The Tudors and Taylors: My British Connection

The TudorsThe Tudors

Two years ago, we watched on Netflix, almost incessantly, 38 streamed episodes of Showtime TV’s monumental, award-winning series The Tudors.  The Tudors originally aired from
April 1, 2007, to June 10, 2010. It starred the 35-year-old Golden Globe award-winning Irish actor, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers,  (2nd from left in the photo), and this year’s 30-year-old, British born actor, Man of Steel star, Henry Cavill, (bottom right in photo),  and many More.

The timeline of the historic Tudor dynasty began in 1485 with King Henry VII (Henry Tudor), the first of the Tudor monarchs.  He had a claim to the throne through his mother, Margaret Beaufort who was the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt (son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault). Henry’s Lancastrian forces defeated those of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth and Richard III was killed. Henry seized the throne and married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, uniting the Houses of Lancaster and York, represented in the Tudor Rose.  This is also about the time that King Henry VII and my Taylor ancestors came to meet each other for the very first time.
The TV show starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII, a charismatic and notoriously amorous figure with a lust for life, and for the beautiful women at court. His dutiful wife Catherine had served him lovingly for more than a decade, but the wife of a king in 1520 must do more than serve – she must produce an heir. As the young monarch contended with each advisor playing their own interest in the threat of war with France, fear over the security of the Tudor line grew steadily in his mind, so much so that he became involved with the bewitching and ambitious Anne Boleyn.  This scenario sets off a chain of events that would change history – igniting an onslaught of tumult and intrigue that would rage on for years, serving as the catalyst for political divide, religious war, and romantic betrayal. John Taylor’s biography that follows links and intertwines his life, education, and professional accomplishments to both monarch’s (Kings Henry VII and VIII) and many of prominent “notables” of his day. Many of these fellow men and women were portrayed in The Tudor TV series.  The series was rife with notables of the day–very few of them were what I would consider honorable men.  In fact, as history has it, many of them were despicable men and women out for personal gain and power at whatever the cost to God and country.  Hmmm…

The British Connection

But, little did I know when viewing the intrigue of The Tudors with all of its history that my ancestors would be directly in the throes of their power, politics, love, religion, and blasphemy and probably aligned with the most controversial royal line ever among England’s monarchical dynasties. You might ask; “Well, just how did this British Connection begin?”  And there’s just one answer.  The Taylor’s were connected by time, geographic proximity, and quite frankly and most importantly, the anomaly of multiple births that bore healthy triplets–an extraordinary event 500+ years ago.  

The Taylors
Cottage_in_Needwood_Forest_by_Joseph_Wright_1790About 1477, in Barton-under-Needwood, a large village in Staffordshire, England, triplet sons were born to Margaret de Fairsted, wife of one John Taylor who was employed as a game warden in the Forest of Needwood.  John Taylor (1477-1534) (Master of the Rolls), the firstborn of the triplets, along with his brothers Rowland, Nathaniel and their sister Elizabeth lived in a cottage to the north-east of the Church Lane, where several of the village’s timber-framed cottages stood. Members of the Taylor family had lived in Barton since 1345, and William Taylor and his wife, Joan, took possession of their cottage in 1471.  To the best of my knowledge, local maps of today’s Church Lane in Staffordshire, Stafford, England appears to be about 30 or so miles from Buckingham, where today’s Queen Elizabeth resides.
King Henry VII (1457-1509)

King Henry VII (1457-1509)

The story of the triplets’ life had a folk-tale quality to it.  Robert Plot’s “History of Staffordshire 1686,” tells of three babies being presented to King Henry VII because of the rarity of multiple births.  However, Henry VII  took the throne in 1485.  So,  it’s likely that the King saw the triplets as three young boys.  It is rumored that he also envisioned them as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.  It was then that King Henry VII promised to educate the three boys if they survived into manhood and he kept his word.

Additionally, the triple birth inspired Queen Victoria’s Royal Bounty for Triplets which remained in effect until sometime during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign that began in 1952. All three boys were educated at a University ‘beyond the seas’, probably in France or Italy.

John Taylor’s Biography

About 1503 John Taylor (the eldest of the triplet Taylors) was ordained Rector at Bishop’s Hatfield. Soon afterward he often went abroad on official business.  He was, in fact, a  House of Tudor civil servant. In 1504, he became Rector of Sutton Coldfield. By 1509 he had become Prebendary  (similar to a non-residentiary Canon) of Eccleshall in Lichfield Cathedral and was one of the Royal Chaplains at Henry VII’s funeral.

IKing Henry VIIIn the same year, the new King Henry VIII appointed him King’s Clerk and Chaplain and two years later he was made Clerk to the Parliament and given other positions. The detailed diary of a French campaign he undertook with the King is preserved in the British Museum. He wrote Royal Speeches, met Ambassadors and was rewarded by more ecclesiastical promotions, including that of Archdeacon of Derby in 1515 and later Royal Ambassador to Burgundy and France and Prolocutor of Convocation. In 1516 he also became Archdeacon of Buckingham. He was incorporated by virtue of his degrees of Doctor of Civil Law and Doctor of Canon Law at Cambridge in 1520 on the occasion of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s visit there and shortly afterward in 1522 at Oxford, also.

