John Lyon (1803 - 1889)

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Birthplace: Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Death: Died in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
Occupation: Poet
Managed by: Tamra Peterson Jenson
Last Updated:

About John Lyon

John Lyon (4 March 1803, Glasgow – 28 November 1889) was a 19th-century Scottish Latter Day Saint poet and hymn writer.

Born into a poor and illiterate family in Glasgow, Lyon became an apprentice weaver at age nine. In adulthood, he moved to Kilmarnock, where he met and married Janet Thomson.

In the 1830s, he became involved with the Baptist church, but he left them and in March 1844, he was baptised into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Lyon has been described as the best Mormon poet of the 19th century, but he only learned to read in 1828, at the age of 25. By the 1840s, he had worked for seven papers in Ayrshire, and assisted in the production of several poetry anthologies of other people's work.

He had over a dozen children, and was frequently visited in Kilmarnock by Mormon dignitaries who had travelled to Scotland. Amongst these were Levi Richards, Samuel W. Richards and Franklin D. Richards. And on one such visit, on 1 December 1847, the Richards brothers traveled with Lyon to Robert Burns' birthplace in Alloway.

Poetry

After his conversion to Mormonism, Lyon found it difficult to find secular publishers. On the other hand, the LDS Church newspaper Millennial Star published copious amounts of work by what they described as "The Scottish Bard". His debut in Millennial Star was on 15 November 1845, when it published his poem "Man". The Star would publish over forty more of his poems.

A hundred and five of his poems were collected in The Harp of Zion, which was published in a run of 5148, and was one of the first complete books of poetry by a Mormon writer. These poems varied from devotional poems, to epics such as "The Apostate" and light-hearted works in Lowland Scots such as "Elegy on Wee Hughie", which was about an expired canary.

In the end, The Harp of Zion sold around 2000 copies, and Lyon did not receive the profits from the work, since that was all donated to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, which aimed to help converts migrate to Utah Territory.

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868

Jacob Gates Company Departure: 3 June 1853 Arrival: 26-30 September 1853

Lyon, Ann (21)

Lyon, Janet Thompson (44)

Lyon, John (50)

Lyon, John (18)

Lyon, Lillias Thompson (16)

Lyon, Mary (9)

Lyon, Matthew Thomson (11

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John Lyon's Timeline

1803
March 4, 1803
Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland
1825
December 1, 1825
Age 22
Kilmarnock, Ayreshire,, Scotland
1826
September 5, 1826
Age 23
Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland
1829
January 5, 1829
Age 25
Kilmarnock, Ayreshire,, Scotland
1831
July 12, 1831
Age 28
Kilmarnock, Ayreshire,, Scotland
1835
January 18, 1835
Age 31
Kilmarnock, Ayreshire,, Scotland
1836
August 2, 1836
Age 33
Kilmarnock, Ayreshire,, Scotland
1838
November 3, 1838
Age 35
Kilmarnock, Ayreshire,, Scotland
1842
March 22, 1842
Age 39
Kilmarnock, Ayreshire,, Scotland
1844
March 27, 1844
Age 41
Kilmarnock, Ayreshire,, Scotland