CHAPTER II Samuel Smith's Career in EnglandSamuel Smith, the second child and second son of Daniel William and Sarah Wooding Smith, was born May 22, 1818 at Sherington, Buckinghamshire, England. On Dec. 28, 1841, he was baptized into the Church of England, according to parish records there. [Note 1] Little is known of his earliest years, but we do know that he soon learned to work hard to help the struggling family.
The family occupation was mat making. Parents and children would diligently pull reeds, set them aside to be dried and then weave them into mats to cover the earthen floors common at that time.
Young Samuel was a hard worker and could not be spared from the family enterprise for much schooling. But he was a bright young man and he learned enough to handle himself in the expanding world of commerce, even though his was one of the humblest business ventures of the day.
Samuel was an ambitious young man: one who was determined to make his mark in the world. He was not a tall man: early records indicate his full height was a scant five feet. But he was a stoutly built person who was agile on his feet and physically able to take care of himself.
As his business sense developed, Samuel undertook several trips to London to make new business connections and to branch out from his total dependence on mat making. The route from his home took him through a small place called Hemel-Hempstead. It was in that small town that he became acquainted with a young woman by the name of Mary Ann Line, the daughter of Michael Line (a shoemaker) and his wife Sarah Abby.
Soon Samuel began to find more and more reasons to make trips to London. Though Mary Ann was six years and eleven months older than Samuel (her birthdate is listed as about June 17, 1811) the age difference apparently posed no problem in their budding romance.
While Samuel was unschooled, he was not proud of it. He quickly found that Mary Ann was quite well educated and, indeed, earned part of her living by serving as governess for the children of wealthy parents. Samuel was more than willing to take instruction in reading and writing from the woman with whom he was now keeping steady company.
Their romance blossomed and, on Thursday, October 12, 1837 Samuel and his beloved Mary Ann were married at Hemel-Hempstead in the parish church there. [Note 2] Both sets of parents were in attendance and George, Samuel's oldest brother and Anne Smith, Samuel's sister served as witnesses. The marriage certificate lists Samuel as "a minor' and Mary Ann as being 'of full age.' Their ages were, respectively, 19 and 26. [Note 3]
In spite of the difference in their ages, the union was to be an ideal one. The refined, former lady's maid and governess Mary Ann, was a perfect polishing tool for her rough-cut husband. Little did they know what lay in store for them in the future. In any event, they felt that with God's help they would be equal to any task laid before them.
At the time of their marriage, both Samuel and Mary Ann's address was listed as Picott's End. Shortly after they were wed, they moved into London proper where Samuel had already established himself in an oil
cloth establishment. After a time he found that he was gaining confidence in his profession and he was soon placed in charge of a mercantile business in London. From there, it was a natural step for he and his wife to go into business for themselves. They combined Samuel's talent for domestic trade with Mary Ann's knowledge of basic book-keeping skills and Samuel was soon involved in his own importing business. The couple seemed on the road to a comfortable future and a relatively trouble-free life.
It was not all roses for them though: not by any means. Their first child was apparently stillborn, for it was not christened. (NP) [Note 4] Their second child--named Mary Ann, after her mother--was born July 23, 1839, at Hereford, where the family then made their home. The baby lived only 11 months, passing away June 22, 1840. (NP) No doubt Samuel and Mary Ann were heartbroken at this turn of events.
Coupled with their personal problems was the fact that economic conditions were rapidly deteriorating in England. England was in the grip of a severe recession, which, in many places was actually a pinching depression. Erickson and Havran report of the time:
Conditions were horrible, especially in the factory towns... [and in mining areas] young mothers worked underground along with five and six-year olds hauling coal tubs: children were apprenticed to tradesmen without pay, schooling or care for their health; whole families worked and made only enough to subsist. (England-Prehistory to the Present, p. 424.)
Though the Smiths were not engaged in mining, the repressive economic downturn affected business everywhere. Samuel and Mary Ann longed to find a new place where they would have freedom to take full advantage of their opportunities. They were even willing to consider leaving England (and its bitter memories of their two lost children) if the right opportunity presented itself.
It was in the year 1841 that the Smiths first heard the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their chief contact with the church was through Elder Lorenzo Snow, who was later to become the fifth President of the Church. Both Samuel and Mary Ann studied the unique new religion very carefully and soon, not only they, but Samuel's parents as well, were listening to the missionaries on a regular basis. No doubt Samuel and Mary Ann thrilled at the prospect of one day having their two children restored to them by a kind and merciful Heavenly Father: such doctrine was in sharp contrast to the answers they received from the parish priest, who, while no doubt kindly, had no inkling of the relationship of parents and children in the heavenly realm.