1520:  The Field of the Cloth of Gold – Meeting between France and England

Field of the Cloth of GoldThe famous meeting between Henry VIII and Francois I of France took place in June 1520 in Northern France. It was intended to strengthen peace ties between France and England. Masterminded by the great Cardinal Wolsey, each king and Court strove to one-up the other. Henry was accompanied by 5,000 people and spent in excess of £13,000 on the splendor of the occasion. In attendance were ten chaplains, including John Taylor. The King ordered each priest to be clothed in damask and satin and each to be followed by his own attendants, not exceeding ten persons and four horses. The English built a palace-like pavilion of wood and canvas with expansive windows. The Flemish glazier Galyon Hone created the windows. Fine wines flowed from drinking fountains.

The first church built in 1157 was a chapel in the parish of Tatenhill and was possibly situated near to the present Church in a field called Hall Orchard, the location of Church Lane. A chest from that medieval church dated from between 1100 and 1300 is all that remains. John Taylor inherited his father’s land and endowed his new church there. Work commenced in 1517, as carved on the south side of the tower, with completion in 1533 the year before John Taylor died. The register dates from 1571 in the reign of Elizabeth I. The church is a rare example of a church being completed in one lifetime. It was originally dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene but when things Catholic fell from favor in the middle of 16th century the church changed its name to St. James. The church has a three-sided apse, a rare form in this county, part of the John Taylor design. Inscriptions over alternate pillars of the nave tell of John Taylor’s career, together with representations of his coat of arms, the head and shoulders of three children and a Tudor rose.

It was begun in 1517 which date appears on the tower. Inside, inscriptions over alternate pillars of the nave tell of John Taylor’s promotions and illustrious career, between these, are representations of the coat-of-arms he adopted.

By the time the Tudor Church was finished and dedicated in 1533, John Taylor was already a sick and troubled man. In 1527 he had become Master of the Rolls, the peak of his appointments, he was traveling to and from France on Royal business and he had been appointed one of the commissioners to try the validity of the King’s marriage to Lady Catherine of Aragon. It seems possible that Cardinal Wolsey had used John Taylor in a vain attempt to find a suitable French princess for a future Queen of England should the divorce be granted. His dread of Anne Boleyn was well-known.

In 1528 he became Archdeacon of Halifax. At the peak of his career, Taylor was suddenly under pressure to surrender his stipend at St. Stephen’s, Westminster, another of his appointments, and he was suffering badly with a diseased leg. Whether his health failed or he incurred Royal disfavor is not known, but he wrote his will and resigned as Master of the Rolls, and Lord Thomas Cromwell (doomed also to fall from Royal favor) was his successor.  John Taylor died in 1534. The place of John Taylor’s burial has not been traced, though there is thought to have been a monument to him in St. Anthony in London’s Threadneedle Street.

There is a touching sentence in his will (in Latin of course) “nothing in the world is more fleeting than human life and that nothing follows more certainly than death, and that nothing is more uncertain than the hour of our death and how transitory are the worldly goods provided for us by the goodness of God”.

He left various bequests to churches at Shottesbrooke in Berkshire and Bishop’s Hatfield and Lincoln Cathedral. His servants and his sister Elizabeth, his executors, nephews, and cousins shared the contents of his considerable household in his home at Bethnal Green.


Field of the Cloth of Gold;

27 thoughts on “The Tudors and Taylors: My British Connection

  1. My name is Kevin Eric Taylor and I live in Alabama. My father is Thomas Larry Taylor. Learning this history of my family line, their sacrifices and accomplishments was just astonishing. John Taylor is my 14th great grandfather. I am 34 years old and this history just blows me away.

    Also learning of the family line of my ancestors fighting in the Revolutionary War and Civil war. It’s nice to see and meet my cousins on here that I never knew existed. Take care all!


  2. Dear Cousin Joanne,
    Thank you for your most interesting article on the Tudors and Taylors. I am researching my Pope line and found a distant ancestor, Rev. John Taylor, Jr. I almost went past him, but I was intrigued by the way his name was noted on – “John Shadowhurst (triplet) Taylor Rev Jr.” I looked a bit further and saw your article.
    I now understand the reference to “triplet,” but am puzzled about the “Shadowhurst” reference. Somewhere, I read that he might have been the “Lord of Shadowhurst,” and that that was not part of his name. Is that correct? Is that why his wife is called Lady Susan Rowland? Because John was a lord, as well as a reverend?
    I noted also the 10/14/2017 reply to you from Melissa Crosby-Belanger in which she wrote that John’s father was “more than just a game warden on the estate.” Melissa wrote that the Rev. John came from “a long line of Baronets, Counts and Kings! It wasn’t just happenstance that they were introduced to the king.” She invited you to contact her for more information.
    Were you in touch with her? Was the triplets’ father a game warden or a member of the aristocracy? I would be grateful for any information you have on Lady Susan Rowland and the triplets’ father and earlier ancestors.
    Many thanks,
    William Pinckney Pope


