Theodore Turley Returns to England and Preaches the Gospel to His Family

Theodore Turley Returns to England and Preaches the Gospel to His Family July 24, 2019

“After an adventurous journey, Elders Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and Theodore Turley arrived in Liverpool, England, Jan. 11, 1840.”

Theodore Turley
Theodore Turley

Theodore Turley met with the other brethren and determined areas to labor.  Theodore was born in Birmingham and had lived most of his life in that area.  15 years prior to his return as a missionary, he moved to Canada.

He kept a great journal of logistics mingled with emotion.  He longed for his family to join him in his faith. Below are related accounts of Theodore’s journal experiences and a few other quotes about his preaching the Gospel to his family.

“Jan. 20th, 1840.–This day found my father much worn out with hard work, bent down to the earth. I pray God to deliver him soon from such bondage as this, but there is a smile always on his countenance. This morning, Mr. and Mrs. Mills, also my mother and sister, Charlotte, and then my father and my brother, John, and then Grandfather, and then John’s family. Much pleased with John’s 4 children, so clean and neatly dressed. Much pleased with Sister Mills’ children. George and Thomas are fine young men, as tall and manly as their father. Mary Ann’s a fine young woman, Sophia is the image of my sister, Mary Ann, when young Elizabeth is sickly, a slender child, dreamt I was coming. Richard, Charlotte, William, a fine boy. Sister Mills is weakly at this time. Mr. Mills is aged but still about the same worthy man as ever.”

January 22, 1840.–Elders Woodruff and Turley arrived in the Potteries district and commenced their labors. Visited the home of Brother William Benbow and were kindly received by his wife, Sister Ann Benbow.

“January 27th, 1840–This morning woke up in health after a hard day’s work yesterday, at Bro. Benbow, in Hanley, Stafford Shire, after expounding the scriptures to the family walked two miles to Burslem. There found Elder Woodruff at Bro. Cordon’s. Took dinner at Bro. Cordon’s then went to visit some of the saints, then walked to meeting at Lane End about 6 miles. Spoke after Bro. Cordon, then took supper (dinner) at Bro. Ira Whittiker, Lane End and then blessed his two children. Laid hands on one Bro. for a swollen neck. Then went and laid hands on a sick child. Then blessed two children and walked back to logings very tired in body.

“January 31, 1840.–This morning found me in bed at my mother’s with my grandfather by my side not little pleased to find all alive except Bro. Fredric. Grandfather is able to work and earn his living….

“February 1, 1840.–This morning at Mother’s in Thurst Street No. 65. I pray God to give me access to the understanding of my relations that they may understand the things of God as they are. I read several Chapters to my Mother and made a few remarks. I then visited the market place and Town Hall, both the most splendid buildings I ever saw.

“February 2, 1840.–This morning went to the Methodist Chapel. Seen many of my old acquaintances. I pray God to give the people eyes to see. “Spent the afternoon with my father, mother and some of my friends; the evening with Bro. Walton and Sis. Walton at my Bro. John’s with his family. Slept at my mother’s with my grandfather.

Preaching His Parents the Gospel

“Feb. 3, 1840.–This morning my heart’s desire before God is that He will open my way that I may preach to my parents the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I took dinner with Sis. Mills, seen my Uncle Thomas Hart this morning. Spent the afternoon in trying to obtain an opportunity to communicate to my Brother John the glorious things of the Kingdom of God. I went to see my wife’s Brother, Jessie Kimberly, found him and wife and 7 children enjoying good health but in want of employment. I spent the night in communicating to my grandfather, mother and father the things that God has done and will do in this generation.”

Feb. 4, 1840.–This morning took breakfast with mother and then went to see Sis. Mills found her sick, then I went to see my Bro. John’s family. I pray God to give my Brother eyes to see the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. This afternoon I went to see Mr. J. Lilley a Methodist preacher, used to be acquainted with me 20 years ago. He appears to be very dark as to the things of God. I could not get him to understand the plan of Salvation, nor the revelations as given the timely warning. I spent the rest of the day in conversation with my mother and family. Oh! I desire their salvation, I pray God to give me his Holy Spirit to help me and give them hearts to understand. I hope to have an opportunity soon. Dined with Bro. R. Mills, visiting the 13 acres of land. Took tea at Bro. R. Mills; spent part of the evening with Bro. John Turley, took supper with John and his wife at his house in Liland Street.

