Research Methods

Carol Wilkinson and Cynthia Doxey Green

Carol Wilkinson and Cynthia Doxey Green, “Appendix,” in The Field Is White, Carol Wilkinson and Cynthia Doxey Green (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017), 201-230.

In order to provide more details about the research described in some of the chapters, this appendix explains the processes we used to identify the early converts from the Three Counties, their locations, and their families. A synopsis of the research is in the earlier chapters, but greater detail is provided here for the interested reader. We focus on how we created both the journal database and the branch database, some of which was explained in chapter 5. Next we describe the public records and the methods used to identify the individuals to learn more about their demographic circumstances and their later involvement with the Church, as explained in chapter 6. We add a more detailed analysis of the occupations found in the databases. The next section describes how we found many of the dwellings and licensed places for preaching associated with members of the United Brethren, as described in chapter 2. Finally, the appendix contains a table with the names of the branches and conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located within Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Herefordshire in existence during the nineteenth century.

Sources for Convert Names

We used several sources to find the individuals who joined the Church in the Three Counties in the mid-1800s. We began by creating two different databases. One database comes from journals of the missionaries and local converts, and one comes from Church membership records of the Frogmarsh and Bran Green branches.

Journal Database. As mentioned in chapter 5, one of the most important sources for the names of converts from the early 1840s in the Three Counties was “Wilford Woodruff’s Baptismal Record 1840: W. Woodruff’s list of the number baptized in Herefordshire England 1840.”[1] In order to be sure that we had correctly written the names in our database, we studied both the copy of Woodruff’s own handwriting along with Scott G. Kenney’s published transcription of Wilford Woodruff’s journals. Additionally, we used the resource of another transcription of the notebook found in a series of five articles written by Jay Greaves Burrup called “150 Years Ago: A look back at Wilford Woodruff and the West Midland Mormons of 1840,” published in the Herefordshire Family History Society Journal from July 1990 to October 1993.[2] In these articles, Burrup combined the daily journal entries with the names listed in the notebook of baptisms so that the reader can read Wilford Woodruff’s daily activities, at the same time seeing the names of those who were baptized each day. Burrup also identified many of the individuals listed with some birth, marriage, and death information, along with some family relationships. Because he was using the records available at that time in the Family History Library, he was not able to identify as many people as we were, in part because the records in the 1980s and1990s were not automated as they are today. Most of his identifications were correct and helpful to us as we began our research.

At the end of the notebook, Wilford Woodruff stated that 542 individuals were baptized in the area by 22 June 1840, [3] the last day he made notations of converts’ names. He mentioned that 242 of that number had been baptized by “Elders Young[,] Richards[,] Kington[,] and others.”[4] Although he recorded the number of baptisms being 542, he only named 479 people baptized from 6 March to 22 June 1840. To our database we added thirty more names of people he met, stayed with, or ordained to priesthood offices that he mentioned in his journal prior to leaving the area permanently in 1841.[5] We also assumed that if he described someone as “Brother” or “Sister,” the individual probably had been baptized beforehand.

The other names in this database came from the journals, diaries, and reminiscences we found of the missionaries or local members from the early 1840s. Baptismal dates in the database ranged from 6 March 1840 to 5 February 1843, when the last of the missionaries for whom we have journals left the Three Counties area.[6] There were ninety-eight individuals without baptismal dates, with another twenty-four having just a year or month listed. For example, Thomas Steed named several family members who were baptized, including aunts and uncles, but he did not provide a date of baptism.[7] The documents from which we found convert names included journals, reminiscences, or autobiographies located in the Church History Library, Brigham Young University’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections or in published works.[8] Like Wilford Woodruff, many of the missionaries recorded the names of converts they baptized, along with dates and places of baptism. Although we also examined some secondary sources and biographies to clarify information about an individual, no name was included in the database unless we also found the name in one of the primary documents.[9] In all, the journal database contained the names of 775 individuals.

Branch Database from the Records of Members, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As mentioned in chapter 5, there were numerous branches in the Three Counties created during the early 1840s, but actual membership records of the Church from that time period only exist for a relatively small number of branches. Information about the branches in existence in mid-nineteenth century Britain is available from the British Mission Manuscript History and Historical Reports, 1841-1971.[10] In the early twentieth century, the assistant Church historian, Andrew Jenson, and his staff at the Church Historian’s Office scoured published records like the Millennial Star from Britain, The Times and Seasons in Nauvoo, and The Deseret News in Salt Lake City for information regarding the history of the British Mission. Jenson also traveled to Britain to learn more of the history of the branches from local inhabitants who may have had knowledge of the beginnings of the Church in their areas. He and his staff then transcribed their findings and added to the history of the local units they had identified, creating the list of branches that is in the Manuscript History.[11]

According to the Manuscript History, there were over 120 branches established at some time during the nineteenth century in the Three Counties. Most of those branches ceased to exist after fifteen to twenty years, with only a few lasting until the beginning of the twentieth century. Membership records currently are available on microfilm at the Church Library or the Family History Library for only thirty-three of the congregations in the Three Counties. At the end of the appendix, there is a table of branches in the Three Counties with microfilm numbers and the coverage of dates found in the records.

There may be several reasons for the lack of membership records now available. One reason is because the membership records may not actually have been created at the time the branches were organized. The records vary in their completeness and accuracy. We first looked at several different branches in the Cheltenham Conference records and found that the same people were listed many times in the same branch record book, almost as if the branch clerk periodically rewrote the information for every individual in the branch. The names and ordinance dates in the records do not have an alphabetical or chronological order, perhaps because they were written at a later date as branch members recollected their baptisms. In other words, the branch clerk perhaps began recording the members and their ordinances in the later 1840s, and could only ask about the ordinances of those individuals who were still living in the area. Those who had been baptized earlier and emigrated soon thereafter are not included on the branch records, even though the records do show some baptismal dates from as early as 1840.

An earlier research study provides another possible explanation for why many branches listed in the Manuscript History do not currently have membership records available.[12] The study compared Church membership records and the 1851 ecclesiastical census in Britain, finding that while Church meetings recorded on the census might have taken place in several different homes or meeting places, the records of the branch sometimes were centralized in one place. By finding the addresses in the 1851 population census of the Church members listed in the branch records and comparing them with the “meeting places” listed on the 1851 ecclesiastical census, the researchers showed that although the members’ records were held in one place, the branch was broken into smaller groups, meeting in several places at the same time. A similar phenomenon may have occurred in the Three Counties where several of the branches or meeting places kept their records together in one central location. Thus, in looking for the records for one of the branches listed in the Manuscript History, we might find that their membership records are contained within the records of another branch.

Another possible reason for the small percentage of membership records during this time period is the loss or destruction of the records before they were able to make it to Church headquarters in Nauvoo or Utah. If a branch leader emigrated but could not carry the membership records, they may have been left for others who perhaps were not as diligent in keeping the records. A further study of the 1851 ecclesiastical census in Britain showed that seventy-six meeting places recorded in the 1851 census had no corresponding membership records available today.[13] Evidently, the lack of Church records was a country-wide phenomenon, not just limited to the Three Counties.

Given that less than a fourth of the branches in the Three Counties listed in the British Mission Manuscript History have available membership records at the Family History Library, we chose to do a case study of two branches: the Bran Green Branch and the Frogmarsh Branch. These branches encompassed the area in and around the Gadfield Elm chapel, which was originally built by the United Brethren but was deeded to the Church in 1840 when the majority of the United Brethren were converted.[14] Bran Green, an area in the parish of Newent, is about five miles southwest of Gadfield Elm and was the meeting place for a congregation of the United Brethren, and later a branch of the Church.[15] The Frogmarsh Branch was first mentioned during the 15 March 1841 Bran Green and Gadfield Elm Conference meeting.[16] Frogmarsh is an area in the Eldersfield parish, about two miles northeast of the Gadfield Elm chapel. These two branches coexisted for several years, according to the British Mission Manuscript History, but the last mention of Bran Green Branch was in 1848, while the Frogmarsh Branch continued reporting as part of the Cheltenham Conference until 1884.[17] The two branches’ records appear to have become one after the Bran Green Branch dissolved, because many of the members listed in the records in Bran Green Branch are duplicated in the Frogmarsh Branch. The Church membership records for these two branches cover the period from 1840 to 1856.[18] After deleting the duplicate records listed on the branch records, the database for these branches shows 118 unique individuals in the membership record between 1840 and 1856.

Description of Public Records

Because we wanted to know more about the converts’ demographic circumstances and possible emigration, we searched several types of records that would provide information regarding their gender, ages, occupations, social status, and emigration. The following is a description of each of the different types of records we used and where we accessed them:

Censuses. Although governments take censuses for reasons other than genealogical purposes, they are some of the most useful and accessible tools for historians who want to know more about individuals living in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. England’s censuses took place every ten years, starting in 1841. The 1841 census asked for names, gender, ages, occupations, and whether the individual was born in the county in which he or she was living at the time of the census. The ages listed in the 1841 census are not necessarily correct because the enumerator rounded down to the nearest five- or ten-year age if the individual was over sixteen years old. The 1851 and 1861 censuses added more information, such as the individual’s age at last birthday, the relationship to the head of household, marital status, and birth parish.

The United States Federal Census also occurred every ten years, beginning in 1790, but only the heads of household, gender, and approximate ages of other individuals in the household were listed through the 1840 census. Beginning in 1850, the census included the names, ages, and gender of each individual in the household, along with occupation, value of real estate, and state or country of birth. Unfortunately, none of the United States censuses before 1880 provided the relationship to the head of household, which meant that we sometimes had to rely on Family Tree or other records to know how people in the household were related.

The 1841 census was helpful in identifying the individuals in the databases if the converts were still living in England when the census was taken on 6 June 1841. Unfortunately, a large number of the early Church members from the Three Counties emigrated in late 1840 through early 1841, so they are not enumerated on the census in England. Nor are they enumerated in the United States census because that census was taken in June 1840. However, if the converts continued living in the United States, we were often able to find them in the 1850 census, either in Utah, Illinois, or other places in between. In identifying the people in the databases, we searched the 1841 census first, then the 1851 and 1861 censuses to learn if the people stayed in the same area for those twenty years. If we did not find them in the later censuses, we looked for them in the United States censuses in 1850 and 1860. All of the censuses from both countries are searchable on the internet at or

Mormon Migration. The website Mormon Migration includes a database of voyages where Mormon immigrants traveled to the United States from 1840 through 1923. Included on the website are accounts of the voyages, culled from official ship records along with journals, diaries, and reminiscences of some of the travelers. Unfortunately, as noted in chapter 5, a number of voyages have no passenger lists currently available for searching. The website sometimes includes identifying information such as names, place of origin, family members traveling together, ages, and occupation. In searching this website, we were sometimes able to find several related families or neighbors from the Three Counties traveling together on the same ship. This website is

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel. This website brings together information of the Mormon pioneer companies and other related records for over sixty thousand people who traveled from various places heading for the Salt Lake Valley from 1847 to 1868. The website contains records of the companies’ rosters and information about the travelers based on diaries, journals, and other documents. The data about the individuals on the rosters often include names, ages, individuals traveling together, the company they were in, along with birth and death information where possible. This database is online at

Index of Civil Registration of Births, Marriages, and Deaths in England. Beginning in 1837, the government of England and Wales required that all births, marriages, and deaths should be registered with the local registrar. These records provide vital information, including parents’ names, birth, marriage, and death dates and places. The actual certificates are accessible only by ordering them from the General Registry Office and paying a fee for each certificate. However, the index to these certificates is available online at While the index does not give exact dates and places for the vital events (only the quarter and registration district are listed), often one can find enough information to correctly identify the individual. As we searched the index, we often found converts’ marriage and death records in England. is the official source for family history research provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While it contains many primary sources which have been indexed and are available for viewing (such as the census and other records), it also has a compiled genealogy on Family Tree. Family Tree combines data from sources like Church membership records, temple ordinance records, along with ancestral information submitted by individuals in the Church and the community. While there is much useful information found on Family Tree, there is always the possibility that the research submitted by individuals is faulty. As we researched Family Tree, we were careful not to accept everything recorded there without comparing it to other original records we searched.

Even though we knew that some of the data on Family Tree could be incorrect, it was still useful in helping us establish family relationships among the early converts. Family Tree often showed birth, marriage and death dates, family relationships, and baptismal dates that corresponded with the information we had on our databases. When we found such information, we were more confident that we had identified the people on our databases correctly. Sometimes Family Tree also provided vital information that helped us verify that the individuals emigrated and died in Nauvoo, Iowa, or Utah, especially because very few vital records exist for those areas during the 1840s to 1860s. Another important aspect of Family Tree is that many descendants have uploaded photos, stories, letters, or diaries that may not be in any other repository.

While the accuracy or validity of the information was something we kept in mind when looking at Family Tree, one of the reasons we used this source was because it helped us answer one of the questions we had about whether the convert stayed active in the Church. For example, when we found the converts on Family Tree connected to other family members, and with death dates listed in the United States, particularly Nauvoo, Iowa, Utah, or Idaho, we had confidence those individuals emigrated and stayed faithful to the Church for the rest of their lives. For many of those converts, their baptismal dates corresponded with what we already knew from the database, and their temple ordinances often occurred during their lifetime. Presumably, not only were they active in the Church but some of their children and other descendants also were members of the Church. We were able to make these conclusions because of the vast amount of information about these early converts shown on Family Tree.

On the other hand, when we found the converts’ names along with only one or two events or relationships listed in Family Tree, we assumed that the information was probably community indexed or extracted from other records such as parish registers in England. As we looked further on, we sometimes found that a christening record or marriage record had been indexed for Family Tree. In these situations, we usually found that the dates for baptism and temple ordinances were more recent than forty years ago, not from the 1800s. The individuals from our databases with this small amount of information on Family Tree most likely joined the Church, but they probably did not emigrate, nor did their descendants remain actively involved in the Church. We cannot assume that they were not faithful based on this information, but we see that their names did not remain on Church records through the years.

Convert Identification in Public Records

Names, Ages, Marital Status, and Gender. Unfortunately, we encountered several difficulties as we attempted to identify the converts from the journal database in other public records. One of the foremost problems was that while most journal writers provided converts’ names and often the date and place of baptism, they seldom recorded other identifying information. The journals did not record whether the individuals were male or female, old or young, married or single, or even if they lived in the area where they were baptized. For example, James Palmer wrote, “Following is a list of names of Persons that I have baptized into the church at different times and different places and I much regret to day that I did not record their names in full,”[19] He recorded several surnames, calling them “Brother” or “Sister” and provided very few baptismal dates or places. Clearly, identifying the correct “Brother Boulter” living in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, or Gloucestershire is practically impossible because there are so many males with the last name Bolter or Boulter. While preaching the gospel, James Palmer wandered through all Three Counties and Monmouthshire in Wales. Because he did not give a date for Brother Boulter’s baptism, we cannot find a baptismal place, which could have provided hints for identification.

