Letter to Parley P. Pratt and Others, 12 June 1842

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

June 12th. 1842.
To our well-beloved <​brother​> , and to the of the , in and scattered abroad throughout all Europe, and to the saints, Greeting, Whereas in times past, persons have been permitted to gather with the Saints with at in ; such as husbands leaving their wives and children behind; also, such as wives leaving their husbands and children behind; and such as women leaving their husbands, and such as husbands leaving their wives who have no children, and some because their companions are unbelievers, All this kind of proceedings we consider [to] be an error and for the want of proper information and the same should be taught to all the Saints; and not suffer families to be broken up on no account whatever, if it is possible to avoid it. Suffer no man to leave his wife because she is an unbeliever; nor no woman to leave her husband, because he is an unbeliever. These things are an evil, and must be forbidden by the authorities of the church, or they will come under condemnation; for the is not in haste, nor by flight; but to prepare all things before you, and you know not but the unbeliever may be converted, and the Lord heal him: but let the believers exercise faith in God, and the unbelieving husband, shall be sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife, by the believing husband; and families are preserved, and saved from a great evil; which we have seen verified before our eyes. Behold this is a wicked generation, full of lyings, and deceit, and craftiness. and the children of [t]he wicked are wiser than the children of light, <​i.e. they are more crafty​> and it seems that it has been the case in all ages of the world, and the man, when he leaves his wife and travels to a foreign nation; while on his way, darkness overpowers his mind, and Satan deceives him, and flatters him with the graces of the harlot; and before he is aware he is disgraced forever: and greater is the danger, for the woman that leaves her husband. And their are several instances where women have left their husbands, and [p. [1]] come to this place, & in a few weeks, or months, they have found themselves new husbands, and they are living in adultery; and we are obliged to cut them off from the . I presume. There are men also that are guilty of the same crime, as we are credibly informed. We are knowing to their having taken wives here and are credibly informed that they have wives in . There is another evil which does exist There are poor men who come here and leave their families behind in a destitute situation, and beg for assistan[c]e to send back after the[i]r families. Every man should tarry with his family untill Providence provides for the whole, for there is no means here to be obtained to send back. Money is scarce and hard to be obtained. The people that to this place are generally poor, the gathering being attended with a great sacrifice; and money cannot be obtained by labor; but all kinds of produce is plentiful, and can be obtained by labor. Therefore, the poor man that leaves his family in , cannot get means—which must be silver and Gold—to send for his family, but must remain under the painful sensation, that his family must be cast upon the mercy of the people and separated and put into the Poorhouse. Therefore, to remedy the evil, we forbid a man’s leaving his family behind, because he has no means to bring them. If the Church is not able to bring them, and the Parrish will not send them let the man tarry with his family—live with them—and die with them, and not leave them untill providence [s]hall open a way for the[m] to all come together, and we also forbid that a woman shall leave her husband, because he is an unbeliever. We also forbid that a man shall leave his wife, because she is an unbeliever. If he is a bad man (i.e. the unbeliever) there is a law to remedy that evil. and if she is a bad woman, there is a law to remedy that evil: [p. [2]] And if the law will divorce them, then they are at liberty. Otherwise they are bound, as long as they two shall live, and it is not our prerogative to go beyond this; if we do it, it will be at the expense of our reputation.
These are the things in plainness, which we desire should be publickly known; and you can publish them in the Millenial Star, in full, or extract, as you please.
It is a general time of health in . Every thing begins to flouri[s]h and look prosperous. Crops of grain have the appea[ra]nce of a rich harvest. Em[i]gration continues to increase, so does also the . We expect to see brother probably as soon as next spring. Brother will be the bearer of this, he will start from here in a few days.
May the Lord bestow his blessings upon you richly, and hasten the gathering, and bring abou[t] the fulness of the are the prayers of your brethren.
Written by , Patriarch, by the order of Joseph Smith, over the whole .
N. B. Brother will send over 3 families namely brother John Allabys, John Farrars, & David Claytons, with <​by​> the donation m[o]ney that shall be given in for the building of the [.] They are now at work on [t]he , under th[at] sp[e]cial contract, that their families shall be forwarded to this place by monies donated for the . Brother John Allabys family lives in No 33 Brownlow Hill, . John Farrar & David Claytons families live at Messrs Bashale and Boardmans Mill Farrington [Farington], near , Lancashire. Direct Ann Farrar care of Mr Thomas Beardwood, Shopkeeper [p. [3]] Messors Bashale & Boardmans Mill. Also Elizabeth Clayton care of Mr Thomas Beardwood, Shopkeeper Messrs Bashale & Boardmans Mill, Farrington, near , Lancashire. Brother will understand the particulars. This is a precedent, that we cannot establish, therefore you will be particular and keep this to yourself.
Joseph Smith
<​Trustee in Trust​>
<We wish to have these families sent, this fall if possible, or they must, suffer.—
J. S.
We assure you that you have our best feelings, and our prayers, and have no fault to find. Believing every man has done the best he could, that is— the , such as have remained in . And we desire your prayers, even all the Saints— &c. &c.
J. S.
Care of bro [p. [4]]


