Section Index
A Short Biographical Sketch

The Forth and Clyde Canal

King George IV’s
Visit to Scotland

Capt Taylor’s
Retiral and Death

Retiral from Lighthouse Service

"You know my Services better than I can describe them . . ."

In 1841, Capt. David Taylor, having for many years suffered from gout and arthritis, finally retired from service. In his letter to Stevenson he “begs leave to bring under your notice for the information of the Commissioners of the Northern Light Houses my Claims for Superannuation Allowance at the advanced age of 71 - having been nearly half that time in their service.”

“ In the month of November 1807 I entered the Lighthouse Service as Master of the Joseph Banks, the Tender for the Artificers of the Bell Rock. At the conclusion of that great work in 1811 I was put in command of the Smeaton, the Bell Rock Tender; and in 1816 the Pharos was built and I was in command of her until the year 1821 when I was appointed Storekeeper in Leith, making my period of Service nearly 34 years. You know my Services better than I can describe them, and I need not say any more that infirmity and old age renders me incapable of performing the duties of Storekeeper.”

Shortly afterwards he returned once more to live in Arbroath, and in “The Arbroath Guide”, Saturday, 4th March 1843, the following paragraph appeared in “Local Intelligence”:

MAN DROWNED. - On Sabbath morning, the body of Captain David Taylor, who at one time commanded the Pharos belonging to the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners, was found in the harbour. He had parted from some of his friends the previous evening, and on his way home, it is supposed, the night being very dark, he had mistaken his way, fallen into the harbour, and thus met a watery grave.

Capt. Taylor (whose wife had long predeceased him) had 3 daughters, all of whom died without issue. His only son, Robert Stevenson Taylor (born in 1810) died the following year in 1844. Robert (a ship’s carpenter) had married Christian Sinclair (who died in 1839 in childbirth). Their only son, David (my great-grandfather) was born in 1836. So it was that the old sea captain’s only grandchild, orphaned when he was 7 years old, returned to Arbirlot, the land of his ancestors, to be cared-for by his great-uncle.

Thus ended the family’s great romance with the Bell Rock Lighthouse. The knowledge of our famous ancestor has always “shone down” through the generations, although some facts had become somewhat dimmed and distorted over the years.

In 1982, I was fortunate to visit the Bell Rock as guest of the Northern Lighthouse Board. It was one of their routine supply trips, which involved dropping off stores and changing lightkeepers at the Bass Rock, the Isle of May and the Bell Rock. It was a memorable day! See Pharos Experience.

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