Manuscript of the Month: Reformation 02

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Francis TaylorAlderman Francis Taylor was a successful and well-respected member of the municipal government, the Dublin City Assembly.  He was born in Swords, Co. Dublin around 1550, at a time of religious controversy.  The Taylors remained loyal to Rome and did not subscribe to the 1536 Act of Supremacy which declared that Henry VIII and not the Pope was the supreme head of the Church.

Francis Taylor became a merchant and settled in Dublin City, where he had a house in Ram Lane.  He married Gennet Shelton, the daughter of a Dublin merchant, and the couple had five sons and a daughter.  Taylor entered municipal politics, was elected Sheriff of Dublin for the civic year 1586-7 and three years later he was elected Alderman on the City Assembly, a post which he held until his death in 1621.  Taylor was highly regarded for his honesty and financial ability and served as Dublin City Treasurer on seven occasions between 1593 and 1616.  The pinnacle of Taylor’s civic career came in 1595 when he was elected Mayor of Dublin.    As a senior member of the City Assembly, Taylor was asked to travel to London in April 1597, to present a petition on behalf of Dublin Corporation at the court of Elizabeth I.

James I succeeded to the English throne in 1603 and brought in severe measures against Roman Catholics.  In 1613, Francis Taylor was singled out for attention when he was elected a Member of Parliament for Dublin City.  A report sent to Dublin Castle stated that Taylor was a most Spanish and seditious schimastique who had stood for Parliament to prevent legislation against priests and Jesuits. The authorities declared the election to be invalid, and shortly after that Taylor was sent to prison and his property was seized.

Dublin City Assembly votes to remit £20 to Francis Taylor

Image above: Dublin City Assembly votes to remit £20 to Alderman Francis Taylor, having regard to his age and distressed estate.   Dublin Assembly Roll, Midsummer Assembly, 1617. (click to enlarge)

Writing from prison in 1617 to his colleagues in the Dublin City Assembly, Francis Taylor asked for remission of debts which he owed them but could not repay because of his present troubles and weak habillitye’.  His colleagues were sympathetic to his plight and, though in prison, he retained his title of Alderman until his death there in 1621.

In 1991, Francis Taylor was declared ‘Blessed’ by the Vatican, one of seventeen Irish martyrs honoured for their faith.

Manuscript of the Month

Each month, Dublin City Archives will be showcasing a manuscript from their collections on our blog. Check back next month for the next instalment!

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