Taylor, Joshua (known as Joshua II) (1766–1840):
Father of Mary. His family had been involved in the cloth trade for many generations. He himself was of a type new and fascinating to Charlotte when she visited the family: he was a manufacturer who could talk broad Yorkshire when it suited him, where others might be fearful of compromising their “gentry” status, but who was a traveled man, a first-rate French speaker, and one who kept abreast of artistic and intellectual trends in Britain and (especially) on the Continent. So a figure who was radical (in the early nineteenth-century sense), a republican, and a man of wide culture invaded Charlotte’s Tory, provincially limited mind, to exhilarating effect. She found the whole family much more stimulating than the Nusseys, and Joshua contributed to various families in the juvenilia, as well as eventually to Mr De Capell in “Ashworth,” York Hunsden in The Professor , and Mr Yorke in Shirley . When Charlotte knew Joshua he had been a declared bankrupt since 1826. He was determined to repay in full the losses of “my suffering creditors” ( Leeds Intelligencer , 16 Feb 1826), and they in their turn realized it was better for the cloth-manufacturing concern, with its lucrative government contracts for army uniform cloth, to continue. Initially five shillings in the pound was paid, but three years after Joshua II’s death the creditors had been paid off in full.
Taylor, Mrs Anne (1781–1856):
Mother of Mary, disliked by Charlotte and apparently by nearly everyone she came in contact with. She is depicted as Mrs Yorke in Shirley – autocratic, narrow-minded, repressing every sign of joy, originality, and vigor in those around her. After her husband’s death her children fled the Red House, except Joshua, who with his family stuck with her until 1845, when he left her in sole occupancy of the family home for the rest of her life – years in which she probably fulfilled Charlotte’s prophecy that “her unhappy disposition is preparing for her a most desolate old age” (to EN, 20 Nov 1845). The nature of her relationship with her energetic and free-thinking husband is a mystery. Charlotte speaks of her having “made her spouse give up his pre-matrimonial friends & kin” (to EN, 3 or 10 Aug 1851?), a piece of subservience on his part that seems quite out of character both with his real-life character and his depiction as Mr Yorke. In Shirley Charlotte suggested that Yorke’s “shadowy side found sympathy and affinity in . . . his wife’s uniformly overcast nature” (ch. 9). This seems an unsatisfactory explanation for the real-life situation. It seems likely that Joshua left to his wife the early upbringing of the children, hence Mary’s declaration that they never “ventured to speak at all” (MT to CB, 13 Aug 1850)
Taylor, Joshua (known as Joshua III) (1812–80):
Son of the above. He inherited leadership of the family business on his father’s death, and the Red House on his mother’s (he and his family had tried to live with his widowed mother, but the experiment had predictably failed). His wife was a Moravian, and the family was active in that church. He seems to have run the business competently, employing a large workforce, but his nature was moody, jealous, and changeable (Charlotte’s unattractive and menacing picture of him as Matthew Yorke in Shirley seems to have been generally accepted), and he is never mentioned by his sister Mary. At the end of his life he became a victim of grasping spiritualists.
Taylor, Joseph (Joe) (?1816–57):
Brother of Mary Taylor, whom he helped and supported during her early years in New Zealand. He was the male Taylor who most fascinated Charlotte, as a human study in himself, and perhaps because she realized she had not exhausted his possibilities in the character of Martin Yorke in Shirley . He was talented, mercurial, and often generous. He was also aggressive, self-obsessed, and inconsiderate. Charlotte speaks of his “organ of combativeness and contradiction” (to EN, 1 July 1852), but could at times admire his devotion and “great kindness” to his wife and to the child to which they both showed “unbounded indulgence” (to MW, 30 Aug 1853). She spoke most admiringly of the young Joe – “worthy of being liked and admired also” (to EN, late June 1843?) – but as his puppyish self-regard and heedlessness took hold of him she lost patience with him entirely. Joe for his part managed to call at the Parsonage surprisingly often, not from any romantic interest in Charlotte, so perhaps because he valued her judgment, wanted to impress her, or eventually because she was a “celebrity” to be cultivated. She, for her part, thought well enough of him to make him a trustee of her wedding settlement. It was in the years after Brussels that Charlotte was most critical of him, particularly his heartlessness and chronic inclination to flirt with vulnerable single women.
