Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
John Taylor

1808 - 1887

  • Born 1808 Milnthorpe, England
  • Married Leonora Cannon 1833, four children; later practiced plural marriage
  • Baptized 1836
  • Ordained Elder and set apart as Presiding Elder of Northern Canada, 1836
  • Ordained High Priest, 1837
  • Ordained Apostle; member of Twelve, 1838-1880
  • Badly wounded in Assassination of Joseph and Hyrum, 1844
  • Mission to England 1846
  • President of the Quorum of the Twelve, 1877-1880
  • President of the Church 1880-1887
  • Died 1887 Kaysville, Utah

        John Taylor was the third President of the Church, following Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. He was born November 1, 1808 in Milnthorpe, Westmoreland County, England. He was brought up in the Church of England but at the age of fifteen associated himself with the Methodists and at an early age became a preacher for that denomination.

    After emigrating to Canada he married Leonora Cannon January 28, 1833. The couple would have four children. Later he practiced plural marriage taking nine wives in all.

    In Canada he resumed his affiliation with the Methodists and formed a study and prayer group of like-minded sectarians. As a result of their studies, they became convinced of the reality of revelation and fasted and prayed that a messenger might instruct them of the Lord's will. Their prayer's were answered in the form of a young missionary named Parley P. Pratt. Elder Pratt had been promised in his mission call to "Northern Canada" that he would be successful, would organize a large group of Canadian Saints, which in turn would be instrumental in taking the Gospel to England. That prophecy was fulfilled in the baptism of John Taylor, who would later serve a mission to England and numerous friends and relatives.

    John Taylor was baptized in 1836 and was ordained an Elder shortly thereafter. In 1837 Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Thomas B. Marsh visited Toronto and ordained John Taylor a High Priest. By December of 1838 Elder Taylor was in Far West Missouri where he was ordained an Apostle by Brigham Young. In 1842

    Elder Taylor loved the Prophet Joseph and insisted on accompanying him on the fateful ride to Carthage. When Joseph and Hyrum were subjected to brutality and illegal procedures, John Taylor appealed to the governor who promised that the Prophet would be protected. He was in the room when a mob gave the lie to the governor's promises. It was he, perhaps, who gave the last comfort the mortal Joseph would receive in this life as John Taylor was called upon to sing the Prophet's favorite hymn, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" shortly before the mob attacked. John Taylor was badly wounded but survived the shooting.

    In 1846, he was called on a mission to England and two years after his return to France, returning to Utah finally in 1852. He spent the next twenty years fulfilling his call as a special witness of Jesus Christ. He traveled, preached, and organized the Saints throughout the inter-mountain west. With the death of Brigham Young's First Counselor, George Q. Cannon, in 1875, he became the senior Apostle in the Twelve and was so sustained in the October Conference of that year. He was not formally sustained as President of the Twelve until the October 1877 Conference, after the death of Brigham Young.

    As was the case when Joseph Smith was killed, the First Presidency was not immediately reorganized on the death of Brigham Young, Nevertheless, John Taylor was the Presiding High Priest of the Church until the reorganization took place. John Taylor became President of the Church 10 October 1880. Though much was accomplished, the continuing persecution of the Saints was a millstone about the neck of President Taylor. He spent many years in hiding and, indeed, was in exile at Kaysville, Utah at his death July 25, 1887.

Documentary History of the Church Multiple citations; see index
1999-2000 Church Almanac; p.47
LDS Biographical Encyclopedia; Compiled and edited by Andrew Jenson; Vol. 1, p.14
The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith; Lyndon W. Cook; p.234

Selected Discourses and Writings
Mission Report
Note: Although he was one of the early members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and had been ordained in 1838, this is the earliest discourse of Elder John Taylor the Grampa has been able to locate. The occasion was his return to the Utah Territory from three years in Europe as a Mission President. He reports on his experiences and observations herein. His report was delivered in the Old Adobe Tabernacle in Great Salt Lake City.
Old Adobe Tabernacle
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
22 August 1852
Union, etc.
Note: In October 1859, the United States was splintering. The Presidential campaign was in full sway which would result in the election of Abraham Lincoln. Southern statesmen had warned of secession if Lincoln were elected.

    In the Mormon west, the Saints were threatened by the United States Army and unscrupulous Federal political appointees. What, then, did the Saints feel about the coming apocalypse? Here Elder John Taylor speaks to the issue to the Saints assembled in the 29th Semiannual General Conference held in the Old Adobe Tabernacle, in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory.

29th Semiannual General Conference
Old Adobe Tabernacle
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
7 Oct 1859
The Position of the Twelve
Note: With the death of Brigham Young on 29 August 1877, and the dissolution of the Quorum of the First Presidency, the members therof returned to the Quorums from which they had been called, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles became the Presiding Quorum of the Priesthood and the Church. John Taylor was President of the Twelve. Here are two talks he gave to the 48th Semiannual General Conference where the new order was sustained. The first, fairly short, was delivered on Saturday, 6 October 1877 and the other, somewhat longer, the next day. The site was the "New Tabernacle," the one we know and love today. It was nearing completion at the time.
48th Semiannual General Conference
Great Mormon Tabernacle
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
6, 7 Oct 1877
The Organization of the First Presidency
Note: After Brigham Young's death in 1877, the Church was governed for three years by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. On the tenth day of October 1880, the First Presidency was reorganized. John Taylor was sustained as President of the Church in the first Solemn Assembly held in this dispensation for that purpose. Here are President Taylor's remarks on the occasion. It was the 51st Semiannual General Conference and was held in the recently completed Great Mormon Tabernacle.
51st Semiannual General Conference
Great Mormon Tabernacle
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
10 Oct 1880
Remarks at a High Council Court
Note: When Congress passed the despicable and infamous Edmunds-Tucker Act, which banned Plural Marriage, eliminated Women's Suffrage, forced wives to testify against their husbands, and eliminated numerous other Civil Rights in the Utah Territory, many of the Church Leaders were forced to go into "the underground." In fact, President John Taylor was hiding in exile when he died in 1887. Perhaps partially because of this, the Grampa can find no public discourses by President Taylor after these remarks delivered on 20 February 1884, and even these were to a High Council, hardly a public setting.
Before the High Council
of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion
20 February 1884

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