Francis Taylor Diary, 1786-1799

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Date: 1786 to 1799
Location: Orange County, Virginiamap
Surnames/tags: Taylor Orange_County_Virginia
Profile manager: Fred Prisley private message [send private message]
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About the Diary

Francis Taylor (1747-1799), the bachelor son of George Taylor and Rachel Gibson, kept a diary of his life on his father's plantation in Orange County, Virginia from 1786 until his death in 1799. By the first year of the diary, Francis's mother Rachel was dead, as was Francis's step-mother, Sarah Taliaferro, who was the widow of Francis Conway and the second wife of George Taylor. The diary begins with Francis and his half-brother George Conway Taylor residing at their father's original Orange County home Collina and contains accounts in 1786-87 of the construction of their father's new home Midland, which Francis would inherit on his father's death in 1792.


The original diary was found in the attic of Rosebud, the home of Robert Taylor, Jr., Francis's first cousin once removed, by Dr. Andrew Glassell Grinnan (1827-1902) , who was great-grandson of Francis's uncle Erasmus Taylor (1715-1794) -- see Relationship Chart below. Dr. Grinnan was a respected historian of the Taylor and Glassell families of early Orange County, Virginia. His grandparents Andrew Glassell (1738-1827) and Elizabeth Taylor had a close family relationship with Francis and appear frequently in the diary. During the time he owned and studied the diary, Dr. Grinnan made a number of annotations to the diary, which appear in line and are indicated in the attached transcript by his initials (AGG).

Dr. Grinnan eventually sold the diary to another Taylor family historian, William Kyle Anderson, great grandson of Francis's brother Commodore Richard Taylor and author of Donald Robertson and his wife Rachel Rogers of King and Queen County, Virginia, etc. Anderson's niece Susan Harris Anderson appears to be the one who transcribed Francis's diary, [1] and in 1900 William Kyle Anderson wrote a forward to the diary that contains brief biographies of its most often-mentioned people. Anderson also made annotations to the diary, indicated by his initials (WKA). During the course of his work on Francis Taylor's diary (and possibly on his book), Anderson appears to have collaborated with Taylor family historian Philip Fall Taylor, whose annotations on the diary are indicated by (PFT). Anderson bequeathed the original diary to his sister Sallie Quicksall (Anderson) Venable with instructions that the diary eventually be donated to the Library of Virginia in Richmond, where it currently resides. Copies of the diary and its transcript are on file at Filson Historical Society in Louisville Kentucky, where Philip Fall Taylor's papers reside, and University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill.

This copy of the diary transcript comes from the papers of another Taylor family historian and genealogist, Sarah Jouett (Taylor) Prisley. She is the grand niece of Philip Fall Taylor and his sister Sarah Jouett (Taylor) Cannon, who was secretary and treasurer of the Kentucky Historical Society for many years, and for whom the younger Jouett was named. Jouett Taylor Prisley's handwriting can be seen filling in some of the more faded sections of this copy of the transcript, and her "About This Diary" paper is linked in the References section below.


  • The original leather-bound diary notebooks found by Dr. Grinnan were missing the entire year for 1793
  • This transcript of the diary is missing the month of March 1786, and the days between 03 Apr - 24 May 1799
  • Francis's annual financial account appears at the end of each year of the diary, beginning in 1787, the year that the construction of his father's home Midland was completed
  • Francis began adding a list of births, marriages, and deaths at the end of each year, beginning in 1789
  • Dr. Grinnan made end notes for each year of the diary

The Diary

Relationship Chart

Relationships of Diary's Key Players


  1. "Note" page accompanying the diary transcript, by Sue H. Anderson, identifying her uncle as the owner of the diary

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