Friday, 2 November 2012

Mormons in Faceby: 1852-55

With Mitt Romney in the final days of his campaign to be President of the USA, this seems the ideal time for the story of the villagers of Faceby who became Mormons and left Yorkshire for America in 1855.

I came across the Faceby Saints when researching my book on the 1832 cholera epidemic in Hutton Rudby and the vicar, Robert Barlow.  When I realised that the Revd Barlow was related to Mormons in Utah, I couldn’t resist finding out more.

View from near Mr Barlow's vicarage towards the hills & Faceby

Luckily the internet provided me with Charles Hogg's account of his own life and the biography of Ann Stanger Hogg written by her granddaughter Katheryn Hart Conger, which enabled me to begin to piece the story together.  I've just looked up those links again for this post, and was delighted to find they now include photographs of Charles and Ann.

More information came from descendants.  After I gave a talk on the subject to the Swainby History Society, I was put in touch with Mrs Dorothy Jewitt, a descendant of William Wilson, and posting an article about the Faceby Saints on my (now defunct) website brought me contacts from descendants in the USA and the UK.  Each time I've given a talk on the subject it has prompted me to do a bit more research, so I have revised and expanded the original article for this blog.

Faceby, North Yorkshire

In February 1855 a large party of people left the small Yorkshire village of Faceby.  It was the beginning of a long journey to America.  They were Mormons – the members of the Faceby Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and most of them belonged to two extended families, the Etheringtons and the Stangers.

Faceby is a hamlet in the area anciently known as Cleveland, in the old North Riding of Yorkshire.  It lies at the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, four miles from the market town of Stokesley and twelve miles from the larger town of Northallerton.

The 1851 Census shows the village shortly before the arrival of the first Mormon missionary.  There were 32 houses (two of which were empty) and a population of 140 – one tenth of them were eventually to settle in Utah.  The villagers in 1851 included a publican, a blacksmith, a shoemaker, tailors, a butcher, a carrier, a miller, farm workers, tenant farmers and three cartwrights – the Stanger brothers, James, George and William. 

James Stanger & Isabella Thompson & their family

The Stanger family had lived around Faceby and Swainby for several generations, and there were numerous Stangers in the area in the early to mid 19th century.  They tended to have large families, and while some worked on the land they were for the most part craftsmen, generally cartwrights and joiners. 

James Stanger senior was the eldest of the three cartwright brothers at 60 years of age; his wife Isabella Thompson was a little younger.  James owned two houses, one of which he rented out, and was a member of the parish vestry.

James and Isabella had nine children, of whom five survived infancy.  The eldest, James, was already married with six children of his own, but four remained at home with their parents at the time of the 1851 census – John (aged 31 and soon to be married), Ann (22), Thomas (20) and George (18).  Staying with them on census night was a young farm worker called Charles Hogg (or Hogge) from Deighton, who was courting Ann. 

James senior's brothers George and William Stanger were also cartwrights.  They seem to have remained unconvinced by the Mormon missionaries.  In 1851 George and William were bachelors in their thirties, living at the Manor House with one of their sisters acting as housekeeper.

The size of the extended Stanger family meant that their nephew James Stanger junior was the same age as his uncle William.  James junior was a farm worker – there were perhaps enough Stanger cartwrights in the village – but would eventually prosper and finally become a tenant farmer in Kirby Sigston.  In 1878 he was at the deathbed of his "cousin" the Revd Robert Barlow of Hutton Rudby, and registered the old clergyman's death.  It is not known how Mr Barlow and the Stangers were related – possibly through James's mother, Isabella Thompson, who was the daughter of a yeoman farmer of Faceby.  James junior and his family remained Anglicans. 

John & Elizabeth Etherington & family

The Etherington family were farmers, and from Utah were to remember their house in Faceby as "a large comfortable home".  John and Elizabeth Etherington were both born in County Durham, as were their nine children, but by 1841 they had moved to Faceby where they farmed 119 acres.

