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Root Marriage

John Taylor, 24
Leonora Cannon, 36

First Plural

Elizabeth Kaighin, 32

Subsequent Plural

Mary Cook
Ann Vowles, 38
Anna Ballantyne, 24
Mary Ann Oakley, 24
Jane Ballantyne, 32
Mary Amanda Utley, 24
Mary Ramsbottom, 19
Mercy Rachel Fielding, 38
Lydia Dibble, 55
Sarah Thornton, 38
Ann Hughlings, 45
Sophia Whitaker, 22
Harriet Whitaker, 30
Caroline Hooper Saunders, 39
Margaret Young, 19
Josephine Elizabeth Roueche, 26
Leonora Cannon
John Taylor, c. 1852
Elizabeth Kaighin

John Taylor and Leonora Cannon met and were civilly married in Canada in January 1833. John, a Methodist lay preacher since the age of sixteen, had emigrated from England around 1832. Leonora had earlier emigrated from the Isle of Wight through her employment in the family of the personal secretary to the new colonial governor of Canada. She and John became dissatisfied with Methodism soon after their marriage and converted in 1836. Like most other first adopters of plural marriage, John and Elizabeth endured the removals from Kirtland to Missouri and subsequent settlement of Nauvoo in 1839. John was member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Leonora a founding member of the Relief Society. 

At about the time the Taylors were married, Leonora’s cousin, Elizabeth Kaighin, immigrated to Canada and joined the church with them 1836. In December 1843, the Taylor marriage became polygamous when Elizabeth and John were sealed for eternity. The following year, John may have married Ann Vowles and Mary Cook. Ann was born in Somerset, England in 1805 and was first married to Samuel Vowels. Ann was a member of the Relief Society. Other than the purported sealing to John, nothing is known of Mary Cook. More is known of John’s sealing in 1846 to Scottish immigrant Jane Ballantyne, who had joined the church with several of her family members in 1841. Possibly in Nauvoo, though more likely in Winter Quarters in 1847, John was sealed for eternity to Jane’s younger sister Anna Ballantyne, who divorced him in 1852. In April 1845, John was sealed for eternity to the New Yorker Mary Ann Oakley, whose family had joined the church in 1841 and moved to Nauvoo in 1843.

In early 1846, during the months leading up to the exodus from Nauvoo, John was sealed for eternity to several women: British immigrants Mary Amanda Utley, Sarah Thornton Coleman and Ann Hughlings Pitchforth, and Tennessean Mary Ramsbottom Moss. During these final weeks in Nauvoo, John was also sealed for time to two of Hyrum Smith’s widows: Mercy Fielding Thompson Smith and Lydia Dibble Granger.

It can be assumed that Mary Utley separated from the Taylors, given she is listed in the 1850 census as part of her father’s household in Caroline, Arkansas. Next to nothing is known of Mary Ramsbottom Moss except that she was a member of the Relief Society and participated in the Nauvoo temple ordinances. Moss is a married name, but it is not known if she was a widow or separated from an earlier marriage by the time she is sealed to John. For unknown reasons, Mary Amanda Utley and Mary Ramsbottom did not make the journey to Utah. Little information exists about either woman.

Sarah Thornton and Prime Coleman married civilly in 1826 and, by the time they joined the Saints in 1841, had seven children and a prosperous farm. They immigrated to Nauvoo in 1843 where Sarah bore her eighth child and, the following year, lost her husband and eldest daughter to typhoid fever. In 1846 she was sealed for eternity to John Taylor, but never domestically integrated with the family. She travelled west with the David Evans family and settled Lehi, Utah, with them. In 1852, she was sealed by proxy to Prime Coleman for eternity and to David Evans for time. She bore no more children and is referred to as “Sarah Coleman” throughout her life.

One of the first converts on the Isle of Man, Ann Hughlings Pitchforth was baptized in 1840 and well known to John Taylor from his first mission to England. She left her husband Solomon Pitchforth, a hotelier of considerable means, and immigrated to Nauvoo in either 1841 or 1843 with her children. Ann died in Winter Quarters in 1846 shortly after her sealing to John Taylor.

