Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letter from George Cannon to Leonora Cannon Taylor

Brigham Young in Liverpool:

Brigham Young returned to Liverpool on Monday, June 22nd, to work on the printing of the Book of Mormon. He stayed until Friday the 26th, when he left for Manchester to finish the collection of hymns and prepare the index. [1]

George Q. Cannon works for the railroad:

The Immigrant’s son, George Q., quit school to work for the Liverpool & Manchester Railroad to help the family save funds to emigrate to America. [2]

Joseph Fielding released and Brigham Young sustained as president of British Mission:

On July 6, 1840, conference was held at Carpenters Hall in Manchester. Joseph Fielding and his counselors were released from the British Mission presidency and Brigham Young became president. The new hymn book was also approved. The mission had 41 branches and 2,513 members. [3]

On July 10, 1840, Parley P. Pratt was in Liverpool getting ready to go to New York. He had received a letter from his family telling him they were sick with scarlet fever. The Quorum of the Twelve approved his traveling to New York to get them and bring them back to England. In his absence, Brigham Young took over as editor of the Millennial Star. [4]

John Taylor to Ireland and Scotland:

In July, Taylor rented the Music Hall on Bold Street, a large hall capable of seating 1,500 people. Pending the availability of the hall, Taylor left Liverpool on July 27, 1840, with two others to preach the gospel for the first time in Ireland. He arrived in Warrenpoint, County Down, then spent time preaching in Newry, Lisburn and Belfast. On August 6th, he left Belfast by ship for Glasgow, Scotland, where he worked with Reuben Hedlock and Hiram Clark for a few days, also visiting a small branch in Paisley, before returning to Liverpool. In Liverpool he gave several lectures in the Music Hall where the branch now met. He wrote to Leonora, “I purpose going in a few days to the Isle of Man & E[lder Hiram] Clark is going with me…” [5]

Second ship of LDS converts leave Liverpool:

Saturday evening, September 5th, Brigham Young and Willard Richards traveled from Manchester to Liverpool to organize the second company of Saints to emigrate to America. Theodore Turley was chosen to preside, with six counselors. [6] William Clayton, originally intending to stay in England as a missionary while his family emigrated, obtained permission from Brigham Young and John Taylor to accompany the group at the last minute, after his mother-in-law created a stir. [7] Sunday, September 6, 1840, Brigham Young preached in Liverpool to the local members who were joined by the company of Saints about ready to emigrate. [8] On Tuesday, September 8, 1840, the ship North America sailed from Liverpool with 200 Saints, bound for New York. William Clayton stated that they left the dock about 8:00 a.m., in the “[p]resence of many spectators,” attached to a steamer that pulled them out to sea. Brigham Young, Willard Richards and John Taylor accompanied them and returned to Liverpool on the steamer. Young and Richards went back to Manchester on September 10th. [9]

On September 11, 1840, Ann Cannon gave birth to a baby daughter they named Leonora, after George’s mother and sister. [10]

John Taylor to the Isle of Man:

On September 16, 1840, John Taylor, Hiram Clark and William C. Mitchell (one of the first converts in Liverpool), left for Douglas, on the Isle of Man. Taylor rented the Wellington Market Hall in Douglas, the largest public hall on the Isle of Man, capable of seating a thousand people. There he delivered sermons to large audiences. A Reverend Thomas Hamilton challenged Taylor to a public discussion and they debated in the Market Hall before a capacity crowd. This was reported in the Manx Liberal, a local newspaper. The Reverend Robert Heys, a Wesleyan Methodist minister gave three addresses against the Church that were published in newspapers and reproduced in pamphlets. Taylor had planned to attend the general conference in Manchester on October 6th, but wrote and excused himself because of the controversy he was involved in on the island. On October 6th, Taylor wrote Brigham Young, “I have from 200 to 800 people hearing me at my meetings & a great many friends…” [11]

