to convince the people of the truth than
my brethren do in this land."
EB: After landing in Liverpool we reported ourselves to the presidency of the mission in Liverpool at the office of the Millennial Star. I was appointed to preside over the Bristol [South] conference in the place of George Halliday who was released to emigrate.
Bristol was a ship building port on the River Avon in southwestern England. It was a city filled with numerous old cathedrals, monasteries and edifices. Besides an ancient Norman castle the city hosted the oldest Methodist chapel in the world, built by John Wesley in 1739. Close to Bristol is the city of Bath where the ancient Romans built an elegant resort to take advantage of the warm natural mineral waters.
Shortly before Edward's arrival in England, the mission publication, "The Latter-Day Saints Millennial Star", issued an official announcement of the Church's practice of plural marriage. The mood and sentiment toward Mormons changed dramatically from positive to negative. But even with this untimely announcement, Edward found success. No doubt his experience and stories of the wild west and California attracted interested listeners. The South Conference had 650 members and during the six month reporting period ending June, 1853, there were 50 baptisms, 18 excommunications, 14 deaths, and 33 emigrated to America.
EB: I presided there [Bristol] about three months, then I was called to care for Mr. Clayton's field of labor, he being sent home. That field included Sheffield, Bradford, and Lincolnshire conferences.
Mormon missionaries generally went without "purse or script", which meant they took no money and had to find financial support from whoever would offer it. The missionaries would preach to new investigators and to those who had joined but not yet emigrated. New members were generally economically and spiritually poor, longing to be gathered to Zion. Generally, the missionaries would travel from city to city and when evening came, search for a night's lodging with any who would accept them. The days included studying the scriptures and church publications, writing letters or reports, performing ordinances and teaching investigators.
Occasionally the missionaries would attend meetings of other churches and enter into religious discussions with their clergy. Often the missionaries would hand out "tracts" or pamphlets that expounded gospel principles. Edward was no doubt involved in all of these activities.
William Clayton, famous for his text to the Mormon hymn, "Come, Come, Ye Saints," had arrived at Liverpool on the 3rd of January, just two days before Edward. He was excited to be returning to his homeland on a mission. He was assigned to labor in the Sheffield and Lincolnshire conferences, but shortly after his arrival unfortunate circumstances befell him. He had traveled to Sheffield by way of Manchester with Elder William Glover. Wanting to visit people he knew in Manchester, he separated from Glover promising to meet later at the train station.
He missed the train, became overheated in the damp weather, and was forced to stay with a one-time member of the Church in Manchester. He became ill and was confined to bed for several days in which time the Mormons' involvement with plural marriage created an excitement. His host accused him of immorality and demanded he leave their home.
On arriving at Sheffield he was weak and emaciated. Before meeting the members, he stopped for a glass of gin believing its medicinal purposes would give him strength. Because of his condition and the smell of gin, the saints believed him to be intoxicated and sent a very negative report to Mission President Samuel Richards. His rumored immorality in Manchester and drunkenness in Sheffield could not be put to rest and in time he found himself on a ship bound for home.
Since transfers usually occurred at the end of each calendar year, Edward probably planned to spend his first year in the Bristol conference. Suddenly he was called to Liverpool and assigned to replace Elder Clayton. The mission president placed great confidence in Edward and asked that he take charge of a very difficult situation.
As a district president or pastor, Edward was responsible for administering the affairs of three conferences and almost 60 branches or congregations and numerous missionaries. There were financial matters to attend to in addition to baptisms, deaths, excommunications and preparing the saints to migrate. Sheffield was the capital of the steel industry and famous for cutlery dating back to Norman times. Bradford was the center of the wool and worsted industry, close to the moors and the setting for the fictional novel, Wuthering Heights, written by Emily Bronte in 1847. Lincoln was a smaller town of medieval architecture and historic churches. The presidents of the conferences who reported to Edward were: William Glover in Sheffield, John Albiston in Bradford, and Charles Derry in Lincoln.
Polygamy immediately became a source of agitation and contention. For several months the "Millennial Star" continually published articles defending and explaining the plural marriage position. In some parts of England people reacted more aggressively. The "Millennial Star" reported that in Soham, Cambridgeshire a "gang of disorderly persons" delighted in "flying birds in meetingrooms, shouting, putting out the lights, breaking forms and candlesticks and pelting the brothers and sisters with stones and dirt."
