Taylor, Silas

, an able English antiquary, who is introduced by Anthony Wood with an alias Domville or D'Omville, we know not why, was the son of Syivanus Taylor, one of the commissioners for ejecting those of the clergy, who were called “scandalous and insufficient ministers,” and one of the pretended high court of justice for the trial of Charles I. Silas was born at Harley near Muchweniock in Shropshire, July 16, 1624, and after some education at Shrewsbury and Westminster-schools, became a commoner of New-Inn-hall, Oxford, in 1641. He had given proof of talents fit to compose a distinguished scholar, both in the classics and mathematics, when his father took him from the university, and made him join the parliamentary army, in which he bore a captain’s commission. When the war was over, his father procured him to be made a sequestrator of the royalists in Herefordshire, but although he enriched himself considerably in this office, and had a moiety of the bishop’s palace at Hereford settled on him, he conducted himself with such kindness and moderation as to be beloved of the king’s party. At the restoration, he of course lost all he had gained as the agent of usurpation, but his mild behaviour in that ungracious office was not forgot, and by the interest of some whom he had obliged, he was appointed commissary of ammunition, &c. at Dunkirk, and about 1665 was made | keeper of the king’s stores and storehouses for shipping, &c. at Harwich. The profits of this situation were probably not great, for he was much in debt at the time of his death, which occasioned his valuable collections and Mss. to be seized by his creditors, and dispersed as of no value. He died Nov. 4, 1678, and was buried in the chancel of the church of Harwich.

He appears to have been an early inquirer into the antiquities of his country, and while in power ransacked the libraries of the cathedrals of Hereford and Worcester for valuable Mss., among which was the original grant of king Edgar, whence the kings of England derive their sovereignty of the seas. This was printed in Selden’s “Mare clausum.” He left large materials for a history of Herefordshire, which Dr. Rawliuson understood to have been deposited in lord Oxford’s library; but in the Harleian catalogue we find only part of his history of Herefordshire at the end of ms. 6766, and extracts from Doomsday, >fo. 6356. Mr. Dale, who published a “History of Harwich” from Taylor’s papers, in 1730, speaks of these collections as being lately, if not now, in the hands of sir Edward Harley of Brompton-Brian, grandfather of the first earl of Oxford. The only work Taylor published, was the “History of Gavelkind, with the etymology thereof; containing also an assertion, that our English laws are, for the most part, those that were used by vthe ancient Brytains, notwithstanding the several conquests of the Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans. With some observations and remarks upon many especial occurrences of British and English history. To which is added, a short history of William the conqueror, written in Latin by an anonymous author in the time of Henry I.” Lond. 1663, 4to. In this work he carries both the name and custom of Gavelkind further back than was done by his predecessor on the same subject, Sornner. In all material points he confirms the opinion of Somner, who answers his objections in marginal notes on a copy of his book, which, with a correct copy of his own, is in Canterbury library. Taylor’s work we should suppose of great rarity, as no copy occurs in Mr. Cough’s collection given to Oxford, or in that sold in London. Wood says, that Taylor wrote many pamphlets before the restoration, but as they were without his name, he did not think proper to acknowledge them. He speaks also of Taylor’s abilities not only in the theory, but | practice of music, and as a composer of anthems, and the editor of “Court Ayres, &c.1655, 8vo, printed by John Playford. His name, however, seems to have escaped the attention of our musical historians. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II.—Gough’s Topography.