Taylor wrote three tracts in response to the Heys publications, but could not get them published because of a lack of funds. “[H]e had implicit faith that the Lord would always provide for his needs. He went into a private room, knelt in prayer, and told the Lord exactly how much he needed to pay the debt for the pamphlets published in defense of the Lord’s cause. A few minutes later a knock came at the door. It was a young man, a stranger, bearing an envelope. The youth handed it to Elder Taylor and left. Inside was some money and a note which read, ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire.’ The note was unsigned. Shortly afterward a poor fish vendor came to the house and offered a few coins to assist in preaching the gospel. At first, Elder Taylor refused her offer, but she insisted that the Lord would bless her all the more and that she would be happy if he would accept the money. He was delighted to find that her money and the funds received in the envelope provided exactly the amount needed to pay the printers.” Taylor also wrote several lengthy articles in the Manx Sun and Manx Liberal newspapers, replying to misrepresentations written by a Dr. J. Curran as well as lectures attacking LDS beliefs written by Reverend Samuel Haining. Taylor continued to preach nightly at the Wellington Market Hall. [12]

Third ship of LDS converts leaves Liverpool:

On October 15, 1840, a group of Scottish members was the third company of converts to emigrate to America. They left Liverpool with 50 immigrants on the ship Isaac Newton bound for New Orleans under the direction of Samuel Mulliner and Alexander Wright. [13]

Letter from the Immigrant to his sister, Leonora Cannon Taylor:

On October 15, 1840, with additions dated October 25 and November 4, George Cannon wrote to his sister, Leonora Cannon Taylor, a letter as follows:

“I bless the Lord that I ever saw your husbands face, and I now see plainly our dear mothers prayers ha[ve] not only been answered for you, but extended to me and my family, thro[ugh] you[. F]or if my dear brother [John Taylor] had not come to live with me (so much have I preached against the various sects and parties warring against each other[,]) I should never I fear have embraced the Gospel in its fullness[. A]s it was, I tried to consider it another new sect added to the number that wrest the word of God to their own purposes[. B]ut faith comes by hearing, and of his infinite mercy he showed me that I was poor and miserable and blind. Ann was a believer from the first time of her hearing their testimony. We entered by the door into the sheepfold and George, Mary Alice, and poor Anny ha[ve] been baptized since. You will be tired my dear sister with so much of myself and family, but I am a wonder to myself and see the hand of the Lord so visible in all that has happened to me these last four years, that I cannot help telling you of it. I left off drink at that time and have drank nothing stronger than coffee since. This was principally on my childrens account, as I knew example was better than precept and with all my faults I loved my children. I was happy in all, affectionate wife, promising children, health, plenty of work, and always a pound to spare, but still there was a want of something what made me very low spirited at times. I strove to pray and to return God thanks for the mercies, particularly after some escape from danger of myself or family. In the month of September last my poor John died of a brain fever. Dear Nora I shall never forget that boy-‑he was three years and a half old, the countenance of [our] Brother John, particularly about the mouth, but his eyes were black[,] but such a boy. Well I shall see him yet, my hard heart was softened with the death of this child[. W]hen Brother Taylor came to Liverpool I was humbled before the Lord and sincerely desirous to lead a new life. We had the words whereby I might be saved and tho[ugh] slow of belief at first, and not seeing the necessity of Baptism[,] yet God of his infinite mercy opened my eyes.

(Oct. 25) Dear Leonora, I…just read your letter which came by the postman…Your dear husband is in the Isle of Man with Br. Clarke. They went there the 16th of September[. H]e is well and doing well. Bro. Clarke came to conference b[ut] Bro. Taylor could not come, as he had to answer some of their pious men. He says the harvest is ripe there and they have only to put in the sickle. Bro. T[aylor] has sent me some Manx papers. I have forwarded two to you of different dates. One to Bro. Joseph, one to B. S[idney] Rigdon…I cannot get your letters sent to Brother [Taylor] until Monday, as the packet only sails twice a week, and I received them a few hours too late. Dear Sister I am grieved to hear you have been ill and your dear little ones. I have felt a great deal for your situation and I know that nothing but the Lords work could keep your husband from you, but I have a belief that I shall see you yet in this life. Bro. T[aylor] had wished in one of his letters from the Island that I would write to you, as he was so occupied he had not a moment to spare. He says I find Mr. A. Clarke is a Methodist, Miss Brannan I have not called on. I find it here as in other places, those that are very pious do not need anything. He has a room over the market in Douglas that will hold one thousand people and has only to give out a meeting to have it filled. He has all kinds…hearing him[,] big and little, friends and foes, Holy people and ungodly[. Y]ou will see by the papers that he has many to oppose him[,] but truth will stand without propping, and they all go to the ground. There has been a good many baptized and many [are] at the edge of the water. Dear Sister I know this will give you pleasure.