Wilford Woodruff was usually careful about writing the name of the convert, along with the date and place of baptism, but there was rarely an indication of gender, age, or marital status. For example, Wilford Woodruff recorded that Francis Hill was baptized in May 1840 at Keysend Street in the parish of Berrow, Worcestershire. With no other identifying information, the following questions arise: Was Francis a woman or a man? Was Francis an eighty-year-old or a teenager? If she was a woman, was Hill her maiden name or her married name? Did Francis live in Berrow, or did he or she travel several miles to hear Wilford Woodruff preach before being baptized? Did Francis Hill die or emigrate before the 1841 census? There were many individuals named Francis Hill on the census, Mormon Migration Index, and FamilySearch Family Tree, so we were unable to answer these questions about gender, age, and emigration. When converts’ names were common, such as Ann Jones or William Morris, identification was difficult unless there was some other information included in a journal.

A rather humorous problem of identifying the individuals whose names were recorded in missionary journals came because of the lack of standardized spelling. People often spelled the way they heard someone speak. Wilford Woodruff was an American listening to people from southwestern England, many of whom may have had varying accents. Some people in that area drop the “H” sound at the beginning of a word, saying that they live in ’erifordshire, rather than Herefordshire. In Woodruff’s Baptismal Record, he listed the baptisms of John and Mary Allard and John Arvart in the parish of Colwall, Herefordshire. In searching the 1841 census, we found John and Mary Hallard and John Harford all living in Colwall. Apparently Wilford Woodruff wrote exactly what he heard the people say, and they probably dropped the “H” sound at the beginning of their names.

In rare instances, the missionary wrote something noteworthy about the individual, such as when the person was the parent or grandparent of someone else recently baptized, or if the person was much older or younger than the average convert. For example, on 4 April 1840, Wilford Woodruff wrote that he “baptized 11 women at Gadfields [sic] Elm & in the number was three generations a Daughter, Mother, & Grandmother. One of 8 years of age.”[20] This helpful information would suggest that if two women baptized that day had the same surname, they would probably be the eight-year-old daughter and her mother; a third woman, probably with a different last name, would be the grandmother. Sadly, three pairs of women with the same last names are listed on that day in the baptismal record, and there are no ages for any of them. It is impossible to know which of the eleven women baptized that day are the three-generational group based on the journal alone.

After discussing the difficulties in finding these individuals on other records, one may wonder whether we could be certain in identifying any of the individuals in our database. Surprisingly, we were able to identify the vast majority of the people listed in the database on at least one of the other records we searched, which included the census, FamilySearch Family Tree, Mormon Migration Index, Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, or on civil registration in England. In the journal database of 775 people, 73 percent of the individuals were identified on at least one of the other records, while 26 percent were not identified on any other record. Eleven of the names were categorized as “possibly identified” because their names were found on one or two other records, but we were not sure if they were the same people because of differences in some of the information.[21]

Fortunately, the membership records for the Bran Green and Frogmarsh Branches often had more identifying information available. Some of the branch record books actually had columns asking for parents’ names, the converts’ birth dates and places, age at baptism, and places of residence. The branch records contained parents’ names for 63 of the 118 people in the database, as well as some kind of age or birth information for 96 individuals. Such information was very helpful in identifying the converts in other records because it provided maiden names for married females, along with birth years to help narrow down our choices in other records. For example, there are three women named Ann Brooks in the Frogmarsh Branch records, all of whom were baptized in 1840. The membership record gives the age at baptism for two of them and includes the parents’ names and birth year for one of those. The birth information made it possible to identify those two women. We could not identify the third Ann Brooks because we did not know her age or whether Brooks is her maiden or married name.

We went through the same process of identifying the individuals from the branches on other records as we did with the journal database. The rate of identifying individuals in the branch database from other sources was quite high at 86 percent, with only 11 percent not identified at all, and 3 percent as possible identifications. We used both the journal database and the branch database to examine the information we could gather about the converts from the Three Counties.

Place-Names. One of the best ways to identify the converts was by looking first at the 1841 census. We assumed that the baptismal places were within walking distance of the convert’s homes. While some people might have had another form of transportation, the majority of the converts probably did not. However, “walking distance” in that time period could possibly be up to ten miles. Wilford Woodruff wrote that he walked many miles between preaching places, but probably most of the converts did not walk as far as he did to the meetings they attended. We looked for individuals living within a radius of four or five miles from the baptismal place.