Sophia Whitaker and John Taylor were sealed for eternity in 1847 at Winter Quarters. She had joined the church in 1840 with another five of the nine Whitaker siblings. They serially immigrated to Nauvoo, Sophia and two sisters not leaving until 1847. The sisters travelled in the company of three returning apostles, including John Taylor. Three days after arriving to the church encampment in Iowa, Sophia was sealed to John. He was later sealed for eternity to Sophia’s younger sister Harriet Whitaker, after arriving in Salt Lake Valley and two days after Sophia gave birth to a daughter name Harriet.

In later years, John was also sealed for eternity to Caroline Hooper Saunders Gillam, Margaret Young, and Josephine Elizabeth Roueche.  Little is known of Virginian Caroline Hooper. She appears in the records of Orson Pratt’s wagon train, making the trek apparently alone at the age of thirty-eight. The following year she is sealed to John and does not appear in the record again until listed in his will. She had no children. According to family records, Margaret Young’s parents joined the church when she was three years old and became leaders in Connecticut. While presiding over New York Conference of the Church, John was sealed to Margaret in 1856. She left for Utah the following year and, at least initially, shared first wife Leonora’s home. Margaret taught the school for the Taylor children, including the nine she had with John. She later served in the presidency of the church’s young women’s organization. At nineteen years of age, she was the youngest of John’s wives and outlived him by 33 years.

Josephine Elizabeth Roueche was born in Kayesville, Utah, five years after her parents immigrated to Utah from the Isle of Man. John had baptized Josephine’s mother during one of his missions and while he was hiding in Kaysville during the anti-polygamy raids, he and Josephine were sealed for eternity a year before he died. In 1921, she married George Washington Palmer. She had no children.

In total, the Taylor family produced thirty-four children. Leonora died in 1868 in Salt Lake City. After serving as church president for ten years, John died in July 1887.   


“Ballantyne, Jane (2SH9-NXN),” “Cannon, Leonora (KWV4-J33),” “Kaighin, Elizabeth (KWVZ-7GB),” “Roueche, Josephine Elizabeth (KWJR-BSQ),” and “Taylor, John (KWJC-VF5),” FamilySearch database, https://www.familysearch.org/

Ballstaedt, Helen Taylor. “Appendix: Biographies of the Wives of John Taylor: Elizabeth Kaighin Taylor,” in The Life of John Taylor: Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by B.H. Roberts (Zion’s Camp Books, 2012 [reprint w/addenda]), n.p.

Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–1844,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (Fall 2005): 1–74, 38–39.

Morgan, Elizabeth Taylor, and Louise C. Taylor. “Appendix: Biographies of the Wives of John Taylor: Leonora Cannon Taylor,” in The Life of John Taylor: Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by B.H. Roberts (Zion’s Camp Books, 2012 [reprint w/addenda]), n.p.

“Oakley, Mary Ann,” “Taylor, Annie,” “Taylor, Elizabeth,” “Taylor, Jane” “Taylor, Leonora,” “Taylor, Sophia” “Thompson, Mercy Rachel,” “Young, Margaret” Pioneer Database 1847–1868https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/

n.a., Ann Pitchforth in “Biographies of Mormon Converts,”  http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/mormon/index.htm

n.a., “History of Elizabeth Keig Comish,” https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/memories/KWJR-BSQ

Perkins, Eric and Mary Jane Woodger. “Administration from the Underground,’ in Champion of Liberty: John Taylor, ed. Mary Jane Woodger (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 347–70.

Roberts, B.H. The Life of John Taylor: Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons Co., 1892), 465.

“Taylor, Ann Vowles,” and “Taylor, Leonora Cannon,” The First Fifty Years of Relief Societyhttps://www.churchhistorianspress.org/the-first-fifty-years-of-relief-society/people/

Taylor, J. Lewis. “John Taylor: Family Man,” in Champion of Liberty: John Taylor, ed. Mary Jane Woodger (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 193–218.

“Taylor, John,” The Joseph Smith Papershttps://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/john-taylor

Tullidge, Edward W. The Women of Mormondom (New York: Tullidge and Crandall, 1877), 414.