WATSON TAYLOR, George (?1770-1841), of Cavendish Square, Mdx. and Erlestoke Park, nr. Devizes, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



15 Apr. 1816 - 1818
1818 - 1820
1820 - Feb. 1826
1 Mar. 1826 - 1832

Family and Education

b. ?1770, 4th s. of George Watson of Saul’s River, Jamaica by Isabella, da. of Thomas Stevenson. educ. L. Inn 1788. m. 6 Mar. 1810, Anna Susanna, da. of Sir John Taylor, 1st Bt., of Lyssons, Jamaica, 4s. 1da. Took additional name of Taylor by royal lic. 19 June 1815, his w. having suc. her bro. Sir Simon Richard Brissett Taylor, 2nd Bt., 18 May 1815.

Offices Held

Commr. excise 1806-15; capt. Excise Office vols. 1806.


Watson Taylor was the son of a West India proprietor, his grandfather being John Watson of Overmains and Darnchester, Berwick. According to Thomas Raikes:1

At his outset in life he was a regular, independent man, with about £1,500 a year, and happy. At 45 years of age he inherits above £60,000 a year through the death of his wife’s brother Sir Simon Taylor.

By another account, he acquired £95,000 p.a. and was required to invest £700,000 in real property. He was described in 1816 as purchaser of the Marquess of Cholmondeley’s Houghton Hall estate for £350,000 and of ‘Mr Hope’s’ in Cavendish Square.2 In the same year he entered Parliament on the Worsley Holmes interest for Newport.

Watson Taylor’s patron was at that time desirous of returning nominees who supported government. In his first session he voted with ministers on the civil list, 24 May, and spoke twice; on 11 June he maintained, in opposition to Romilly’s motion, that Pierre Perrot was implicated in the isle of Bourbon insurrection, and on 19 June seconded Pallmer’s amendment to Wilberforce’s motion on slavery. He stated the case for the planters. On 16 Mar. 1824 he informed the House that he had laid out nearly £17,000 a year on his West Indian estates and treated his negroes well: ‘it was not his fault’ that he had come into the plantations. He again voted with government on 7 and 17 Feb. 1817 and on 9 May against Catholic relief. No vote of his is known in 1818, though he appeared on a government dinner list.3

In quest of an interest of his own, Watson Taylor had bought out (Sir) John Leach* at Seaford and was returned there unopposed in 1818. He took leaves of absence for illness on 25 Feb. 1819 and for urgent business on 31 Mar. His only known vote in that Parliament was with ministers, against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819. Seaford was not a safe investment and he next purchased the Erlestoke estate of Joshua Smith* near Devizes, though he did not secure his return there until 1826. The author of The Prodigal, a comedy (1820), he was ruined by the depreciation of West Indian property and by his own extravagance. ‘No man ever bought ridicule at so high a price’, commented Sir Robert Peel when his objets de vertu were sold in 1832. He died at Edinburgh, 6 June 1841, in his 71st year.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Raikes Jnl. i. 26.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1816), ii. 364, 460.
  • 3. Add. 38366, f. 135.
  • 4. Raikes Jnl. loc. cit.; The Times, 12 June 1841.