“General Authorities Born in the British Isles,” New Era, Nov. 1971, 42
Thousands of the Church’s great men and women have been born in the British Isles. In the early days of the Church, most of them emigrated to the United States and helped colonize frontier America. Today most remain at home to help build the kingdom of God in their homelands.
Listed below are the names of persons born in the British Isles who became General Authorities. These men have served more missions, written more books, held more positions, and accomplished more good than could be listed in dozens of articles such as this. The personal traits and worthy accomplishments noted here are mere thumbnail sketches and do not necessarily represent the most significant deeds or qualities of their active lives. They are listed by date of birth.
JOHN TAYLOR (Born 1808, Milnthorpe, England: died 1887, Kaysville, Utah; third president of the Church.) His six-foot bearing and his “heavenly countenance” impressed even strangers. Was Methodist preacher in Toronto, Canada, when baptized in his twenties in 1836 by Elder Parley P. Pratt. Introduced gospel to Ireland and Isle of Man. Edited Mormon journals in Europe and America. Authored many hymns and poems. Seriously wounded when Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred; carried the bullets to his grave forty three years later. Favorite motto: “The kingdom of God or nothing.”
GEORGE Q. CANNON (Born 1827, Liverpool, England; died 1901, Monterey, California; apostle; first counselor to Presidents John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow.) Baptized as a boy by John Taylor; lived to become President Taylor’s counselor in the First Presidency. Mother died crossing ocean, father soon after, leaving him to care for family at age 17. Terrified of public speaking as a boy he became thrilling orator. While serving in England, he helped over 13,000 Saints emigrate to “Zion.” In Hawaii, translated the Book of Mormon and saw over 4,000 Hawaiians baptized. Prolific writer and editor; left more than two and a half million words in print.
CHARLES W. NIBLEY (Born 1849, Hunterfield, Scotland; died 1925, Salt Lake City; Presiding Bishop of Church; second counselor in First Presidency.) Father was coal miner and branch president. Poverty prevented emigration until 1855. Worked five more years in eastern USA for funds to get to Utah. Once in Utah, Charles gleaned wheat, herded sheep, became wealthy. Lacked formal education but attained self-taught brilliance. Traveling companion to President Joseph F. Smith to military training camps during World War I. Had nine sons, eight daughters, scores of grandchildren.
CHARLES A. CALLIS (Born 1865, Dublin, Ireland: died 1947, Jacksonville, Florida; apostle.) After father’s death, moved with mother to Liverpool, England, where he was baptized at age 8. At 28 family arrived in Utah. Returned to British Isles as missionary. Back in Utah, served as city attorney, county attorney, and in the state legislature. While president of Southern States Mission, was very instrumental in bettering image of Church there.
BRIGHAM H. ROBERTS (Born 1857, Warrington, England; died 1933, Salt Lake City; member, First Council of the Seventy.) Mother and younger sister emigrated 1865; he and older sister came following year. Worked as farm hand, in mining camps, as blacksmith before graduating from Deseret University at 21. Taught school; drifted into journalism. Served two missions to Southern States. Went to Britain as assistant editor Millennial Star. Served as President of Eastern States Mission. Elected to Congress but denied seat due to plural marriage. Extremely prolific Church writer. Was famed orator and brilliant analyst of Church doctrine. Regarded as one of the great minds of the Church.
JAMES E. TALMAGE (Born 1862, Hungerford, England; died 1933, Salt Lake City; apostle.) Left England with family at 14; entered Brigham Young Academy same year; was teaching there at age 17. Awarded Ph.D. from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1896 after studying at Lehigh and Johns Hopkins Universities. Received honorary doctorates from several institutions and held life membership in many academic societies. Gave up lucrative engineering career to devote life to Church service. Authored Jesus the Christ, The Great Apostasy, Articles of Faith, essential Church resource books.
JOHN WELLS (Born 1864, Carlton, England; died 1941, Salt Lake City; second counselor in Presiding Bishopric.) Served Church with dedication in England. Emigrated at 25 with wife and child. Worked in shoe factory; later accepted position at Presiding Bishop’s office. Supervised construction of the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City and served several years as superintendent.
JOHN R. WINDER (Born 1820, Biddenden, England; died 1910, Salt Lake City; second counselor in Presiding Bishopric; first counselor in First Presidency.) When 28, eavesdropped on a sermon by Elder Orson Spencer in Liverpool and was converted; wife joined also. Caught smallpox on ship to America; overheard sailors say his body would be next one cast into sea. Recovered, crossed plains. Prominent in civic, military offices. Supervised completion of Salt Lake Temple.
GEORGE TEASDALE (Born 1831, London; died 1907, Salt Lake City; apostle.) Though well educated, he was attracted at 21 to the Church by unassuming fellow employee whose quiet example and simple testimony touched his heart. Left position and comfort to join the Saints. Became schoolteacher. Missionary in Southern States; later British mission president. Businessman, legislator, formed colony in Old Mexico. A “genial, quiet defender of truth.”
GEORGE REYNOLDS (Born 1842, London; died 1909, Salt Lake City; member, First Council of the Seventy.) First heard term Mormon from gossiping workmen in father’s tailor shop. Baptized at age 14; soon joined elders in street preaching. British emigration clerk under George Q. Cannon. Became editor of Millennial Star. Chased partway to Utah by hostile Indians. Became secretary to Brigham Young. Held many civic offices. Stood as test case to try constitutionality of antipolygamy laws; lost; served two years in penitentiary. While there, began 851-page concordance to the Book of Mormon still used today.
JOHN LONGDEN (Born 1898, Oldham, England; died 1969, Salt Lake City; Assistant to the Council of the Twelve.) Emigrated with family to Utah when 10. Studied voice, violin, drama, and was known as a performer. Had sales career with life insurance and electrical firms. Became assistant LDS servicemen’s coordinator during World War II and a member of General Church Welfare Committee. Fifty-six years after first attending meetings in small corrugated metal meetinghouse in Oldham, England, returned as a General Authority to dedicate a chapel in his hometown.
CHARLES W. PENROSE (Born 1832, London; died 1925, Salt Lake City; apostle; second and first counselor in First Presidency.) Had brilliant mind; was reading scriptures when only 4. Joined Church at 18; only member of family to do so. On first mission, walked until feet bled, but raised up many branches of Church in England during ten years of labor. Took family and relatives across plains by ox team. Became editor of Ogden Daily Junction, later of Deseret News. Held government positions; helped frame Utah constitution; was emissary to President Cleveland on behalf of Church. Wrote numerous books, pamphlets, and hymns.