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Mormonism in Eaton Bray

The evidence for Mormonism in Eaton Bray comes from three registrations of meeting places. In July 1848 John Mead’s house and premises was registered for worship by Robert Hodgert of Billington [ABN1/2 and ABN2/396]. In September 1849 Hodgert also registered a house occupied by John Fenn [ABN1/2, ABN1/414]. He was joined in this registration by Fenn himself, John Mead and Samuel Impey. Finally, in October or November of that year John Mead, along with Jeremiah Stanbridge and George Dickenson registered Dickenson’s house and premises for worship [ABN1/2, ABN2/415].

Robert Hodgert is stated, in the 1851 census for Billington, as being a “Latter Day Saints itinerant minister”. He had been born in Scotland. This is a very early reference. Mormonism was invented by American Joseph Smith in the 1820s and officially incorporated in 1830, sending its first missionaries to Europe in 1839.

It is odd that the Mormons made no return to the 1851 ecclesiastical census in Eaton Bray. Perhaps they either did not bother or their cause had quickly ended in the village. Samuel Impey sent in the 1851 return for the Mormon church in nearby Kensworth, where twenty met in the morning, sixty in the afternoon and eighty in the evening so perhaps the worshippers had moved their base into that parish.