The View From Mount Clarence

A look back at settlement along Western Australia's South Coast

The Demise Of The Taylor Fortune: Part 2

Originally Posted 22 May 2014:

Bussell_family (550x345)
The Bussell family eventually prospered at ‘Cattle Chosen’ but had to get tough first.


The Bussell’s were lucky to get something of a windfall every time one of the children turned 21, but by 1837 the reverend’s life-insurance policy had paid out in full and without Capel Carter back in England sending their goods and offering her help they were well and truly on their own. By this time, they had at least borne the brunt of those early set backs and ‘Cattle Chosen’ was beginning to look like a viable life choice. Having just survived though, the Bussells were keen to shed their liabilities.

Patrick Taylor in the meantime, thought he was going from strength to strength.

The Taylors/Tailyours/Tailzours, as their name may suggest, were clothiers to the British Royal Family during the 1600’s, which may also in some part explain the proximity of their Aberdeenshire homelands to Balmoral Castle. Royal association offered opportunity to the expanding generations that followed but wealth was no guarantee. The family diversified their careers into the church, military, government departments and the merchant trades. Patrick’s grandfather, Robert, wasn’t able to make enough to prevent him from having to sell the old Kirktonhill estate on his death but his father, nonetheless, had enough (for him) to be getting on with.

Fortunately for Patrick, John Tailyour had appetite and became associated with the McCall merchant family of Glasgow. The McCall’s had begun trading in tobacco out of Virginia, one of America’s southern colonies, and John was given every opportunity to develop it. Meanwhile, one of John’s older brothers, Robert Tailyour, became involved with the British trade to India and the two shared their knowledge of the colonial business world.

John wanted to establish himself in the so-called ‘Atlantic Trade’ and tried several times to do this but the American War of Independence thwarted him on all fronts. In the end John, who after all that was still able to arrange the purchase of a ship (brig), sailed to Jamaica where his cousin Simon Taylor had risen to prominence as a plantation and slave owner. Within a year John Tailyour changed the spelling of his name to that of his prominent cousin’s and started his own firm. Soon after, that firm began to trade in slaves. During the 1780’s a British based movement towards the abolition of slavery grew and with it came fears in the West Indies of economic decline. At the same time, however, demand for sugar took-off  and this caused a spike in the number of slaves traded as the planters bought up while they could. This spike made John Taylor a significant amount of money in under ten years.

Slave Trade
Patrick Taylor’s father, John, and Uncle, Robert, were merchants who traded between West Africa, the West Indies, America and Britain during the 1780’s and 1790’s. Both, particularly John, became rich.

During his time in Jamaica John Taylor had a caring relationship with a mixed-race slave woman named Polly Graham with whom he had four children. Regardless of him being their father, legally John’s Jamaican family were born slaves under the ownership of his cousin Simon. John asked Simon for their freedom and was granted it in 1790, probably after an agreed sum was paid.  The histories of all the children aren’t known, but James, John and Simon, the three boys, were educated in Britain. James later became an officer in the East India Company and John took up a position as clerk (accountant) in London. Both were aided by their uncle, John’s older brother and fellow merchant, Robert Tailyour.

Patrick’s father seems to have carried health problems; as Patrick was reputed to and as the relatively short lifespan of his siblings suggests, it was probably congenital. It’s not clear exactly what troubled them but John returned to Scotland before he was forty largely because it was too hot and/or too humid in Jamaica. The suggestion, to my mind, therefore, is that the Taylors were susceptible to Tuberculosis.

There’s a great deal of information filed away in the Tailyour Family Papers collection at the University of Michigan which detail the size and value of  John Taylor’s wealth but access to it is another matter. Suffice to say, after he returned to Scotland in 1792 John bought various estates, including that of his father’s which previously had been sold. He married twenty-three year old Mary McCall, (his former employer’s daughter), rebuilt Kirktonhill House to mansion proportions and began letting out the other estates as a form of income. He also retained estates in Jamaica but looks to have sold out of his merchant partnerships entirely before the turn of the century.

In 1800, John Taylor was only 45 years of age, the father of four more (legitimate) children and living as an aristocrat at Kirktonhill House, passionately involved in fox-hunting and the breeding of dogs for that purpose.

John Taylor Will ExcerptAbove: The moveable assets making up John Taylor’s personal Scottish estate were valued at around £25,000 in 1816 (about A$3.3M, today). This fell to his eldest son, Robert, with provision for his wife, Mary McCall and ten other children. The boys each received £5000 (A$.66M), the girls, £3000 (A$.4M).  The land and buildings were held in trust. Second eldest brother, Simon, inherited the Jamaican interests and moved out there to live.


Patrick Taylor was the eighth child of John Taylor and Mary McCall. By the time he was born his mixed-race colonial step-brothers were in their twenties and no longer in Scotland, so, other than his father not making a secret of them, it isn’t known if they ever knew each other.  There is no mention of the Jamaican chidren in John Taylor’s will.

John died in 1816 after being debilitated by a stroke three years previous, when Patrick was eight. Patrick’s mother died in May, 1818, when he was eleven. Kirktonhill fell into the ownership of his eldest brother Robert and later, when Robert died without issue, to another brother, George. Patrick’s second oldest brother, Simon, seems to have gone out to Jamaica where it appears he inherited  his father’s estate there. Records show he died in 1838, aged just 42.

Patrick’s childhood at Kirktonhill under the guardianship (presumably) of his older siblings would have been racy, if that’s an appropriate word. Eldest brother, Robert, would have been 24 when their mother died, and oldest sister, Mary, around 19. Kirktonhill became known for its weekly fox hunts and Patrick, at one point, was said to have had a pound a week in pocket-money (about A$140). Patrick had brothers, John, two years older than him, and George, for years older. The three were probably sent away and schooled together. There is some suggestion this may have been Cheltenham.

Patrick’s siblings arrived and departed in the following order;

Robert                   1794-1849  (55 yrs)

Simon                    1796-1838  (42 yrs)

Mary                      1799 – ?

Jean/Jane            1800-1830  (30 yrs)    

Margaret Ann      1802- ?

George Robert     1803-1868  (65 yrs – known by the Candyup Taylors as Kirktonhill George)

John                       1805-1827  (22 yrs)

Patrick                   2nd March 1807 – 30th December 1877  (70 yrs)

Christina               1808-1841 (38 yrs)

Catherine              1810-1841 (31 yrs)

Hercules               1811-1823  (12 yrs)


I haven’t been able to work out where Patrick went to school. His second oldest brother, Simon, was educated at St Mary’s under the guidance of Dr George Hill and his Jamaican step-brothers by John Bowman in Durham, Yorkshire. Patrick was said to have spoken with an English accent so perhaps his education was managed by his father’s brother, Robert, whose merchant business was based in London (and also dealt in the shipment of African slaves). It was Robert Tailyour who helped find John Bowman’s school in Durham and who helped (Jamaican) James get his cadetship with the East India Company.

Either way, Patrick found himself a lower ranking (but at least male) member of an orphaned family whose money was made for them by their father. His inheritance of £5000 was a decent beginning but nowhere near enough to make a so-called Gentleman of him. When his baby brother Hercules died in Glasgow during 1823 (aged 12) the administration of his death was handled by the commissary court which appointed his brother, the main Taylor heir, Robert, as executor.  According to the inventory, Hercules’ £5000 given to him by his father on his death seven years earlier was, ‘in the hands of his brother, Robert.’ There was more money attached to 12 year old Hercules too, another £1000 held as a bond.  I suppose from this that Patrick’s £5000 was also held/managed by his older brother Robert. In any case, Patrick’s money appears to have grown over his childhood to what he thought was around £14,000 (A$2.35M) by the time he made his way to the Swan River Colony aged 27.

