Ellie Wood Keith Genealogy


Maria TAYLOR[1]

Female 1698 - 1771  (72 years)

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  • Name Maria TAYLOR 
    Born 10 Nov 1698  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    History Lost in debt and the changing sociopolitical tides of Virginia, William Byrd III shot and killed himself on January 1, 1777. His will, written in 1774, revealed a great deal of animosity towards Maria Byrd. He lamented that his estate, “which thro’ my own folly & inattention to accounts, thro’ carelessness of some interested with the management thereof & the villany of others, is still greatly incumbered with debts, which imbitters every moment of my life.” It is possible that he referred to his mother’s management of his estate in his attempt to share the blame for his situation with others. He ordered that after the death of his “dearest and best of wives,” his estate was to be sold and the proceeds divided amongst his children, “deducting from the share of those I had by my first wife such sums as they may claim under the wills of my Deluded & superannuated Mother.” For example, he deducted £500 from the share of his daughter, Elizabeth, “having paid her husband, Mr. Farley, that sum under the unjust will of my insane mother.” He threatened to leave his son Francis Otway Byrd only one shilling if he quit the Navy. He also promised his son Thomas Byrd the
    168 Robert Cary & Co. to William Byrd III, London, November 17, 1774, Robert Cary & Co, London, June 20 1775, in “Some Unpublished Correspondence of William Byrd III,” Virginia Magazine 88, no. 3, 294, 299, http://0-www.jstor.org.wncln.wncln.org/stable/4248406.
    same amount if he married Susannah Randolph.169 Evidently, William Byrd III was quite bitter towards his mother and children from his first marriage.
    After Maria Byrd’s lifetime, the social constructs of the home and the family underwent dramatic changes that presented significant implications for the role and status of women. By the early nineteenth century, many male heads of households began to find work outside of the home as a result of the industrialization revolution. This phenomenon was most prevalent in the northern United States, where there were more factories. However, broad developments such as commercialization and increasingly complex and interdependent economies also impacted Virginia and the southern United States. Although the South remained largely agricultural, with economic production and family homes remaining in the same location, the farm or plantation, the concept of the home and family became idealized as Americans (including southerners) gradually viewed the wider world as complicated, problematic, and amoral. In the nineteenth century, Virginians no longer saw the home as a microcosm society in the way that William Byrd II considered Westover. Rather, the home became a haven from a threatening public sphere. The home also became a refuge for personal feelings, where loving familial relationships and self-conscious reflection flourished.170
    In addition to economic developments, new political and religious ideas also impacted the concepts of the family and home, and therefore influenced gender. Republicanism and liberalism both essentially required that public and political participation was exclusively the duty of men. These theories emphasized property and arms ownership,
    169 “The Will of William Byrd III,” in “Letters of the Byrd Family,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 38, no. 1 (January 1930): 59-63, http://0-www.jstor.org.wncln.wncln.org/stable/4244312. 170 Lewis, The Pursuit of Happiness, 210-228.

    personal independence, and competition within the public arena, all of which were decidedly masculine traits. With the public sphere so well defined, the idea of a private sphere developed as its antithesis. Post-Revolutionary Protestant evangelism stated that virtue existed in the home. These new, hardened lines between the public and private spheres changed women’s significance. Rather than publically displaying their gentility in support of their husbands’ social authority like eighteenth-century women, nineteenth-century women became the guardians of morality and virtue in the home. Under this new system of separate spheres, women used their supposedly natural unique piety and morality to wield increased influence within the domestic sphere. Although southern women in the nineteenth century continued to participate at least somewhat in public life, most notably through benevolent and religious organizations, the overwhelming understanding of the role and status of women was defined by their relegation to the private sphere.171
    Maria Byrd’s life sheds light on these transformations in family life and women’s status. As a wealthy, widowed mother, she possessed a great amount of control within her family. In contrast to Lucy Parke Byrd, women like Maria Byrd began to see the family, rather than broader society, as their specific realm of authority. However, Maria Byrd did not feel limited to the private sphere and asserted herself in her family’s business affairs. Emotionally, her son seemed to be the meaning of her existence, yet she did not bequeath him all of her money. In terms of her deep affection for William Byrd III, Maria Byrd was a harbinger of the modern family style that took hold in the early nineteenth century. But at the end of her life, material and financial aspects defined her relationship with her son, as seen in their wills. Maria Byrd was therefore a hybrid between pre-modern and modern family life.
    171 Kierner, Beyond the Household, 212-218.

    She represents historically significant social change, which proves the existence of her power and authority.  [2
    History Maria married William Byrd II in England on the 9 May 1724.
    Maria was the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Taylor of London, England.
    Maria read and spoke French and Greek. Sir Godfrey Kneller painted a portrait of Maria Taylor Byrd (1698-1771) that is owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1925. A copy can be found at the Virginia Historical Society. Maria was a very elegant lady with dark hair and eyes.  [3
    Died 28 Aug 1771  Westover, Charles City County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I500133  Ellie Wood Keith
    Last Modified 2 Apr 2018 

    Father Thomas Taylor,   b. 1650, Kensington, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Jun 1716, Wicomico, Northumberland, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Mother Sarah 
    Family ID F763  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Col. William BYRD, II,   b. 28 Mar 1674, 'Westover', Charles City, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Aug 1744  (Age 70 years) 
    Married 1724 
    +1. Jane BYRD,   b. 13 Oct, 1729, Westover, Charles City Court House, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aug 1774  (Age 44 years)
    Last Modified 2 Apr 2018 
    Family ID F500061  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos

    Charles City County, Virginia
    Charles City County, Virginia
    Maria Taylor
    Maria Taylor
    2nd wife of William Byrd II

  • Sources 
    1. [S102] Appalachian State University thesis, Sheila Phipps, https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/asu/f/Luthern,%20Allison_2012_Thesis.pdf.

    2. [S102] Appalachian State University thesis, Sheila Phipps.

    3. [S3] Find a Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41328141/maria-byrd.