Re: origin of the Taggs on Taggs Island
According to the Surrey Courier (newspaper) Thameside Supplement of September 1987, the Taggs were Dutch barge builders and the family tradition was that they came to England with William and Mary in the 1680s. The earliest documentary evidence of their activities is in the Court Rolls of 1736, which refer to Thomas Tagg of Thames Ditton. At this time the Taggs were earning their living by fishing and ferrying from a slipway alongside the Swan Hotel at Thames Ditton. They also had a boatyard a few yards upriver, alongside the Ferry Works factory. Over the years, Tagg sons went to sea or took to other parts of the Thames to establish themselves. The best known of them was Tom Tagg who was born in East Molesey. He gained fame by voyaging from East Molesey to France in a small launch and by mid Victorian times was running package tours up the Nile in his own Thames-built boats. He squatted on Walnut Tree Island (as it was then called) in the Thames opposite East Molesey and eventually acquired ownership through prescriptive rights. He changed the name to Tagg’s Island.
However, the Surrey Courier of 4 Jan 1969 carried a long article about the island, which had a slightly different story about the Taggs arrival on the island. This article stated that the island was acquired in 1850 by a Mr F J Kent, who evicted most of the squatter families. A Mr Harvey arrived about 1852 and built a beer house and a skittle alley. Harvey’s beer house was not a success and he left after 10 years. Mr Kent then leased the inn and adjoining land to Tom Tagg who in 1868 moved to the island and constructed his famous boathouse. Of course, the Taggs could have been among the squatters that Mr Kent found on the island in 1852
However the Taggs acquired the island, it seems that the Taggs were resident in the East Molesey and Thames Ditton area back to, at least, 1736.