 John Etherington was a member of the parish vestry and evidently an Anglican, as he served as churchwarden between 1850 and 1852.  The Faceby Church Book shows that John paid rates on property worth £47 in 1850, 1851 and 1853.

At the 1851 census, the three youngest children – Mary (16), Thomas (14) and George (11) – remained at home.  Still in the household was one of the older children, James, with his new wife, but they seem soon to have moved to the Durham coalfields.  Two of the Etherington daughters had left home to work – Ann in Leeds, and Elizabeth in London.  Frances Etherington had married a blacksmith from Whitton le Wear, and Jane had married a Nunthorpe farmer, Appleton Elcoat.

Religion in Faceby

The parish church at Faceby was described by John Walker Ord in 1846 in his History & Antiquities of Cleveland as "primitive" – "a small, plain, unpretending edifice, dedicated to St Mary Magdalene" with room for 100 people.  The vicar was the Revd Thomas Browne – he was also vicar for the neighbouring village of Carlton.

Faceby was an agricultural village, but neighbouring villages had been significant centres of handloom linen weaving since the 18th century, and as was common in weaving communities had developed a noticeable degree of independence and strong Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist traditions. 

Enthusiastic religious practice was not new to the area, with the neighbouring industrial villages populated by weavers noted for Nonconformism.  Only six months earlier the Primitive Methodists had held a very successful camp meeting on Scarth Nick, on the moors above Swainby.

View from Scarth Nick towards Whorl Hill and Roseberry Topping

The superintendent of the Brompton circuit was a powerful speaker, who could be "so filled with the glory" that he fell unconscious, and could so affect his listeners that they fell on the floor crying aloud for mercy.  One young man at the Scarth Nick meeting was so carried away that he jumped and somersaulted repeatedly in the ring, leading one newcomer to ask the superintendent "if he always had someone to leap that way at such meetings".  The young man was called George Stanger – he died in 1907, and was possibly a member of the Osmotherley branch of the family.

The early years of the Mormon Church

By 1851 the Mormon church had been in existence for 21 years and was finally established in Utah.  The church and Joseph Smith, its founder and living prophet, had attracted controversy and hostility from the beginning.

The main tenet of the faith is that the truth of Christ's teachings was lost after the deaths of the apostles, and only revealed again in 1820 by an angel appearing to the young Joseph Smith in New York State.  Smith translated gold tablets given to him by the angel and these form the Book of Mormon, the cornerstone of the religion.   

In 1844 Joseph Smith was murdered by an Illinois lynch mob.  Brigham Young emerged as the new leader and in 1847 led his followers on their long journey to the undeveloped territories of the Great Salt Lake Basin, where they would establish their new society.  As was not uncommon at the time, Mormonism was a millennial faith.  Mormons believed that the true church in Utah would physically survive the imminent second coming, and that it was their duty to fit themselves to build the kingdom and to gather to Zion.

Their new home was chosen in spite of the fact that it was barren and waterless, and that they were confined to a few valleys for their settlement.  They would eventually make it bloom with the irrigation techniques of which they became acknowledged masters.  Newly secure from outside aggression, they were confident in the future:
"Let all that can, gather up their effects, and set their faces as a flint to go Zionward"
['Millennial Star' 1 Feb 1848 – the Mormon newspaper published in England].

The appeal of the Mormon Church in 1851

The church soon set up the Perpetual Emigrating Fund to give financial help to members eager to emigrate to Utah, where people were badly needed to build the new community.
By 1851, the Church was at the peak of their membership in Britain.  The first missionaries came to Britain in 1837 and preached in Preston in Lancashire.  This was a time of revivalist, individualistic religion and American evangelists were not uncommon, so their arrival would not have appeared unusual.

The church in Britain grew, and by 1850 about 17,000 members had already emigrated.  By the time of the Ecclesiastical Census of 1851 they had perhaps 33,000 members, making them a small but significant sect with an attendance of about one-fifteenth of that of the Primitive Methodists.

The new religion held both an ideological and an economic appeal, particularly potent at a time of intense interest in personal salvation and the profound social dislocation caused by social and economic turbulence, rapid population growth, increasing industrialisation and political radicalism. 

