Visit and ministry in Bolton — Conduct of two Methodist ­priests — Arrest and trial — Emigration — General conference at Manchester — Council of the Twelve — Charter the ship “Tyrean” — “Philosophy of the Resurrection” — Emigration on the ship “Chaos” — Visit to the Isle of Man — Visit to Norwich — Mob.

January 19, 1841–November 1841

On the 19th of January, 1841, I visited Bolton for the first time; found an interesting Society there consisting of about one hundred and thirty members, including some small branches in the vicinity. They appeared to be dwelling together in truth and love, and zealously united in the cause of God and godliness.

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Their presiding officer is an aged minister by the name of Crooks, formerly of Stockport; through whose labors the Society there has grown from a small handful to its present flourishing condition. The meetings are crowded to excess, and scores of people are pressing forward and uniting with the Church by repentance and baptism. The Holy Ghost is poured out into their souls, and its fruits are manifested in their gifts and blessings.

On Wednesday evening, the 20th, I attended one of their meetings, and had the privilege of addressing a full and attentive audience. The subject was confined to a few scriptural observations, in which the precepts and promises of Christ were clearly set forth, as contained in the written word of the New Testament. These were contrasted with the systems of Christianity as they now exist, and the difference was so manifest that the people saw clearly that the religion of Christ was one thing, and modern sectarianism another.

This so exasperated some craftsmen who were present, viz.: a Mr. James Pendlebury, professedly a Primitive Methodist preacher, and Mr. Thomas Balsham, of the New Connection, that they could no longer hold their peace. For while the sermon was proceeding, the said Pendlebury arose and began speaking so loud that the speaker paused and requested the interruption to cease; but was not heeded, for the intruder with stentorian voice continued to cry out, saying: “This is a new doctrine, and we cannot believe it without miracles; here is a blind man, heal him; here is a blind man, heal him! You have preached a new doctrine — a new doctrine, sir, and we want the proof — we want the proof!”

By this time the house was all confusion, everyone endeavoring to act as moderator. We endeavored from the pulpit to command silence, and expressed our surprise that the New Testament doctrine should be a new doctrine; but we found that it was a new doctrine to him, as was manifest in his behavior. Indeed, the doctrines of common law and civilization were to him equally as strange and new as the doctrine of Christ, for he still continued to disturb the meeting. The Saints commenced singing, and finally closed the meeting. But while this was proceeding the riot grew more and more violent, till at length a form was broken, and some other damage done. While the civil part of the people were retiring from the room they were variously insulted by him and his comrades, some crying out, “He hath a devil,” some challenging to debate, and some calling for a miracle. At length a policeman arrived and took this brave champion into custody, and his associate, T. Balsham.

These were handcuffed, marched away, and finally held to bail. Next morning they had a warrant served on them for a breach of the peace, and were brought before James Arrowsmith, Esq., Mayor, and five magistrates. An able plea was made by Attorney John Taylor, Esq., and a laborious attempt on the part of the prisoners to justify themselves by the introduction of several witnesses belonging to several different orders of Methodists, whose testimony was more calculated to throw a false coloring over our doctrine than anything else. At length Pendlebury was found guilty of a breach of the peace, had to pay for the form and make good the damages and costs of suit; and was bound in the penal sum of ten pounds to keep the peace for six months.

It is to be hoped that these prompt measures will put a stop to similar disturbances in our public worship, and also prove a warning to other priests not to turn infidels against the doctrines of the New Testament, and then use such vile measures against the truth.

Since this affair we have heard verbally from Bolton, that many are embracing the truth and coming to the waters of baptism. May the Lord shed forth His Spirit upon the people of Bolton, and cause a great work to be done among them.

During February, about two hundred and forty of the Saints embarked at Liverpool for America

, intending to settle with the Saints at Nauvoo.

An edition of the Book of Mormon, consisting of 5,000 copies, was issued by us at Liverpool during this month. [1]

On the 6th of April, 1841, the Council of the Twelve assembled at Manchester, in the “Carpenter’s Hall,” for the first time to transact business as a quorum, in the presence of the Church in a foreign land, being the first day of the twelfth year of the rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nine of the quorum were present, viz.: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, [2] Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, John Taylor, and George A. Smith. [3]

President Young having called the house to order and organized the Conference, then opened by prayer. Elder Thomas Ward was then chosen Clerk. The President then made some introductory remarks relative to the organization of the Church in the house of the Lord in America; in reference to the different quorums; in their respective orders and authorities in the Church.

The representations of the Churches and Conferences throughout the kingdom were then called for. The total numbers of which were as follows: 5,814 members; 136 Elders; 303 Priests; 169 Teachers; and 68 Deacons, besides about 800 souls who had emigrated to America during the year, who were not included in this representation. * * *

Eleven persons were chosen and ordained to the High Priesthood during this Conference, and twelve persons were ordained Elders.