What he did between his school years and early to mid twenties isn’t known, although there is a clue in Shann’s Cattle Chosen; “Mr. Taylor, it appears, had thought of holy orders prior to his leaving England.”  There is something here to suggest Patrick may have turned his back on Scotland because the Taylor’s of Kirktonhill were Presbyterian and Patrick, when he got to King George’s Sound, was very much an Anglican. There’s probably more to that because the majority of Albany’s early moneyed settlers were of Scottish origin, yet it was an Anglican church they clubbed together to build, the beginnings of the arrangement being made aboard the James Pattison as they sailed out.

Mary’s diary of that voyage is sometimes hilarious. She wrote all her life and was always conscious of an audience. On the one hand, the James Pattison diary is sweet and poetic and lovely, while on the other its just plain funny. She writes some passages as if the voyage was a romantic novel, as this revealing excerpt featuring herself and Patrick shows;

Friday, February 21st, 1834 (12 days into the voyage)

“The first salutation over I saw from my neighbour’s manner he had something to communicate. I was not long in doubt. “I have been speaking to Sir James this morning relative to the Clergy, Miss Bussell, and I have learned that there is a grant from the Crown of £108 yearly to the pastor appointed over the flocks of Augusta and the Sound but that no-one could be expected to go out on that, so it must remain in abeyance till the settlers agree to make up the deficiency.” “Surely,” I added, “many unemployed young men would be glad of the opening.  Indeed I think I could mention one or two.” Positive pleasure for a while overcame the usual deliberation. His always very handsome countenance was lighted up by a speaking animation. “Then would be removed the only objection to a settler’s life. Individually I would guarantee that the amount would be two hundred  where I fix my residence, which will either be at the Sound or Augusta.”


Once you get over the pretentious nature of the writing (which is still sweet, I suppose) and think about what she says, it’s pretty clear Patrick is naive about what to expect when he gets to the colony. With Stirling aboard, the Swan River itself is not where he’s going. There’s also the suggestion here that he’s playing up his wealth, that he himself would be prepared to pay for a clergyman. In the end though, I don’t think there’s too much to be taken from Mary at that point because the diary reads more like a romance in the making than anything else. The Sunday previous Mary wrote that Patrick had lent her his ladies maid (really, but Patrick was single?) and that the ladies maid had told her that she had to go in half an hour because Patrick was to lead morning liturgy in his cabin. Mary suggests she would would have liked to have joined him but that she and her mother had already been invited to the cabin of the Sherratt’s where Thomas Brooker was doing the reading. She says, however, that, “. . . we heard too, as we proceeded, the deep-toned voice of the youngest patriarch issuing from the adjoining cabin.” The point of all this being that Patrick was money conscious and religiously minded then and, forty years later, those same devotions are just as evident in Mary’s Candyup Diaries of 1873, 74 & 75.

According to the James Pattison diary, Patrick had servants aboard ship. One of these was named Robertson who attended the livestock and another (still oddly) that ladies maid lent to Mary by Patrick.

Detail of the James Pattison diary comes from  the Royal West Australian Historical Society’s  Early Days journal, Vol. 3, Part 8, 1946 (page 43), Diary of Mary Bussell’s Voyage in the James Pattison by Dr. R. C. Fairbairn.

Other possibly indentured labourers to Patrick Taylor were John Young, Henry Tully, John Wallace and another man by the name of Thomas, though Tully and Young are both recorded as coming out to the Swan River together aboard the Buffallo, (the same ship which brought out the Spencers and their entourage) arriving September, 1833.  These four are believed to have built the Glen Candy house. Henry Tully stayed friends with the Taylors and in later years, the 1860’s, Mary and her daughters spent time at his Marbellup (Torbay) property.

A year after arriving at King George’s Sound  Patrick bought land. June records for 1835 show: “Albany Building Lot S44 offer for Fee Simple by Patrick Taylor, Improvements Buildings £250, Enclosures £10, Sundries £40, total £400. This lot originally assigned to John H. Morely 29–3-1832 and transferred by him to Patrick Taylor by public auction.”

