Hugh Findlay

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Hugh Findlay
Hugh Findlay.jpg
Born(1822-06-09)June 9, 1822
DiedMarch 1, 1900(1900-03-01) (aged 77)
Spouse(s)Isabella Ratray
Catherine Ann Partington
Mary Ellen Smith
Ane Marie Dorthea Nelson

Hugh Findlay (June 9, 1822 in Newmilns, Ayrshire, Scotland – March 2, 1900 in Fish Haven, Idaho) was one of the first two Mormon missionaries to enter India and initiated Mormon missionary work in the Shetland Islands.


Findlay was baptized in Dundee, Scotland,[1][2] on July 1, 1844, by missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He married Isabella Ratray that same year.[3] Between 1847 and 1848, Isabella and the two little boys she and Findlay had together, James and Ephraim, died in what was probably a diphtheria epidemic. Both boys were under two years old.

Orson Pratt recorded the following about a case of "miraculous healing" involving Findlay in Scotland:

St Mary's Parish Church, Dundee, Scotland

I have a girl, aged three years, who had for eighteen months been afflicted with convulsive fits ... the child was fearful to behold, almost in continual convulsions by night and day. On the 25th of December last, Elder Hugh Findlay called and anointed her with oil in the name of the Lord and prayed for her, and from that day until now she has never had a fit ... For the truth of which, witness our hands, ...

— James Davidson, Maria Davidson, Hugh Findlay[4]

While in England, Findlay engaged in public debates with anti-Mormon ministers from other faiths.[5] He was serving as a district president (head of the Hull Conference)[6] in England when Lorenzo Snow called him and William Willes to serve a mission in South Asia.[7]


Findlay and Willes arrived in 1851, seeking to build on reports from early members of the Plymouth Brethren that India would be a fertile ground for proselytization. However, almost immediately they were met by opposition from the established Protestant denominations, the press, and military officers and chaplains.[8] Findlay labored first in Bombay (now Mumbai); Willes travelled up the Ganges to Simla.[9]

Kalbadevi Road, an important road in Bombay, in the 19th Century.

It took Findlay six months to baptize his first six converts. While in Bombay, he was restricted from all military areas (cantonments) and was forbidden to preach to military personnel. In April 1852, he moved on to Poona (now Pune), 90 miles distant, where he was eventually granted permission to proselyte. The local cantonment commander reasoned that "the less these people are opposed the less harm they would do."[8] Findlay was eventually able to organize a branch of twelve members in Poona by mid-September 1852, a mixture of "European, Eurasian, and native."[10] However, in October Findlay was asked to leave the cantonment. He found new quarters in a small shelter in Poona, where he continued to hold meetings with the branch. Several months later, he completed a chapel directly across the street.[11]

After being banished from the cantonment, Findlay focused his efforts almost exclusively on the native population. He studied the Marathi language and spent considerable time discussing religion with a group of Brahmin intellectuals.[8]

Findlay's brother Allan joined him as a missionary in India.[12] Allan McPherson Findlay, a baker by trade,[13] was born in New Milns, Scotland, in 1830, and was baptized in November 1846. He accepted Findlay's urgent request to join him in Bombay and Poona, without any official call from the church. He arrived on September 7, 1853, about two years after Findlay.[14]

Hugh Findlay and his fellow missionaries ultimately found little success in India. He served in Poona and Bombay for several years, most of it alone.[15] Brigham Young ordered the mission closed in 1855.[16] Historians have concluded the mission's significance lies is in its failure to secure more than a handful of converts, in contrast with other missions at the time (in Scandinavia and the British Isles) that were extremely successful.[17]

Emigration and settling Utah[edit]

Findlay completed his mission and departed Bombay on March 15, 1855.[3][18] He and a few fellow Mormons emigrated by way of Hong Kong (where they baptized one convert) to the United States, arriving later that year.[14] He married 23-year-old Catherine Ann Partington[19] on March 25, 1856, in the Endowment House. Brigham Young performed the ceremony.[20]

Findlay's Match Manufactory, Main Street, Salt Lake City.