The United Brethren preachers’ plan provides information about the places for many of the meetings. The meetings with the Latter-day Saint missionaries were held in homes or barns previously licensed for preaching by the United Brethren and in easy reach of the local members. The preachers’ plan shows when and where meetings were to take place during the months of April, May, and June, with the assigned preachers listed. Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal that on 10 May he met at Jonathan Lucy’s home in Colwall in the morning, traveled to Pale House (Thomas Steed’s parents’ home in Great Malvern) in the afternoon, and then preached that evening at Benjamin Holland’s home, north of Malvern Hill.[22] His eight-mile route follows the preachers’ plan already established for that day. On the plan there was a meeting scheduled in Colwall in the morning, one at 2 p.m. at Pale House, and one at Malvern Hill at 6 p.m.[23] While the missionaries may have traveled long distances to their appointments, the people attending the meetings probably lived near the meeting and baptismal places.

Many of the place-names listed on the preachers’ plan and in missionary journals were not parish names, but were homes, farms, or hamlets within a parish. For example, many people were baptized in Keysend Street or in Stokes Lane or in Hawcross, none of which are parish names. We used very detailed Ordnance Survey maps that are on a scale of 1¼ inch to 1 mile and found many of the hamlets or farms on the maps. However, the current Ordnance Survey maps only show county boundaries, not parish boundaries. For parish boundary information, we used FamilySearch’s historical maps of England and Wales Jurisdictions, 1851, which are online at On this website, in addition to showing parish boundaries, the boundaries can be overlaid on old Ordnance Survey maps showing topography, some farm names, hamlets, and other areas within the parish. Using these tools, we found Keysend Street in Berrow, Worcestershire; Stokes Lane in Avenbury, Herefordshire; and Hawcross in Redmarley D’Abitot, Worcestershire.

Another service from this website lists the names of parishes within a five-mile radius of the parish of choice. With the location information in hand, we could then search the 1841 census for the names of the converts, looking for people that lived within a five-mile radius of their place of baptism. If the name was quite common and there were several individuals within the area, we were not able to identify the individual. When we did find individuals on the census, we used clues from the census for birth year and household members’ names to look for the same individuals in Family Tree or the other records. If we found them in the other records with the same name and age, we assumed that we had identified the individual correctly.

Comparison of Journal and Branch Databases. Although we treated the journal and branch databases as separate entities in our analyses, there was some overlap between them. Because the Bran Green and Frogmarsh areas are very near Gadfield Elm, several of the early converts baptized by Wilford Woodruff or his associates in the area around Gadfield Elm chapel are also listed in the branch records. Most of the baptism dates from 1840 in the branch database actually listed the person who baptized them, among whom were Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, Thomas Kington, John Gailey, and James Palmer, all missionaries that we know were preaching at that time in the Three Counties.

We think the branch records were not kept as early as 1840 because, in spite of some overlap, there are relatively few people listed on both of the databases. We know that the journal database is not complete because there were many priesthood holders and missionaries baptizing in the area who did not keep journals. If the branch records were maintained from the very beginning of the branch organization, we would expect that the branch records would have more people from that time period and place than the journal database would have. As we examined the people listed on the journal database who were baptized in the parishes surrounding Frogmarsh and Bran Green (Eldersfield, Redmarley, or Newent), we found that those who emigrated before the mid-1840s were not listed on the membership records. However, if an individual from the journal database either died in England or emigrated after the mid-1840s, they were often listed in the branch record as well. This finding lends credence to the idea that branch records were not kept until after the mid-1840s, at which time individuals were recollecting their baptismal dates. There were twenty-seven people listed on both databases. Where there are inconsistencies in dates and places of baptism, we assumed that the dates in the missionary journals would be correct because they were recorded at the time of the event, rather than being recollected by an individual later.

Identification of Occupations and Social Status

In order to learn more about the social standing of the converts, we turned to a website called A Vision of Britain Through Time ( This website provides statistical atlases for a variety of issues such as social structure, population density, and industry and agriculture, based on the information from England’s censuses from 1841 to 2001. With respect to social structure, the website used five categories or classes of occupations of working-age males to develop maps showing how these categories varied in English counties over time.[24] The atlases are created for each year of the census, providing the percentages for each occupation group by county. We used the 1841 occupation atlas to inform us regarding the typical occupations in the Three Counties at that time because these counties were fairly rural, as compared to Lancashire or other counties where there were large groups of Latter-day Saints.

Using the occupations of adult men in the censuses, the atlases divided the professions into five categories according to their social status or income. Class 1 signifies middle-class professionals, while class 2 included other middle-class occupations like managers and farmers. Class 3 is a mixture of middle-class and working-class people because it includes clerical workers and artisans or skilled laborers—such as blacksmiths, masons, weavers, or carpenters. Many such artisans could actually have higher earnings than clerical workers, but they were considered “working-class” because of the manual aspect of their work, in spite of their better income. Classes 4 and 5 constituted the lower working class, covering semiskilled and unskilled laborers, including farm laborers and domestic servants. The atlases combined classes 1 and 2, or all the middle-class occupations, and classes 4 and 5, or the lower-class occupations.

