He was a son of Sir Robert Taylor (1714–1788), the architect, and was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, becoming a barrister at Lincoln's Inn in 1774. He entered the House of Commons as Member of Parliament (MP) for Poole in 1784, and, with the exception of the short period from 1802 to 1806, remained a member of parliament until 1834, although not as the representative of the same constituency.
In parliament Taylor showed himself anxious to curtail the delays in the Court of Chancery, and to improve the lighting and paving of the London streets; and he was largely instrumental in bringing about the abolition of the pillory. At first a supporter of the younger Pitt, he soon veered round to the side of Fox and the Whigs, favored parliamentary reform, and was a personal friend of the regent, afterwards King George IV. He was on the committee which managed the Impeachment of Warren Hastings; was made a privy councillor in 1831; and died in London in July 1834.
Taylor is chiefly known in connection with the Metropolitan Paving Act of 1817, which is still referred to as "Michael Angelo Taylor's Act." Often called "Chicken Taylor" because of his reference to himself as a "mere chicken in the law," he is described by Sir Spencer Walpole as "a pompous barrister, with a little body and a loud voice."
Michael Angelo challenged a codicil to his father's will, left unsigned when Sir Robert died in 1788, by means of which Sir Robert intended to gift £65,000 to the University of Oxford. The University did not receive the money, with which it built the Taylor Institution, until 1835, a year after Michael Angelo's own death.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Taylor, Michael Angelo". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. .
- Thorne, Roland. "Taylor, Michael Angelo (bap. 1757–1834)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27067.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Michael Angelo Taylor