The couple helped settle Riverdale, Utah, where Hugh made a living by manufacturing and selling matches.[21] They eventually had nine children together.[1]

In 1857 Findlay began practicing plural marriage when he married 16-year-old Mary Ellen Smith, with whom he eventually had seven children.[1] In 1858, he became Riverdale's first school teacher,[21] and in 1860 he joined a bishopric in Riverdale as a counselor.[22] He was also at one time the president of the "17th Ward Silk Producing Society".[23]

In June 1862, Hugh Findlay's 19-year-old brother-in-law, Jared Smith, was killed in the Morrisite War. Smith had been engaged to Ane Marie Dorthea Nelson, a 19-year-old Danish immigrant. The next month, Findlay married Ane Marie. They had three children together and raised them as if they were Jared's.

By 1864, Findlay was in Salt Lake City manufacturing and selling matches at a store on Main Street.[24][25] An 1865 Deseret News advertisement noted he sold other products as well, including stereoscopic boxes.[26]

Allan emigrated to the U.S. via Liverpool, England, sailing on the Ship Thornton to New York City.[13] On the second day at sea, 26-year-old Allan married Jessie Ireland,[27] a 28-year-old whom the ship's manifest identified as a spinster, although they had been dating for about ten years.[13] They rendezvoused in New York with Allan and Hugh's mother (Mary McPherson Findlay), then headed west. Although they crossed the plains with the ill-fated Willie Handcart Company,[28][29][30] all three survived and made it to Salt Lake City.[31]

Later life[edit]

In the Fall of 1869, Brigham Young called Findlay and his families to help settle the Bear Lake country. They arrived on May 22, 1870, and along with Henry Howell helped settle Fish Haven, Idaho, where he later served as Bishop.[1] Ane Marie died in Fish Haven in 1872 at age 29.

Lerwick, main port in the Shetland Islands

In 1878 the church called him to open a mission in the Shetland Islands, an archipelago northeast of Scotland. He arrived on January 4, 1879, and on March 31 baptized the islands' first two converts.[32]

On May 5, 1879, Orson Pratt (who was also in the British Isles at the time) received a letter from John Taylor, instructing him to obtain electroplates for a new edition of the Doctrine & Covenants. Findlay and three other men helped him divide the text into verses and supply references.[33]

While in Shetland he was asked to preside over the Scotland Mission. One history records:

He had no money with which to pay his steamboat passage to Scotland, but, true to his unwavering faith, he packed his suitcase, ready to obey, and walked toward the wharf where he was to sail. As he passed the post office, he asked for his mail and received a letter from a strange lady who wrote him of her interest in articles he had written for the Millennial Star and enclosed for him a five-pound note which was equal to about twenty-five dollars in American money.[1]

He was released as president of the Scotland Mission in 1880. He returned to his families in Fish Haven, where he served as a Patriarch[1] until his death on March 2, 1900.


  • Findlay, Hugh (15 January 1882). "Ornaments and Dress in India". Juvenile Instructor. 17: 29.
  • Findlay, Hugh (1 February 1882). "A Funeral to the East". Juvenile Instructor. 17: 43.


