'IN MEMORY OF
"THE ROYTON POET"
WHO DIED 18TH SEPTEMBER 1863,
IN THE 70THYEAR OF HIS AGE.
AND OF MARY HIS WIFE,
WHO DIED 12TH MAY 1873,
IN THE 73RD YEAR OF HER AGE.'
According to a webpage written by a member of Royton Local History Society, James Taylor was born on the currently named Middleton Road near its junction with High Street. Beginning work as a handloom weaver, he moved on to a steam-driven cotton mill where he continued until he was sixty, when he began making shoe blacking and selling it from a shop near MIddleton Road.
He had no formal early education, his mother apparently fearing that he would turn into an irreligious radical, which he in fact did for a time before returning to the Christian fold.
Before the end of the 1820s he was writing poetry for magazines using the pseudonym 'poor poet'. He is most remembered for the poem 'On My Native Village' and shortly after his death a book – Miscellaneous Poems – was published by private suscription.
Taylor's grave was one of those moved from St John's graveyard in 1969, and is now in Royton Cemetery.