Dan Taylor was born on December 21, 1738, at Sour-Milk Hall, near Halifax, England. His mother was his teacher and the Bible his text-book. By the time he was three he could read very well.
Dan Taylor started to work at the Yorkshire coal mine pit that was 300 feet deep in England with his father when he was only five years old. He loved to take a book with him into the mines to read if he got any spare time. When Mr. Taylor was older, he blamed his shortness on being deprived of sun during his growing years.
He had the privilege of hearing Wesley and Whitefield preach as he grew up, because of his willingness to walk the 20 or 30 miles to reach them. He came to the Savior when 15, through the ministry of the Methodists, and began to study Greek, Latin and Hebrew during his spare time. The Wesleys wanted him to join them as a preacher, but he wanted to minister to those of his own neighbor who were in need of the Gospel, so he parted company and began preaching under a tree at Nook, in Wadsworth, in 1761.
He left the mines when winter approached in 1762, and rented a room so he could teach school subjects during the week. On weekends he used the room for the church services. The question of baptism came up in the little group and he at once set about to be able to answer it. His study of the Scriptures led him to convert to being a Baptist. Since there were no Baptist pastors locally that would accept his request for baptism because he was not a stanch Calvinist, he set out to walk 120 miles through inclement winter weather, sleeping one night under a hay stack to find to a Baptist pastor that would. He did find one before he reached his destination, and he was baptized February 16, 1763, in the Idle River in Gamston, near Retford. Soon afterwards his little group organized as a Baptist church with 14 members in Wadsworth.
When 1764 began, Dan Taylor was about 25 years old and shorter than the average man, but powerfully built from his years of labor in coal mines. He, himself had not only designed a church building, but he had set about building it as well. To do so, he worked in a quarry, digging out blocks of stone from which to build the church. Once the stones were quarried, he did the masonry work, and one the building was completed, in order to be able to have meetings sooner, he went and picked up the pulpit from the old location and carried it on his shoulders to the new work, called Birch-cliffe.
But his valiant and mighty efforts did not stop there. With the building in place, the new church was overwhelmed in debt. He was not about to let that be a hindrance, so he set out on foot, just as he did to be baptized, and travelled a great distance to find people that could help get their debts paid. These travels were not wasted, because it enabled him to meet Baptists far and wide, who would later be part of his ministry.
After a while Pastor Taylor found that the General Baptist churches had grown cold due to the influence of Unitarian (anti-Trinitarian) views. With his passion for souls he felt out of place, so he withdrew from the Association. He put forth incredible efforts and along with several other ministers, formed the “Free Grace General Baptists” in 1770, adding new vigor to an older group, and they were soon labeled the “New Connection.”
Later he was asked why those churches he withdrew from fellowship from died out. He replied: “They degraded Jesus Christ and He degraded them!”
Pastor Taylor at once went to work to write their own literature, but his massive work was not that appreciated by folks that spurned any type of religious literature! But this energetic man became the voice of the association, ably able to respond to any question or position.
In 1785, he moved to a London church, where he had 225 members.
Pastor Taylor's life was full with preaching. He traveled twenty-five thousand miles in his life that he mostly walked on foot. Most of it was in preaching tours that he did three or four times a year. Throughout his whole life he would average nine sermons a week, and he never preached the same sermons twice. Pastor Taylor believed that any days he did not preach on were failures. During his 55 years in the ministry, he preached nearly 20,000 sermons!
When his sight started to go bad, he memorized most of the New Testament.
In 1797, Pastor Taylor established an academy that later became the Midlands Baptist College to train men for the ministry. He also authored over fifty publications from brief tracts to sizable volumes.
Pastor Taylor also established the General Baptist Magazine in 1798 and he served as the first editor.
Pastor Taylor never had any time to himself. Every day was taken up not only in pastoring, but in supporting his family, with his time dominated by his employment in teaching at the school, working in his farm, or at another time, employed in his shop.
He died in London, on Nov. 26, 1816, at the age of 78, without a groan or even a sigh, sitting in his chair, and was buried in Bunhill Fields.
Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists (Watertown, Wisconsin: Roger Williams Heritage Archives, 1886; 2003), p. 944, 945. Excellent story of Dan Taylor and his work.
David Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America; The Baptist Denomination in America (Watertown, Wisconsin: Roger Williams Heritage Archives, 1813; 2003), p. 226. Briefly mentions the Association and Dan Taylor’s London church membership number.
John C. Carlile, The Story of the English Baptists (Watertown, Wisconsin: Roger Williams Heritage Archives, 1905; 2003), p. 153. Brief quote of Dan Taylor about decline of some Baptist churches.
William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, p. 1133. Roger William Heritage Archives Editors, Baptist Biographies (Watertown, Wisconsin: Roger Williams Heritage Archives, 2003; 2003).
F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. rev. (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 155. Very brief mention that it was Unitarians that caused Dan Taylor to leave the Baptist association.
J. J. Goadby, Bye-Paths in Baptist History (Watertown, Wisconsin: Roger Williams Heritage Archives, 1871; 2003), pp. 47-50. Excellent description of Pastor Dan Taylor, presenting his human and theological side.
E. Wayne Thompson and David L. Cummins. This Day in Baptist History. (Greenville, South Carolina: Bob Jones University Press, 1926). Page 64-65
Christian History Magazine: The Baptists (Worcester, PA: Christian History Institute, 1985). Issue 6. “The Gallery—Leaders, Evangelists, Thinkers, and Movers in Baptist History: Dan Taylor (1738-1816).” It has a very short bio of him and the source of the drawing of Dan Taylor that was completely reworked by Pastor Clinton Macomber.