Origins of American Colonist Taylors
The goal of this page is to help you find the origins of your earliest
Taylor ancestors. It explores where in the British Isles your Taylor
colonial ancestors may have come from.
We know that the Taylor surname and its variants is largely a product of the
British Isles -- England, Scotland and Ireland. (Wales is intentionally left
off the list, because the name is historically uncommon there.)
But England, especially, is a composite of ethnicities -- Celtic, Saxon and Norse
to name a few.
This page is inspired by a blog by
The focus here is on colonial emigration from the British Isles to America.
Apologetically, we do not focus on emigration from other areas (such as Germany
or Africa) nor on later waves of
Beginning in the late 16th century (the "lost colony" of Roanoke) Great
Britain began to establish its presence in North America through colonies
along the eastern seaboard. Each colony was established through a Royal charter (from
the King) and was settled according to the plans of its grantees.
The thirteen colonies, in the order of their establishments as British
Virginia -- Jamestown, VA, founded by the London Company
with a profit motive was the first successful British settlement in North
America. Virginia was named for
Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen of England, and became a Royal colony (under supervision by the King
via his appointed governor) in 1624 when the company went bankrupt.
- 1630 population = 2,500
- 1640 pop'n. = 10,400
- 1660 pop'n. = 27,000
- 1680 pop'n. = 43,600
- 1700 pop'n. = 58,600
Massachusetts (Plymouth 1620 &
1624) colonies; founded by separate groups for both religious and profit motives.
The two colonies
were merged into the Province of Massachusetts and became a Royal colony in
- The Pilgrims of Plymouth (from the English town on the western edge of Devon) were a mix of
separatist Congregationalists and some Anglicans.
- The Massachusetts Bay colonists were staunch Puritans; their backers had
been investors in the failed Dorchester Company.
- Financial backers of both hoped for profit, which they achieved.
- 1630 population = 900
- 1640 pop'n. = 1,000 + 8,900
- 1660 pop'n. = 2,000 + 20,100
- 1680 pop'n. = 6,400 + 39,800
- 1700 pop'n. = 55,900
New Hampshire; founded
as a fisherman's camp by John Wheelwright
at Portsmouth, NH, named for the port city in Hampshire, England. It became a
Royal colony in 1679.
- 1630 population = 500
- 1640 pop'n. = 1,100
- 1660 pop'n. = 1,600
- 1680 pop'n. = 2,000
- 1700 pop'n. = 5,000
Maryland colony; founded by the Calvert family (the Lords Baltimore),
primarily for religious reasons. (The Calverts had converted to Catholicism and desired a place where
their religion would be tolerated.)
It was named for Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I.
Until the Revolutionary War, tens of thousands of English convicts were sent to Maryland.
Despite tribulations, it never became a Royal colony.
- 1640 population = 500
- 1650 pop'n. = 4,500
- 1660 pop'n. = 8,400
- 1680 pop'n. = 17,900
- 1700 pop'n. = 29,600
founded by Thomas Hooker as a haven for Puritan gentlemen. It did not become a Royal
- It included the colonies of
New Haven and
Saybrook, which merged with it.
- 1640 pop'n. = 1,500
- 1650 population = 4,100
- 1660 pop'n. = 8,000
- 1680 pop'n. = 17,200
- 1700 pop'n. = 26,000
founded by Roger Williams, after banishment from the
Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious views; it was the first colony to
specifically separate church and state. It did not become a Royal colony.
- 1640 population = 300
- 1650 pop'n. = 800
- 1660 pop'n. = 1,500
- 1680 pop'n. = 3,000
- 1700 pop'n. = 5,900
has a complex history; it is considered to have been founded by Peter Minuit and the New Sweden Company,
although a Dutch settlement had been established in 1631 and -- from a
British perspective was only the "lower counties" of Pennsylvania or New
York or, sometimes, eastern Maryland . Named for Thomas West, the 3rd Baron De La Warr, whose
rescue mission saved Jamestown from starvation; it did not become a Royal
colony. (Again complicated, De La Warr gave his name to the river, which was
then taken for the state's name.)
- 1640 pop'n. = ?
- 1650 pop'n. = 200
- 1660 pop'n. = 500
- 1680 pop'n. = 1,000
- 1700 pop'n. = 2,500
colony; founded by Virginians seeking land. The date does not count from
the Lost Colony of Roanoke on a North Carolina island in 1584 , but from the first Virginian (Nathaniel Batts) moving south
onto the shore of Albemarle Sound -- land that had been granted to the Carolina
The colony was formally separated from South Carolina in 1712 and, because of internal problems,
became a Royal colony in 1729.