Patrick also bought other property, by October 1840 he had; “. . . the farm at Candyup. . .  also. . .  one cottage in Albany which is let for £40 per annum. . . two other allotments with cottages upon them. . .”

Candyup graphic by Dunstan WestAbove: Dunstan West’s  1962 hand drawn map of the original Lower Kalgan holdings. His suggestion is that Patrick Taylor bought (at least part of) his 640 acre lot from George Cheyne and that it may in fact have been Cheyne who first applied the name, Glen Candy.  It’s far from clear, though.


Patrick Taylor Duke St - Chauncy 1851Above: Patrick Taylor’s lots 44&45  (bought from John Morley) between Duke Street and Stirling Terrace. Taken from Chauncy’s 1851 Town Plan. This, I reckon, is the property he let out for £40 per annum from 1840.


Patrick Taylor Stirling Trc - Chauncy 1851Above: Patrick Taylor’s beach lot 23 still under his ownership in 1851.  The Taylor’s moved in here after returning from the Vasse in the Spring of 1843. The beach lots were bought and demolished to make way for the railway station built during the 1880’s. Map also cut from Chauncy’s 1851 Town Plan.


Patrick Taylor Yrk St 108 - Chauncy 1851Above: Patrick Taylor’s  Lot 108 on York Street, possibly granted in respect of investments and improvements made to other lots (indicated in Bonnie Hicks’ thesis, A Scottish Settler At The Sound.) Note E. J. Eyre’s block 109 opposite Patrick’s and also note on J.R. Phillips block 112 (now site of the Town Hall) the location of  Mokare’s and Alexander Collie’s graves.  This cut is also from Chauncy’s 1851 Town Plan.


£1,400 is ten percent of £14,000.  Was Henty mistaken or did Patrick exaggerate the interest on his investments? Maybe Patrick didn’t really know how much money he would receive on an annual basis? As it turns out, Patrick wasn’t in control of his money at all.One of  Patrick’s other cottages may have been in Van Diemen’s land. In 1835 Patrick ended up there, staying with the Henty’s who had left the Swan River on account of its poor quality of land.  The story goes that Patrick was in Perth/Fremantle where a ship, the Hyacinth, had berthed ahead of departure for Hobart Town. Patrick took a lift to Albany but the ship was blown off-course and  King George’s Sound was missed completely. Previous to that, Patrick had come into contact with Stephen Henty who was active in Albany from the time the James Pattison had arrived. Remember, it was Stephen Henty, Cheyne, Camfield, Symers and Townsend who went out to Doubtful Island Bay with J.S. Roe in 1835 to weigh up the whaling options. Patrick would probably have been on that trip  but was in Van Diemen’s Land, at the Henty’s Corniston (Launceston) property instead. Thomas Henty, Stephen’s father, wrote about Patrick’s stay with him;    “. . . a very pleasant, well-educated, gentlemanly young man who had come out for the benefit of his health and entirely recovered. I hear he has an income of £1,400  (A$240,000) per year.”  (Taken from Marnie Bassett’s 1954 publication; The Henty’s)

Someone else was.

I don’t know how much he spent building Glen Candy but it wasn’t quite finished when the Champion sailed in to Princess Royal Harbour with the newlyweds aboard in October 1837. We know this because Mary’s sister Fanny was aboard and afterwards she wrote;

“The house is about a mile from the river, commanding a beautiful view of the Sound. The country just now is an exquisite green and Candyup abounds in pretty grass slopes covered with close fine sward. The cattle are looking extremely well and when this house is plastered their sitting-room will be one of the best in the colony.”


