Mormons in Kensworth
As Kensworth was in Hertfordshire until 1897 Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service does not have any registrations of nonconformist meeting houses - these are at Hertfordshire Archives Service in Hertford. Kensworth had a Mormon meeting, which was registered in 1855 in property belonging to Daniel Evans, straw plait dealer (this was cancelled in 1866). Mormonism was quite strong in the area at the time, largely thanks to the efforts of a man named Robert Hodgert, who 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.
On Sunday 30th March 1851 a census of all churches, chapels and preaching-houses of every denomination was undertaken in England and Wales. The local results were published by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1975 as Volume 54, edited by D. W. Bushby. The return for the Mormon meeting in Kensworth was made by Samuel Impey who recorded a general congregation of 20 in the morning, 60 in the afternoon and 80 in the evening.
The 1851 census reveals that Impey lived in “Kensworth Village”, where precisely cannot be judged as all his near neighbours are labourers with no nearby public houses or grand houses on which to base the entry. He himself was an agricultural labourer and had been born in Eaton Bray. He was 35 years old. His wife, Ann, born in Flamstead [Hertfordshire] was 39. Their children were: Betsey, 14, born in Eaton Bray; Eliza, 11, born in Totternhoe; Alfred, 9, born in Totternhoe; James, 7, born in Eaton Bray and Charles, 4, born in Eaton Bray. All the children except Charles were straw plaiters.