Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Radnorshire Mormon from Nantmel

The parishes east of Presteigne seem to provide fertile ground for the more radical religious movements of the day.  After all the Lollard John Oldcastle was from Almeley and Ffransis Payne has some interesting things to say about the Quakers of the area, who "in comparison to whom the driest and least joyful members of our most narrow puritan sects would appear like cheerful pagans."

It was to this district that a young fellow from the Ysfa, Llewellyn Mantle of Crugnant, made his way in the 1820s.  Here he found work as a waggoner and in 1835 married a local girl, Kitty Watkins, in Byton parish church.  In 1842 the couple were converted by the latest missionaries to invade the district and quickly determined to join their prophet Joseph Smith and his Latter-Day Saints in Nauvoo Illinois.  You can read about Llewellyn's subsequent adventures here.  The Mantles were in Nauvoo when Smith was murdered, they migrated west, crossing the frozen Mississippi into Iowa. Having lost his sight in 1848 Llewellyn walked the thousand miles to Salt Lake City, arriving there in the autumn of 1851.  He died in Utah in 1901, aged 83.

Its easy to forget just how radical a group the Mormons were, with their polygamy - Llewellyn took a second wife in 1870, a Swiss woman called Margaret Egg - and violent confrontations with their neighbours such as the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857.  Indeed the Mantles' daughter Sarah married the son of the legendary gunfighter Porter Rockwell, Mormondom's "destroying angel."

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