Nov. 4th I have just received a line from Bro. Taylor. It is only a line saying that he is well, and three newspapers which I forwarded (to you, Bro. Joseph Smith and Bro. Sidney Rigdon) I think by this time some of the Methodists begin to find their craft in danger. Miss Brannan had sent to Br. T[aylor] for two books she lent you and he has brought them for her, so you may guess how she feels. There never was such an excitement in the Island before. The people begin to have their eyes and ears opened to the truth and wonder they did not see these things before. He has not mentioned receiving your letters and I waited expecting some news or word to send you. Perhaps I may get some before I send this. Dear Sister you are anxious to have all the news about us. In the first place Bro. T[aylor] is comfortable in the Island [of Man] and has a comfortable little sitting room and bedroom with a Mr. Cowill, and he says he has many warm friends there. [Our] Sister Elinor [14] is in service in St. Georges Square. She has two children in Stafford[shire], and one [child] by the second husband, three years old. He is at nurse, she is well and will have another husband before long or I am mistaken. I have had a letter from [our brother] David and one from [our brother] John last March. They were both well when they wrote. David [15] is in Sidney[, Australia] and doing well. John [16] is in Port Philip[, Australia] and he is getting a small vessel built between himself and a carpenter. Poor John is going to make a fortune directly. He always counts the chickens before they are hatched. He wishes we were out there with him. Joiners wages is 14 shillings a day. We have six children living. George 14 years next 11th Jan. Mary Alice 12 years 9th Dec. next. Ann 9 years 28th of Jan. next, Angus 6 years 17th May last. John born 3rd March 1836 and died 13th Sept. 1839. David born 23rd April 1838, Unkle calls him the Squinter beg. [17] He squints badly poor fellow, and Leonora, born 11 Sept. 1840. A fine little baby. We are all well at present and I am going to make winkers to put on Davids eyes to cure him of squinting. Mary Alice learned him to squint after he was 9 months old…I have just heard of Mr. Ratcliffs [18] death, he was deacon, class leader and a popular man in Liverpool and had three or four hundred [pounds] a year for different offices he held in Bible societies and other religious institutions. You had called on him and preached the Gospel to him. He did not deny anything but said these are tremendous conclusions. Then we must be all wrong. Bro T[aylor] said he did not condemn anyone, it was the everlasting Gospel he preached. Miss Brannan came to Liverpool. She did not come to our house, but sent for Bro. T[aylor] to Mr. Ratcliffs. They had a long discourse in presence of Mr. R[atcliffs.] [W]hen about to leave them [Brother Taylor] asked Miss B[rannan] if he should call on her in the Island [of Man] as he meant to visit it. She said if he preached like other men she would be happy to see him, but she hoped he would not come to the Island to preach what he preached to her. She told Henry Gills wife…that she cried and prayed greatly to the Lord that he might show [Brother Taylor] the error of his ways…I have just received 5th Nov. another line from Bro. Taylor[. H]e has got your letters and will be here the beginning of next week and will write you a letter himself. Dear Sister you may expect a number of the saints from Liverpool in spring. If it is the Lords will I am ready to go any time, and I have as much money as will take me there and perhaps a little to spare. You have never mentioned what sort of a country it is or how people are employed there, how land is sold, whether it is a good fishing or fowling country. Write me a letter soon as you receive this, Ann and the children send their kind love to you and their little cousins. I remain your loving

Brother George Cannon” [19]


[1] MHBY, p. __.

