George Darling Watt Richards

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George Darling Watt Richards

Birthplace: Preston, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Death: (Date and location unknown)
Immediate Family:

Son of Willard Joseph Richards, Apostle, Church of Latter-Day Saints and Jennetta Richards
Brother of Heber John Richards; Heber John Richards; Rhoda Ann Jennetta Richards; Ellen Maria; George Darling Watt and 7 others
Half brother of Willard Brigham Richards; Joseph Smith Richards; Sarah Ellen Smith; Stephen Longstroth Richards and Mary Ann Van Fleet

Managed by: Private User
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About George Darling Watt Richards

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

"...George Darling Watt (12 May 1812 – 24 October 1881) was the first convert to Mormonism baptized in the British Isles. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), Watt was a secretary to Brigham Young, the primary editor of the Journal of Discourses and the primary inventor of the Deseret Alphabet.

Watt was born in Manchester, England. While living in Preston as a young man, Watt was a member of the Reverend James Fielding's congregation. Fielding's brother Joseph had joined the Latter Day Saint church in Upper Canada and had written to James about the new church. In 1837, Latter Day Saint missionaries Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, and Joseph Fielding traveled to Preston and were given permission by James Fielding to preach in his chapel.

Watt was baptized a Latter Day Saint on July 30, 1837 by Heber C. Kimball in the River Ribble. Watt won the right to be the first official British Latter Day Saint convert by winning a footrace against eight others from Fielding's congregation that desired to join the Mormons. In 1840 and 1841 Watt served as a Mormon missionary in Scotland. In 1842, Watt left England to join the gathering of the Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois.

In 1846, Brigham Young sent Watt and his wife back to England as church missionaries. Watt used his skill at Pitman shorthand in serving as a clerk to mission president George Q. Cannon. In late 1850, the Watts returned to America and joined the new gathering of Latter-day Saints in the Salt Lake Valley in Utah Territory.

In Utah, Watt worked as a reporter for the Deseret News and as a private clerk for Brigham Young. Using his skill as a stenographer, Watt began recording the sermons given by Young and other LDS Church leaders. Beginning in 1853, Watt published these sermons in a periodical known as the Journal of Discourses. Watt remained the primary editor of the Journal until 1868.

In 1852, Watt was appointed by Young to a committee that was charged with creating a new phonetic alphabet that would assist non-English speaking Latter-day Saint immigrants learn English. The result was the Deseret Alphabet. Although the alphabet was largely a failure, Watt remained a strong promoter of the language system.

In 1869, Watt was disfellowshipped from the LDS Church for following the teachings of dissident William S. Godbe. Watt was identified as one of the leaders of the "Godbeites" and was disciplined by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Although Watt was initially repentant and desired to return to full fellowship in the LDS Church, by 1874 he was a devoted Godbeite and was excommunicated from the LDS Church on May 3, 1874.

Later, Watt tried to return to the LDS Church. Four times he attempted to rejoin the church but was denied because his beliefs differed from those of the LDS Church.

Watt died in Kaysville, Utah at the age of 65, estranged from the LDS Church and its leaders. Watt's obituary describes him as

...honest truthful and sincere although perhaps misguided being a self made man of strong character and exercising vast influence there is not a little in his career which is remarkable..."


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George Darling Watt Richards's Timeline

Preston, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom