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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Taylor, William

by William S. Powell, 1996; Revised by Jared Dease, Government and Heritage Library, January 2023

March 1743–16 June 1819

William Taylor, early state official, was born in Southampton County, Va., the son of William and Lucy Vaughan Taylor. On the death of his father in 1772, young Taylor inherited two plantations and eight workers whom his father had enslaved. Apparently soon afterwards he moved to Dobbs (now Wayne) County, N.C. Three years later he was a delegate to the Fifth Provincial Congress (November–December 1775). In June 1776, on the eve of the Revolution, the Council of Safety heard that Taylor and another man were "disaffected to the Common Cause and are endeavouring to dissuade the people from associating in defence of their Liberties." The sheriff of Dobbs County was instructed to bring them before the Council, and a little later it was ordered that their personal property be inventoried. The records do not report further on this case, but Taylor family tradition says that the two men were tried and convicted, whereupon the judge joined people in the county in a successful petition that Taylor be pardoned.

This escapade appears to have produced a thorough change of sentiment in Taylor. He served as a member of the Council of State in 1777 and in a dozen sessions of the General Assembly between 1785 and 1802, representing at different times Wayne, Glasgow, or Greene County as names and boundaries were altered while he continued to occupy the same house. He was elected to still another term in the Assembly but died before the session convened. He had been a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1788.

Taylor was married three times. By his first wife, Celeya Edwards, he had twelve children; there were two by his second wife and three by his third. Taylor and his wives are said to have been buried in the Lemuel Hill family cemetery about half a mile north of the site of his home.


John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1584–1979 (1981).

Mary Daniels Johnston, ed., Heritage of Wayne County, North Carolina (1982).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vol. 10 (1890).


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