As well as giving the firm its current name, Joseph Taylor performed a pivotal role in the company’s history. His tenure bridged the gap between the Bearsley era and the arrival of the Yeatmans whose descendants own and run the company today.
At the time of Camo’s departure from Oporto, Joseph Taylor had already been a manager in the London office for a decade. He had been in frequent correspondence with Camo during the French occupation and was familiar with the workings of the Oporto company. Little is known of Joseph Taylor’s background but Charles Sellers describes him as ‘familiar with the language of [Portugal], the people and their habits’. His correspondence suggests that he was a competent administrator with a meticulous eye for detail. No one in the company was better prepared to take over from Camo.
In 1813 Francis Gray, already in poor health, accompanied him to Portugal. On Francis Gray’s death in 1814, Joseph Taylor was made a partner. In 1824 the British economy slumped and the remaining partners were ageing and in poor health. In 1826 the London partnership went into liquidation and the only surviving son-in-law, Charles Campbell, was forced to give up his share in the Oporto firm. As a result Joseph Taylor became sole owner of the firm in Portugal and started up his own London company, Joseph Taylor Port & Brandy Merchants, later merging the two businesses. Having started as an office manager, he was now a substantial wine merchant.
Under Joseph Camo’s management, the firm had diversified successfully into the trading of dry goods. This had benefited the company for several years when a shortage of brandy limited the amount of Port that could be made. However Joseph Taylor steered the company firmly back towards Port and ensured that in this new, expansionist century, Taylor’s reputation for quality would be unassailable. He was not, however, to see much of the new century himself. By 1835 his health had begun to fail and he had begun to address the question of succession. His choice fell on two enterprising members of the wine trade. One was Morgan Yeatman, a wine merchant from Dorchester in the south west of England who had been a customer of Taylor’s for many years. The other was John Fladgate, a contact of Joseph Taylor’s agent Matthew Clark who was trading as a wine merchant in London.
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