Around the same time as the wedding, Mary’s oldest brother, John Garret Bussell, went back to England to get married himself – in fact to Sophie Hayward who Fanny (above) was writing to – but it didn’t work out. John did end up getting married after-all,  but to a widow, Charlotte Cookworthy, who had three children. The new, ready-made family arrived back at ‘Cattle Chosen’ during the Winter of 1839, three months after Mary’s youngest sister, Bessie, had married Henry Ommaney. Bessie and Henry had their first child in May, 1840, at the Vasse.

Some time between our happy couple’s portentous arrival at Albany, (remember James Dunn blowing his hand apart when the canon backfired?) and 1840, when all these weddings and births were taking place (Patrick and Mary’s first two daughters, Mary Margaret (Maggie) at Candyup in 1838 and Catherine (Kate) in Fremantle the following year) things went awry back in Scotland and news began to filter through to Patrick that all was not well on the money front.

According to Fanny Bussell’s diary in March 1840 the Taylor’s were at what must have been a pretty crowded ‘Cattle Chosen’; ‘Mr Taylor, guarding against leaks in his room and in Bessie’s apartments.’ 

Guarding against leaks, eh? Patrick must have been sleepless wondering what he was going to do. Had he told Mary anything?

Finally, on October 2nd, 1840, Patrick wrote to John Bussell, Mary’s older brother and head of the ‘Cattle Chosen’ firm, detailing the scale of his predicament. It’s not clear where Patrick was at this time but Mary was five months pregnant because John Bruce Taylor, Patrick’s third child and oldest boy, was born 12th February, 1841, at the Vasse.

The devastating news at the heart of Patrick’s letter to John Bussell reads as follows;

   ” My presence is required in England to arrange some pecuniary matters with my brothers. With regard to my affairs I shall only say that I find myself poorer by some thousand(s of) pounds that I had calculated upon. As far as I can understand from the letters I have received there is about £4000 which has been entirely lost either by the negligence or the fraudulent conduct of my agent in Scotland. Moreover, legal difficulties have been raised with regard to my right of succession to another sum of about £4 or £5000, so that should I be deprived of this last-mentioned sum I have the prospect of being very close run for funds. For nearly three years I have been expending a very considerable sum annually in improvements etc, because I was led to believe that, exclusive of any funds or property in W.A.  or Van Diemen’s Land, I had some £10, 000 to £12,000 in Scotland at my disposal. The consequence is of course, for the present, that I find myself very much hampered for cash to meet the demands which are made upon my purse. I have therefore sold livestock etc, to the amount of £700 and shall endeavour to dispose of one or two town allotments so as to give me something for my trip to England.


I have let the farm at Candyup for three years, for the sum of £60 per annum in improvements, viz, clearing and fencing land. I also have one cottage in Albany which is let for £40 per annum. I have two other allotments with cottages upon them and for one I have an applicant for tenant if I do not sell it.


With regard to Mary I hope there will be no difficulty in managing matters so that she and her youngsters may continue at the Vasse establishment until my return from England. . . She will be more happy than if she were alone here or at the Swan River. “


Patrick’s nightmare was unfolding. John Bussell had just returned from England having spent the last of the family’s payouts on farm supplies and equipment and returned with a wife and three children to find the Gentlemanly Taylors comfortably ensconced at his homestead, growing in number and leaning on the group’s generosity.  The concentration of incoming family members gave rise to tensions and decisions were made. From Shann’s turgid Cattle Chosen (bear with it). . .

In Fanny’s dairy for 28th January 1841 is this note:

 ‘A committee assembled in the new room to discuss matters of vast importance to the firm of “Cattle Chosen“. Employments suspended.‘ For several succeeding days entries appear, characterizing the discussions as they proceed as ‘unpleasant‘. We can only guess at their trend, but evidently the crux was whether the contributions made by each member to the establishment of the farm had been invested in a partnership, or lent to an imaginary corporate body with the right to draw interest, and eventually to withdraw the capital. Judging by a heated letter addressed by John to Patrick Taylor (3rd ii, ‘41), the second view, giving the withdrawing members the status of debenture holders, at first prevailed. John, backed up by Vernon, objected that inactive creditors should have no right to live on the produce of the firm, as in fact they had done, at the period of most ruinous expense. “


John and Vernon Bussell, believing Patrick must have had some means, despite his present circumstances, decided he would have to fight for himself. John was in no mood to cater to hangers-on, putting in writing to him. . .

