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Diary of Edwin Stratford

History of Stratford family

Diary of Edwin Stratford

Transcribed by Susan Howard

(Edwin Stratford was the elder brother of Lucetta Stratford Penrose, the oldest son of George Stratford and Eliza Barwell Stratford. What follows is a transcript of a microfilm copy of the first 20 pages of the Diary of Edwin Stratford. This copy is available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and covers a period from 1850 to 1854 (mistakenly reported as 1864 on the title.) I copied only the early part of the diary in which gives us his family history and the events leading to the Stratford family joining the Mormon church, up until the time Edwin receives his mission call.

I have edited the diary for readability.)

The Title page reads:

Edwin Stratford

Elder in the
Church of Jesus Christ

Latter-day Saints

[Genealogical Listings are not included in this transcript]

Edwin begins:

My Father’s Father lived in Maldon during the greater part of his life, but where he was born I have no means of ascertaining. In his youth he was an inmate of a workhouse and was apprenticed to a farmer by the name of [George] which he established himself as a Gardner in Maldon in which occupation he followed till his death. His name was Samuel Stratford he married Elizabeth Cass of whom he had issue.

Samuel Stratford born in Maldon
James Cass Stratford born in Maldon
William Stratford Born in Maldon 1800
Stephen Stratford Born in Maldon 1802
Abraham Stratford Maldon
Eliza Stratford Maldon
Joseph Stratford Maldon 1806
George Stratford Maldon November 7 1809
Sarah Elizabeth Emma Stratford Maldon 1810 [annotation “1 or 2”]
Caroline Stratford Born in All Saints Parish, Maldon
July 23 1814

I have procured the register of the baptisms of my Fathers family but have no means of procuring the particulars of birth any further than I have outlined there in this book as no one has a record of the subject.

My grandfather by his industry amassed considerable property. He died very suddenly in an apoplectic fit May 23rd 1836 aged 64 and was buried in the Independent Chapel Yard, Maldon. After his death grandmother carried on the business till some time in 1844 or 1845 and would have done so till her death had not her son James established a shop near by and took away her trade when she could not carry on her business any longer he allowed her 11/ [shillings] per week and on this allowance she retired and went to live with her daughter Caroline in St Mary’s Parish [. . . . . .] where she died May 14 1849 aged 75 years and was buried beside her husband.

Eliza married to William E[ . . . . .] and died soon after and was buried in Langford Church Yard, Essex. Stephen died in London and was buried in St Johns Woods Church Yard. William died in 18[.]2 and was buried in the Independent Chapel Yard, Maldon leaving a wife and 5 children 4 girls and one boy. Stephen left a wife and three sons who live in London. His wife’s [- - - - -] His wife’s name was Ann Balls. Joseph and Emma died in youth and were buried in the same yard as grandfather.
The name of James Stratford’s wife was Mary Cutts of Rivendell, Essex.

My brief outline of my History previous to embracing the Gospel and also the incidents connected with my obeying the fullness of the Gospel and an account of my Travels as an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


I was born in the parish of All Saints, Maldon Essex on the 6th of February 1833 and am the oldest of a Family of ten children who were all with the exception of one born in Maldon. At the time of my birth my Father followed the occupation of a Cabinet-Maker and my Mother that of a Dressmaker. We continued to live in Maldon till some time in 1843 when my Father and his family moved to London in the hopes of procuring a better living, but that not ensuing he moved to Rayleigh where my Brother George was born and not realizing his expectations there he again removed to Maldon.

When I was born my Father and Mother and different members of their family were members of the Wesleyan denomination. In my boyhood I was sent to the Sunday school belonging to that body of people and it was there that I became acquainted with the little I ever knew about sectarianism. But my Parents were not content with merely a Spiritual education so I was sent to the British school. After staying there some time I was sent to one of a higher order kept by a Mr. Carter where I made rapid progress in geography.

When my Parents left for London I had to leave schooling for a season. For after living in London a few months I went down to Maldon to live with my Grandmother and I continued to live alternately at Maldon and when they moved to Rayleigh at Rayleigh. When the family came to Maldon again I went to work with my uncle Abraham at the business of a shipwright and worked at it a few months but we could not agree and I left after which my Father and family went to London again. While there I worked at two different situations as a Newspaper boy the first one was a bad place so I obtained the other. When my employer found I had obtained another place he set his housekeeper to work who endeavored to bribe me my offering in the name of my Master to learn me the steel plate engraving, but I would not be bribed.