[2] Later reports described George Q.’s work as a clerk in a counting house of a “shipping office.” This was probably referring to the fact that most of the freight carried by the railroad was either destined for or carried from ships and he worked at the Liverpool terminal. Bitton, pp. 37-38; Paul Thomas Smith, p. 38.

[3] Manchester Mormons, p. 166, n. 172.

[4] Manchester Mormons, p. 167 and n. 174.

[5] Paul Thomas Smith, pp. 39-40; Roberts, pp. 79-81__.

[6] MHBY, p. __.

[7] Manchester Mormons, p. 171.

[8] MHBY, p. __.

[9] MHBY, p. __; British Emigration, p. 403; Manchester Mormons, p. 172.

[10] CFHT, p. 273.

[11] Paul Thomas Smith, p. 40; Roberts, pp. 81-83__.

[12] Paul Thomas Smith, p. 41; Roberts, p. 95__.

[13] British Emigration, p. 403; Samuel Mulliner Journal, The Contributor, vol. 12, no. 12 (October 1891), p. 442 (HDL), Mormon Immigration Index. Mulliner and Alexander Wright were the first LDS missionaries to Scotland, arriving in Glasgow on December 19, 1839. They were eventually joined by Orson Pratt and Reuben Hedlock. Century of Mormonism, p. 75.

[14] Elinor married Benjamin Tabner of Liverpool and had two children. After the death of her first and second husband and children, she moved to Utah. (CFHT, p. 20). In a letter to Leonora Taylor, dated January 30, 1840 (the “January 1840 Letter”), John Taylor states that “Your Sister Elleoners Husband is dead & 2 Children. The first Husband friends keep one since his death. Elleoner is well. I have seen her two or three times.” Apostles in the British Isles, p. __. A Family Group Record indicates Elinor (or Elinore) died on May 20, 1885 at Salt Lake City, Utah. There is nothing additional on her in the record. See Their mother, Leonora Callister Cannon, died previously on June 30, 1832 in Kirk German, Isle of Man, at age 56. Their brother, Thomas Cannon, also died previously on December 10, 1823, at the age of 19.

[15] David immigrated to Australia and was living in Sydney. (CFHT, p. 20). In the January 1840 Letter, John Taylor told Leonora that John is with David in Sidney. I have seen one of his letters & some of David’s. John Laments Leaving England without seeing you.” Apostles in Great Britain, p. __. The Family Group Record indicates David died in Australia, but gives no date. See

[16] John moved to Australia and located in Port Philip. He became part owner in a small vessel and tried to persuade Immigrant George to join him there. (CFHT, pp. 19-20). In the January 1840 Letter, John Taylor told Leonora that he has seen “some of David’s [letters]…David is steady & expects to return with something that will do him good in a few years.” Apostles in Great Britain, p. __. The Family Group Record indicates John died in Australia, but gives no date. See

[17] “Beg” is the Manx word for little so “Squinter beg” would mean “little squinter.”

[18] Mr. Radcliff was the agent for the Bible Society and superintendent of the School of Arts. (Roberts, p. 73__)

[19] This letter is located on the George Q. Cannon Family website at and in CFHT, pp. 38-39. George ended up helping several others financially who fell short of the full amount for the voyage to America. There were several reasons for the delay in leaving for America: (1) Leonora was still an infant and not too healthy; (2) Emigration was not pushed as hard for those in the sea ports as for those in the interior, as the Elders wanted some stalwart residents to remain to give assistance and encouragement to their fellow Saints who halted temporarily before going on board ship; and (3) There was opposition of family and friends. Someone visited John Cannon at Cooilshellagh, Isle of Man, in 1881 and he remarked how great a pity it was that the Captain's son had been induced to desert his fatherland and go off to the "wilderness of America." Another cousin in Douglas stated "Poor George, he made a great mistake when he emigrated, leaving a comfortable home, good employment and loving friends to go out among the wild red Indians - too bad, yes, it was really too bad." CFHT, pp. 39-40.

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