Taylor, Mary (1817–93):
Daughter of Joshua Taylor II, a school friend of Charlotte’s at Roe Head who remained her friend for life: to her other lifelong school friend, Ellen Nussey, Charlotte wrote: “I have in fact two friends you & her staunch & true” (20 Jan 1842). Mary Taylor’s account of their schooldays together enlivens Gaskell’s Life (ch. 2), particularly the visual impression Charlotte made on her (“a little old woman, so short-sighted that she always appeared to be seeking something”) and her reaction to Charlotte’s account of the games and compulsive writing of herself and her siblings (“I told her sometimes they were like growing potatoes in a cellar”). However, her memory that Charlotte spoke with a strong Irish accent has been questioned. The friendship between Charlotte and Mary flourished after they left Roe Head, and there were frequent references to letters passing between them – letters almost all now lost, since they were not kept. When Charlotte went to teach at Roe Head the intimacy with the whole family could be resumed. Mary and Martha stayed at the Parsonage in June 1838, and Mary alone in June 1840 and December 1844. On one of these first two occasions, if Charlotte’s observation was correct, Mary began to conceive a romantic interest in Branwell, whose attitude to her changed immediately to contempt – an interesting sidelight on both characters.
Taylor Martha (1819–42):
Tthe ebullient and charming youngest daughter of the Taylors, often described by Charlotte in adjectives connoting childish qualities, though in fact she was only her junior by three years. She knew Martha at home, and then at Roe Head, and words like “chatter,” “clatter,” and “vivacity” cling to her accounts of her, as well as references to her “constant flow of good-humour” (to EN, 9 June 1838). This was during the visit Mary and Martha made to the Parsonage, a notable milestone in the relationship between the families. Even when Charlotte complains of her, there is a good-humored toleration behind the words: “you have a peculiar fashion of your own of reporting a saying or a doing and Martha has a still more peculiar fashion of re-reporting it” (to EN, 17 Mar 1840). The close relationship continued in Brussels where she and Mary were pupils at the Château de Kockleberg (more expensive than the Pensionnat Heger). Taylors, Dixons, and Brontës enjoyed frequent meetings, marred only by Emily’s noncommunication. Martha’s end came quickly – so much so that Charlotte heard of it too late to visit the deathbed. The cause of her death was almost certainly cholera – the idea that she might have died in childbirth rests more on speculation than documentation, and the haste of her burial and lack of information on the death certificate were probably a vain attempt to protect the school from ...
Taylor, Ellen (1826–51):
Cousin of the Red House Taylors, daughter of William and Margaret (née Mossman) Taylor, both of whom died in the 1830s. A maternal uncle, G. R. Mossman, cared for her for some time, and another uncle, Abraham Dixon, took an interest. Plans to send her to the Heger school in Brussels were abortive, and in 1849 she and her brother William Henry sailed for New Zealand, where their cousins Mary and Waring Taylor had been established for some years. By then she was probably already tubercular, but Mary had great joy in the early days of their companionship and partnership. They established and ran a shop, each alternating housework and shopwork week by week. Letters, sometimes joint ones, speak of their happiness together: they sketch on Sundays, hoping to send a batch home, though they “seldom succeed in making the slightest resemblance to the thing we sit down to” (MT to CB, 5 Apr 1850); they go out more, because Ellen is a more welcome guest than Mary alone was; they talk about how much profit will secure an “independence” and enable them to return home. The shop was a modest success, aided by gifts from Mary’s brothers John and Joe. But all the time there is the undercurrent of Ellen’s ill-health. “I fear hers will not be a long life” wrote Charlotte, experienced in short female lives (to EN, 6 Jan 1852). blackwellreference
Birth: b. 26 Feb 1817, Gomersall; d. 01 Mar 1893, High Royd Gomersall
"Quiet but self-possessed, she was an admirable businesswoman, with a way of going straight to the point that was at times disconcerting...Miss Taylor was indeed a remarkable woman - probably in her mental endowments the strongest woman who came within the Bronte circle". Cleckheaton Guardian 24 Dec 1903. maggieblanck/Taylor