Missionaries were invited to speak by socialist groups and small independent churches, and were frequently given a venue by the temperance movement because they proclaimed abstinence from alcohol, healthy living and hard work.  They prospered particularly in areas with a strong radical tradition and a history of dissent, and though in the early years there was a significant proportion of middle class converts, the general stereotype of the later Mormon convert was urban, working class and Nonconformist.  Clearly, the Faceby Mormons do not fit this pattern. 

The Utah History Encyclopaedia describes the appeal of the church to Brigham Young as coming from its
"Christian primitivism, its millennialistic orientation, authoritarianism, certain Puritan-like beliefs, and the fact that it offered him an avenue to achieve status and recognition through its lay priesthood".  
This must also have been the attraction to many other converts, although the exact nature of the appeal would vary according to the character of the listener. 

The foundation in Bible-based Protestantism would be familiar and the millennialist orientation not unusual; the missionaries had notable success, for example, amongst Methodists with millennial beliefs.  Some converts would find security in the claim to spiritual authority (confirmed by prophecies from scripture, revelations to its living prophet and works of apostolic power) and in the church's thorough organisation and clearly defined structure.  There was a strong appeal to those searching for social justice and equality.  Members participated in the conferences and could meet the leaders, there was no professional priesthood and individual property rights were theoretically subordinated to the building of the kingdom.  For lovers of ritual, there were secret passwords and mysteries which some scholars have traced to borrowings from Freemasonry. 

The faith demanded a life of hard work, self discipline, education and frugality.  The church planned settlements which would have all the advantages of schools, public lectures, meetings, social refinement and intellectual life "as will be found in the home of the merchant or banker or professional man" [from an early explanation of Smith’s plan quoted in Roberts, 'Comprehensive History']. 

The overall ideal was optimistic and progressive.  At a time of hell-fire sermons, Mormonism was promising near universal salvation and that life on earth was only part of an eternal existence in which our spirits learn and progress – "Happiness is the object and design of our existence" said Joseph Smith. 

Lastly, it held out the appeal of emigration – the promise of a new life in a better land with like-minded people.  Some over-enthusiastic missionaries depicted Utah as a second Garden of Eden, in spite of appeals from the church not to do so; they doomed their listeners to disappointment.

The villagers of Faceby were evidently strongly drawn to this life of self-improvement in pursuit of a higher communal and spiritual ideal.

Faceby in 1852: first encounter with Mormon missionaries

It seems that the Stanger and Etherington families first met a Mormon missionary in 1852. 

George Stanger’s family remembered the missionary as a young man called Elder William Burton.  Perhaps he was travelling between the church’s branches in Leeds and County Durham and found himself in the neighbourhood.  He was able to find somewhere to hold a meeting – perhaps a Temperance Hall or Nonconformist chapel.  One of the Stanger family went to the meeting and was so impressed by what he heard that before long, more missionaries were visiting the Stangers’ home in Faceby.  The family and their neighbours became convinced of the truth of the new teachings and soon the visiting elders were baptising new members, probably in Faceby beck.

1852 was to bring further changes to the Stangers' and Etheringtons' lives.  The Etheringtons’ daughter Elizabeth was married in London to a coachman named John Pugh, but their young son George died in Faceby at the age of twelve.  John Stanger married and began farming at Landmoth near Leake, and Ann Stanger married Charles Hogg on 26th June.

Charles Hogg

Charles Hogg's account of his life is of great interest.  It suggests a man capable of extremely hard work, but of perhaps narrow views.  He mentions his father-in-law only once and his brothers-in-law not at all; possibly he was writing for his family by his second wife. 

