Rowland Taylor
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Rowland Taylor (abt. 1510 - 1555)

Rowland Taylor
Born about in Rothbury, Northumberland, Englandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married about 1539 in Englandmap [uncertain]
Descendants descendants
Died in Aldham, Suffolk, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Oct 2010
This page has been accessed 9,534 times.
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Rowland Taylor was born in Northumberland, England.


Rowland Taylor was born at Rothbury, Northumberland. [1] Nothing is known of his parents. [1] Wikipedia gives his birth date as 6 October 1510 [2] but without a source; the ODNB gives no birth date and the date in Wikipedia must be regarded as uncertain.

University of Cambridge

Rowland Taylor studied law at Cambridge and was awarded a Bachelor of Civil Law degree in 1530 and a Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1534. [1]

From 1531 to 1538 he was Principal of Borden Hostel, a student hostel at the University of Cambridge. [1][3] He also gave lectures in law. [1]


In 1528 Rowland was ordained an exorcist and acolyte at Norwich [1] [3] but he did not take his ecclesiastical career further for about a decade, focusing on law and, among his other roles, working for the Archdeacon of Ely. [1]

After hearing sermons by Hugh Latimer at Cambridge, Rowland associated himself with the protestant reformers. [1] Latimer was installed as Bishop of Worcester in 1537, and Rowland became his commissary-general and one of his chaplains. [1] He undertook a preaching tour in 1538. [1] In March 1539 Latimer appointed him to the living of Hanbury, Worcestershire, though he was not at that stage ordained priest. [1] [3]

When Latimer resigned his bishopric in 1539, Rowland became chaplain to Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. [1] His ordination as priest followed. [1]
In 1544 Cranmer made him Rector of Hadleigh, Suffolk. [1] [3] In 1547 he became a canon of Rochester Cathedral [1]; in 1548, Archdeacon of Bury St Edmunds [1]; in 1551 one of the six preachers at Canterbury Cathedral [1] [3]; and in 1553, Archdeacon of Cornwall. [1] He also helped to oversee the dioceses of Norwich and of Worcester when there was an episcopal vacancy. [1][3]

Cranmer made him one of the commissioners for the reform of church laws. [1] [3]

Reign of Mary I

Rowland Taylor was caught up in the attempt to secure the throne for Lady Jane Grey on the death of Edward VI. As a result he was arrested in late July 1553 and held in prison for several months. His subsequent freedom was short-lived. Mary I's council gave orders for his arrest in March 1554, this time for his religious views, which included the denunciation of the Pope, the denial of transubstantiation, and opposition to the compulsory celibacy of priests. He was detained in King's Bench Prison, London and underwent a number of examinations by Stephen Gardiner. [1] [3]


Rowland Taylor was sentenced to death as a heretic on 4 February 1555. [1] He was burned at the stake at Aldham Common, Suffolk, not far from his parish of Hadleigh, on 9 February 1555. [1] John Foxe states that a local butcher refused to help set up the faggots for his burning, and that one of the others ordered to assist in this, a drunkard called Soice, killed Rowland by a blow to the head which dashed out his brains and caused the corpse to fall into the flames. [4]

Last Words

Foxe gives a report of Rowland's last words to his wife and children. [4] They include:

"I say to my wife, and to my children, The Lord gave you unto me, and the Lord hath taken me from you, and you from me: blessed be the name of the Lord! I believe that they are blessed which die in the Lord. God careth for sparrows, and for the hairs of our heads. I have ever found Him more faithful and favorable, than is any father or husband. Trust ye therefore in Him by the means of our dear Savior Christ's merits: believe, love, fear, and obey Him: pray to Him, for He hath promised to help. Count me not dead, for I shall certainly live, and never die. I go before, and you shall follow after, to our long home."

And to his son Thomas:

"Almighty God bless thee, and give you his Holy Spirit, to be a true servant of Christ, to learn his word, and constantly to stand by his truth all the life long. And my son, see that thou fear God always. Fly from all sin and wicked living. Be virtuous, serve God daily with prayer, and apply thy boke. In anywise see thou be obedient to thy mother, love her, and serve her. Be ruled by her now in thy youth, and follow her good counsel in all things. Beware of lewd company of young men, that fear not God, but followeth their lewd lusts and vain appetites. Flee from whoredom, and hate all filthy lying, remembering that I they father do die in the defense of holy marriage. And another day when God shall bless thee, love and cherish the poor people, and count that thy chief riches to be rich in alms. And when thy mother is waxed old, forsake her not, but provide for her to thy power, and see that she lacks nothing. For so will God bless thee, give thee long life upon earth, and prosperity, which I pray God to grant thee."


