John Taylor served as the third President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between 1880 and his death in 1887. Born in 1808 in Milnthorpe, England, he joined the Church in 1836 along with his wife Leonora Cannon Taylor while living in Toronto, Canada. He survived the mob attack at Carthage Jail that killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith but was seriously wounded. During the 40 years that Taylor served as an Apostle, he edited several Church newspapers, published books and tracts, preached in Great Britain and North America, and oversaw early missions in Germany and France. After Brigham Young’s death in 1877, Taylor initially led the Church as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In 1880 he was sustained as the third President of the Church and reorganized the First Presidency.
While presiding over the Church as President of the Quorum of the Twelve, John Taylor approved the creation of the Primary organization and set apart the first General Presidents of the Church’s women’s organizations. As President of the Church he oversaw the adoption of the Pearl of Great Price as scripture and a program of debt relief and other welfare efforts for the poor as part of a jubilee celebration for the Church’s 50th anniversary.
As government pressure against plural marriage increased in the 1880s, Taylor resisted, having accepted plural marriage in Nauvoo, Illinois. During his lifetime, he married eight women. President Taylor spent much of the last few years of his life in hiding from federal authorities. He died in July 1887.
For more information about the life of John Taylor, see the Prophets of the Restoration videos on history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org or in the Gospel Library app.