Hogg was the son of a stock dealer in Deighton near Northallerton, and was one of ten children.  He was broken to his father's business at the age of five or six, and hired out to a farmer to drive a team of horses when he was seven.  He then worked in the brick yards for three summers, and
"without much chance to go to school I did learn to read and write a little, and studied arithmetic a little."   
He then 
"hired out to a farmer named Thomas Webster when eleven years of age for one year.  My wages being two pounds ten shillings or twelve dollars and fifty cents for the year."  
He spent three years and six months with Webster, and then worked as a farm hand until he was 19 years old.  For the last five years of his life in England he worked as a drainer –
"I had to assist father’s family (as wages were very low) to get the necessities of life".  
His horizons were not confined to Cleveland; he had sisters living in Liverpool and an uncle in Utah.

Hogg records becoming "a little acquainted with the Gospel of Christ as revealed to Joseph Smith" in 1852 and the account of Ann Stanger Hogg's life written by her descendants records that this introduction to the Mormon faith happened "soon after their marriage" in meetings with Mormon missionaries from Salt Lake City, many of them held in her father's house.  The account of Elizabeth Etherington in Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude (biographical sketches of early Mormon women, supplied by their descendants) states that she and her husband heard the message of the restored gospel from a missionary in 1851 and were converted; this date may not be correct, as John Etherington was still a churchwarden in 1852.  However, it does suggest that Hogg was joining an existing group in Faceby and that missionaries were already becoming regular visitors there. 

Charles Hogg was baptised into the church on 29 May 1853 by Moses Clough (or Cluff) and
"bore my testimony in a public meeting four weeks after, held in the house of James Stanger."  
Moses Clough was a young man of twenty four, fresh from Utah, and must have been an inspiration to the young people of Faceby.

1853: the Faceby Branch is established

The Faceby Mormons were becoming increasingly committed to their new faith.  They were undeterred by the announcement in 1852 of the revelation instituting polygamy.  The announcement of this practice led to derision in the press and amongst the public.  One Elder, speaking at the Newcastle conference in May 1853, commented that
"in some places there has been some who have questioned the motives of those men, and have in consequence had peculiar feelings towards them."
In July 1853 Thomas Stanger, still unconverted, married Jane Wilson, a dressmaker, in the parish church.  She and her brothers Thomas and William seem to have returned to their mother's village at some time after the 1851 Census; their father's family was from Bilsdale and is thought to be connected to that of the late prime minister, Harold Wilson.  Thomas Wilson was to become a Mormon and emigrate with the others in 1855; William may have become a member at the same time, but he remained behind. 

In Leeds, Ann Etherington married a labourer, Thomas Heslop, and they came home to the farm in Faceby for the birth of their son John in June (an IGI entry records his birth in "Fecely", which must be a misreading for Faceby).  They too were caught up in the growing excitement.

In September, Ann Stanger Hogg was baptised a Mormon and Charles Hogg was ordained a Priest by Elder Thomas Squires.  Charles was now able to take charge of the meetings in the absence of Elder Clough. 

Now the intensity of the new religious experience was growing and missionary work occupied more and more of their time.

By December 1853 they had formally established a Branch of the Mormon Church in Faceby with 16 members, and they sent a representative to the quarterly Newcastle Conference. 

Charles Hogg remembered that,
"It took all our spare means we could get to buy tracts, and feed, and clothe the traveling elders, of which many came amongst us.  The few saints of Faceby Branch did manfully; assisting in those temporal affairs for so small a branch, and members so young in the Church.  I continued to instruct the saints and travel around in the surrounding country whenever we had time, holding meetings, bearing our testimony whenever we had a chance". 
Unfortunately we have no record of the reaction of their neighbours and the local clergy; Mr Barlow of Hutton Rudby must have been particularly affected.

In April 1854, Charles Hogg was ordained an Elder and called on to act as President of the Faceby Branch.  Now he had the task of planning and presiding over meetings and assigning responsibilities to members.  He took his new position seriously,
"Here let me say I did to the best of my ability to warn the inhabitants of that part of the country to receive the eternal truths of Jehovah, that have been revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith."
In July 1854, when Elder James Macgregor represented the Branch at the Newcastle conference, it had 15 members and two baptisms had been performed.

Possibly the numbers in the Branch varied with the arrival and departure of visiting elders, but they may have been affected by the departure of James Stanger senior and his wife Isabella.  In the early summer of 1854 their son John's wife had died at Landmoth, leaving a two year old girl and a baby of three months, and at some point they left Faceby for Landmoth, presumably to help John with the children.

