Stationers' Hall, London, England
There are two historical connections between the history and scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Stationers’ Hall in London, England. The first connection was made during the second mission to Great Britain beginning with the Lord’s call to the Twelve to “go over the great waters, and there promulgate my gospel, the fulness thereof, and bear record of my name.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 118: 4.) Like the first mission to the British Isles, this second mission brought monumental changes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At one point during the mission, Elder Brigham Young and several other missionaries were meeting on the famed Herefordshire Beacon near Ledbury, Herefordshire, England. It was that occasion that Brigham Young felt prompted to leave the area and somehow get the scriptures published for the many converts coming into the Church. Financed by John Benbow and Thomas Kington, the task of reprinting of the 1837 Kirtland edition of the Book of Mormon was undertaken.
On February 8, 1841 Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff went to Stationers’ Hall in London to register the Book of Mormon in an effort to secure the copyright in Joseph Smith’s name. Once a sufficient number of copies of the book had been physically published in Liverpool, it was announced that the book was ready for sale in February 1841.
A second connection with Stationers’ Hall unfolded several centuries earlier. It was there that learned scholars reviewed and revised the work of six companies that had translated various sections of the Bible, leading to the production of the Authorized or King James Version. The plan was initially set up so that two members of each of the six translating groups or companies were to participate in this process. Little documentary information has survived, but translator John Bois of the Second Cambridge Company took notes on that stage of the translation process, parts of which have survived the last four centuries. The time needed to translate the various sections of the Bible varied from one committee to another but, in the end, all six translations were assembled at Stationers’ Hall. Bois recorded that at least some of the translators and revisers met daily for nine months at Stationers’ Hall so that the draft could be corrected and agreed upon before the book’s publication in 1611 by Robert Barker, the King’s Printer. Some scholars believe that the reviewing and revising process took much longer than nine months. Again, very little documentary evidence has survived.
The Stationers’ Hall-King James Bible connection to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is seen in the following quote from the First Presidency (1992) of the Church: “While other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations. All of the Presidents of the Church, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith, have supported the King James Version by encouraging its continued use in the Church. In light of all the above, it is the English language Bible used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Stationers’ Hall is a privately owned conference venue-type facility used for meetings, receptions and other gatherings. Permission by the owners must be obtained before one is allowed to view the interior of the building complex. Further information can be found at: https://www.stationershall.co.uk
Articles & Resources
James B. Allen, Ronald K. Esplin, David J. Whittaker, Men With A Mission, 1837-1841: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 249-251.
Richard L. Evans, A Century of “Mormonism” in Great Britain, 145.
Alister McGrath, In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture, 184-187.
David Norton, The King James Bible: A Short History From Tyndale to Today, 92-105, 119.
Adam Nicolson, God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, 209.