Who was the First Missionary in South Wales?




Ms d 3327 – Church History Library


Logan City, Utah (about 1892)


Dr. R. A. Hasbrouch

Salt Lake City


Dear Sir,


I received your letter of the4 27th Inst. Yesterday. I will send you a short account, for it seems very uncertain that you will use it, from the way you have used the others I sent. William Henshaw laboured as a missionary in South Wales, so I was told years after I left that country. With regard to the impressions of the brethren that he was in Wales before me, you can act upon that impression if you wish to. I have told you the truth in my former communications with regard to myself and my labours in Monmouth and Wales. My labours were in South Wales, not North Wales. I do not know James Burnham, but should think the Mil. Star very good evidence of his labours. I was in Monmouth and Wales in the fall of 1840 and years 1841 and 1842. In 1843 I left for the United States and went to Illinois and lived there and was acquainted with Joseph Smith. I received the Gospel in Preston in 1837 and was acquainted with the first Elders that came to England—President Young, Kimball, Hyde, Woodruff, Richards, & Fielding and others. I laboured in Staffordshire under G. A. Smith and other places near Birmingham and __________ and went to my new fields in the fall of 1840. I had the charge of Garway Conference until I left in 1843. I ordained Elders and others and sent them out into Monmouth and Wales, but not anyone by the name of Henshaw that I remember. Elders Levi Richards and Curtis from America came and laboured in Garway Conference at times and was a great help to me and the other elders with their counsel and experience. I will give you the names of some of the Branches we organized—Abergaveny, Lantoney Abbey, Longtown, Hewshovell, Lanfoist, Llanellen, Lancathy, the Welsh Iron Works. Bros. Palmer, Taysom, Harris, and others laboured with me. Some branches was organized in the winter of 40 and 41 and most of them in the year 1841. It kept 6 or 7 elders busy traveling from branch to branch in the years 1841 and 1842, for we had quite a conference of members and officers. In July 24th, 1842, we held a camp meeting in Llanellen. The next day we had a social Tea Party of Elders and members of the church. Many of our branches was in the Welsh Hills, or I might say in small valleys between the Hills such as Lantoney Abbey and Longtown. Those in Monmouth even was just on the border of Wales and spoke the Welsh language. My health is not good or I might say more. The dates and names I have taken from my journal that I kept during my labors in the ministry.


In conclusion let me say, I do not and cannot say I was the first Elder that preached in Wales and amongst the Welsh, yet I know of none before me. But it is not proof that I was the first. If Brother Wm Henshaw was in Wales before me it was before the fall of 1840 and the year 1841. When I left and was in the U. States I was told a Brother Henshaw was labouring in Abergaveny and amongst the Welsh Saints that I had laboured with, but I can’t say it was Bro. William Henshaw. I believe I was the first Elder that preached in Abergavenney. I was alone and preached in the Streets. I was taken to the home of a Mrs. Tucker and after a time the family came in the Church. I baptized them. I should think Elder Morris coming from Wales and being so well acquainted with the Welsh Mission would be able to help you in finding out facts, and his judgment would be valid. I hope you will get the right ones, or one; then it will be all right with me.


Hoping you will have better success with this letter than the others and soon be able to satisfy yourself and the brethren as to the first Welsh missionary. My age is between 73 and 74; was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England.


I am sincerely yours,


John Needham



Needham, Elizabeth Milnes


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