Cumbria, Childhood County of John Taylor.
John Taylor, third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was born on November 1, 1808 at Milnthorpe, Westmorland, England. His parents were James and Agnes Taylor. Agnes’ maiden name was also Taylor, but no blood relationship between her and James has been found. Milnthorpe, in the present-day county of Cumbria, is a market town on the River Kent with a population of just over 2,000. It is important for the reader to note that Westmorland, the county of John Taylor’s birth, became the county of Cumbria in 1974 and has remained such ever since. Because Cumbria is the current designation, that name will be used from this point on in the text on this page, even though in John Taylor’s day it was Westmorland.
Within a month of his birth, John Taylor was formally baptized into the Church of England. This ordinance took place in St. Peter’s Parish Church in Heversham, a small village and civil parish close to Milnthorpe. Its present-day population is about 700. The church at Heversham was the same church in which John’s father, James, had been baptized as an infant. St. Peter’s Church, the Parish Church at Heversham, is still extant and in use today. The site of the Heversham church has been one of worship since the seventh century. A devastating fire destroyed all but the stone walls in 1601. Over the next decade, the church was rebuilt with another major renovation undertaken in 1868. Anything done during that project would have made the building different than it was in John Taylor’s day. It is still a lovely and historic structure nonetheless.
When John was about six, his family moved to Liverpool in nearby Lancashire because of an employment opportunity for his father, James. At the end of the family’s five years there, they moved back to Cumbria to an inherited farmhouse on seven acres of land in the village of Hale. While there, John learned the ins and outs of farm life. For the next three years he also attended grammar school at Beetham, a village about a mile from Hale. The building in which he studied is no longer extant, but one similar to it is situated very close to the building John used.
Now fourteen, John left Cumbria and went once again to Liverpool, Lancashire. There he was apprenticed as a cooper (barrel maker). After about a year, the man with whom he labored went under financially. This led him to leave Liverpool and move back to Cumbria, this time north of Hale to the village of Penrith (At Penrith, Cumbria was then Cumberland). In this region of stunning beauty, he learned the trade of wood turning. As John labored and learned, he came to feel the need to join the Methodist Church and did so at age sixteen. He became very active as a lay preacher, of sorts, in that faith. During his five years in Penrith, John had the distinct impression come to him that one day he would preach the Christian religion in America. Seven years later that impression was realized.
Map and Directions to St. Peter's Church, Heversham
The formal address of St. Peter’s, Heversham is: Woodhouse Ln, Milnthorpe LA7 7EW, United Kingdom.
Most of the sites and structures on this page are villages. St. Peter’s is a formal house of worship of the Church of England with hours posted online and the board outside the building.
The John Taylor childhood home has its own page in this Sites Registry with concomitant information.
Articles & Resources
Paul Thomas Smith, in Leonard J. Arrington, ed., The Presidents of the Church, 75-76.
Preston Nibley, The Presidents of the Church, 70.
Casey Paul Griffiths, in Mary Jane Woodger, ed., John Taylor, Champion of Liberty, 3.
J. Lewis Taylor, video about the life of President John Taylor produced by the John Taylor Family Organization.