One of the reasons we used these atlases to compare the occupations in our databases was because of previous research stating the early Church members in Britain were generally poor urban unskilled laborers.[25] Because the Three Counties are more rural in nature, we wanted to compare the occupations of the converts in our databases to the occupations most likely found in the Three Counties. In our research, we found a number of farmers and artisans among the converts, with just over half of the people in the journal database being unskilled laborers. We wanted to know if those findings showed a very different group joining the Church in the Three Counties in comparison to converts in other parts of Britain, or if it was the effect of rural counties versus industrialized counties. The statistical atlases helped us compare our database findings with the social class structure in the Three Counties, showing that the early converts were a lot like their neighbors in terms of their occupations: a lot of agricultural laborers, a number of artisans and skilled laborers, and a few farmers and middle-class workers.

The overall results from our research are in chapter 5. Only 466 individuals in the journal database had some kind of identifiable occupation in the family. We used occupations listed on the 1841 census where possible. If individuals left the country before the census, we used the occupations on the Mormon Migration website if they were listed. Over one hundred people were excluded from the analysis because of the following reasons (1) they died or left England prior to the 1841 census, (2) they could not be located on that census or on passenger lists (although they were located in later censuses), or (3) their occupations were either illegible or not recorded. [26] We did not use occupations listed in later censuses or in later ship passenger lists because we wanted to see the social status of the people near the time they actually joined the Church in the early 1840s.

Generally, females were less likely to have occupations listed in the census. When a woman had no occupation and was in the same household with an individual who appeared to be her husband, we recorded her occupation as “wife of” the husband’s occupation. Similarly, when someone younger than eighteen on the census appeared to be living with parents or other close relations, we recorded their occupation as “child of” the parents’ occupation, unless there was a specific occupation listed for the child. We used these designations for wives and children because we presumed that a wife or child of a farmer would be living a different lifestyle than a wife or child of an agricultural laborer. We viewed the people as part of a family, rather than as separate individuals. Although most of the individuals with occupations listed on the records were men, fifty-nine of the identified females had occupations such as servant, laundress, dressmaker, governess, glove maker, or agricultural laborer. There was even one female farmer. Unlike the statistical atlases, we included the occupations for women along with the men.

In the journal database, we found that 13 percent of the people could have been considered middle class, with occupations such as farmers, governesses, or ministers. Almost one-third (29 percent) of the people in the database were skilled laborers, such as shoemakers, brick masons, or carpenters. As was expected, a large proportion of the individuals in the database—58 percent—were unskilled laborers, with the biggest occupation being agricultural laborers. The branch database only had one farmer, and 71 percent of the members were agricultural laborers or servants. The skilled laborers in the branch database came from similar occupations as those in the journal database such as carpenter, shoemaker, baker, miner, and saddler. One unique occupation in the branch database was a woman who was a midwife.

The statistical atlas on A Vision of Britain shows that the combined classes 1 and 2 comprised between 15 to 20 percent of the working males in the Three Counties in 1841. There were 32 to 47 percent of the males who worked in occupations in class 3 (the skilled laborers and clerical workers). Finally, 40 to 49 percent of males in the Three Counties were in classes 4 and 5, or the unskilled laborers. The reason for the large ranges in these percentages mentioned here is because each county had different percentages. For example, the middle-class occupations comprise less than 15 percent of working males in Worcestershire, but 17 to 20 percent in Herefordshire. In Worcestershire, the atlas shows 42 to 47 percent of the occupations in class 3, but Herefordshire only had 32 to 36 percent of males working in that same class. Classes 4 and 5 were more similar for all three counties, probably because many of the men were agricultural laborers.

When we compared the statistical atlas to our databases, we found that the journal database reflects something of the general make-up of workers in the Three Counties, while the branch records show a much poorer group of people. Almost three-fourths (71 percent) of the individuals in the branch worked in unskilled occupations, much higher than the statistical atlas of 1841 shows, with only one individual that could be viewed as middle class. The journal database does have a higher percentage of unskilled manual laborers than the average listed on the statistical atlas in the Three Counties (58 percent versus 49 percent), but the difference is not quite as marked as that of the branch database. The percentage of skilled artisans (29 percent) in the journal database is close to the lower range of that class (32 percent to 47 percent) found in the Three Counties generally. With 13 percent of the journal database coming from the middle-class, the rate is not far off from the Three Counties percentage for classes 1 and 2 of 15 percent to 20 percent.

We did not statistically analyze the comparisons of occupations among the converts and the average man in the Three Counties, but the percentages show that many of these early converts in the Three Counties were fairly similar to their neighbors in terms of social status. Previous studies of early British converts looked at more urban and industrialized areas such as Lancashire, which may be why they found so many poor laborers among the converts.[27] The similarities between the converts and their neighbors may account for the fact that the average converts in our databases were not poor urban workers but rather they had a variety of occupations, reflecting the nature of the local economy in the Three Counties. They may have been different from Church members in northern England simply because of the economic differences between rural southwestern England and the more industrialized north.

