JS, License, for , , Hancock Co., IL, [1 Sept. 1842]; printed form with manuscript additions in the handwriting of ; one page. The photostatic copy used for transcription is in William Somerville, Papers, CHL.
Single leaf, dimensions unknown. The original document’s proportions are similar to those of other licenses, which generally measure about 3 × 7 inches (8 × 18 cm). The document appears to have been cut from a larger leaf and is torn in places. It also appears to have been glued into a book. The photostatic copy is of the recto; the verso was not photographed, and it is unknown if it includes any text.
According to a brief biographical sketch of written in 1979, the license was at that time in the possession of one of Somerville’s great-grandsons, Bruce R. McConkie. In 1985 McConkie died, possibly leaving the document in the possession of relatives. The location of the original document is unknown. By 1987, however, the Church Historical Department (now CHL) had obtained a photostatic copy of the document.
See the full bibliographic entry for William Somerville, Papers, ca. 1840–1893, in the CHL catalog.
On 1 September 1842, JS through his clerk issued a officer’s to in , Illinois. JS, or clerks on his behalf, signed dozens of such licenses every year because an April 1838 resolution adopted by leaders required every license to be signed by at least one member of the . In this instance, Sloan signed the license for JS. Somerville’s license is featured here as an example of the many licenses issued in 1842. This particular license is undated, but church records indicate that it was issued on 1 September 1842.
Born and raised in Scotland, joined the church in Edinburgh in 1840 at the age of twenty-three. He moved to in June 1841 and was a sometime later that year. It appears that Somerville was assigned to serve a mission to , most likely at the special held on 29 August 1842. Many of the other men appointed to serve missions at that conference and a similar one that had been held in April were ordained ; however, despite the fact that the featured license declares that he was ordained an elder, it is unlikely that Somerville was actually ordained to that office in 1842. At this time, the titles of elder and seventy overlapped. As a January 1841 revelation indicated, the “ of seventies” was “instituted for travelling Elders” while the “quorum of Elders” was “instituted for standing ministers” who “may travel.” Similarly, licenses issued to seventies between 1840 and 1844 by quorum leaders typically stated that each bearer had “been ordained an Elder, in the quorum of seventies.” Despite receiving this elder’s license in 1842 as opposed to a distinct seventy’s license, Somerville was listed as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in 1844.
did not immediately depart and was still in as late as 22 September. When he went on his mission later that year, he presumably carried the license with him throughout his mission, and he likely retained it afterward.
Record of Seventies / First Council of the Seventy. “General Record of the Seventies Book B. Commencing Nauvoo 1844,” 1844–1848. Bk. B. In First Council of the Seventy, Records, 1837–1885. CHL. CR 3 51, box 2, fd. 1.
The delay in his departure is indicated by a letter of recommendation he received prior to leaving on his mission from Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Wilford Woodruff on 22 September 1842. (Brigham Young et al., Letter of Recommendation for William Somerville, 22 Sept. 1842, photocopy, William Somerville, Papers, CHL.)
Somerville, William. Papers, ca. 1840–1893. CHL.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
This certifies that —— has been recieved into the , organized on the sixth of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty, and has been an —— according to the rules and regulations of said church; and is duly authorised to preach the gospel, agreably to the authority of that office.
Given by the direction of a general of the authorities of said church, assembled in , Ill; on the sixth of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty.