Jessie M King

Other names: 
Jessie M King; Mistress E. A. Taylor; Jessie M. Taylor; Jessie Marion Taylor
20 March 1875 – 3 August 1949

Jessie was born at the Manse in the Parish of New Kilpatrick , Dunbartonshire (now Bearsden, part of Glasgow) on 20th March, 1875, daughter of Reverend James Wat(t)ers King (Church of Scotland Minister at New Kilpatrick Church) and Mary Anne Anderson (married on 6th April, 1869),

Jessie had 3 older sisters, Evangeline Ann Steel (Eva born 1871), Ada Mary Waters (1872), Margaret Dun (Peggy 1873) and a younger brother James Graham (1876). They were looked after by a nursemaid, Mary (Maime) McNab (who was born in Minard, Argyll and spoke Gaelic and English) who worked with Jessie throughout her life.

In 1891 Jessie followed her sister Peggy to Queen Margaret College, based in North Park House, to train as an Art Teacher. After a year she enrolled at Glasgow School of Art, coinciding with the year Queen Margaret College merged with Glasgow University and became the Department for Women.

After leaving art school she toured Germany and Italy and then became a committee member of the Glasgow Society of Artists in 1903 and a member of the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists in 1905.

She was one of the group of women artists known as the Glasgow Girls which included Margaret and Frances MacDonald and Jessie Newbery (Jessie Wylie Rowat). As with many artists of the time, she had a wide variety of skills and worked in a wide variety of media, probably encouraged by the practical nature of her art course at Glasgow School of Art.

On 29th September, 1908 when she was 33 and staying with her sister Eva at Sea View, Lowvalleyfield, Culross Parish in Fife, Jessie married artist and furniture designer Ernest Archibald Taylor, aged 34 (1874–1952) The ceremony took place at Hayston Cottage, Campsie, Stirlingshire (Eva's home before her marriage). Jessie’s college friend Helen Paxton Brown (Nell) who had painted a watercolour portrait of Jessie, was one of their witnesses. They honeymooned on the Isle of Arran where they later rented cottages to run a summer sketching and painting school at High Corrie.

The couple spent 3 years at 50 Bolton Road, Pendleton, Salford near Manchester where their daughter Merle Elspeth was born on 4th August 1909, before spending 5 years in Paris. Ernest was made professor at Ernest Percyval Tudor-Hart’s Studios, and a year later they opened the Sheiling Atelier School in Montmartre.

On their return in 1915 they lived at Greengate, Kirkudbright. Before marriage Jessie had spent time with the artists’ community in the town, and was encouraged by E A Hornel to buy the house which had a stable attached at 46 High Street and a row of cottages at no 44.

She rented out the properties until she returned to live there with her husband after the outbreak of WWI, and then continued to rent out the smaller units to artists and others. Jessie later referred to the circle of women artists there as the Greengate Coterie. Her pottery mark was a green gate, a rabbit and her initials.

Jessie died at Greengate on 3rd August, 1949 aged 73 after having a heart attack. Her daughter Merle, who was also living there, registered her death [she mistakenly or unknowingly gave her Great Grandmother’s name (Janet Ann Steel) instead of her Grandmother’s name (Mary Anne Anderson) for her mother’s death record].

1875 King, Jessie Marion [Statutory Births 500/00 0066]
Birth Record

Scotland People Website

1949 Taylor, Jessie Marion [Statutory Deaths 871/00 0022]
Death Record

Scotland People Website

1908 Taylor, Ernest A - King, Jessie Marion [Statutory Marriages 475/00 0028]
Marriage Record

Scotland People Website

Jessie M. King
Wikipedia Webpage
England & Wales, Free BMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 Merle Elspeth Taylor
index of birth entry for daughter Merle

The Enchanted World of Jessie M King by Colin White
book Canongate Press 0-86241-235-8
KING, EVA C S (Census 1901 475/00 010/00 015)
1901 Census

Scotlands People website

TAYLOR, JESSIE M (Valuation Rolls VR51 / 5 / 352)
1915 Valuation Roll

Scotlands People Website