Method of Identifying Homes of the United Brethren

In identifying the homes of the United Brethren (a process briefly described in chapter 2), we first used the names of individuals found on the United Brethren preachers’ plan and in the journal of Wilford Woodruff. We did not attempt to find everyone in our databases. Rather, we concentrated on a few names that seemed somewhat prominent among the United Brethren. Most of the individuals we searched had licensed places for preaching for the United Brethren.

Many years ago, V. Ben Bloxham conducted research in the local county record offices in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire, identifying many of the individuals who had applied for licenses for preaching in their homes or barns or other buildings. We are indebted to his efforts in identifying the licensees and the names of the individuals who lived in the homes. After he passed away in 2005, we were given access to his notes and files, all of which provided us insight during the initial steps of our research of the converts from the Three Counties. Unfortunately, although Bloxham compiled a list of licensed places and had many copies of the licenses, we found no source information about where he located the licenses, other than the county record offices he visited. We began our search for the homes by using Bloxham’s list of licensed places to preach, which included the name of the licensee as well as the name of the occupier of the home if it was different. For example, Thomas Kington was the licensee for several places, but those same homes had other occupiers. Because he was the superintendent of the United Brethren, he obviously was the one who instigated and paid for licenses for a variety of properties.

We went to the county records office in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire where we searched the tithe apportionment schedules from the 1830s and 1840s for the names of the United Brethren members listed as occupiers of the licensed places for preaching. These tithe apportionment schedules provided numbers corresponding to the homes and fields on the tithe survey maps for each area. We were able to identify the homes and property on the tithe maps.[28] We then compared the tithe maps to the detailed Six-inch Ordnance Survey maps (6 inches to 1 mile) that were located in the county record offices and located the homes that we found on the tithe maps. The final step was to locate the homes on modern Ordnance Survey maps that showed 1¼ inch to 1 mile. Using these detailed maps to guide us, we then traveled to the locations and photographed the homes or fields where the homes probably stood at one time. Obviously, some of the homes on the present-day sites are newer than the 1840s, but many are from that period. The homes show that many of the United Brethren who had licensed their homes for preaching did not live in hovels.

Identification of Nineteenth-Century Church Units in the Three Counties

We created a table of all the branches or conferences that we could find from two main sources: the British Mission Manuscript History and Historical Reports, 1841-1971 and the Family History Library’s microfilm collection of Church membership records. We decided to include only the names of branches that began in the nineteenth century because branch boundaries may have changed in the twentieth century due to easier transportation, which allowed people to travel farther for church meetings.

The number of branches in the Three Counties fluctuated during the nineteenth century, as mentioned in chapter 6. Branches were formed as missionaries traveled throughout the area, baptizing and creating small branches as they went. As the members of the branch either moved from the area or emigrated to America, many of the branches were dissolved. Sometimes, as in the case of Frogmarsh and Bran Green, the branches, or their records, may have been combined with others and the names of the branches lost. As we studied the branch histories in the Manuscript History, we found that many of the branches on record had fewer than fifty members, and some had fewer than twenty. These small branches would have been very difficult to carry on after one or two families emigrated. In chapter 6 we talked about how the changes in branch boundaries may have affected the activity of Church members in the area, especially if they had to walk several miles to attend church after their local branch was dissolved. We created a list of the branch locations and the dates of organization to help us understand more about the development of the Church in the Three Counties.

The accompanying table shows the names of the branches or conferences in the Three Counties as listed in the Manuscript History and the membership records in the Family History Library. The Garway Conference was especially lacking in information. Although the conference was created in 1841 with several branches, the Manuscript History mentioned only two branches in Herefordshire: Garway and Ewyas Harold.

The table is an alphabetical listing of the names of the branches as found in the various records, along with their parish and county jurisdiction, if known. Then, we added in the information we could find from the Family History Library Catalog (online at and the branches listed in the British Mission Manuscript History (online at Quite often the branch names were the names of small hamlets or villages, so the parish location, conference, and county provide a better sense of the location of the branches. We could not locate some of the branches. On the table, the Family History Library film number and dates refer to the microfilm numbers in the Family History Library, along with the dates of coverage for the membership records held there. The Manuscript History dates and the Church History Library Catalog number refer to the dates the Manuscript History provides for the branches and the Church History Library Catalog number where one can find the branch histories.

The information about the Church units in the Three Counties, along with the descriptions of our research processes, may help interested parties who are seeking information about their ancestors from the area. Identifying place names can help researchers locate which branches the early converts may have attended, possibly providing family historians some clues for other records to search, including Latter-day Saint membership records, the British Mission Manuscript History, and local tithe apportionment records to locate possible dwelling places.


[1] “Wilford Woodruff’s Baptismal Record, 1840,” in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1:377–95.