- 1660 pop'n. = 1,000
- 1670 pop'n. = 3,800
- 1680 pop'n. = 5,400
- 1700 pop'n. = 10,700
South Carolina, founded by eight Lords Proprietors and later divided into north and south; the colonies were
named after Charles I and the intent of the original 1629 grantee (Sir Robert Heath) was to establish
a haven for French Huguenots; Charles, though, restricted settlement to Anglicans and that charter went
unrealized. It became a Royal colony in 1729.
- 1670 pop'n. = 200
- 1680 pop'n. = 1,200
- 1700 pop'n. = 5,700
British version founded by Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret (Carolina
Lords Propietors?) through military force.
Netherland had been established in 1614 and
New Sweden in 1638.
Named after the English Channel island of Jersey, it became a Royal colony in 1702.
- 1670 pop'n. = 1,000
- 1680 pop'n. = 3,400
- 1700 pop'n. = 14,000
New York, founded by the Duke of York; was originally the
Netherland colony; became British territory in 1664 and a Royal colony in 1685.
- 1630 pop'n. = 400;
- 1640 pop'n. = 1,900
- 1660 pop'n. = 4,900
- 1670 pop'n. = 5,800
- 1680 pop'n. = 9,800
- 1700 pop'n. = 19,100
Pennsylvania, founded by William Penn
as a refuge for Quakers; its religious tolerance also attracted Germanic Protestants and Scots-Irish Presbyterians.
It did not become a Royal colony.
- 1680 pop'n. = 700
- 1690 pop'n. = 11,400
- 1700 pop'n. = 18,000
Georgia, founded by James Edward Oglethorpe, for resettlement
of English debtors and "the worthy poor and intended as a buffer against Spanish Florida and French Mississippi;
it became a Royal colony in 1752
- 1740 pop'n. = 2,000
- 1760 pop'n. = 9,600
- 1780 pop'n. = 56,100
Each of these settlements were tiny at their beginnings; no more than a few hundred people.
However, they served as "seeds", planting a new cultural and genetic
heritage in America. In fertile soil, the seeds germinated, grew rapidly and spread.
Deane W. Merrill has estimated the total population of the American colonies as
Graph of Colonial population growth
Population growth was amazing! Through immigration and births
exceeding deaths, an average of 134 more Americans were created every
single day in the peak years from 1750 to 1770.
However the starting base was so small that it took until 1700 for the colonial population to reach 250,000, at which time
there were probably about 1,200 Taylor-surnamed people in America and only
about 600 would have been males.
Colin Woodard has grouped the colonies into regions, each
region (he maintains) hails from a
different region of the British Isles (or elsewhere) and had a somewhat different character. His grouping is
- Yankeedom: includes the New England colonies of Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
- New Netherlands: New York & New Jersey.
- The Midlands: Pennsylvania
- Tidewater: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware & North Carolina
- Deep South: Georgia & South Carolina
- Greater Appalachia: Not a specific colony, but represented a
westward expansion into the mountain region about 1717. It was largely
fueled by Scots-Irish immigration which began ~1703.
- New France: The Quebec and Acadia colonies in Canada, established
by the French. Acadia lived on in the form of Louisiana Cajuns.
Pictorial representation of colony groupings,
from Colin Woodard
The Seeds' Origins
British Origins of American Colonists
David Hackett Fischer,
in his book Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, has these colonial groupings representing different
regions of the British Isles. We offer it as a general theme, but believe
(from our own historical research) there
were many variations within it.
These regions seem to reflect the four feudal earldoms of England under Canute the
Great (995-1035) and similarly
the English Catholic Church's four archdioceses.
So, he paints this general pattern of British emigrants to America:
- "Yankeedom" people (New Englanders) came from the southeast of
England -- the counties including Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey, London, Essex,
- Midlands people (Pennsylvanians and
post-colonial Midwesterners) came from the Midlands region of England -- the counties
of Cheshire, Lancashire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire,
Nottinghamshire, & Lincolnshire, plus northern Ireland.
- Tidewater & Deep South
people (Virginians, Marylanders, Carolinians & Georgians) came from the southwest of England
-- the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucester, & Wiltshire,
This probably overlooks poor Londoners resettled in Georgia, as well as
Highland Scots in the Tidewater.
- Appalachian people came from Scotland, northern Ireland (Ulster,
Donegal, etc.) and
the border counties of England (Cumbria & Northumberland -- and Durham?).
- New Netherlands people of British origins in New York and New
Jersey are unaccounted for in this scheme.