In April of 1853 one Elder reported:
"The spirit of opposition is still controlling the minds of the people in Soham. It is so rife among them that we have been obliged to discontinue all public meetings, at least we deemed it wise for the present."
"I cannot pretend to tell you a thousandth part of what has gone off there. A few days ago bills were posted notifying the public that a Mormon wedding would take place on the first of April (all fools day) and also giving general invitation to all the inhabitants."
"A company of 1,200 people assembled yesterday morning in the main street. They then walked in procession, until they arrived opposite Sister H. Peek's, the house where the Elders sleep. Then the performance commenced. Seven young women, dressed in wedding style, and sitting on donkeys covered in white calico appeared.
"The bridegroom came forward dressed in very gaudy style. The females all stood on one side. The man who acted as priest had on yellow trousers, peculiar hat, &c. They proceeded to go through the ceremony but were all in confusion."
"Elders Brown and Fowler stood looking complacently through the window, which seemed to disappoint the mob. The company then went through the remaining part of the town, calling or standing at the house of each of the Saints, and going through the same ridiculous nonsense."
Periodically the "Millennial Star" would publish addresses of the
selected missionaries. On April 30th, 1853 shortly after Edward
had been transferred, his address was printed as:
Edward's first three months as District President were no doubt difficult ones. The statistical report for the six months ending June 1853 shows that of 2,139 members, 149 had been baptized, but 204 had also been excommunicated. Never again during his mission would Edward witness such a staggering number of members leave the Church. During the second half of 1853, the excommunications were cut in half, but the baptisms also fell.
As letters were exchanged with family back home, Edward must
have become concerned about the difficulties his family was
experiencing in his absence. On one occasion a severe wind caused
Sarah's father and brothers to come and rescue her little family
before the roof blew off their house. The winters were harsh and
resulted in the loss of many cattle and the summers brought
crickets that devoured the crops. Emily and Sarah had each other
to rely upon and other local relatives offered what assistance they
could. Six months after Edward's departure, Emily gave birth to
their fourth child:
While Edward labored in Sheffield, Bradford and Lincolnshire he probably kept up with the events of the time by reading the "Millennial Star" and the local papers. In 1852 England had joined with France, Turkey and Italy in a war against Russia. This was the Crimean War that Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote about in his celebrated poem, "The Charge of The Light Brigade", published in 1854 while Edward was in Sheffield. Tennyson was born at Somersby, a town near Lincoln in 1809. With the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale initiated her efforts to eliminate primitive sanitation methods and grossly inadequate nursing facilities.
The Millennial Star published a statistical report at the end of
each six-month period. The following table shows the reported
numbers for each six month periods from January 1853 to
EB: I labored there [Sheffield, Bradford, and Lincolnshire] two years, then was released to preside in Scotland which included the conferences of Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Dundee, Glasgow, and Edinburgh district had 2,534 members when Edward went there. Sixty percent of the mem-bers lived in Glasgow, and the rest were in 41 branches across all of Scotland. Statistical numbers were not reported in the Millennial Star for 1855, perhaps due to a change in policy by the new mission president. In January of 1855 when Edward was assigned to Scotland, Samuel Richards was released as president of the mission and his brother, Franklin D. Richards, appointed to succeed him.
The March 17th, 1855 issue of the "Millennial Star" reported
Edward's address as:
Edward reported on the progress of his district in a letter dated July 10th, 1855 from Kilmarnock, Scotland, which was printed in the "Millennial Star". The following excerpts were taken from that letter:
President F. D. Richards:
"This morning I sit down to give you a plain and correct account of our labours throughout Scotland, and I do it with great cheerfulness, knowing that you ought to hear of the success of those that labour under your watchcare."
"We held our quarterly Conference in Dundee, the 17th June and I am happy to say, that there was a first-rate spirit with the Saints, and all who assembled with us. The reports from the various Branches were good, with few exceptions. The most of the Priesthood are doing their utmost to extend the work, and gather in the honest in heart, and I can happily say, that their worthy President, Elder Daniel McArthur, is a whole-souled "Mormon," and that the most of his flock partake of his spirit, which makes them also whole-souled in the work of the Lord."
"Edinburgh conference came off on the 24th, when we were favoured with the society of Elder James Ferguson and J. D. T. McAllister, from Ireland, and Elder Walter Grainger, President of the Glasgow conference, who contributed much to our happiness on that occasion, for our Heavenly Father gave us much of His good Spirit, which is life, light, and salvation to those who enjoy it. The reports from the Branches of this conference were also very favourable. The saints there feel well, and realize more the necessity of keeping the commandments of God, than ever they did in their lives. They also have a good man to preside over them, whose heart is devoted to the cause of truth, and the saints love and respect him very much."
