Mary Ann Angell Young: Trusting in the Lord
previous next

Digital Only: Early Women of the Restoration

Mary Ann Angell Young: Trusting in the Lord

Mary Ann Angell Young never wavered in her faith, relying on the Lord’s “assisting grace” and her testimony of the scriptures to endure the storms of life.

Woman holding Bible

Fortunate to grow up in a home that prioritized scripture reading, Mary Ann Angell (1803–82) gained a fondness for reading the Bible, especially the teachings of the Savior, at an early age.1 She developed a firm foundation in religious principles through her scripture study and teachings from her mother, Phebe Morton Angell. As a girl, Mary Ann once asked her mother about the similarities in the accounts of Christ’s ministry, death, and Resurrection in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Phebe explained that the testimony of three or four witnesses showed the truthfulness of Jesus Christ’s mission.2 Through her mother’s example, Mary Ann learned that she could hear the Lord’s voice through the scriptures and find solace in His teachings.

Mary Ann’s biblical foundation prepared her for new religious messages. She heard the restored gospel of Jesus Christ preached in Rhode Island, USA, in 1831. After obtaining and reading the Book of Mormon, Mary Ann gained a testimony of the restored gospel and remained steadfast in her faith thereafter. She later testified of her sure knowledge “that this is the everlasting Gospel, revealed by the power of God’s inspiration.”3

Around 1833, Mary Ann moved to Kirtland, Ohio, USA, to gather with Church members. There she met Brigham Young. They were married in early 1834, beginning a long life of relocations, trials, and afflictions—but of happiness and joy as well. Through the good times and hard times, Mary Ann continued to hear the Lord through the scriptures. Because she heard Him often, she placed unwavering trust in Him.

That trust gave her strength when Brigham departed for a mission to Great Britain in 1839 just 10 days after Mary Ann gave birth to their daughter Alice. For the 20 months that followed, Mary Ann and their six children struggled with illness and poverty. They survived primarily on corn bread, milk, and a few garden vegetables.4 Mary Ann managed to find a little work to support her family. “It has been so difficult to obtain work,” she lamented. “But I am thankful for a comfortable Shelter from the Storm.” This attitude of thanksgiving even amid trying circumstances helped sustain Mary Ann while her husband was half a world away. “I will thank my Heavenly Father for all the blessings I receive and pray the Lord to continue his mercies with us.”5 Giving thanks and trusting in the Lord was a lesson she learned while Brigham was gone. It “is a great thing,” she wrote to Brigham, to “trust in the Lord.”6

While Brigham spread the gospel message on many missions away from home, Mary Ann furthered the work of the Lord at home, raising her children, running the household alone, and caring for her neighbors. Though it was challenging, she maintained her trust that Brigham was where he was supposed to be. “I well know the Lord has called you to go far away to proclaim his everlasting gospel,” she told him. So she relied on the Lord’s “assisting grace” and did not “feel to repine” at her situation.7

Instead, she rejoiced in Brigham’s efforts: “I am glad to hear the work of the Lord is prospering in England; it gives me much joy.”8 Like Alma in the Book of Mormon, she found a fuller joy in the successful work of others—a work to which she contributed (see Alma 29:14).

Mary Ann Angell Young

Because of her scriptural knowledge and testimony, Mary Ann understood that the Lord was always with her, that He loved her, and that He understood her, especially in her many trials and afflictions. “May the Lord direct us in all things and speak consolation in the most darkest and trying hours,” she prayed.9 Because she knew how to hear Him, Mary Ann’s deep faith kept her feelings “quite calm through all the Storm.”10 Her 1882 obituary states: “Her trials and sufferings here were severe but she bore all with meekness and resignation and her reward will be sure. Her life was a labor of love, rich in good deeds that can never die.”11 Mary Ann was remembered as “one of the kindest and most benevolent of women,” always providing relief, care, or comfort to those in sorrow or in need.12

The scriptural foundation Mary Ann built early in her life helped her develop a deep and abiding trust in the Lord. That trust lasted throughout her life and bolstered her during times of pain and distress. It shone in her interactions with God’s children. Her faith made her humble and unwavering in her commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As she read His words, expressed gratitude for Him in prayer, and relied on His mercy, her trust in the Lord grew.


  1. See “Biography of Mrs. Mary Ann Young,” Woman’s Exponent, Sept. 1, 1887, 53–54; Emmeline B. Wells, “In Memoriam,” Woman’s Exponent, July 15, 1882, 28–29.

  2. See “Biography of Mrs. Mary Ann Young,” Woman’s Exponent, Sept. 1, 1887, 53–54.

  3. “Biography of Mrs. Mary Ann Young,” Woman’s Exponent, Sept. 15, 1887, 59.

  4. See Matthew C. Godfrey, “‘You Had Better Let Mrs Young Have Any Thing She Wants’: What a Joseph Smith Pay Order Teaches about the Plight of Missionary Wives in the Early Church,” BYU Studies Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 2 (2019), 62–64.

  5. Mary Ann Angell Young letter to Brigham Young, Apr. 15, 1841, Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878, Church History Library, Salt Lake City (CHL); spelling and capitalization standardized.

  6. Mary Ann Angell Young letter to Brigham Young, Apr. 15, 1841, Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878, CHL.

  7. Mary Ann Angell Young letter to Brigham Young, Aug. 31, 1835, Luna Young Thatcher Collection, 1835–1876, CHL.

  8. Mary Ann Angell Young letter to Brigham Young, Apr. 15, 1841, Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878, CHL; punctuation standardized.

  9. Mary Ann Angell Young letter to Brigham Young, Mar. 21, 1840, George W. Thatcher Blair Collection, 1837–1988, CHL.

  10. Mary Ann Angell Young to Brigham Young, June 30, 1844, Brigham Young Office Files, 1832–1878, CHL.

  11. Wells, “In Memoriam,” 29.

  12. Wells, “In Memoriam,” 29.