History of Leith, Edinburgh

April 13, 2005

The Taylor Window.(South Leith Parish Church)

(In North Aisle)
The inscription on the Window reads thus-In memory of James Young Taylor, of Starley Hall, Born 29th April 1801. Died 8th February 1890.”
JAMES TAYLOR was born in humble circumstances in Leith in the year 1801. He learned the grain business in the office of Taylor, Bruce & Co., afterwards Bruce, Boyd & Co. Mr White, once a member of South Leith and afterwards resident in Musselburgh, with whom 1 got into contact some years ago in connection with this Window, was once with him in business. I have not found out the church with which Mr Taylor was connected in early life. It is known that latterly he was an elder in Greenside. He was successful in business early in life. But he did not retire; rather he spread his financial wings and became a director in many companies, including the National Bank, the Caledonian Railway, and the London and Edinburgh Shipping Company. Most of his directorships he retained until the day of his death at the mature age of 90. He purchased Starley Hall, between Burntisland and Aberdour, and varied his residence between that estate and his town house in Drummond Place. He was Provost of Leith between 1855 and 1860, but retired in the latter year owing to pressure of private business. It seems that he carried the business of the Town Council through with such expedition that meetings were over on the average in 15 minutes In our day, such is the accumulation of details of business, even the most expeditious Lord Provost could not rival h During his term of office the Bowling Greens on the Links were commenced, and the cricket pitches were laid out.
It is said that Provost Taylor cherished the ambition to die leaving £250,000 behind him. This he came within sight of accomplishing. Coming down a spiral stair one night in his house at Drummond Place with a candle in his hand, he is believed to have fallen during the night and lain there for hours, as he was found quite dead by his servants in the morning. I have heard from an old Leith residenter that he had acquired a distinctly English accent in his ordinary speech which marked him out from the people about him.
Source-South Leith Records 1922

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