[2] This was a five-part series published by Jay Greaves Burrup: “150 Years Ago: A look back at Wilford Woodruff and the West Midland Mormons of 1840,” in the Herefordshire Family History Society Journal. The dates and page numbers for the entire series are as follows: vol. 4, no. 6 (July 1990): 210–20; vol. 4, no. 11 (October 1991): 407–18; vol. 5, no. 2 (July 1992): 51–61; vol. 5, no. 3 (October 1992): 71–86; vol. 5, no. 7 (October 1993): 246–58.

[3] Burrup stated, “Woodruff didn’t return to the West Midlands until July 22. Thereafter, he noted that he didn’t baptize many converts, preferring to let the local British Mormons who held the Priesthood perform the ordinance. Only occasionally did Woodruff list the converts’ names in his diary.” Jay Greaves Burrup, “150 Years Ago: A look back at Wilford Woodruff and the West Midland Mormons of 1840,” Herefordshire Family History Society Journal 5, no. 3 (Oct 1992): 86.

[4] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1: 395.

[5] An example is at the Fromes Hill Conference held at Stanley Hill on 21 September 1840 where several men’s names are listed for priesthood ordinations, some of whom do not have baptism dates. Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1:518.

[6] By that time, most of the missionaries for whom we have records either had emigrated to Nauvoo or were preaching in areas other than Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Herefordshire. We did not follow their records after they left the area.

[7] Thomas Steed, “The Life of Thomas Steed From His Own Diary 1826–1910,” 5, 7, BX 8670.1 .St32, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. Also online at

[8] Examples of published materials would be the autobiographies found in Kate B. Carter, comp., Heart Throbs of the West, 12 vols. (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1939–51), or Kate B. Carter, comp., Our Pioneer Heritage, 20 vols. (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958–77).

[9] Examples of secondary records include life histories on or biographies published in Kate B. Carter’s volumes.

[10] British Mission Manuscript History and Historical Reports, 1841–1971 (LR 1140 2, Church History Library, Salt Lake City). Volumes 4–11 contain the histories of branches in Britain.

[11] Author communication dated 17 July 2014 from Jay G. Burrup, archivist, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

[12] Evva C. Benson & Cynthia Doxey, “The ecclesiastical census of 1851 and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” The Local Historian 34, no. 2 (May 2004): 66–79.

[13] Cynthia Doxey, “The Church in Britain and the 1851 Religious Census,” Mormon Historical Studies 4, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 107–38.

[14] “Gadfield Elm Chapel,” , (accessed 15 May 2015).

[15] United Brethren preachers’ plan of the Frooms Hill Circuit, 1840, 248.6 U58p 1840, Church History Library, Salt Lake City. The preachers’ plan was the pattern for the newly formed branches and conferences after the United Brethren began joining the LDS Church. Wilford Woodruff’s Journal states that on 14 June 1840, “The Preachers and members of the Bran Green and Gadfields Elm Branch of the Frooms Hill Curcuit of the United Brethren met at the Gadfield Elm Chapel . . . [and it was moved] that this meeting be hereafter Known by the name of the Bran Green & Gadfields Elm Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” in Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1:458, 14 June 1840.

[16] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 2:61.

[17] The Cheltenham Conference is listed for the first time in the general conference in Manchester on 15 May 1842, reporting a membership of 540 in 17 branches. Millennial Star 3, no. 2 (June 1842): 29. The Gadfield Elm Conference is not reported from that time on, because it was subsumed under the Cheltenham Conference.

[18] The membership records of the two branches are listed in the Family History Library Catalog in three ways: Brans Green [Brangreen] Branch, Frogsmarsh Branch, and Brans Green or Frogsmarsh Branch, all on FHL Film #86991, items 15–16. Another filming of Brangreen Branch is also on FHL Film #86998, items 17–18.

[19] James Palmer, “James Palmer reminiscences, ca. 1884–98,” 10, MS 1752, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

[20] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1:431, 4 April 1840.

[21] The reason for using a “possible identification” category was because some individuals were found on the census living in the right area, but because no record existed on Family Tree or the other indexes, we could not be sure if they were the right peoples. For the purposes of later analyses, the “possible” category was included in the positively identified group because they were usually found on a census, even if they were not found on FamilySearch Family Tree.

[22] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1:446, 10 May 1840.

[23] United Brethren preachers’ plan.

[24] A Vision of Britain Through Time: Statistical Atlas, Social Structure.

[25] Ronald W. Walker, “Cradling Mormonism: The Rise of the Gospel in Early Victorian Britain,” BYU Studies 27, no. 1 (Winter 1987): 25–36. Philip A. M. Taylor, “Why did British Mormons Emigrate?,” Utah Historical Quarterly 22 (July 1954): 249–70.

[26] Sometimes the census enumerator did not list any occupations for any family members. In other cases, we found that the individuals were elderly or young adults apparently living with their parents who may have had occupations recorded.

[27] See the articles by Ronald W. Walker and Philip A. M. Taylor listed in endnote 25.

[28] provides a summary of the provenance of England’s Tithe Records and how to search them.