The LDS Church in the London Times, 1830s and 1840s

By February 3, 2011

One of the first references to the LDS Church in London’s newspaper The Times occurred on 6 November 1838, when The Times correspondent on Ireland made a passing derogatory remark on a “scene of uproar and confusion that would be sufficient to disgrace an assemblage of Mormonites.” The author also stated that these “Mormonites” were led “by that transatlantic ruffian who styles himself the true prophet of God.” [1] Nearly three years later, another article in the news section stated that “A good deal of curiosity has been excited in this city during the last few days by the departure of great numbers of deluded country people (Mormonites), old and young, for the ‘New Jerusalem’ in America.” The author believed that these “unfortunate dupes” were motivated by the idea “that on their arrival at the American paradise they shall be made young again and shall live for a thousand years.” [2]What appears to be the first time that the LDS Church was discussed in significant length in the newspaper was in a set of two articles published in September 1842. These articles were directly in relation to the emigration of newly converted LDS Church members from England to the United States, something which The Times perceived as naive and misguided, to say the least. To provide additional depth to their discussion about the Mormons, The Times published excerpts of stories from an anti-Mormon book on Nauvoo by a Henry Caswall. In the conclusion of the second The Times article, the author wrote:

We have not, however, said enough of these miserable impostors. The task of exposure (as Mr. Caswall feels) is not a pleasing one ; to repeat blasphemies, to detail profane ceremonies, is an office which needs an apology to the world, and the operation is not made less painful by the ludicrous character of those profanities. We shall, however, and we doubt not Mr. Caswall’s sympathy with us, think ourselves well paid for the degradation of this scavenging work, if one English workman is saved from the peril of this debasing delusion, or one ray of light turned upon the state of society which renders such delusions not only possible but popular. [3]

The Times motivation in approaching the LDS Church with such a perspective and printing the two 1842 articles about Nauvoo, as well as the earlier articles? Preventing the further “loss” of another soul to the Mormons.

Here are the 1842 articles in their entirety (click to view PDF):

2 September 1842

6 September 1842

———————————————-

[1] “Ireland,” The Times, 6 November 1838.

[2] “A good deal of curiosity has been excited,” The Times, 14 August 1841.

[3] “The City of the Mormons; Or Three Days At Nauvoo,” The Times, 6 September 1842.

Article filed under British Isles From the Archives


Comments

  1. Very cool find, Ardis. I especially like the descriptor “transatlantic ruffian.”

    Comment by Christopher — February 3, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  2. Fun stuff, Ardis; thanks for sharing.

    I especially love the depiction of Smith as a “transatlantic ruffian.” Lots to unpack there, and reminds us that Smith (and Mormonism, for that matter) was on a larger stage than just antebellum America.

    Comment by Ben — February 3, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  3. Looks like great minds think alike.

    Comment by Ben — February 3, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

  4. Caswell’s book is useful. I would have thought that there might have been some comparisons to the Irvingites in the press.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 3, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  5. Ardis–great stuff. I love the term Mormonite–it smells like—burnt over district . . . .

    Comment by Guy Murray — February 3, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

  6. I agree – great minds do think alike, Ben and Christopher! Yes, “transatlantic ruffian” and “Mormonite” were two of the phrases that also popped out to me. I’ll be posting more soon about late 1840s/1850s discussions so we can see the evolution of thought as the Church grew and so did migration.

    Comment by Ardis S. — February 4, 2011 @ 9:05 am


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