A Letter to England, 1842

In the year 1837, William Clayton, a clerk in a large factory in Penwortham, England, was converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints by Heber C. Kimball. He rose fast in the Church, and a year after his baptism he quit his job and began to devote his entire time to building the Kingdom in England. Through his efforts, the branch in Manchester was organized, and he soon became a counselor to the president of the British Mission. He was placed in charge of the branch at Manchester. Late in 1840, Clayton decided to leave England, and he recorded in his diary a vivid account of one of the earliest Mormon groups to make the trans-Atlantic odyssey from Liverpool to Nauvoo, Illinois.

Clayton became a close associate of Joseph Smith there, and was undoubtedly affected by the criticism of Joseph’s business affairs. He felt a compelling desire to express his own feelings regarding this matter, which he did on March 30, 1842, in a heartfelt letter to William Hardman, a man he had baptized in Manchester. Since Clayton’s diary reveals him to be a man who had great concern for telling the truth, it cannot be doubted that this letter expresses his genuine feelings about Joseph Smith, the Church, and other matters. The letter was published in the Millennial Star on August l, 1842, and it is reproduced here as an example of one British immigrant’s reaction to his experiences in America, and with Joseph Smith.

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