"I will say, to the praise of some of our faithful brethren in that conference, that they voluntarily live up to the law of tithing, and testify to the rest of the Saints that they are better off now than they were before they paid their tithing. I know this rule to be a correct one, that those who love the Lord will love all of His laws, and keep them, and upon such He will pour out His blessings till their hearts are satisfied. I have proved the law of tithing to be a law of God and a source of blessing to me from the day on which I entered into the waters of baptism. As for the present, I feel as though I am all tithing, and may it ever be so."
"Now, as for the Glasgow conference, I will begin with the President, Elder Grainger, first. I love to testify of the virtues of good men, and as it may be somewhat in his favour, I will say, he is a true-hearted Saint. This is the first conference, as you well know, that he has had the honour to preside over, but for my part, I cannot see but that he is fully up to any of the old hands at the business."
"The conference was held on the 1st of July, and the Reports brought in by the Branch Presidents were cheering, and we can feel that there is quite an increase of faith and union with the Saints and the Priesthood. We had a grand day on the Sunday, and also a fine soiree on the Monday following, and I can say that the Conference is in a prosperous condition."
"A number of our best paying members have emigrated this year. The Conference numbers actually, that we can find, 1161; the remainder are scattered and lost, which make up our total in the Half-yearly Report to 1455"
"We find, in searching the records of the Glasgow Branch, that there are 220 members whom we can learn nothing of, although there have often been Councils called, and their names read out, and enquiries made after them severally. However, we intend to continue our search for the lost sheep of our Father's flock, that none may be lost through our negligence. May the Lord help us to do our duty all the time."
"Kilmarnock Conference was held on Sunday last. We are still favoured with the society of our brethren from Ireland."
"The good spirit of our Heavenly Father has been abundantly poured out upon us in our assemblies in this Conference. The Saints feel well and are much united. The Reports from the Branches were good, though the Saints have been somewhat oppressed for want of work, which has been rather against the financial report. But I am happy to say, that it is better now, and, judging from the good spirit manifested by the Saints, I think they will bring up all arrears this quarter."
"The Saints here are few, but I must say, they have done nobly, taking into consideration that they have helped off to the Valley brothers Booth and Glasgow lately. They are a noble people, and determined to be behind none, and that is the spirit of their worthy President, Elder J. D. Ross, an old, and steady hand at the Gospel plough, but his worth need not be extolled by me, as he is well known. He is in first-rate spirits, and we labour in union in all things."
"You will see, by the above details of the various Conferences throughout this Pastorate, that we are in a prosperous condition. Though we have not baptized so many as other Conferences, our prospects are good, and I can truly say, I never saw men labour more faithfully to convince the people of the truth than my brethren do in this land. Well! the seed is sown, the Lord hasten the day when we shall see the increase."
"I must say, that I never laboured in the ministry with more satisfaction, than I have done since I came to Scotland, though I found a kind and noble hearted people in England wheresoever my lot was cast. But I suppose that my experience serves to make my labours more agreeable."
"There is a perfect union existing between the Presidents of the Conferences and myself, and also, as a general thing, amongst all the Saints. And I could not ask anything more at the hands of the brethren, than what they wish to be done. Therefore I feel to pour out my soul continually to the Lord for them, and the continuation of our union, and may it increase for ever."
"Having already much extended my representation, I shall
close now by saying, we shall be happy to see brother Franklin
as soon as his business will permit."
The last year of Edward's service was particularly difficult for his family back in Ogden. The prior summer had been devastating as great black clouds of grasshoppers had settled on the crops everywhere. The locusts devoured everything green and little was left for "man or beast". That disastrous summer was followed by the "Hard Winter of 1855" with it's bitter cold and tremendous snows. Thousands of cattle died of starvation when the snowdrifts covered all forage. One author wrote that "Enough cattle perished to stretch from Great Salt Lake to Ogden, laid end to end." Surely letters exchanged between Edward and his wives gave him little comfort.
EB: I labored there [in Scotland] one year, then was released to
President Franklin D. Richards told the newly released missionaries to go to Utah this season and get as far as St. Louis where they would find people to help them across the plains. The object was to get the greatest possible number of the faithful to Utah.