The Taylor surname comes from exactly where you'd expect it to. Originally given to tailors and other textile workers, the earliest known use of it as a surname dates back to the 1100s. It is one of the most common names in the U.K. Our own Taylor history takes us all over the UK and North America - we have two separate Taylor families in our ancestry, both of which offer their fair share of both interesting stories and maddening mysteries.
James Taylor 1830 - 1872
James was born in Ireland in 1830. His father's name, according to his marriage record, was John, but nothing else is known about him. Likewise, little is known about James himself. We know that he married Sarah Kearl in 1862, and they settled in England, raising two children there. He passed away at just 42, which is likely part of the reason the history gets a little mysterious from here.
James and Sarah's children:
James Charles Taylor, b. 1868
Mary Elizabeth Catherine Taylor
Mary Taylor Unknown - 1931
Learning about Mary has proven, well, maddening, and for what appears to be good reason. Her life was a difficult one, and it seems she knew just as little about herself as we do. Records list her as being born anywhere between 1863 and 1871 - a massive discrepancy, even considering the shoddy record keeping of the time - and she apparently was unsure about it herself. On records where she would have had to state her year of birth herself, she variously claimed 1869, 1870, and 1871. On the 1871 census, however, she is listed as being a 5 year old living with her maternal grandmother, making her birth year about 1866. Her marriage record with William West claims she was born in 1863, yet the scandal the marriage caused was due to her being "a mere child", making it unlikely that she was 20 at the time. An unknown grandchild, responsible for her gravestone, offered July 22, 1871 as her date of birth, which would have indeed made her a "mere child", but also seems unlikely, given the ages she was listed as in earlier census records. It seems most likely that she was born in the late 1860s, but, unsure of her own year of birth, settled on 1871 as the year she would offer when asked.
To add to the confusion, she also did not seem to know where she, or her parents, were born. While we know she was almost certainly born in England, she claimed to have been born in Scotland, apparently believing that her Irish-born father was actually Scottish.
All of this confusion seems to stem from the fact that her father died young, and she did not appear to be raised by her mother, either (her death year is unknown, so it's entirely possible Mary became an orphan at a young age), meaning she would have had to piece things together based on information she was given by more distant relatives.
Her life as an adult isn't much easier to follow. She wed William West, an already married man four decades her senior, in 1883, and the two had a daughter, (our ancestor) Minnie, in 1884. How they met is unclear - William was American and Mary was English - but it would not be all that wild a guess to say, given what we do know, that she was perhaps approached by Mormon missionaries and encouraged to travel with them to the United States where she was married off to a respected Mormon elder. In any case, the marriage did not last long, and Mary left the home of William and his family. Their daughter, Minnie, was raised by William and his first wife - it appears that Mary and Minnie did not reconnect until after William's death.
By the early 1890s, Mary had remarried to a man named Henry Gibboney, and the two went on to have five children. They first settled in Colorado, but later moved to Alberta, Canada, where she passed away in 1931.