Sergeant Major Robert Taylor appears to be the first documented Sergeant Major (now referred to as Regimental Sergeant Major) of The Queen’s Own Rifles. He is listed as such in the nominal roll on December 21, 1864 and more than likely was before that date as well. For whatever reason he was temporarily relegated to Drum Major under Sergeant Major F Smith on the nominal roll when the QOR where called up for active service during the Fenian scare in March 1866. He was listed again as Sergeant Major shortly after the Battle of Ridgeway on June 7 of 1866 whilst the QOR where still on active service in Stratford Ontario. It is not known if he was Sergeant Major during the battle on 2 June 1866.
There is a photo of number 1 Company QOR (Capt Brown’s) taken on June 7 at Stratford, the soldiers are unnamed but one is unmistakably the Sergeant Major; he is wearing the rank of Sergeant Major and an officer’s crossbelt, carrying a sword, and holding a Sergeant’s cane. Since Taylor is the only Sergeant Major listed in the nominal roll that day we can assume that it’s him in the photo.
Note: Although Taylor is listed on the 2 Company Nominal roll, as “Battalion Staff” it would not be unusual for him to show up in the photo of another Company.
Taylor was the first Sergeant Major to have former service in the 16th Regiment of Foot of the British Army which was stationed in Canada on and off until 1869 and served during the Fenian Raids. A number of veterans of the 16th retired to Canada and remained in service by joining the Queen’s Own. Sergeant Major Patrick Cunningham, the 4th Sergeant Major, served with the 16th as did Quartermaster Sergeant Thomas Crean who was tailor to the Queen’s Own and father of the regiment’s 5th Sergeant Major, John F Crean.
In August of 1867 Taylor received his 1st Class Certificate presumably to become an officer but he is not listed in any QOR nominal roll after that date so it can be assumed he either was posted to another regiment or retired from service.
Born: 1835, Ireland
Former Svc: 16th Regiment British Army
Marital status: married to Margaret Kerwin
Died: 5 February 1886, as on gravestone at St James cemetery Toronto
Timeline of service:
- 1864 Dec 21, listed as Sergeant Major, 2 Company (Capt Gilmour’s) nominal roll;
- 1866 March 15, listed as Drum Major, 2 Company’s nominal roll;
- 1866 June 7, listed as Sergeant Major, 2 Company’s nominal roll (Stratford);
- 1866 Aug, listed as Sergeant Major, 2 Company’s nominal roll (Camp Thorold);
- 1867 Jan 1, listed as Sergeant Major, 2 Company’s nominal roll;
- 1867 Aug 24, listed in the Canada Gazette as receiving a 1st Class certificate for appointment after appearing before a board of officers at Toronto.