The Branch was still gaining converts – Thomas and Jane Stanger's daughter was baptised in the parish church in June, but in November her parents were baptised by Elder James Macgregor into the Mormon faith.  In December 1854, Charles Hogg represented Faceby at the Newcastle Conference – their Branch now had 19 members.

The Faceby Saints prepare to leave England

At this point preparations to leave for America must have begun in earnest.

It seems that young George Stanger must have been one of the first to decide to go.  His name, according to the Mormon Immigration Index CD-Rom, appears on the ship's roster of the Clara Wheeler which sailed from Liverpool in November.  This is possibly an error in the CD-Rom, or a clerical error at the Liverpool Office.  On the passenger list of the Clara Wheeler are the names of five other single young men from the North East, which suggests that George may have intended to travel with them as a party but changed his mind when the rest of the Faceby Saints, including his intended wife Mary Etherington, made the decision to emigrate that season.  Possibly his friends put his name down, but he either never reached Liverpool or changed his mind while there.  His name appears in the Perpetual Emigrating Fund records, which suggests that he applied for financial assistance to travel; he would be very favourably considered, as farm workers were badly needed in Utah.

Charles Hogg remembered,
"The Saints of Faceby were all preparing to leave the Branch except Chas Wake and family".
Charles Wake & Elizabeth Thompson & sons

Charles Wake was one of the Faceby tailors and at the 1851 Census lived next door to James Stanger junior.  He was born in Stokesley in 1826, the son of gamekeeper James Wake, and was married to Elizabeth Thompson of Potto.  In 1855 they had two small sons.  It seems that they could not afford to pay their own passage and risked being left behind, but their friends rallied round.

Charles Hogg recorded that,
"The saints united together and raised means enough to bring Chas Wake and family to Philadelphia.  We donated three pounds or fifteen dollars."
This is presumably the amount raised by the Branch, as Charles Hogg can hardly have raised that sum alone.  The Atlantic passage would have cost about £4 per adult, with children paying three-quarters of the price, and another 10 shillings a head (20 shillings = £1) was needed for food, bedding etc for the journey.  The journey through to Utah would have cost at least £20 for each adult, and not much less for each child. 

It is not clear how many of the party were funded by the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, and if so, to what extent.  According to his descendants, Thomas Henry Wilson, the brother of Jane Wilson Stanger, was also P.E.F. funded.  The Etheringtons probably had funds at their disposal – the entry for John Etherington in Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah records that he "helped many families in the emigration to Utah" – and James and Isabella Stanger may well have been able to assist their children.

Packing up to go

The emigrants now had to pack their baggage for the journey.  The shipping company was obliged, under the Passenger Acts, to provide them with basic food, but only the very poor found the quantity sufficient.  Wise travellers packed extra food to sustain them during the crossing.

They were required to take their own bedding, sheets, towels, soap and cooking and eating utensils.  Under the Passenger Acts, they would have to show that they each had at least a minimum amount of clothing:
for males: 6 shirts, 6 pairs stockings, 2 pairs shoes, 2 complete suits of exterior clothing
for females: 6 shifts, 2 flannel petticoats, 6 pairs stockings, 2 pairs shoes, 2 gowns
Emigrants who were being subsidised by the Perpetual Emigrating Fund – in this case, the Stangers, Hoggs and Thomas Wilson – were under a baggage limitation.  The cost of transporting goods, especially for the overland trek across the plains, was a major expense.  Consequently, the Fund laid down a baggage allowance: 100lb weight (including beds and clothing) for everybody over 8, and half that amount for children aged 4 to 8.  Children under 4 had no baggage allowance.

The Etheringtons, who were paying their own way, were limited only by their own budgets.  They will all have tried to pack tools and farm implements, for the new life ahead.

1 comment:

  1. It's nearly impossible to find well-informed people about
    this topic, but you seem like you know what you're talking
    about! Thanks