Though he did not preach it openly at this time, Elder Snow had received, prior to his call to England, a revelation which resolved itself neatly in the breathtaking statement "As man now is, God once was: as God now is, man may become." No doubt he was able to give strong intimations of that thrilling doctrine in his long talks with the Smiths. They came to understand that children were not sent here simply to be born, eat, mate, raise those children who might be spared, and then die. Instead, they were children of God, sent here by their Father to prepare themselves to one day attain godhead themselves. With that uplifting possibility in the offing, and their prayers concerning the Book of Mormon and other doctrines answered in the affirmative, Samuel and Mary Ann moved steadily closer to conversion. Their prayers regarding more children were also answered for on April 19, 1841, they were blessed with yet another daughter, Mary Ann. (NP)
They studied the gospel for several months and by the end of the year they were ready to enter the waters of baptism. On the day after Christmas [Note 5] 1841, Samuel was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Lorenzo Snow. He was confirmed January 2, 1842, again by Elder Snow. Mary Ann was baptized and confirmed in July of 1842. We are not sure whether Samuel's father and mother were baptized at the same time or perhaps a little later. At any rate, we know that it was also their destiny to accept the gospel and they too joined the Church with a full commitment to its principles. They too, were baptized by Lorenzo Snow, a man in whom the whole Smith Family seemed to have complete confidence. In 1842 Samuel was ordained a priest in the Church and commenced preaching the gospel throughout London. Tullidge's Histories contained the following account, presented by Samuel himself regarding a very interesting incident. Samuel declares:
"Some time after I had been ordained to the priesthood, my sister, Jane S.[mith] Turpin, was seized with the cholera. Her case became critical, and she was soon struggling in the throes of death. Three ministers and two physicians were attending her. They all said the case was hopeless and that she would died. As soon as I heard of her condition, I went immediately to her residence. I found my father [Daniel William Smith] there, and told him to clear the room of all strangers. He did so. I told him she would not die. I then took hold of her hand, and in the name of Jesus Christ I rebuked the cholera, and told her to arise, which she did and was healed. I then bore testimony to them that the fullness of the gospel was restored, and that it was by the power of God that she was healed. In a subsequent interview with them- her husband and herself- they told me they heard a voice speak to them and tell them that my testimony was true.' (p. 118)
This singular experience must have been very faith-promoting but the woman in question could not have been Jane Smith Turpin as she did not marry Jesse Turpin until April 16, 1846. More likely the woman was Caroline Harrison Smith, the wife of George Smith, Samuel's eldest brother, if indeed the woman was related to Samuel at all. The memory has a way of fooling us, and in this case, it must have fooled Samuel.
A more verifiable incident follows. In Samuel's own words, we find that he was able to avert much trouble and difficulty for the Elders by placating local authorities. Wrote Samuel:
"When Apostle Parley P. Pratt and others of the apostles were in England in 1842, some of the elders acted very imprudently while preaching in London, in speaking in terms of severity and criticism on the British government. The report of their utterances reached the throne, and the Queen instructed the police authorities to institute inquiry into the matter. On the following Sunday, officers were sent to the meetings of all the religious denominations in London. I was intimately acquainted with one of the magistrates in the borough, who informed me of the instructions given to the officers. On the day named, I was appointed to preach in the open air. An immense congregation had assembled to hear. I preached on the principles of the gospel which inculcates peace on earth, goodwill to all men.' and sustaining and upholding the constituted authorities of all governments under which we live. The reporters discovered that the Mormons taught no reason, but loyalty to the throne, and so reported to those who sent them. Had the elders who had acted imprudently been present, and preached, as they intended on that occasion, they would have been arrested on the charge of sedition. [Note 6]
The polish Samuel was getting in dealing with people was to stand him in good stead as he progressed in the church. And he was successful in not only dealing with those opposed to the church. He also strengthened the members and brought in many converts through his strong conviction of the truth.
The spirit of gathering began to work with the Smith family. Early in January, 1843, Samuel Smith, along with his parents and family, went to Liverpool, and, on the 17th of the same month they sailed from the port for America--their destination being Nauvoo, Illinois. The ship which they boarded was the "Swanton," and the man in charge of the passengers was their mentor in the gospel, Lorenzo Snow. At last they were on their way to join the saints in America. And, while the rigors of the voyage may have aroused some fears, these were more than adequately counterbalanced by their feelings of high anticipation. After all, they were on their way to meet Joseph Smith, the man all of them were completely convinced was God's spokesman on earth