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Journal of Robert Clarkson (1834-1867)

Commentary by David Romney Crockett (great-great-grandson)

HTML Edition (1995), First Edition (1988), Second Edition (2005)
(c) Copyright David R. Crockett 1995. All rights reserved.

This book may NOT be copied to another a public location on the Internet.



Many journals exist of early Mormon pioneers. Some of these journals tell of the adventures as these people struggled their way to Utah. Some of these individuals are prominent in the pages of church history.

Robert Clarkson's story is different. You will not find his name mentioned among the widely read pages of Mormon church history. He did not leave a breath-taking story of his journey across the plains. He just called it "a prosperous and pleasant journey." His story is one from a different perspective. Robert joined the church in his teen years and was not able to emigrate to Utah for several years because of employment obligations. Instead, he labored in a small struggling branch of the church in Beverley, Yorkshire, England. His writings help us to understand what life as an early church member was like, far away from Utah. He was a strong church member, who from an early age, dedicated his life to the church. Robert also left us with a very personal and moving story about family difficulties late in his life which added to his untimely death. He passed his dedication and love for the gospel on to generations to come and in some way has affected the lives and circumstances of all his descendants.

This is more than Robert's journal. It is a history of the time and surroundings that Robert lived in. I received great enjoyment in researching the life of my great-great grandfather. I have tried to explain many of the things that Robert mentions in his journal. As you read his journal, by using the foot notes, I hope you may understand better the life that he experienced. The information in the appendicies will also help you. This version takes advantage of the World Wid Web (WWW), with links to more information all over the world. As you click on the highlighted links, you will get more information about the places, the people, and the terms used in Robert's journal. Pay special attention to the highlighted footnotes that will add some valuable background information. These footnotes are highlighted the gold star: * Something that may be of help to become familiar with England's geography is Guide to the United Kingdom.

I estimate that Robert Clarkson's decendants, in 1995, number over 3000. In Appendix B you will find a partial list of decendants.

This journal has been typed from a hand-written copy made of the original journal by Mary Crockett Nuffer, his granddaughter (and my great-aunt), in 1918. I have kept most of the spelling errors, but have added corrections for obvious mistakes that may have been due to Aunt Mary's transcription. I have also added some punctuation to aid in reading.


Robert Clarkson was born on January 17th, 1834, in Beverley, * Yorkshire, England. He was the last of ten children born to Matthew and Elizabeth Clarkson. His mother was 42 when he was born and six of his brothers and sisters were still living. Edward (age 15) and Elizabeth (age 1) died on the same day the previous year. John (age 3) died in 1830. His living brothers and sisters were Henry (age 21), Isabella (age 19), Thomas (age 17), George (age 13), William (age 11) and Mary (age 9).

Prior to settling in Beverley, Matthew and Elizabeth, who were married in 1811, lived in Old Malton which is about thirty miles north-west of Beverley. In 1817, the family moved across the river, a mile east, to Norton.

It was about 1825 when the Clarkson family moved to Beverley. About 8 1/2 miles south of Beverley is the large city of Hull.* When Robert was 15 years old, in 1849, there was much fear in the area because of an outbreak of cholera in the nearby city of Hull. It raged in the city for three months and 1,860 people died. In September, 1849, an average of 50 people died each day from the disease which was caused by the polluted water of that time. Much of the city of Hull is below the high-water mark and they suffered from the effects of dirty water. In Beverley, there was great concern regarding this epidemic. Efforts were made to take a lock at public health in Beverley. Beverley was very fortunate in avoiding the devastating outbreak. In August, 1849, ten people died of the desease in Beverley workhouse, but it did not spread further into the town.

In 1845, Robert's brother, Henry was introduced to the Mormon church while he was living in Liverpool. Henry soon joined the church and sent many letters and pamphlets home hoping to convert his family to the church. His sister Mary and her husband William Lark* believed in the words of the Mormon elders and joined the church on the 25th of October, 1849. Several other families in Beverley, including the Clegg family, soon took hold of the gospel. [fn0.5]*

Journal of Robert Clarkson (1834-1867)

[Image of UK map]. . [Image of UK flag]

January 1834

I was born in Beverley in the East Riding of the County of York on the 17th of January 1834. My parents were Matthew* and Elizabeth Clarkson. My father was a native of Sherburn in Yorkshire and my mother of Scarborough* in the same County.

As soon as I was teachable, I was put to school where I remained until I was 14 years of age.

March 1848

I then was Bound an apprentice to John Eyre Atkinson, (a Cooper)* on the 30th day of March 1848 about three months after my mother died on the 6th of June after a long and wearysome affliction. [fn1]*

Some short time after, several Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, * preached often in Beverley. I heard them sometimes but did not give heed to their teachings. My brother [fn1.1]* and sister investigated their principals and soon embraced them. For some months, I still remained refractory although I attended their meetings. [fn1.2]*

Februrary 1850

[Image of membership record flag]
Robert's church membership record in Hull Branch

At length on the 24th of February 1850, I was Baptised [fn1.2]* by Elder Abraham Smith and Confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elders A. Smith and John Taylor.

June 1851

On Sunday the 8th of June 1851, [fn2] * visited Conference at Hull, where I was ordained a teacher under the hands of Elders H. Findlay (president of the Conference)* Allen Findley, Andrew Galloway* and W.C. Dunbar, President of the Southampton Conference, In which Capacity I acted [fn3]* in connection with Bro. Lark (Priest) 4 1/2 months & afterwards with Bro. Joseph Harper, President of Beverley Branch.

September 1851

On Sunday Sep. 14th, we held a Camp meeting at Lockington* there was about 23 Hull saints came by omnibus. Elder H. Findley took the Presidency. A many people came together and we had a very good Day of it.

On Sunday the 28th went to Conference [fn4]* by the nine O'clock coach. Elder H.F. Presided. Elder Robt. Menzies from the Bradford* Conference was president. After the morning meeting I with Bro. W. Lark & Elder Galloway dined at sister Stephenson's in Salt House Lane. Attended meeting again at half past two, when Conference buisness was over by four O'clock. Then I with Bro Bro Lark & Galloway went with Bro. Smith to tea in Wincombe* after which Bro. Lark and I walked home reaching Beverley about half past 8 O'clock.

Monday 29th. Again went to Hull accompanied by Bro. and Sister Lark and Bro. W. Czars from Welwang by the one O'clock train to a Cold water party & social meeting on account of Elder Hugh Findley leaving England to go to Bombay in the East Indies to preach the Gospel to that people. [fn5]* We had a very happy night of it. Elder Joseph Vernon* gave a very interesting speach upon the history of India. Bros. R Menzies, H.F.*, A.F. and A.G. Spoke Alternately & many of the brethern & Sisters Sang and recited. The meeting broke up about half past twelve O'clock then Bros. Harper, Lark & Adamson with sisters Smelt, Adamson, Lark, and myself walked home reaching Beverley by 4 O'clock on Tuesday morning.

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