” My dear Taylor, it has come to this I fear, that an eternal separation must take place. You will look upon your brothers as fraudulently swindling your wife’s money; we, on our sisters, as deniers of valuers received, usurers who would have driven us to the jail door either for the poultry qualification of afterwards exhibiting an offensive generosity, or for the pelf (dishonestly acquired riches) in a more substantial light.

And now, my dear Taylor, farewell. I feel that I am thus addressing you for the last time. There are few with whom I have been so shortly acquainted that I have deemed, so much allied with me in general sentiment; but circumstances seem to decide that we are not to be friends. “


Dramatic sounding stuff but John Bussell didn’t turn them out. The Taylors were still at ‘Cattle Chosen’ two years later, when the Reverend John Wollaston met Patrick there for the first time.

It’s possible Patrick had gone back to England in the intervening period but there are no obvious records showing that he did, yet the correspondence suggests Patrick was not always with Mary and the children. By this stage too, Campbell had been born (28th December 1842).

The Taylor’s, en-famille, finally left the Vasse in October 1843 when Reverend Wollaston visited again. From Wallaston’s Picton Diaries. . .

“During the meeting (to discuss church matters with local residents) the ‘Waterwitch’ came in from the Swan bound for the Sound and South Australia. The Taylors have a place of their own at the Sound and having been on the move for some time, engaged their passage in this vessel and were to embark yesterday afternoon. I am sorry to lose them for they are a very nice family and Mr Taylor a serious, well-informed man. There was much distress at this parting, yet it is evidently a necessary step.”

So the Taylors, now six strong, returned to Albany where the Candyup farm was overgrown and unimproved. The family therefore moved into the tiny beach cottage, Lot 23, Lower Stirling Terrace, and recommenced their changed lives there.

I’ll summarise the remainder of the 1840’s in the Taylor household because but at this stage the damage has been done. Patrick had colonial assets (his properties) but his life as a well-to-do Gentleman was over. He retained some income from his inheritance which allowed the family to live between the beach cottage and Candyup which they managed to get into liveable shape. He became a trustee of St John The Evangelist’s Church of England which took the decade to build and which, in 1848, saw the arrival of Reverend Wollaston from Picton to take up the role of first ever Parson. Patrick reluctantly became a member of the newly established Roads Board (forerunner to the Town Council) but after a period gave-up public appointments and retreated into himself out at Candyup where he effectively held his wife and daughters hostage to his needs.

In the meantime, however, Mary retained her mental health and, to a surprising degree, her social status by keeping up correspondences with the colonial elite (such as the Bussell’s considered themselves). This kept a steady flow of visitors to Candyup which, along with the growing children, kept her (and by default Patrick) in touch with what was going on. Third daughter Christina, who died aged 2, was born at ‘Cattle Chosen’ the following year and four years after that, in 1848, the last of the children, Frances (Fanny), came into the world, also at the Vasse. The Taylor family considered themselves amongst the most high ranking in Albany, working hard with what they had to keep up some semblance of the lifestyle Patrick had been used to, but he became increasingly isolated and bitter within himself as the years ticked slowly, one after the other. By the end of the decade Patrick was a lugubrious, reclusive 43-year-old who could have used what he had to build more but, polar opposite to his sickly but buoyantly optimistic, self-made father at the same stage of life, hunkered down to a miserly existence picked from the habit of having only ever lived from an income.

Cabndyup homestead, from the Kalgan Queen website. Unoffcial, unsubstantiated.
Candyup homestead, an unhappy house; Image from the Kalgan Queen website. Unoffical and unsubstantiated.

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