Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nancy Savage Taylor

History has been unfair to Nancy Savage, wife of George Taylor - signer of the Declaration of Independence. Most of what is known about her is because of her relationship to her first husband, Mr. Savage, and her second husband, Mr. Taylor. We know that Nancy was a lot younger than Mr. Savage and that they had no children. We also know that Nancy had a son and a daughter with Taylor. She was the grandmother of five children born to her son James, a lawyer, and his wife Elizabeth Gordon. Nancy's daughter died without being married or having children.

Nancy's first husband, Mr. Savage leased the Durham iron works a "short distances below Easton." Nancy's second husband, George Taylor, was born in 1716 in Ireland; there he received a good education. His father, a clergyman, wanted him to study medicine; George did not like that idea. He left his father's home and sailed for America as a "redemptioner" at age 20. Because of his status of redemptioner, the shipmaster had the right to sell the services of the young man when they arrived in America in order to pay for his passage. Mr. Savage paid young Taylor's redemption money, and Taylor committed himself to work for Savage for a certain number of years to repay his debt.

Taylor was young, large for his age, strong and sturdy, and Mr. Savage assigned him to "work as a `filler,' shoveling coal into the furnace when in blast." Mr. Savage soon learned that Taylor "was not bred to manual labour" and was much more educated than the other workers. In addition, Taylor was "trustworthy and industrious" so Savage "transferred him to his business office." Taylor mastered the business details and continued to work for Mr. Savage after repaying his debt to him, even until Mr. Savage died in 1738.

Mrs. Savage knew little about the business, which Taylor continued to manage. About a year after the death of Mr. Savage, his widow married Taylor. Taylor continued working and living in Durham until 1764 and accumulated "a handsome property." He then purchased an estate in Northumberland County on the Lehigh River. There he built "a large stone house, and started another iron works."

Soon after moving to Northumberland County in 1764, Taylor was elected to the Provincial Assembly and later became a delegate to Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He was active in public affairs from that time until his death in 1781.

Taylor returned to Durham ten years later. With a partner named Galloway, he leased the same furnace as previously and began a business of making stoves from his own design. The company made "vast amounts of shot and other munitions of war" after the Revolutionary War started in 1775.

Taylor died in 1781 at his home in Easton, and both George and Nancy were buried in Easton.

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 202-205.

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