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The Taylor Dentists

My Great Grandfather and  Grandfather, Thomas Henry Taylor, LDS,  RFPSG,  DDS (b1861) and Thomas Tennant Taylor (1892-1944) were both dentists, and as you will read it's not only dentistry which they had in common.

Thomas Henry's maternal grandfather George Fletcher I am fairly certain was a "Barber Dentist", and I believe his mother Elizabeth Fletcher (1837-1884) encouraged him to take up the dentistry trade. This was a period of change and innovation in dentistry with the first moves to creating a wholly professional dentistry service starting during the 1880's, though it would almost be another 50 years before dentistry achieved anything like the professional status of the medical profession.     

Thomas Henry registered as a dentist on the 16th November 1882 by virtue of the fact that he has been "in practice" on the 22nd July 1878 he had no formal qualifications at this stage and would have been only 17 years of age.

Subsequently on the 19th October 1889 he was examined by the Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow ( now The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow) and was awarded  the qualification "Licentiate in Dental Surgery, Glasgow".

At the time of registration (1882) Thomas Henry practised at 1 Gauze Street, Paisley and at 22 Ardrossan Road Saltcoats although I am unsure as to whither he operated at both addresses concurrently. Certainly until around 1907 his residential addresses were all in the Paisley area he then  moved to "Engadine", 75, Caledonia Road, Saltcoats, Ayrshire. He also owned the property at 22 Ardrossan Road, Saltcoats, which were used as offices and presumably a surgery.

In 1913 this all changed, his practice address is British Columbia, Canada, clearly this is the point in his life when he fled Saltcoats to avoid the amorous attentions of a lady admirer (or so the family legend goes).

The story of Thomas Henry taking ship to Canada together with one of his daughters, whom he apparently subsequently deserted and left penniless when his lady friend appeared on the scene, has been retold over the generations part of this tale was that he had worked as a lumberjack, this now seems unlikely since from 1913/15 he is shown to be practising in Nakusp, Arrow Lake, British Colombia, Canada and from 1915/17 in Revelstoke, British Colombia, Canada returning to England sometime during 1917 and setting up a practice at Temple House, Lyme Regis.

In 1921/22 Thomas Henry returned to West Kilbride, quite what prompted his return to the West Coast of Scotland after an absence of almost 10 years is unclear, it may have been as a result of ill health, alternatively it could have been to smooth the passage of his son's registration as a dentist on the 24th March 1922.

During this time he and his son had agreed to a partnership working from "Nithsdale", Bowfield Road, West Kilbride, the partnership never did get off the ground. Thomas Henry left during May 1922, passing through London where he visited "The Dental Board" on his way to South Africa,  by November 1922 he is at "Maple Hall", Kloof Road, Seapoint, Cape Town. This trip was variously described as a "prospecting holiday" and as a trip for "health reasons", in any event by July 1923 Thomas Henry Taylor had taken over a practice at 42 St George's Street, Cape Town, South Africa with the intention of building it up prior to reselling the practice and returning to Scotland.

Here the trail goes cold, there are no further entries relating to Thomas Henry Taylor in the records of the Dental Board in London, though I am sure that this minor administrative irritation  would not have prevented him from continuing to practice in South Africa. I have been unable to trace the death of Thomas Henry Taylor in Scotland, and it may well be that he died whilst in South Africa. His wife Jane Whyte Tennant (1858-1946) continued to live in the family home at "Engadine" in Saltcoats and I can find no record of a divorce.

In 1913 when Thomas Henry abruptly left for Canada his son Thomas Tennant had been working in the practice for at least the previous 3 years. Thomas Tennant unlike his father was never to take any formal qualifications. In 1922 by virtue of the fact that he had been admitted to the Incorporated Dental Society prior to the 1921 Dentists Act he was entitled to  be registered as a "Dentist 1921".

The years from 1913 must have been tumultuous for ThoPractice Adverstsment 1913mas Tennant Taylor, he was head of the family at 21, and presumably it's only bread winner, he worked from the practice address at 22 Ardrossan Road with surgeries at Lamlash and Whiting Bay on the island of Arran each Monday. He was I understand particularly proud of the fact that his was the first dental surgery on the island. On the 25th December 1915 he married Eva Maude Wilson (1892-1973) their first child Maude being born in 1916.

By late 1917 he had joined the Royal Flying Corps and would spend the next 18 months away from his practice based at Waddington in Lincolnshire. I have previously speculated as to why he had not been conscripted for military service earlier in the war, but as a recently married dentist and the only breadwinner supporting not only his wife but also his mother and perhaps sisters, it's likely that he was given some form of exemption.

From 1922 to 1924 Thomas Tennant is shown practising at "Nithsdale" West Kilbride, though it's likely since the family owned 22 Ardrossan Road, that a practice was also being run from that address. Alternatively the West Kilbride address may have been his home address with the dentistry practice being based at Saltcoats.

In any event from 1924 till 1930 the practice address was 22 Ardrossan Road, which also appears to have been the family home.

1930 and history repeats itself, Thomas Tennant (38), shortly after the birth of his third son, like his father moves out of the family home at 22 Ardrossan Road and sets up home with Annie Scott Boyd, his receptionist.

Annie Boyd was the daughter of Mathew Boyd a quarryman and Mary Scott the middle sister of three sisters who lived at 33 Sharphill Road, Saltcoats, Ayr, the family had moved to Saltcoats from Dalry sometime after the turn of the century.

His practice address moves to Cumnock, firstly from 1930 till 1934 at "Viewfield", Glaisnock St., Cumnock then until 1939 to "Marshill" Ayr Road, Cumnock. In 1939 he moves from Cumnock down the road to New Cumnock and sets up practice and home at "Helenslea", still with Annie Boyd until his death as a result of a motor accident involving a French army truck in Alloway Street, Ayr on the 24th May 1944 at the age of 52.

Annie Scott Boyd (1899-1980) remained in the Cumnock area after the death of Thomas Tennant Taylor, working as a dental mechanic and marrying then divorcing Robert Robinson a Physical Education Teacher, she died as the result of heart failure at  Ballochmyle Hospital, Ayr on the 26th June 1980 at the age of 80. At the time of her death she lived at 13 The Holm, Cumnock, Ayr.

Cumnock and New Cumnock were until recently important coalmining areas in South Ayrshire, Thomas Tennant's clients would have been predominately working miners, the National Health Service was a long way off in the 1930's, but my father tells me that Thomas set up a rudimentary insurance scheme to ensure that patients could receive dental treatment as and when they needed it upon the payment of a weekly subscription.


Thomas Henry Taylor (1861-????), Dental Practices
From  To Registered Practice Address
1882  1913 1 Gauze St. Paisley and 22 Ardrossan Rd., Saltcoats
1913  1915 Nakusp, Arrow Lake, British Colombia, Canada
1915  1917 Revelstoke, British Colombia, Canada
1917  1922 Temple House, Lyme Regis
1922  1923 Nithsdale, Bowfield Rd. West Kilbride, Ayrshire
1923 1928 42 St Georges Street, Cape Town, South Africa


Thomas Tennant Taylor (1892-1944), Dental Practices
From  To Registered Practice Address
1922  1924 Nithsdale, Bowfield Rd., West Kilbride, Ayrshire
1924  1930 22 Ardrossan Rd., Saltcoats, Ayrshire
1930  1934 Viewfield, Glaisnock St., Cumnock, Ayrshire
1934  1939 Marshill, Ayr Rd., Cumnock, Ayrshire
1939  1944 Helenslea, New Cumnock, Ayrshire

Grahame J Taylor, Updated August 2003