Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Lehigh County
Born in Easton, iron manufacturer George Taylor signed the Declaration of Independence.
George Taylor was born in 1716. There is little known about Taylor's early life, but he was most likely born in Ireland or England. In 1736, Taylor immigrated to the United States and began working at an iron mill in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Taylor remained in iron manufacturing his entire life. While in the iron industry, Taylor also filled many political roles and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. After becoming ill in 1777, Taylor gave up public service and retreated to his iron mills and home. He died on February 23, 1781, in Easton, Pennsylvania.
There is little information on George Taylor's early life. His exact birth date and birthplace are unknown, but most sources state that he was born in Northern Ireland in 1716. It is also possible that he is related to the Taylor family of Derbyshire, England. There is also little known about his parents and family. However, researchers do know that at age 20, Taylor immigrated to the United States, and upon arrival his in 1736, Taylor began working under Samuel Savage Jr. in Warwick Furnace, an iron mill in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Taylor was skilled in his trade, and soon he became the manager of the Coventry Forge iron mill. After working there for six years, Samuel Savage Jr. died, and Taylor married his widow, Ann Savage. They had two children together.
Although the majority of George Taylor's life was concerned with the iron industry, he also began to take on political positions during the late 1750s. In 1755, Taylor moved to Durham, Pennsylvania, and he was the justice of the peace there in 1757, 1761, and 1763. In 1763, Taylor eventually moved to Easton, Pennsylvania. While he was there, Taylor was a member of the provincial assembly from 1764 to 1769. Additionally, Taylor was the justice of the peace for Northampton County from 1764 to 1772. In 1775, Taylor was a member of the provincial assembly and a colonel in the Bucks County Militia.
Taylor was not an original member of the Continental Congress. However, he was appointed to replace one of the representatives who refused to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776. George Taylor signed his name to the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. Taylor's last significant political role was serving on the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council. Taylor was forced into an early resignation in 1777 when he became stricken with a serious illness. This marked the end of Taylor's public service.
Although Taylor did not publish any of his written work, there are a few documents that have survived. In Benjamin Franklin Fackenthal's The Homes of George Taylor, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, there is a copy of George Taylor's Oath of Allegiance to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Dated as February 3, 1778, Taylor wrote, "I renounce and refuse all allegiance to George the Third King of Great Britain." This passage displays Taylor's loyalty toward the patriots and the independence of the United States.
After George Taylor resigned from public office, he still continued to support the patriots. From 1777 to 1780, Taylor worked at his iron mills, making canon balls for the Continental Army. In 1780, Taylor became ill again and decided to return to his home in Easton, Pennsylvania. Taylor spent the rest of his life there until he died on February 23, 1781. Taylor's body was originally buried at St. John's Lutheran Church in Easton, Pennsylvania. In 1854, a memorial was constructed in the Easton Cemetery for Taylor. In 1870, his body was moved to the site of his memorial and was buried directly in front of it, where it remains today.
There is little written work by George Taylor that has been preserved over the years. Some of his pieces, including an excerpt from his will and his Oath of Allegiance to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, are available in The Homes of George Taylor, Signer of the Declaration of Independence by Benjamin F. Fackenthal.
Fackenthal, Benjamin F. The Homes of George Taylor, Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Easton: N.p., 1922.
Goodrich, Charles A. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856.