Generation 8: From the Brushmaker William Tagg to the New Arrival

British Barque 3-Mast RiggingNow that the newest addition to the Tagg family has arrived, I thought I might look back at two of the first Taggs that came to America. This is the short story of who they were and the few Taggs that remain.

The date is 10 September 1829 in Bristol, England. It is a fair day in the city, the skies having cleared from the cool heavy rains a few days earlier. Not far from Queen Square and Bristol Harbour is the oldest church in the city, St. James’ Priory (founded as a Benedictine priory in 1129 by Robert, Earl of Gloucester, illegitimate son of Henry I). Inside the Priory, the local pastor is officiating the wedding of a 39-year old widower and his 20-year old bride. With their belongings in tow, the newly married couple make their way from St. James’ to the harbor. Anchored there is a British barque called Unity. The ship’s master, Capt. John Johnson sets sail up the River Avon to the Atlantic with 20 steerage passengers below-deck. Forty days later, on 20 October, newlyweds William and Elizabeth Tagg arrive at their new home, New York. Thus begins this Tagg family’s story in America.

William and Elizabeth settled on the Lower East Side, not far from Christian Bergh’s shipyards (important for another story for another time). The couple would have three boys to carry on the family name: Frederick, James and Henry. William maintained a small workshop on Division St when, in June 1840, he passed away. Very little is known of the “original” William Tagg. He was a brush-maker and a member of the Odd Fellows order. Unfortunately, that is all I know. To this point, I am still unaware of either his or Elizabeth’s parents names or their ancestry in England.

Elizabeth Weeks Tagg remarried five years later to another English brushmaker, James Rawlinson. The family would live at 5 Attorney St. until, one by one, the boys left home. Frederick, the oldest, became a cooper and married an Irish woman named Angeline. Henry (a.k.a. William Henry), the youngest, enlisted in the army, fighting in the Civil War. After the war, he became a milk dealer and married another Irish woman, Charlotte. The middle son, James, would become a sash blind maker and ship joiner. In 1857, James married the niece of New York Mayor Jacob Aaron Westervelt. Her name was Jennie Martling. All three Tagg men would have issue. Twenty-two children in total. Twelve boys and ten girls. Of the 22, only seven would have children of their own. Of the seven, only one Tagg line survives to this day.

On 16 June 2013, Father’s Day, the Tagg descendants of William the brushmaker stretched one generation longer. There will be a chance for more Taggs. Perhaps one more generation and maybe more. At least for another generation, the Tagg name lives! But for the moment Jack Tagg… you’re it.

The Tagg Boys

Generation 1: William Tagg.

Generation 2: Frederick, James and William Henry Tagg.

Generation 3: Harry, Frederick Jr.; James Henry, Fredrick WilliamJacob Aaron, Arthur Thompson, John Wesley; Edward Holmes, William Henry Jr., Arthur John, Charles Frederick and Gail Borden Tagg.

Generation 4: LeRoy Westervelt, Harry Benjamin, Fredrick William Jr., Charles Wesley; Edward Holmes Jr. and William Henry Tagg.

Generation 5: James Milnor, Howard LeRoy, John Ernest and Living Tagg

Generation 6: Living Tagg and Living Tagg

Generation 7: William (me) and Living Tagg

Generation 8: Newest Tagg

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