Several new Conferences were also organized, and Presidents were appointed for each Conference in the kingdom. [4]

The names of the several Conferences, with their respective Presidents, were as follows: Manchester, P. P. Pratt; Edinburgh, G. D. Watt; Liverpool, J. Greenhouse; London, Lorenzo Snow; Macclesfield, J. Galley; Stafford­shire, A. Cordon; Birmingham, J. Riley; Glasgow, J. McAuley; Gadfield Elm, Thomas Richardson; Preston, P. Melling; Brampton, J. Sanders; Garmay, Levi Richards; Clitheroe, Thomas Ward; Froomes Hill, William Kay.

The business of the Conference being accomplished, several appropriate discourses were delivered by different members of the quorum in relation to the duties of the officers in their respective callings, and in relation to the duties and privileges of the members, also on the prosperity of the work in general.


 

* * *

Elders Young and Miller then sang the hymn, “Adieu, my dear brethren,” etc., and President Young blessed the congregation and dismissed them.

This Conference closed the mission of the Twelve for the present in England, and as they were about to take their departure for America, all save myself, an epistle [5] was addressed by them to the Saints in the British Isles. It was written by my own hand, under the direction of the President of the quorum, and signed by each of the nine members present in that country. It was dated at Manchester, April 15, 1841. [6]

In the month of September, 1841, Brother Amos Fielding and myself chartered a large new ship called the “Tyrean,” Captain Jackson, master, for New Orleans. On which we sent two hundred and seven passengers of our Society bound for Nauvoo.

Our chartered ship, the “Tyrean,” sailed with two hundred and seven passengers on the morning of the 21st of September. On going out of the dock the previous day, many hundreds crowded around to witness a ship load of the sons and daughters of

Zion depart from their native shore for the promised land. [7] They moved slowly out into the river, singing:

Lovely native land, farewell!
Glad I leave thee — Glad I leave thee —
Far in distant lands to dwell.

Next morning they weighed anchor about ten o’clock, and hoisted sail before a fair wind; moving away under the flag of liberty — the American Stars and Stripes.

The emigrants were all on deck, and in good spirits; and as our little boat came off with three hearty cheers, they were singing the favorite hymn:

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!

The last lines which we heard, as their voices were lost in the distance, were as follows:

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow.

Hats and handkerchiefs were still waving in view as a last token of farewell. Soon all was a dim speck upon the ocean; a few moments more and they vanished from view in the wide expanse and lost in the distance. May God speed them onward in their course, and land them safely in their destined port.

The Star for October, 1841, contains several other communications of interest; giving cheering accounts of the spread of the work in various places, but we will not record them here.

The November number opens with an editorial on “The Philosophy of the Resurrection,” from which we extract the following:

The mysterious works of God in the formation, progress, changes, and final destiny of creation, are all wonderful and miraculous in one sense. The formation of the natural body in embryo, or even of a plant or flower, is as much a miracle as the creation or reorganization of a world or the resurrection of the body. Each effect has its cause, and each cause its effect; and the light, spirit or truth which proceeds from Deity is the law of life and motion; the great governing principle of the whole machinery of the universe, whether natural or spiritual, temporal or eternal. It is the cause of causes; the main spring of nature’s time piece. By it we live; in it we move and have a being.

Let man be placed upon a lofty eminence surrounded with the original elements of uncreated worlds; let him contemplate the confused and chaotic mass of unorganized existence; let him hear the voice of truth and power as its first sentence rolls in majesty of wisdom from the lips of Deity; let him behold the first movement of chaos as it begins to come to order.

Let him contemplate its various workings till the heavens and earth, and man and beast, and plant and flower startle into conscious being in all the beauty of joyous existence; let him observe every minute particular of its progress through time in all its various changes; let him contemplate the changing seasons as they roll in hours and days, and months, and years; let his thoughts reach to the starry heavens and view them in all their motions and revolutions; the sun in its daily course; the planets in their annual revolutions; the blazing comet as it moves afar in the wilds of ether, and returns from its journey of a hundred or a thousand years; let him return to earth and view the vegetable kingdom as it blooms and ripens and falls again to decay in the revolving seasons; the time-worn oak of a thousand years, as it braves the tempest, or the modest flower whose life is but a day; let him view the animal creation in all its variety, as it appears and passes in turn from the stage of action; let him contemplate man from his infant formation through all the changes of his various life till he returns to dust; let him view the laborious revolutions of the groaning earth and its various inhabitants through all their temporal career, till wearied Nature sinks to rest, and, worn by slowly rolling years, the earth itself shall die; and lastly, let him contemplate all Nature regenerated, renewed, and starting into being, while death itself shall conquered be and immortality alone endure.

