University History

James Taylor Ellyson

President of the Board of Trustees, Richmond College, 1908-1919


J. Taylor Ellyson attended Columbian College in Washington, D.C., while still wearing the Confederate uniform. He served the Confederacy in the Second Company, Richmond Howitzers, and surrendered with his company at Appomattox. Ellyson studied at Richmond College from 1866–1867. For the next two years he studied at the University of Virginia, where he graduated in law in 1869.

Ellyson worked as a reporter for his father’s newspaper, the Richmond Daily Dispatch. For about 20 years, he was engaged in the book and stationery business in Richmond. Later, he became secretary-treasurer of the Religious Herald. J. Taylor Ellyson was a director of the Alleghany Coal Company and of several railway companies.

Mr. Ellyson was best known for his political activities. He served on Richmond’s City Council for many years, represented Richmond in the Virginia Senate from 1885–1888 and was mayor of Richmond for three terms from 1888–1894. Ellyson was lieutenant governor of Virginia for three terms, from 1906–1918, and was twice a candidate for governor. For about 25 years, he was chairman of the Virginia State Democratic Committee, and for much of that period he was Virginia’s representative on the National Democratic Committee. Ellyson was chairman of the Richmond City School Board for 16 years.

For 46 years J. Taylor Ellyson was secretary of the Virginia Baptist Education Board (1873–1919). He was president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia from 1890–1892. For more than a generation he was teacher or superintendent in the Sunday school of the Second Baptist Church of Richmond, where he was also a deacon for 30 years.

Mr. Ellyson was a trustee of Richmond College from 1891–1919, succeeding his father on the Board. He was president of the Board of Trustees when Richmond College moved to Westhampton. The J. Taylor Ellyson Award in History was established in 1912 and is awarded for the best student essay in Virginia on Southern history.