  • Findlay, Hugh (1853). "The Mormons" Or "Latter-day-Saints": A Reply. Bombay: Dustur Ashkara Press. OCLC 20471665.
  • Findlay, Hugh (1855). To the Marattas of Hindoostan: A Treatise on the True and Living God and His Religion (in Marathi). Bombay: Gunput Crushnajee's Press. OCLC 20473523.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Hugh Findlay". Ancestors of Sarah Ellen HALES. Accessed 13 April 2007.
  2. ^ Findlay lived on Barrack Street in Dundee, Scotland.
  3. ^ a b "The Mormons From Scotland and Wales: Others From Scotland". Our Pioneer Heritage. Volume 13. Company E.
  4. ^ Pratt, Orson. Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Numbers 1-3. Liverpool, 1850.
  5. ^ Theobald, John (1850). The overthrow of infidel Mormonism: being a report of the Louth discussion which took place in the Guild Hall, Louth, Lincolnshire, August 28, 29, 30, & September 2, 3, & 6, 1850, between Mr. Hugh Findlay, Mormon elder, from Scotland, and Mr. John Theobald, Primitive Methodist local preacher, temperance advocate, anti-Mormon missionary, author of Mormonism Dissected, &c., to which is added an account of the discussion which took place at Spondon, on the 26th of May, 1848, between Mr. Theobald and Mr. George Henry, Mormon delegate. London : W. Horsell, Aldine Chambers. OCLC: 171289016.
  6. ^ Tullidge, Edward (1889). Tullidge's Histories, vol. II. Press of the Juvenile Instructor. p. 14.
  7. ^ Roberts, B.H. Comprehensive History of the Church. Vol.3, Ch.88, p.389
  8. ^ a b c Britsch, R. Lanier. "Latter-day Saint Mission to India". Brigham Young University Studies 12, No. 3 (1972). See "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2007-04-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  9. ^ Smith, George Albert (1872). The rise, progress and travels of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (2d. ed.). Salt Lake City: Printed at the Deseret News Office. OCLC 2070492.
  10. ^ Millennial Star (London, England), Vol. XIV, pp. 635-36.
  11. ^ Millennial Star (London, England), Vol. XIV, pp. 654-55.
  12. ^ Tullidge, Edward (1889). Tullidge's Histories, (volume II). Salt Lake City, Utah: Press of the Juvenile Instructor. p. 60.
  13. ^ a b c Ship Manifest. Ship Thornton. 3 May 1856 Liverpool, England - 14 June 1856 New York, New York. See [1].
  14. ^ a b Britsch, R. Lanier. "The 1851-56 Mission to India". Journal of Mormon History, Volume 27, Issue 2, Fall 2001
  15. ^ Britsch, R. Lanier. "The Nobility of Failure". Speeches. Brigham Young University Press. 1999. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2006-02-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Hunter, Milton R. Brigham Young the Colonizer. Third Edition. 1945, p. 89. ISBN 1-4179-6846-X.
  17. ^ Britsch, R. Lanier. Nothing More Heroic: The Compelling Story of the First LDS Missionaries in India Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1999.
  18. ^ Jensen, Andrew. Church Chronology: A Record of Important Events Pertaining to the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1914, p. 53. ISBN 1-4179-6854-0.
  19. ^ According to Sons of the Utah Pioneers-Utah, Pioneer Companies, Catherine arrived in Salt Lake City on September 15, 1853, at age 20, as part of the McIawson Company with her father (Ralph Partington), two brothers (James and William) and her sister (Sarah).
  20. ^ Palmquist, Peter E.; Kailbourn, Thomas R. (2000). Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. pp. 228–229. ISBN 9780804738835. OCLC 44089346.
  21. ^ a b Judkins, Lucille Child. "A History of Riverdale". March 1972
  22. ^ Whitney, Orson F. (1904). History of Utah. Salt Lake City: G. Q. Cannon. p. 287.
  23. ^ "Home Manufacture". Our Pioneer Heritage. Volume 12. The Year of 1868. Company E.
  24. ^ West side of Main Street, between 100 South and 200 South.
  25. ^ Phelps, W.W. (1864). Almanac for the Year 1864. Great Salt Lake City, Utah: Printed at Deseret News Office. p. 16. Hugh Findlay, First Prize Matches, wholesale and retail, west side of Main street, 14th ward; also blacking
  26. ^ "Advertisement". Deseret News. Salt Lake City. February 15, 1865. SOMETHING NEW IN UTAH! AT FINDLEY'S [sic] MUSIC STORE. An Exhibition of the latest improvement of the Stereoscopia [sic] and Panoramic arts, comprising a Choice Selection of Transparent and Large Scenes, at once amusing and interesting to old and young. ... This Exhibition, with an extensive change of Views and rich Fittings, is offered for Sale, presenting a rare chance for remunerative speculation. A Few stereoscopic Boxes and Views For Sale, a pleasing parlor entertainment
  27. ^ See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-19. Retrieved 2006-08-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link). Accessed 13 April 2007.
  28. ^ "Immigration to Utah," Deseret News, 15 October 1856, 254.
  29. ^ Journal History, 9 November 1856, p. 25
  30. ^ "James G. Willie Company (1856)". Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868. [2]. Accessed 13 April 2007.
  31. ^ "A Lamentable Accident," Deseret Evening News, 5 March 1891, 8.
  32. ^ Jensen, Andrew. Church Chronology: A Record of Important Events Pertaining to the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1914, p. 103. ISBN 1-4179-6854-0.
  33. ^ Davis, Marguirite R. History of John Ryder. The Yancey Family Surname Resource Center. See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link).

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