George Darling Watt

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George Darling Watt (Richards)

Birthplace: Manchester, Lancashire, England
Death: Died in Kaysville, Davis, Utah, United States
Place of Burial: Kaysville, Davis, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Alexander James Watt and Mary Ann Watt
Husband of Alice Longstroth and Martha Watt Kilfoyle
Father of Ida Mariah Watt

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About George Darling Watt Birth: Jan. 15, 1815 Manchester Lancashire, England Death: Oct. 24, 1881 Kaysville Davis County Utah, USA

Son of James Watt and Mary Ann Wood

Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 12, p. 349

George Watt, the first person to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England, migrated to America in 1840 to become identified with his co-religionists. After the expulsion from Nauvoo, George accepted without question a call from Brigham Young to return to his homeland to learn shorthand, preparatory to his assignment as Church reporter.

Heart Throbs of the West, Kate B. Carter, Vol. 2, p. 267

George D. Watt was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England, January 16, 1815, his father being Scotch and his mother a native of the country which gave him birth; his father emigrated to America, leaving his mother and him in England, and died in New Orleans. His mother married a second time and he was sent to his grandfather in Scotland; when he attained his majority he moved to Preston, England, and there married. He also joined a religious society and became a prominent and active member. Previous to this he had read a number of religious works, which had the effect of making him an enthusiastic religious devotee.

In the fall of 1836 he heard of Joseph Smith through his pastor. "From that hour," he says, "I believed in the mission of Joseph Smith." Soon after the arrival of the Mormon Elders he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became an Elder, and labored determinedly to help the work along. About 1840 he emigrated to Nauvoo with his wife and two little children. He went on a mission to Virginia. When the church removed to Winter Quarters, he was sent to England to preach and learn the art of shorthand writing, which mission he filled, returning to America, and coming on to this city with his family in 1851.

He was subsequently made church reporter, which position he occupied for about ten years. After detailing the account of his resignation as church reporter, he engaged in the mercantile business. Finding that the business did not pay, for reasons which are detailed in his autobiography, he turned his attention to farming. About this time his severance from the church took place and he subsequently joined opposing religious movements here. He made a study of religious subjects, and wrote and spoke much on them. He was a religious devotee and pursued the subject assiduously throughout his entire career. He has frequently spoken in public here, and had the reputation of being a man perhaps as well versed in the theological lore as one could find. As a stenographer he had the reputation of being one of the most reliable in the country.

George D. Watt died on Monday, October 24, 1881, at his home at Kaysville. He was a man widely known in this territory and in Great Britain. He was a remarkable man in many respects, and was quite prominent here. Being a self-made man of strong character, and exercising vast influence, there is not a little in his career which is remarkable, and not a little which commends itself to the young man struggling for a place in the world—commends itself because of the perseverance manifested under trying circumstances, and for the acquisition of information obtained in difficulties. (Salt Lake Herald of October 25, 1881.)

Family links:

 Elizabeth Golightly Watt (1841 - 1930)
 Martha Watt Bench Kilfoyle (1847 - 1925)
 Sarah Ann Harter Watt (1850 - 1932)
 Alice Longstroth Watt (1824 - 1909)*

 Richard Golightly Watt (1860 - 1933)*
 Isabelle Golightly Watt Williams (1862 - 1902)*
 Alice Watt Layton (1865 - 1920)*
 Ermina Elizabeth Watt Roueche (1868 - 1945)*
 John Golightly Watt (1870 - 1948)*
 Mary Ann Watt McFerson (1870 - 1946)*
 Grace Darling Watt (1871 - 1879)*
 Jennet Darling Watt Stevenson (1872 - 1938)*
 James Arthur Watt (1873 - 1945)*
 Jane Watt Ellison (1875 - 1952)*
 Annie Watt Anderson (1875 - 1949)*
 Eliza Elizabeth Watt Nalder (1876 - 1963)*
 Julia Ann Watt (1877 - 1879)*
 Minervia Watt (1879 - 1880)*
 Ida Mariah Watt Stringham (1880 - 1967)*
 Rachel Watt Whitesides (1880 - 1948)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Kaysville City Cemetery Kaysville Davis County Utah, USA Plot: 1-40-B-1

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's Timeline

June 21, 1812
Manchester, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
January 15, 1815
Manchester, Lancashire, England
February 20, 1879
Age 64
Kaysville, Davis, Utah, United States
October 24, 1881
Age 66
Kaysville, Davis, Utah, United States
October 26, 1881
Age 66
Kaysville, Davis, Utah, United States