    • Thank you for your thoughts, comments, and questions. William Taylor (1429-1493) was my 4th great grandfather. Yes, he was more than a game warden. The Taylor family did come from a line of Baronets, Counts, etc. In ancient Europe, The title of “Sir” was given to anyone awarded knighthood by the Queen or a member of the royal family acting in her stead. Knighthood can be awarded for military service or to anyone deemed a significant contributor to national life. Similarly, the term”Lady” is used before the family name of a woman with a title of nobility or honorary title suo jure (in her own right), or the wife of a lord, a baronet, Scottish feudal baron, laird, or a knight, and also before the first name of the daughter of a duke, marquess, or earl. In Susan Rowland Taylor’s instance, she was called Lady Susan Rowland before she married John Taylor because her father was Sir John Rowland (master of the Tower of London), as John Taylor’s second wife she also was titled Lady Susan Taylor. Hope this information is helpful.


  3. Apologies, but the section of the article relating to the story of the triplets is a little confusing. It initially suggests that they were from a humble background. However then it states that John Taylor was actually the son of William Taylor & Margaret De Fairsted.
    So from your perspective, is the original story just a fanciful Folk Tale & nothing more than that?


    • Thanks for reading my post and providing comments back to me. I’m wondering about your inference to John Taylor’s humble beginnings. According to my readings, the Taylor family name was a well-known name in Scotland and England, indicating to me that the family had at least social awareness and status. My earlier research shows me as an 18th great granddaughter to Sir John Taylor (1327-1377) who was a Knight to King Edward III. The novelty of the triplet births and survivals during those medieval times surely gave the family even more exposure and opportunities within the British circles. I truly want my family history and stories about it, to be more than fanciful Folk Tales, but also interesting, and more importantly, as factual as I can be. Your comment is exactly the kind of comment I am interested in. If my writing misleads anyone away from the truth, then I want to do my best to correct it. And your interpretation of my writing is another indicator that I must be even more cautious when structuring my posts. Thanks, John.


      • Apologies Joanne, & yes I am aware that the Taylor’s were a notable family, who could trace their lineage back to the Counts of Angoulême. What I’m trying to do at the moment is clarify the facts as part of some genealogical research of my own. From what I can tell the triplets parents were actually, a John Taylor & a Margaret de Fairsted, & were not born in Staffordshire.
        From your perspective which is the correct version of the story? William & Joan or John & Margaret?


      • Thank you, John, for continuing to comment and question. In fact, my tree also shows John Taylor and Margaret de Fairsted as parents to the triplets and John Taylor’s grandparents as Joane Gilbard and Sir William Taylor. I am going back and revisiting my sources for this 2013 post due to the ongoing interest in it and because I never intentionally want to write or publish anything that includes inaccurate or misinformation. There will be updated post forthcoming. Thanks, again.


  4. How cool I just found rev john (triplet of rowland and nathaniel) lord of shadoxhurst and master of the rolls of the court of chancery taylor to be my 15th ggf!!!


  5. Greetings I am so glad I found your blog page, I really found you by accident, while I was searching on Askjeeve for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a fantastic post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the fantastic job.


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  7. Hello Joanne,

    I have some information you might be interested with regards to our family. Both my mother and I have been researching for a very long time, and most recently have traced our line back greater then 10 generations from John (Triplet) Taylor.

    You might be interested to know that this family line was more than just a game warden on the estate. They are a long line of Baronets, Counts and Kings! It wasn’t just happenstance that they were introduced to the king in fact they are cousins- several times removed.

    If you would like more information please feel free to contact me. It is truly interesting and exciting to find out about.

    yours truly,

    Melissa Crosby-Belanger


  8. Thank you Joanne! I am also directly related to the Taylors in this fascinating story which I came upon while trying to clarify the lineage.

    I am confused however since many trees and other articles have the triplets born around1490. In the information that I have John (William) Taylor who married Margaret was born around 1451 and Margaret around 1457- so is this John one of the triplets and if so were they born in the 1450. Thanks, very interested to know your thoughts.


  9. Thank you Joanne! I am also directly related to the Taylors in this fascinating story which I came upon while trying to clarify the lineage.

    I am confused however since many trees and other articles have the triplets born around1490. Also I have your relative John (William) Taylor who married Margaret as born around 1451 and Margaret around 1457- so is your John one of the triplets and if so were they born in the 1450. Thanks, very interested to know your thoughts.


  10. I have been researching my genealogy, and William Taylor is also my 16th great grandfather. I started this interesting journey trying to figure out how I am related to President Zachary Taylor, and have found more amazing stories of my ancestors than I could’ve ever imagined.


    • This was the series that starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill. We, too, were affixed to the story and series from episode one. Hated to see it end. And noted how barbaric the wars among families and times were.


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