Upon the Isles of the Sea

Discovering the LDS heritage of England, Ireland, Scotland, & Wales


In Their Footsteps

Cotton in Utah

This post brings to and end our series on the influence of cotton on the early Preston church.  This fluffy little plant put people in bondage in the growing fields in the USA and in the ‘satanic’ mills of England.  It is curious how the production of a white bit of cloth helped humble hundreds of oppressed English souls and made them ready for something better – a restored gospel message.

To bring things full circle I thought you might be interested to see how this cotton legacy made its way to Utah. Continue reading “Cotton in Utah”

Civil War

Avenham Park in Preston was opened by the Duke of Cambridge in 1867.   Running through the bottom of the park is the River Ribble – where the first LDS baptisms in Britain were performed, and in the heart of the park is a Japanese garden within which lie four plaques mentioning the church.  It seems quite fitting that this park, which has such rich Mormon connections, was created because of cotton.  I told you cotton permeated everything here!  Okay, here’s what happened:

Continue reading “Civil War”

Rules to be Obeyed…

What was it like to work in one of these cotton mills?

William Ainsworth (1807-1862) helped his father and brother run some mills in Preston.  The ‘RULES TO BE OBEYED BY THE OPERATIVES’ in his mill in Cotton Court were unbelievable. They bore evidence of long working hours, restrictions on personal freedom, and a ruthless system of fines, which the management did not fail to enforce in the courts. Continue reading “Rules to be Obeyed…”


In 1837 the Mormon missionaries first arrived in Preston.  In 1840 a second mission – the Mission of the Twelve – arrived in town.  Missionaries were soon at work throughout the nation harvesting one of Britain’s greatest decades of converts.   The backdrop of that harvest was not always a peaceful one as illustrated by the events of August 1842 in Preston. Continue reading “1842”

1836 Spinner’s Strike

Then came 1836.

It is significant to remember that the following strike took place only months before our first missionaries appeared in Preston.  I propose that this conflict actually softened many hearts to be receptive to the restored gospel message.

Continue reading “1836 Spinner’s Strike”

April 6 – Incredible Mission

The date of April 6 has a lot of meaning to LDS folk, but did you know it was also the beginning of a mission to Canada that would have a huge impact on Britain.

On April 6 1836 Parley P Pratt left his wife behind in Kirtland to serve a mission to Canada.  Over the next few weeks he would find himself crossing paths with two spirit led individuals – a nameless stranger in Hamilton and Isabella Walton in Toronto – who would both direct Parley’s path by some tender miracles. Continue reading “April 6 – Incredible Mission”

Thomas Miller

Mr Thomas Miller, (1810-1865) of the cotton firm, Horrockses, Miller & Co, was the most powerful cotton manufacturer in Preston.

By the time of his death in 1865, Thomas Miller operated ten mills, 155,970 spindles, 2,865 looms, twelve steam engines, and employed 3,000 hands to spin 104,000 lbs of yarn and weave 227 miles of cloth each week. One of his mills, The Yard works, was the largest ‘single site’ in Lancashire, and a number of our early converts were employed there including Jonathan Clegg who, along with his wife Ellen, were such notable stalwarts in the Martin Handcart company.   The missionary Joseph Fielding spoke of working in a mill to gain some extra money, but he does not indicate if it was one of Millers, but there is the possibility that this was also his employer. Continue reading “Thomas Miller”

The Cotton Lords

Cotton mill owners were given the title of the Cotton Lords to signify their powerful status in the economy and society.  The Cotton Lords of Preston were sometimes viewed as manipulative, greedy tyrants, and other times they were lauded as the deliverers from unemployment and starvation.  They truly were benefactors of relief and community enhancements, but sometimes their wealth gaining methods were questionable or downright wrong. Continue reading “The Cotton Lords”

Domestic to Factory

Our missionaries arrived during a traumatic upheaval as cotton had moved from a domestic to a factory setting.  At first cotton manufacturing was a wholly domestic affair.  In the early 1700s many Lancashire homes were purposely built to accommodate spinning wheels and weaving looms.  Many of these homes can be easily identified today by their basement windows – the damp basement helped prevent the cotton from snapping.  Continue reading “Domestic to Factory”

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