The vision ended. Man! what hast thou seen?

Nothing out of the ordinary course; all I beheld was Nature moving in perfect accordance with the law of its existence; not one single deviation or shadow of turning from the immutable laws of truth.

But hast thou seen no miracle?

Yes, it was all miraculous; it was all achieved by the law of light, which was the immediate power of God; but it was all upon the most natural, easy, simple and plain principles of Nature in its varied order, and which to call the most miraculous I know not, whether it was the creation of a world, the blossoming of a flower, the hatching of a butterfly, or the resurrection of the body, and the making of new heavens and a new earth.

All these were so many displays of the power of God.

All these were miraculous.

All these were natural.

All these were spiritual.

All these were adapted to the simplest capacity, aided by the Spirit of God.

All these were too sublime for an archangel to comprehend by his own capacity, without the spirit of revelation.

On Sunday, October 17, 1841, the Manchester Conference convened at the “Carpenter’s Hall.” Twelve branches were represented, consisting of one thousand, five hundred and eighty-one members, with appropriate officers. Many were called to the ministry, and ordained to their respective offices. Instructions were given in relation to the duties of the officers, members, etc., and they were particularly exhorted to abstain from intoxicating drinks, together with tobacco, snuff and all other evil habits.

After the ordinations, the Saints present partook of the Lord’s Supper, and sung and rejoiced together. Several interesting and useful addresses were delivered at evening, and the meeting concluded with a spirit of joy and satisfaction.


 

The number of officers present at this conference was about one hundred, and members not far from one thousand.

Some hundreds had emigrated from this conference, and still it numbered near one thousand, five hundred members, all of whom had been gathered in about two years, and that from an obscure beginning in a small basement in Oldham Road, being the first place where the fulness of the Gospel was preached within the bounds of what now comprises the Manchester Conference.

On the 8th of November we sent out the ship “Chaos,” with about one hundred and seventy passengers of the Saints.

Cheerfulness and satisfaction seemed to pervade every heart as they bid farewell to their native shores, and set sail for the land of promise. [8]

Several interesting communications were received during the month of November, from various parts of the country, the purport of which was that the sick were healed, the lame walked, the old men dreamed dreams, the young men saw visions, and the Lord’s servants and handmaidens spake in tongues and prophesied, while the Lord was showing wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath — blood, fire and vapor of smoke.

In the meantime, the wicked rage, and the people imagine a vain thing; the priests take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed ones. The most artful falsehoods ever inspired by Satan continue to flood the country, both from the press and pulpit, and reiterated by those who profess to be followers of Jesus. We went on a short mission to the Isle of Man of late, and after preaching to vast multitudes the plain truth of the Scriptures, they would mock and make light of the Bible, and everything quoted from it.

The priests too were busy in church and chapel, in lying against the Saints, and perverting the written Word, and thus inspiring the people with violence, hatred and every cruel work; yet we found the Saints rejoicing in the truth, and the honest in heart disposed to inquire into it.

We have just returned from a visit to Middlewich and Norwich. In the former place we had a very candid hearing in the magistrate’s room, which was filled. In the latter place many hundreds of people assembled at our meeting house, among which were a large number of “Association Methodists” and other professors, with one Thompson at their head, who came possessed of the devil to make disturbance. These made all manner of noises, such as whooping, shouting, laughing, whistling, mocking, etc. They openly hissed and mocked the written Word of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, and made such a noise as to finally break up the meeting; after which they began to rush among the people, and to bellow like bulls, and to run over, and knock down, and trample under foot all who came in their way. We narrowly escaped, but finally got out of their midst. Mr. Thompson then addressed them, justifying and applauding their conduct. The lights were at length extinguished, and the room cleared, but not until some persons were wounded, and some forms broken.

Notes


[1] One of the converts in Herefordshire to the south was John Benbow, a successful farmer and immediate friend to the Church. “John Benbow had been baptized only about a month when he and his wife, Jane, came to see Wilford [Woodruff]. As they met in a little sitting room, they earnestly recounted that they had read in the New Testament how in the days of the Apostles, Church members had sold all their possessions and laid them at the Apostles’ feet, and they felt it was their duty to fulfill that law and do the same thing. It was a moment Wilford would never forget, recounting it in a speech fifty-five years later, but for then, he said, ‘I gave them to understand that God had not sent me to England to take care of his gold, his horses, his cows and his property; He had sent me there to preach the gospel.’ Though their offer was refused, the spirit of it continued to animate their lives. The Benbows would substantially finance the printing of the Book of Mormon in England, pay for at least forty of the United Brethren [their former religious society that had come into the Church] to make their journey to Zion, and later put up bail to help keep the Prophet Joseph out of jail” (Proctor, The Gathering, 32–34).