  1. 1

    Except for Orson Hyde, who was in Germany and returning from a mission to Palestine, all the Latter-day Saint missionaries serving abroad were in the British Isles. (See Brigham Young et al., “An Epistle of the Twelve,” Times and Seasons, 2 May 1842, 3:767–769; Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 13 Mar. 1842; and “Highly Interesting from Jerusalem,” Millennial Star, Mar. 1842, 2:166–169.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  2. 2

    TEXT: “[page torn].”  

  3. 3

    See Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:56]; and Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:68].  

  4. 4

    See Mark 4:12.  

  5. 5

    See 1 Corinthians 7:14; and Explanation of Scripture, 1830 [D&C 74:1].  

  6. 6

    TEXT: “[page torn]he.”  

  7. 7

    See 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Luke 16:8; and Revelation, 25 Nov. 1834 [D&C 106:5].  

  8. 8

    Concern about the adulterous actions of John C. Bennett and other men in Nauvoo appears to have led to a heightened concern about morality in the spring and summer of 1842, as well as a desire to more strictly admonish the residents of Nauvoo concerning morality. A case brought before the Nauvoo high council in January 1843, however, confirmed the allegations made in this 12 June letter to Pratt. On 25 January 1843, a British convert named Mrs. Pool and her recent husband, John Blazzard, were charged with adultery. Apparently Pool had separated from her first husband in England but had not obtained a divorce, and she had married Blazzard after immigrating to Nauvoo. In cases of spousal abandonment or a long period of separation between the couple, some individuals married again without getting a divorce from their first spouse. This practice was not uncommon and was not necessarily viewed as a moral failing. Witness statements before the high council indicate that JS and Hyrum Smith may have held differing opinions on whether a second marriage without a legal divorce constituted adultery. While Hyrum considered such actions adulterous, Gustavus Hills claimed that JS had advised the couple to marry. JS had officiated at the marriage of Newel Knight and Lydia Goldthwaite Bailey in Kirtland, Ohio, in November 1835 even though Bailey had not obtained a divorce from her first husband. (Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 25 Jan. 1843; JS, Journal, 24 Nov. 1835; Flake, “Development of Early Latter-day Saint Marriage Rites,” 79–84; see also Letter to Vilate Murray Kimball, 2 Mar. 1841; Letter to the Church and Others, 23 June 1842; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 14 May 1842, 77; and Minutes and Discourse, 9 June 1842.)  

    Nauvoo High Council Minutes, 1839–1845. CHL. LR 3102 22.

    Flake, Kathleen. “The Development of Early Latter-day Saint Marriage Rites, 1831–53.” Journal of Mormon History 41, no. 1 (Jan. 2015): 77–102.

  9. 9

    TEXT: “assistan[page torn]e”.  

  10. 10

    TEXT: “the[page torn]r”.  

  11. 11

    Most of the people working on the Nauvoo temple were paid in goods rather than specie. By 1842, Nauvoo was functioning largely on a bartering system, with little specie available in the community. (See Trustee-in-Trust, Ledger A, 23–183; and JS, Nauvoo, IL, to “the Hands of the Stone Shop,” 21 Dec. 1842, in Clayton, Journal, 21 Dec. 1842.)  

    Trustees Land Books / Trustee-in-Trust, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Land Books, 1839–1845. 2 vols. CHL. MS 3437.

  12. 12

    The emphasis on earning specie, or gold and silver coins, is indicative of the economic climate in the United States in the early 1840s. Several banks, including the State Bank of Illinois, had closed after a second financial panic in 1839. Banknotes were usually seen as unreliable, and banknotes from most American banks would not be accepted in England. (See Letter from Edward Hunter, 10 May 1842; and Howe, What Hath God Wrought, 574–575.)  

    Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. The Oxford History of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

  13. 13

    Several men who had immigrated to Nauvoo had left their families behind in England in hopes of earning money for their future passage but had unwittingly abandoned them to poverty. The postscript to this letter identifies three such men. While they were able to arrange to work on the Nauvoo temple to secure their families’ passage to America, JS and Hyrum Smith cautioned that this was not to be viewed as a precedent for other cases. Another English Saint, William Parr, had used his resources to travel to Nauvoo and found himself destitute and unable to provide for himself or aid his distant family. Writing on 17 June 1842, Heber C. Kimball noted the unhappiness among some of the English Saints, who had expected to be better provided for when they arrived in Nauvoo. Some, for instance, anticipated that homes would be available for them. The experiences of these immigrants likely led Hyrum to warn the Saints still in England about economic circumstances in Nauvoo and the church’s financial limitations. (Lyman Wight and James Brown, Nauvoo, IL, to Parley P. Pratt, Liverpool, England, 17 June 1842; Heber C. Kimball, Nauvoo, IL, to Parley P. Pratt, “Manchester or Liverpool,” England, 17 June 1842, Parley P. Pratt, Correspondence, CHL; Account of Meeting and Discourse, 18 June 1842.)  

    Pratt, Parley P. Correspondence, 1842–1855. CHL. MS 897.

  14. 14

    TEXT: “[page torn]hall.”  

  15. 15

    TEXT: “the[page torn]”. Only the last stroke of the “m” is visible.  

  16. 16

    This letter, without the postscripts, was published in the November 1842 issue of the Millennial Star. (See Hyrum Smith, “Address from the First Presidency,” Millennial Star, Nov. 1842, 3:115.)  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  17. 17

    TEXT: “flouri[page torn]h”.  

  18. 18

    TEXT: “appea[page torn]nce”.  

  19. 19

    TEXT: “Em[page torn]gration”. Separation along fold.  

  20. 20

    TEXT: “abou[page torn]”.  

  21. 21

    TEXT: “Sai[page torn]ts”.  

  22. 22

    TEXT: “m[page torn]ney”.  

  23. 23

    TEXT: Period after “Temple” obscured by conservation work on the tears.  

  24. 24

    TEXT: “[page torn]he”.  

  25. 25

    TEXT: “th[page torn]”. The page is torn along the fold. The right bowl of the “a” is visible, as are the crossbar and a portion of the ascender of the “t”.  

  26. 26

    TEXT: “sp[page torn]cial”.  

  27. 27

    In 1840, business partners William Boardman and William Bashall built a cotton mill in Farington, a village just outside Leyland, England, and five miles south of Preston, England. The mill and its sizable workforce dramatically changed the small town. By 1842, the Farington Cotton Mill was the primary employer in the area. According to local historian Joan Langford, Boardman and Bashall were benevolent employers, and during the economic depression experienced by the textile industry in the early 1860s, which forced the mill to temporarily close from 1862 to 1864, they allowed their employees to live rent free and established a soup kitchen. (Kay Taylor, “Community Garden Marks 150th Anniversary of Cotton Mill History,” Chorley [England] Guardian, 10 Oct. 2012.)  

    Chorley Guardian. Chorley, England. 1871–.

  28. 28

    Although JS and Hyrum Smith hoped that these families would be able to relocate quickly, the Farrar and Clayton families were still in England in May 1843. That month, in a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was resolved that Ann Farrar, Elizabeth Clayton, their children, and several other English Saints would be given financial assistance to emigrate from England. It is unknown if John Allaby’s family had emigrated earlier. (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Minutes, 27 May 1843; JS History, vol. D-1, 1563.)  

  29. 29

    This third postscript appears to have been written in response to Pratt’s plea in his December 1841 letter for JS to “not be angry with your old friend for earnestly seeking this knowledge, or some information on the subject of these times.” In his letter, Pratt had posed six questions to JS, asking for general advice about his return to Nauvoo, directions for the church in England, and guidance on spreading the gospel to nations beyond England. He also asked more specifically about the redemption of Jackson County, Missouri, and the opportunity to shift the focus of the church’s proselytizing efforts from the gentiles to the Jews. (Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 4 Dec. 1841.)