The W. E. Taylor Collection holds the collected papers of the Rev. William E. Taylor of the Church Missionary Society (CMS).

William Ernest Taylor was born in Worcester, England, in 1856.   He was first educated at King's School, Worcester.   In 1873, he won a scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford, where he was awarded a 3rd class honour degree in classical honour moderations.   Between 1879 and 1880, he attended the Medical Faculty of the University of Edinburgh, but he did not complete his degree and instead became a deacon, in 1880.

W. E. Taylor served the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in East Africa, first between 1880-1884, and returning as a missionary in 1885 until 1889.  Since his first appointment in East Africa he had begun to learn Swahili and became acquainted with eminent Swahili scholars, poets, and writers, and began collecting Swahili manuscripts, both poetry and prose.

Taylor also travelled extensively among the Giryama people of whom he studied the language and collected oral material.

In 1892 he returned to England and married Catherine Tesseyman, in Hull.  He served again in East Africa between 1892 and 1896, but was then posted to Cairo and Karthoum between 1898 and 1903.  In 1904 he resigned from the CMS and subsequently held a succession of clerical appointments, the last at Holgate, Lincolnshire.

Taylor retained his interest in Swahili, examining for the War Office and translating for the Salvation Army.

William Ernest Taylor died at Bath in 1927.



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