[2] Orson Hyde was on his way to Palestine.

[3] Of the original Twelve called in Kirtland, Thomas B. Marsh, William E. McLellin, Luke Johnson, John F. Boynton, and Lyman E. Johnson had been excommunicated. David Patten had been killed at Crooked River, Missouri. Those who were not in England were William Smith (who never went to England and was excommunicated in October 1845), John E. Page (who also never went to England and was excommunicated in June 1846), and Lyman Wight, who was called and ordained to the Twelve by Joseph Smith, in Nauvoo, on April 8, 1841, two days after this conference in England.

[4] These conferences were early forms of what became district and stake conferences.

[5] See Millennial Star 1 (April 1841): 309–12.

[6] In a letter from Liverpool to his father-in-law, Parley described the situation in England: “Dear Friends, as all the Brethren of our quorum are to sail for New York tomorrow, and as Elder W. Woodruff will move to Maine, I take this opportunity to send you a line. We are all well, and prospering. More than five thousand souls have been added to the Church by baptism, in this country, since we came over, which is one year. Elder Hyde is here on his way to Jerusalem on a mission, and the care of the Churches in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Isle of Man, are left for me … This throws under my charge, some thousands of members; and some six or eight hundred ministers of the fulness of the Gospel. I truly feel that my responsibilities are great indeed, and I feel to say with Solomon, O! Lord, give me wisdom, that I may go in and out among thy people and clear my garments of their blood. I know not when I shall go to America” (Parley P. Pratt to Aaron Frost, April 19, 1841, Letters, 1838–39, 1841). Parley and Mary Ann’s second child (together) was born soon after this on June 2, 1841, in Manchester, England. William Smith (not the brother of the Prophet Joseph) indicated that Parley came to the Saints “in the summer of 1841 to Macclesfield, England, and preached in what then was called ‘Social Hall.’ He referred to the First Book of Kings, chapter 18, verse 44 speaking of Elijah the Prophet that went upon the top of Carmel and prayed that the Lord would send rain. He told his servant to look toward the sea. Seven times he did so, and he saw a black cloud arise like a man’s hand. Brother Pratt said that he saw a small black cloud rising in the east and that war would break out and it never would cease until wickedness moved off the earth” (William Smith, statement).


[7] Years later the famous novelist Charles Dickens boarded the ship Amazon, which sailed from London on June 4, 1863, with between eight hundred and nine hundred members of the Church. He recorded: “I go aboard my emigrant ship. . . . Nobody is in ill temper, nobody is the worse for drink, nobody swears an oath or uses a coarse word, nobody appears depressed, nobody is weeping, and down upon the deck in every corner where it is possible to find a few spare feet to kneel, crouch, or lie in, people in every unsuitable attitude for writing, are writing letters. Now, I have seen emigrant ships before this day in June. And these people are so strikingly different from all other people in like circumstances whom I have ever seen, that I wonder aloud, ‘What would a stranger suppose these emigrants to be!’

“The vigilant bright face of the weather-browned captain of the Amazon is at my shoulder, and he says. ‘What, indeed! The most of these came aboard yesterday evening. They came from various parts of England in small parties that had never seen one another before. Yet they had not been a couple of hours on board when they established their own police, made their own regulations, and set their own watches at all the hatchways. Before nine o’clock the ship was as orderly and as quiet as a man-of-war. . . . A stranger would be puzzled to guess the right name for the people . . .’ says the captain.

“‘Indeed he would!’

“‘If you hadn’t known, could you ever have supposed?’

“‘How could I! I should have said they were in their degree, the pick and flower of England.’

“‘So should I,’ says the captain” (Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 5:91–92; emphasis added).

[8] John Taylor told of a sister in Liverpool who said to him, “Brother Taylor, I had a very remarkable dream or vision, I don’t know which, and it was something like this: I thought that the Saints were gathered together on the Pier Head—and there was a ship about to sail. The people said they were going to Zion, and they were singing what they called the songs of Zion, and rejoicing exceedingly; you were among them, and you were going also. Now I want to know if you can tell what it means?” (in Journal of Discourses, 25:180). Elder Taylor told the British Saints, “[When the elders laid their hands] upon your heads, among other things you received the Holy Ghost and the spirit of the gathering. But you did not know what it was that was working in you, like yeast sometimes under certain conditions, producing an influence causing you to come to Zion. Yet you could not help it. If you had wanted to help it, you could not while you were living your religion” (Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, 122).