Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

History Revisited - John Stuart Mill's link to New England

I have let this post stand, but following it I discovered that there were two Harriet Taylors and that our Harriet Taylor (and despite one Taylor family history) could not have been  Harriet Taylor Mill.
A PLACE OF LEARNING: William Tydd Taylor attended Edinburgh University before marrying Margaretta Lucy Lind and moving to the New England Tablelands  
I never cease to be fascinated by the connections I find as I trawl through New England’s history. This is another such case.

William Tydd Taylor was born at Edinburgh in 1814. Initially he lived with father John, Mother Harriet and younger brother John near Dundee on the River Tay.

Now we come to the first connection. Harriet Taylor is better known as Harriet Taylor Mill, ardent feminist and the wife of economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill.

It is not clear when Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill first became involved. Helen Taylor, John and Harriet Taylor’s daughter, was born in 1831. By 1833, Harriet was living in a separate residence, although the public fa├žade of the marriage was preserved. at John Taylor’s request.

The relationship between Harriet and John Stuart Mill began as shared intellectual interests, but then deepened into something more. Mill was always generous in recognising her contribution to his thought, Harriet reluctant to accept, although she was writing in her own right. Finally, but only after John Taylor’s death, Harriet and Mill married.

John Taylor was clearly a remarkable person. A man of education, he accepted the relationship and also inspired daughter Helen with a lifelong love for history and strong filial affection from an early age. After Harriet’s death, Helen, now known as the step daughter of John Stuart Mill, would carry on her mother’s work.

These events all lay in the future at the time William Tydd Taylor was born.

William attended Edinburgh University and then became a barrister. In 1838, he received an inheritance from his grandfather’s estate. The following year, on 30 July 1839, William married Margaretta Lucy Lind.

Margaretta was, I think, another connection to that eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment that had helped form John Taylor.

Born in Calcutta to Alexander Francis Lind, a member of the Bengal Civil Service, and Anna nee McCann, Margaretta was the granddaughter of James Lind of Gorgie.

A physician and surgeon and close friend of the poet Shelly, James Lind had visited China in 1766, went to Iceland with a young Sir Joseph Banks and then became physician to the royal household of George the Third.

One of the guests at William and Margaretta’s wedding of was a young Frederick Roberts. Roberts was William’s cousin and would become Roberts of Kandahar, one of the most famous British generals of the nineteenth century. He remembered William and Margaretta as a handsome couple, a view supported by later photos.

Events now would take the newly married couple to other side of the world, to the southern New England Tablelands where they would spend the rest of their lives.

The catalyst here was almost certainly another of William’s cousins, Archibald Clunes Innes. I will continue this story in my next column.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 20 April 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.

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