My other place was much better and I continued there. . till my [. . .] as the family again moved down to Maldon. After they went I soon followed them. The week after they went away on the Monday after I got down to Maldon I procured work at my uncle James in his gardens and it was where working that I made up my mind to be a Gardener. I worked for him for a considerable time it not liking his behavior I left and went to work part of my time at the Bank in Malden there. I had a few flowers to attend too which branch of the business since particularly attracted my attention. My time was not wholly filled up at the Bank so I went to a Grocer during my spare time as long as I was wanted. I had that place though my Employers were coming home. A little before this my Grandmother Elizabeth Stratford died and was buried in the Independent Chapel Yard. During the summer I left the bank and went to work at Mr. Wilmshurst [?] which was altogether a better place and where I had greater facilities for obtaining a knowledge of my trade. I continued to live with him till I went out to preach the Gospel.

While I was young and could be controlled by my Grandmother I used to attend the Wesleyan chapel but my Father and Mother have left that people and my Father advocating freedom of thought. I also became tired of Chapel and preferred a roam in the fields or a bathe in the salt water or some such diversion to attending the meetings of the sectarians. I soon imbibed the notions of my Father or some of them insomuch that I did not believe any of the sects of the day were right neither could I see that Jesus Christ was the Lord of God. I used to pray in secret and sometimes I have felt disturbed about Jesus Christ and on once occasion I felt obliged to acknowledge that he was the son of God. Thus the Spirit strove with me and when I look back upon my past life I feel that the Lord has been with [me?] all my lifetime and has delivered me and prepared me for the Gospel of his Son. I [remember] realizing a great portion of the Spirit.

Once when I was in a meeting of the Wesleyans I felt that I was willing to serve God but after a short time I became indifferent again. By feeling such a dislike to sectarians my mind was freed to a great degree from their teaching and notions. I was in this condition when a young man professing to be a Servant of God sent forth according to the ancient Apostolic order [. . . ] without “purse or scrip” came into the town. This was about the 8th of March 1851. The news soon spread through the town and the Sunday after I heard of it I wished to hear him preach though more from curiosity than love of truth for I was a stranger to the Doctrines he bore. He could not obtain a room at first so he used to distribute tracts.

I had the opportunity of reading several as one had been left at my Grandmother Barwell’s and one at our own house. We took but little notice of the one left at home. The Elder called but Father not knowing who he was did not care to see him. He was not to be repulsed so however for when I returned from work one evening I found Elder Penrose there discussing with my Father. I listened with attention. I had never heard such doctrines before and after the conversation was ended I told my Mother that was the religion for me. When I retired to rest I prayed that I might know of the Truth of the words if it was true that might be lead to embrace it if false, that I might be able to reject it. On the following Sunday Elder Penrose obtained a room and I heard the Gospel preached for the first time. There were present several who have since obeyed the truth. Early in April my Aunt Lucetta Barwell went down to the waters of baptism and on the 17th of the same month my Mother and Grandmother were also baptized. [1851]

I continued to attend the meetings and search the works for the conversation I heard between Elder Penrose and my Father effectually removed all [prejudice] against reading the works so I read some of them commencing with the Great First Cause after which I read the Absurdities of Immaterialism and other works written by Orson Pratt. I also read a part of the Book of Mormon. While reading the Book of Mormon I came to the conclusion that the work was of God for though I believed many of the principles I had scruples about some points. I communicated my conclusions to Elder Penrose who said to me and “and now why tarriest thou”? I made up my mind I would be baptized but I did feel very settled about when I soon broke through that indetermination and early on the morning of the 9th of May I called Elder Penrose up and we went down to the water. I was baptized at a place called the stakes about a mile from the town. When I came away from baptism I felt even then before confirmation that I knew the work was true in the evening I was confirmed by Elder Penrose after leaving him I rejoiced greatly I the Spirit of God. I realized the promise made to me before baptism that I should know the work was true. I knew it and that Joseph was a Prophet that day fortnight.

May 23rd Elder William Speakman came down from London and in the evening the Maldon Branch was organized consisting of ten members. Elder Penrose was appointed President—I was ordained to the office of Priest by Elder Speakman and Penrose. Elder Speakman being mouth while his hands were on my head he said the conviction of the truth should continually rest upon me. Elder Penrose also prophesied concerning me and said I should go to Zion and come back again to the Nations of the earth. On the 28th of May my Sister Eliza was baptized.

On the 30th of May I went to London to see the Great Exhibition and to attend the London Conference. On Sunday, June 1st my father who came up on the Saturday and myself went to the Conference. In the afternoon we went over to the Kennington branch where Elder Penrose came from. In the evening we went to the Theobalds Road meeting and heard Elder John Taylor one of the Twelve Apostles. I enjoyed the discourse much. Elder Taylor bore Testimony to Joseph and to his being in prison with him when he was shot and receiving 4 bullets in his own body and declared he was a good man and whoever said to the contrary was a liar and the truth was not in them.

