TAYLOR, John Ellor

1837 - 1895

John Ellor Taylor

Born at Levershulme, Manchester on 21 September 1837, eldest son of William Taylor, foreman in a Lancashire cotton mill, and his wife Maria née Ellor. Receiving little formal education, by 1850 he was a store-boy for the L. & N. W. railway for whom he became an apprentice fitter at Crewe. He attended evening classes at Manchester Mechanics’ Institute and in 1863 he moved to Norwich and was employed as a sub-editor on the 'Norwich Mercury' spending his leisure time on the study of natural history and science and, together with John Gunn (1801-1890), established the Norwich Geographical Society. Getting into financial difficulties he compounded his estate at 50p in the £1 and came to Ipswich. In 1869 he established the Ipswich Scientific Society and in 1872, appointed curator of the Ipswich Museum which was then at a low ebb owing to an aged curator and a nonchalant president Charles Austin (1799-1874) of Brandeston Hall, who was not even on nodding terms with science. Almost at once Taylor began public lectures in the ‘old’ Museum which proved to be very popular and, with attendances of over 400, they had to be held in the larger Temperance Hall. The highlight of his Ipswich career was the opening of the new museum in High Street on 27 July 1881 which was illuminated with the then new ‘non-flickering electric lamps’. A member of the Ipswich Fine Art Club 1875-1887 but giving his address as The Museum, Ipswich, does not seem to have exhibited. In 1885 he made a lecture tour of Australia but in 1893, with the museum flourishing under him and his president Sir Richard Wallace (1818-1890), was forced to resign his position when he again became insolvent with liabilities of £735 and assets of furniture and books worth £50. He married at Norwich on 31 January 1866 Sarah, daughter of William Bellamy, headmaster of a boys school in Norwich. He died at his home Ordnance Lodge, Crescent Road, Ipswich on 28 September 1895. Taylor was editor of 'Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip' from 1872 and was the author of over 20 books.