The place of Rowland's death is marked by a stone inscribed:[1][3]


In 1819 an obelisk, financed by public subscription, was set up there in his memory, with verses by Hay Drummond, who was then Rector of Hadleigh.[1][3]

There is also a memorial inscription in the church of Hadleigh, Suffolk. [3] [5]

Marriage and Children

Rowland married someone with the first name Margaret, probably after 1534. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that the marriage took place in the London home of John Tyndale, and that her last name is not known. [1] They had eight children of their own.[1] Five died in his lifetime [4]:

The others were:

  • Thomas[1][4]
  • Mary[1][4]
  • Anne[1][4], who married William Palmer [6] [7] and was mentioned in her husband's memorial at York Minster, which says that William Palmer left 7 surviving children, three having predeceased him [8]

In addition, Foxe says that Rowland and his wife adopted an orphan, Elizabeth [1] who was age 14 at his death.[4]

Research Notes


Rowland Taylor has previously been shown as son of John Taylor and Susan Rowland. This is clearly not the case: John Taylor was a Catholic priest who would never have married, and there is no information about Rowland’s parentage. - Cayley-55 07:36, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

Previously-shown Daughter Ann, wife of John Hooker

WikiTree has previously shown a tenth daughter of Rowland, Ann(e), with the same first name as the wife of William Palmer, who is said to have married a John Hooker. Foxe's Acts and Monuments records only the daughters named above and there is no evidence that Rowland Taylor had two daughters called Ann(e). The likelihood of his having two daughters with the same first name who survived him and married is very small. - Cayley-55 07:36, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

Possible Descendant Jeremy Taylor

From the Dictionary of National Biography: "By his wife, whom he married probably about 1539, he had nine children, of whom four survived him. The eldest son's name was Thomas, and a daughter Anne married William Palmer (1539?–1605) [q. v.] His widow married one Wright, a divine (Parker Corresp. p. 221). Jeremy Taylor [q. v.] is said (Heber, Life of Jeremy Taylor) to have been a lineal descendant of Rowland Taylor, but the assertion has not been proved (Notes and Queries, 7th ser. ii. 56). [7]

Inaccurate Family History

A 1975 privately-printed family history, A Crane's Foot by E Stuart Gregg Junior, gives, without sourcing, an inaccurate account of the children of Rowland Taylor. It states that the five children whom Foxe records as having died in Rowland Taylor's lifetime all married after his martyrdom. [9]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Taylor, Rowland (d. 1555)', 2004, revised online 2008, available online via some libraries
  2. Wikipedia: Rowland Taylor
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Charles Henry Cooper and Thompson Cooper. Athenae Cantabrigienses, Vol. I, pub. by Deighton, Bell & Co and Macmillan and co, Cambridge and Bell and Co, London, 1858, pp. 123-124
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 'Rowland Taylor's Martyrdom' in John Foxe, The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online, 1563 edn., bk. 5, pp. 1134ff, The Acts and Monuments Online, accessed 22 November 2019
  5. Wikipedia: St Mary, Hadleigh
  6. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Palmer, William (1538/9–1605)', print and online 2004, available online through some libraries
  7. 7.0 7.1 Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Vo. 55, entry for 'TAYLOR, ROWLAND (d. 1555)', Wikisource, accessed 22 November 2019
  8. Francis Drake. Eboracum, or the History and Antiquities of the City of York, Vol. II, London, 1738, p. 508, Internet Archive: this quotes the full inscription
  9. E Stuart Gregg Jr. A Crane's Foot (or Pedigree) of Branches of the Gregg, Stuart, Robertson, Dobbs and Allied Families, privately printed by the R L Bryan Company, Columbia, South Carolina, 1975, p. 219, Google Books
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Taylor, Rowland (d. 1555)', 2004, revised online 2008, available online via some libraries
  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Vo. 55, entry for 'TAYLOR, ROWLAND (d. 1555)', Wikisource, accessed 22 November 2019
  • 'Rowland Taylor's Martyrdom' in John Foxe, The Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online, 1563 edn., bk. 5, pp. 1134ff, The Acts and Monuments Online, accessed 22 November 2019
  • Examinations and Martyrdom of Dr. Rowland Taylor A.D.1555, abridged from the "Acts and Monuments of John Foxe", Protestant Association, 1840, Internet Archive
  • Cooper, Charles Henry, and Cooper, Thompson. Athenae Cantabrigienses, Vol. I, pub. by Deighton, Bell & Co and Macmillan and co, Cambridge and Bell and Co, London, 1858, pp. 123-124
  • Wikipedia: Rowland Taylor

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Comments: 21

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At the time Rowland Taylor was born, marriage of Catholic priests was forbidden.
posted by Michael Cayley
On 22 Nov 2019 at 14:13 GMT Michael Cayley wrote: "I have detached Rowland from his previously shown parents, the Catholic priest John Taylor, d. 1534, who would not have married, and Susan Rowland. Nothing is known of Rowland Taylor's parentage."

