry Taylor to continue the business.
An 1870 wood engraving of John Taylor and Sons’ Brewery Albany, New York, size 5 x 7 1/2 inches, with hand coloring named “A Runlet of Ale” was recently priced at $50.00.
Seven years after John’s death the 1870 US Census recorded his son William Henry Taylor. Albany 10th Ward taken on September 1, 1870 Taylor, Wm H. 39 yrs brewer, NY (B. 1831) Jane A.: 31 yrs, NY Wm H. 1 yr NY Dickson, Margaret 59 yrs Scotland Note: Margaret Dickson was William’s mother in law.
Tragedy hit the family in the early 1870s which destroyed the empire that John had so carefully built during his life. First in 1871 William’s wife Jennie Agnes Dickson Taylor died. Only two years later his only living son William Henry died at just 41 years of age. His death resulted in the sale of the brewery by the remaining family members. After the sale, the brewery operated under the name of Taylor and Son Brewery and apparently the extended family still held some financial control.
A beer bottle from the John Taylor Brewery dated about 1880 or later was described as a stoneware bottle with two tones and 8.25 inches in height, with two paper labels, foil and cork. The upper label read “Bottled at the Brewery, Albany, NY. Pale Stock Established 1824”. The lower label read “Taylor’s celebrated Imperial Albany Cream Ale” and had a trademark in the center which read “Entered according to Act of Congress in 1868 by John Taylor’s son.” The stoneware bottle had a maker’s mark on side that it was made by Port Dunbar Pottery Co. Glasgow.
In 1887, the brewery’s name changed yet again to Taylor Brewing and Malting Company, under which it operated until 1905.
In 1891, Esther E. Taylor, John’s widow, was still alive and she was living at 257 State Street. Also living with her at that time were Mrs. John Taylor and Edward L. Taylor, who was the Vice President of the Brewing Company. A Nicholas B. Taylor was the president of the Brewing Company and his work address was 133 Broadway and 243 State Street. George R. Hodgkins was the bookkeeper for the company and he lived at 213 Hudson Ave. Charles J. Oaks was the treasurer and he lived at 290 State Street.
Esther died on September 18, 1898 at the age of 81 years. She was buried on September 21st with her husband and family members in Albany Rural Cemetery lot 1 section 57.
By 1903 the Taylor family was no longer associated with the business in any way. The beer from John Taylor & Son’s Brewery is still remembered by beer collectors and historians today. Their process resembled the process used by Coors today. The beer was unique as it included unprocessed cane sugar.
Episcopal Burial Grounds Inscriptions
All remains in this cemetery would have been removed to Albany Rural Cemetery when the Albany Burial Grounds were closed under the direction of the Albany City Council.
Elizabeth Stephen wife of Charles J. Taylor died Oct 1st 1829 in 29th yr of her age (B. 1800)
Here lies the remains of Mary Richmond born May 18th 1796 died March 14, 1843. Consort of John Taylor who erected this deserved tribute to her memory.
Stranger tread lightly on this door
Nor desecrate this grave
Tho death destroy and ?/may feast
Her noble soul has gone to rest
Sweetly sleeps her rising dust
To the resurrection of the just
In memory of Mary Jane aged 16 mos 1824
Anna Maria 3 mos 1829
Jane Elizabeth 1 mo 1836
Daughters of John and Mary Taylor
Ah! Death could not your shaft then spare those rose buds of ???so fair
To spread their fragrance Ah! So must all bow to the stroke when God doth call Sleep on sweet babes embalmed you are with bleeding hearts and many a tear
In memory of Phoebe Taylor born Jan 2, 1755 died July 10th 1834? Her only surviving son in remembrance of her virtue Pays this tribute to embalm her worth. Her flesh shall slumber on the ground till the last trumpet’s joyfall sound. When bursting forth with sweet surprise she to her saviour’s presence flies.
Elizabeth wife of James Taylor died April 14, 1830? Aged 24 yrs (B. 1806)
Eliza Cosgrave wife of James Taylor died Nov 12, 1833 aged 27y (B. 1806)
Also Charlotte Taylor their daughter aged 11 wks and infant son aged 8 wks
Elisha Taylor d. July 9th 1837 aged 7 y
Richard Taylor d. May 6th 1851 age 53y
Sarah Ann Taylor d. July 7th 1837 at 9 yrs
Sarah Baker Taylor D. Dec 31, 1847 age 52 yrs
John’s grandson J. R. Taylor was a leading hardware merchant in Little Falls, Herkimer county. J. R. was born in Albany and spent his life in NY, Michigan and Little Falls. For a few years he was engaged in the insurance business in Chicago. In 1886 he started Taylor, Cooke and Co and in 1890 it became Taylor and Markham and by 1892 he was the sole owner. His biography in the book History of Herkimer County noted that his ancestry included John Taylor mayor of Albany, the Richmonds of Richmond Manor and the Wetherspoons of NY.
Joel Munsell book from Kim page 169 “1863 Notices from Newspapers; Sept 13th”
Albany City Directories, various sources
Axelrod, Stanley M., A History of the Brewing Industry in the City of Albany 1633-1965, Albany Public Library
Bull, Donald, Friedrich, Manfred, Gottschalk, Robert, American Breweries, Bullworks PO Box 106 Trumbull Connecticut 06611 1984, Albany Public Library.
New York State Legislature, Documents of the Senate of the State of New York, Published 1835 page 14 Google Books
The New York Mercantile Union Business Directory, Published 1850 by S. French page 5, Google Books
Reynolds, Cuyler, Albany Chronicles A History of the City Arranged Chronologically from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, By J. B. Lyon Company Printers, Albany, NY, 1906, Google Books
Munsell, Joel, Annals of Albany, Published 1871, Volume 4, page 284 and 285, Google Books
Albany’s Episcopal Burial Ground inscriptions, from Munsell, Joel, Annals of Albany, Volume 4 1871, pages 284 and 285.
Hovey, Charles Mason, “Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and All Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs, Volume XIV, Published Hovey and Co, Merchants Row, Boston, 1848, Google Books.
The Rural Repository devoted to Polite Literature…, Volume XIX, Published by W. B. Stoddard Hudson, NY 1843, page 67, “Saturday March 23, 1843 Died In Albany on the 14th inst Mrs. Mary Richmond Taylor wife of Mr. John Taylor”, Google books
Albany Rural Cemetery website,
Harden, George A., History of Herkimer County, Google books
Albany Rural Cemetery data
New York Legislature, Laws of State of New York, Published 1836, pages 159, 252 and 839, Google Books, re: name change of Lancelot Fidler to Lancelot Howard.