“February 5, 1840.–Took breakfast at my mother’s. Took dinner with Bro. R. Mills. Wrote this morning to Elder W. Woodruff at Burslem, StaffordShire. This afternoon wrote to my wife’s sister in London. This evening I hope to spend in company with my brother John to converse about the things of God.

“February 6, 1840.–This morning went to see my brother John but he being engaged with business could have no opportunity to converse with him. Oh! I hope to have an opportunity soon; dined with Bro. R. Mills, visiting the Botanic Gardens to see the various collections of roots and plants, covers 13 acres of land. Took tea at Bro. R. Mills; spent part of the evening with John Turley, took supper with John and his wife at his house in Liland Street.

“February 7, 1840.–This morning took breakfast at mother’s went to see Jessie Kimberly, had some conversation with his father Will, etc. Then went and dined with Sis. Walton, then went to see my wife’s aunt Vindness Hugh [widow of Hugh Bolton Kimberley].* Then I went to see my old master James Parkes, and took tea with him. I hope the Lord will open a door for me to preach the Gospel unto his people. Spent the evening bearing my testimony to my grandfather and family and slept at mothers.

“Feb. 8, 1840.–Saturday, this morning took breakfast with mother. Went to meet my sister Davis in company with brother-in-law Mills. Spent the day with Sister Davis and mother. Bore my testimony in truth and sincerity, kept me talking or preaching all day till I am hoarse. Took supper with Sis. Ann and Sophia, father, mother, and grandfather. Slept with my grandfather. My sister Ann has come from London to Birmingham to see me.”

Also on February 8, Wilford Woodruff records: “I received a letter from Elder Turley Thursday; he was in Birmingham preaching to his relatives in the family circle, but was soon expecting to preach in public; he had hard work to preach to his parents, who had been professors of Godliness forty years, and had great confidence in their ministers.”

“Feb. 9, 1840.–This morning took breakfast with Bro. John’s family on purpose to converse with him on the things pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven, walked with him some distance, but oh, how has tradition bound round the understanding of the children of men. They truly have eyes but see not. I long for their salvation, that the God of Heaven may grant me the desire of my heart in this respect. This afternoon spent with my relations. The house crowded with persons to see me. I had an opportunity to testify of the goodness of God. I am somewhat encouraged, hoping some of my relations will embrace the faith which is my earnest desire before the Lord. Slept this night with grandfather in Birmingham.

“Feb. 11, 1840.–This morning at my sis. Davis’ at Alberstone, Warwickshire, Printer and Stationer, this morning I am longing to leave my friends so that I may go to preach the Gospel to the world as some of my relations are not willing to receive my testimony. I pray God to open their eyes to see their situation, and privileges God offers them. This day spent with my sister in conversation with her on the nature of religion as revealed. I took a walk out this afternoon meditating on the goodness of God to me and my family. Oh, I long to be worthy of that Comforter that Jesus promises to His Disciples the manifestation of the Father and Son, the ministering of Angels, the Lord grant it to me.

“May 8, 1840.–This morning I rose early. Pleased with a dream. My little daughter came to me and said, Papa, Papa, I am glad to see you. From various impressions I shall be delivered from this. This day at 8 a.m. I received the information that my discharge was come while I thank God for this blessing.”

Joseph Smith wrote, “Elder Turley was released from Stafford jail, where he had been confined since his arrest on the 16th of March last, at the instigation of John Jones, a Methodist preacher, on the pretense of a claim arising under a partnership with another man fifteen years ago, before he left England; but the real object was to stop his preaching. He was without provisions for several days, but the poor Saints in the Potteries, on learning his condition, supplied his wants, some of the sisters actually walking upwards of twenty miles to relieve him.

He preached several times to the debtors, was visited by Elders Woodruff, Richards, George A. Smith, A. Cordon, and others, and was dismissed from prison on his persecutors ascertaining their conduct was about to be exposed. This rather encouraged than disheartened the Elders, as I had told them on their leaving Nauvoo, to be of good courage, for some of them would have to look through grates before their return.

“May 28, 1840.–Went to Birmingham to see my parents. Arrived 7:30 p.m. I saw I was once more in company with my parents. I pray God to bless my visit. “May 29, 1840.–Spent with Bro. John and family. “May 30, 1840.–Spent with my parents in Birmingham and relatives. “May 31, 1840.–I preached the necessity of Baptism to my parents. Oh! My soul is grieved in consequence of the traditions that have been instilled into them by the damnable doctrines of man. I pray God to bless them with eyes to see the truth. I feel much my spirits are down.