This is not necessarily true; there was a long tradition of priests marrying, particularly in England. Clerical celibacy was not always a "rule," but was more "aspirational." Even Pope Clement was married a few hundred years earlier, with children. In the 16th century, there was enormous opposition to clerical celibacy.

It's highly possible that John Taylor and Susan Rowland were indeed his parents.

We all need to remember that history is not black and white; there is a lot of ambiguity.

posted by Patrick Barnes
Thank you for your work on this profile Michael.

Jo, England Project Managed Profiles team coordinator

posted by Jo Fitz-Henry
I have detached an unsupported and unsourced daughter called Ann (whose profile is currently orphaned), shown on WikiTree as wife of a John Hooker, with a research note. There is no evidence that I have found for Rowland having two daughters called Ann(e) or for his known daughter Anne, wife of William Palmer, having married twice.
posted by Michael Cayley
I have detached Rowland from his previously shown parents, the Catholic priest John Taylor, d. 1534, who would not have married, and Susan Rowland. Nothing is known of Rowland Taylor's parentage.
posted by Michael Cayley
I plan to do some work on the bio of Rowland Taylor, and on his family, on behalf of the England Project. I hope to start in the next few days.
posted by Michael Cayley
Dear Profile Managers

The England Project would like to co-manage this profile with you. Thank you for your input to the profile thus far, and please do add any more information you may have about Rowland. You are welcome to stay on as either a PM or on the Trusted List. Would you please add

[email address removed]

to the trusted list, and then set the England Project as a manager. You can read more about the England Project's managed profiles here

Thanks, Jo Fitz-Henry

England Project Managed Profiles Team coordinator

posted by Jo Fitz-Henry
nick name ofMartyr removed
posted by Robin Wood
And here is a source saying he had 9 children; of whom only 4 survived him, only Thomas and Anne are known/named:,_Rowland_(DNB00)

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 55 Taylor, Rowland by Albert Frederick Pollard

posted by Isaac Taylor
Here is another impartial biography:

"TAYLOR ROWLAND d 1555 English Protestant martyr was born at Rothbury Northumberland he took minor orders at Norwich in 1528 and graduated LL B at Cambridge in 1530 and LL D in 1534 Adopting reformed views he was made chaplain by Cranmer in 1540 and presented to the living of Hadleigh Suffolk in 1544 In Whitsun week 1547 he preached a notable sermon at St Paul's Cross and was given the third stall in Rochester cathedral In 1 549 he was placed on a commission to examine Anabaptists and in 1551 he was appointed chancellor to Bishop Ridley select preacher at Canterbury and a commissioner for the reform of the canon law in 1551 Covcrdale made him archdeacon of Exeter Apparently he advocated the cause of Lady Jane Grey for on the jsth of July 1553 only six days after Mary's proclamation as queen he was committed to the custody of the sheriff of Essex He was released not long afterwards and with the support of his parishioners offered strenuous resistance to the restoration of the Mass He was consequently imprisoned in the King's Bench prison on the 26th of March 1554 The sturdy protestantism of Taylor and his flock who seem to have caused various commotions marked him out for the special enmity of Mary's government and he was one of the first to suffer when in January 1555 parliament had once more given the clerical courts liberty of jurisdiction He was sentenced on the 22nd excommunicated on the 29th degraded by Bonner on the 4th of February and burnt on the qih at Aldham Common near Hadleigh His blameless character had made a great impression on his age and he was commemorated in many popular ballads He was regarded as the ideal of a Protestant parish priest he was married and had nine children The alleged descent of Jeremy Taylor from him has not been proved.

See Thomas Quinton Stow's Memoirs of Rcu ljnd Taylor 1833 Did of Nat Bicp Iv 463 4 and authorities there cited."


The Encyclopedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Volume 26 Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 1911

Online at Google via

posted by Isaac Taylor

Rejected matches › Rowland Taylor (1510-1555)