Friday, 27 February 2009

Stagoll, Robinson and the Devil's Chaplain

In the previous post we saw that Elizabeth Stagoll's marriage record was witnessed by Harriet Robinson. To strengthen our theory that this 1808 wedding of John Brooks and Elizabeth Stagoll is the one relating to our family tree we now turn to examine Miss Robinson.

Our first reference to Harriet Robinson came from Elizabeth's copied diary entries:

"Mrs Robinson was married to Mr Taylor Jan 17 1834"

Rev. Robert TaylorA subsequent entry tells us that Mr. Taylor died in 1844. Both these dates tie in with the Rev. Robert Taylor, a radical free-thinker and anti-clericalist nick-named 'the devil's chaplain'. In 1829 John Brooks published Taylor's 'Diegesis; Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity' and both Brooks and Taylor were acquaintances with Richard Carlile and Julian Hibbert.

It is interesting to note that John Brooks was an executor in Hibbert's will. When the non-animal-eating Hibbert died suddenly in 1834 (also recorded in the diary) a sum of money left to Robert Taylor was 'revoked by a codicil, in consquence, as he states, of Taylor having married a Lady of large fortune'. The Cambridge Alumni Database also records this marriage to 'an elderly lady of means'.

Parish records for St. Giles in Field indeed register the 1834 marriage of a Robert Taylor and Harriet Robinson although we have yet to obtain a copy of the certificate.

The Cambridge records also record Taylor's 1844 death in Tours, France. This might explain another diary entry:

"Left Tours for Jersey June 4th 1842... second visit to Tours June 7th 1844. Mr. Taylor died about 7th June 1844"

So to summarise, the 1808 marriage of John Brooks and Elizabeth Stagoll looks very likely to be the correct one. Harriet Robinson was a good friend of Elizabeth who later married Rev Robert Taylor. Elizabeth continued to visit Harriet even after the Taylor's move to Tours and yet another diary entry records a last visit to Mrs Taylor in Cumberland.

Cambridge Alumni Database
The Gentleman's Magazine Published by F. Jefferies, 1834

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