On Monday June 2nd my Father was baptized by Elder Charles W. Penrose. In the afternoon we had a grand festival at the Freemasons Hall. Four of the Twelve Apostles were present and addressed the meeting namely John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow and Franklin D. Richards. The meeting was also enlivened by singing. I enjoyed myself first rate.

On Tuesday Father and myself went to the Exhibition. It was a grand and glorious sight to behold. The works of art collected from many nations of the earth. In fact I never saw anything to equal. One of the grandest sights was obtained by standing on the gallery at the further end of the building and looking upon the immense concourse of people who were passing up and down the grand aisle. These with the works of art combined to make it a glorious sight.

On Wednesday I went to the Exhibition again. It would have taken some time to inspect every article. The building itself was well worthy of admiration it was commenced 26 September. It was 185 ft long and 40 ft wide besides a projection on the north side 48 ft wide and 936 feet long. The spaced enclosed covering about 19 acres. The main avenue 72 feet wide 66 feet high. above the center it was crossed by a 66 feet high. About the center it was crossed by a h---? 72 feet wide and 108 feet high. On each side were smaller avenues alternately [.. ] and 48 feet wide. The two first from were [------] and the remainder 28 feet high. The materials used in the construction were iron, wood, and glass. The frontage afforded for the Exhibition of goods was more than ten miles in extent.

On the eighth of June we had a sacrament meeting at Maldon. I bore my testimony though in weakness. On the 12the of June my Sister Julia was baptized. Soon after this I stood up to preach for the first time. No one can tell my sensations on the occasion of being called up but I determined to go on and the Lord helped me so that I managed to say a few words. Nothing of any importance occurred till the 1st of July when my Sister Lucetta was baptized.

At a council meeting held the [. .] 0f this month I was appointed treasurer to the Emigration Fund and Clerk to the branch. At a council meeting held July 31 I was appointed to go to Burleigh, a village about 11 miles off, to distribute tracts. I went 5 times. The fifth time I was appointed to preach in the open air I sang and prayed a man came up after that and offered his house for preaching. I preached to a good congregation. This was the 21st of September. I went there to preach 8 times. The eighth time I found the proprietor ill and could not preach. I was sent there next Sunday to try and get the room again but was unsuccessful.

On the 4th of December I was appointed to preach at Banbury for the first time. I preached there again on Sunday, January 18th 1852. I continued to attend to Danbury when appointed. Sometimes my Father who had been ordained Teacher 10th of August went and preached there. On the 28th of January 1852 I baptized a young woman Rosa Ann Orrell.

On the 9th of April a party of Saints went over to Braintree to attend a test[imony] Meeting. I was with them while walking round to look at the place. We were mobbed by a number of boys who followed us a considerable distance and hooted and pelted us with stones however we did not sustain any material injury. After the festival when about to start some of us had got into the wagon we found the mob had drawn the lines [ . . . . ] Had the horses started what a terrible scene might have occurred for when the lines which kept the wheels in their place were gone there was nothing to keep them from coming off but God ordered it right in his providence.

On Sunday April 18th Elder Gates from Great Salt Lake City paid us a visit on the 4th of May I was appointed Book Agent for the Chelmsford District.

12th of May Elder Penrose left the Maldon Branch having received instructions to wind up affairs there and go to Colchester and labor. The 16th of May I went to Chelmsford to preach according to appointment.

On the following Thursday [18] evening when assembled in meeting with a few of the Saints Sister Ann Holland had the gift of prophesy and prophesied that I should have the gift of prophecy. I stood up. The gift resting on me and prophesied of those things the Lord revealed to me. After the meeting was over and next day I felt a great measure of joy through the outpouring of the Sprit of God. The Essex Conference was held in Maldon the 13th of June. I was appointed to take the lead of the meetings the following Sunday. The Saturday evening before I received the following note from Elder Black, President of the Essex by Elder Henry A Squires

Braintree Essex
Saturday morning June 1852

Brother Edward Stratford

I wish you to resign your manual labour, and give your whole time to the work of the ministry, for I have a field of labour for you for you in the Hertford District under the Presidency of Brother Squires. I counsel you to attend to these instructions. Brother Squires will give you all particulars.

Yours in the Lord
Martin Black

Mr. E Stratford

After reading the note and ascertaining that I could have my linen ready I went to my employer and told him I wanted to leave the next night. I obtained his consent and on the following evening Sunday June 20th I started with elder Squires for Danbury where we arrived late at night. This was very short notice to get ready and leave home, about 26 hours from the time I received my instructions to the time I started but I felt that the Lord had called me and was submissive t his will. On the Sunday previous to starting one of the Saints prophesied I should do good work. I went forth in faith believing the promises of the Lord.

Owner/SourceFamily History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
DateAugust 2007
Linked toEdwin Stratford

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