“June 1, 1840.–This morning taking leave of my relations for the North. I traveled to West Broomwitch to see my relatives here, found them all alive and well. Slept at Mr. N. Woods. “June 2, 1840.–This day at Grets Green West Groom Parish, teaching the things of the Kingdom of Heaven. Preached at night also. “June 3, 1840.–In Grets Green teaching the things of the Kingdom of God. “June 4, 1840.–Went to the Brades. Saw some of my father’s relations. Preached to them the Gospel. I returned to Grets Green. These two men came to inquire of me about the doctrines of Christ. I preached Jesus and the resurrection unto them; there also came some to entangle me in my talk. They brought a traveling preacher of the name of Leek to see if he could counteract the effects of my preaching the Gospel. But thank God he gave me words that he could not gainsay. The people that heard, some were left in amazement and others in praise of God for sending the truth. I can’t leave the people at present. They are beginning to have their eyes opened.

On June 8 Theodore Turley wrote from Grets Green, near Birmingham, to George A. Smith: “I left Lane End, and arrived in Birmingham a quarter before eight o’clock; at my father’s, found them well. My brother’s family are sick–no opportunity with my brother. He had to leave town upon business. I preached to my parents; my mother is so bound by the damnable errors of man; that she thinks so much of that, I am grieved. I left on Monday for Broomwitch and found that my former preaching and letters from Stafford were not lost, but were working like leaven in meal. One preacher had not preached Methodism; nor could he. I preached on Tuesday. All the time I have been there, there has been either preachers or leaders calling upon me, some in the spirit of enquiry, others trying to eat me up. It is hard fighting. They brought a traveling preacher, by the name of Leek, in this circuit, to oppose me. We had a discussion and the people were ashamed of him. Some are raging mad against me. There is one class really broken up.

Wednesday I preached, and Thursday also, and on Friday I baptized three. A preacher opposed me. Six more gave their names for baptism on Saturday and I was invited to the house of a gentleman at Hill Top; I had an interview with him. He received me with warmth, received my testimony, said he had tried to preach the gospel for thirty-five years, but was convinced that he lacked the power of God, and he had preached the second coming of Christ and the Restoration of the Jews. He had suffered much opposition on account of his going to try for me to preach in their chapel.

Sunday morning I held meeting, confirmed three, and administered the Sacrament to them. I spoke to the congregation. In the afternoon preached in the street and at night I was invited to fill the appointment of a Methodist local preacher. The house was filled and I preached two hours; many believed. Numbers say they must be baptized. The preacher stated publicly that he must be baptized; prayed that God would enable them all to examine the truths that he had heard, and obey them. He and his wife told me that they will obey the commandment. A great fuss was raised. I have no chance to visit the different places around.

I pray God to send more laborers in the vineyard. Brother Smith, do come and help me here. There is Birmingham and Woverhampton, and ten or twelve other towns here, that are perishing. This morning I have had a storm; a relative came to call me to task for baptizing two of his daughters; one is married, the other twenty-three years of age. He has poured out his Methodist threats against me, but I was as independent in feeling and speech as the Son of a King.

“June 9, 1840.–Not well, had a bad night’s rest. I went to see my parents. I traveled to Birmingham. I long for their salvation. Slept at my father’s. “June 10, 1840.–This morning had some conversations with my grandfather upon the subject of baptism. He confessed it a duty, but is fearful of his health being injured.

Father Is Ready For Baptism

“June 14, 1840.–Arose early to converse with my father and grandfather. My father told me he was ready to be baptized. He would like grandfather to go at the same time. I walked to West Broomwitch. My sis. Charlotte accompanied me. Met the saints at Bro. Painter’s. The rest of the evening instructing among the people. They threaten my life; the influence of priest-craft is so great that it makes it hard work.

“June 15, 1840.–I walked to Birmingham with my sister. She came to preach. Spent the day in Birmingham; at night I taught my parents the nature of Faith. “June 16, 1840.–Walked to Grets Green; then visited from house to house, teaching of the things of the Kingdom. Then walked to Wedensbury. Preached in the Baptist chapel; then walked to Grets Green. Very stormy; caught a bad cold; had a number of preachers to hear me.

“June 17, 1840.–Not enjoying good health; waiting for Elder Woodruff. At night went to Princess End and preached in the Baptist chapel. They invited me again. I returned to Grets Green. There was a number waiting for me to injure my body. Some threatening to horse-whip me and others threatening to put me down a coal pit. They surrounded the house till 2 a.m. One came in, and called me all ill names and gave many threats.

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