He had a worldwide outlook. There was no country, no nation, no social movement that did not command his interest. He had a passion for freedom, and his whole career was inspired by the desire that men should have the fullest opportunity for untrammelled development.
Taylor was born on 16 June 1862 in Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, England, the son of Edward Taylor and his wife, Anne Turner. The Taylors emigrated to New Zealand in 1873, arriving at Lyttelton on the Cardigan Castle on 15 November. They settled in Addington. Taylor briefly continued his education at Christchurch West School but left in 1874 for employment.
Taylor was a successful importer and estate agent in Christchurch. He married Elizabeth Best Ellison in 1892. They had five daughters, and one son, Edward Bickmore Ellison Taylor, who was a member of the Christchurch City Council between 1968 and 1971.
For nearly 20 years, Taylor was employed by Heywood and Co (forwarding agents) and was their manager for several years. In February 1895, he became self-employed as a real estate agent and importer.
He contested the City of Christchurch electorate at the 1896 general election in December and this time was returned as a Member of Parliament. He held this seat until 1899 and from 1902 to 1905.
Taylor was an Independent MP. In 1905 he became the leader of the New Liberal Party. He opposed the Premier Richard Seddon of the Liberal Party over government corruption, and Seddon’s support for the Licensed Trade (i.e., the Liquor Industry) and the Boer War in South Africa. Other Independent MPs associated with Taylor were George Laurenson, Leonard Isitt, Harry Bedford and Francis Fisher.
Taylor died of a perforated gastric ulcer at Christchurch on 27 July 1911. Such was the respect he commanded that 50,000 people lined the streets of the city for his funeral procession. James McCombs, Secretary of the Christchurch Prohibition League and later a Labour Party MP, paid tribute to his co-worker and friend: