John Rowley and Sarah Wright Family Messenger


James Rowley was born in Hanley, North Staffordshire, England in June 1831 or 1832. (Ralph Nephi Rowley, in his “Tample Record” book, records the date as 1831, but the date that is recorded for his birth is June 1832, in the records of the Endowment House, when he was sealed to Hannah Barrows on 16 January 1887. I have not been able to find a record that gives the day in June that he was born.) He was the seventh child to be born to John Rowley and Sarah Wright. He had three older sisters, Maria, Sarah and Mary and three older brothers, John, Ralph and George. He had a younger sister Abigail and a younger brother, Joseph, making him a child of a family of nine children. These children all grew to adulthood, many of them to be very old.

John Rowley, his father, was a potter by trade, as were many of his ancestors before him. North Staffordshire, England, was a great potter center. Most of the people who lived there at that time were of the working class, and made their living in the different phases of pottery making. There were many secrets and skills or the trade that were passed on from father to son. It is said that John Rowley, the father, was very skilled at this art and made the finest and most delicate of pieces.

At a very early age the children began working in the pottery shops, learning to be industrious and independent, a trait of character that has been shared by all the Rowley’s.

In 1838 or 39, when James was about eight years old, “Mormon” Elders visited their home and James listened with interest as his parents questioned the Elders and learned of the glorious truths these men had to teach. The Elders became frequent visitors in their home and were regarded as Heavenly Messengers, carrying a message that was to change the entire course of their lives for Eternities to come! A message that was the beginning of circumstances that were to take most of this large family across the ocean and to Zion and a life so different and apart from the life they and their ancestors, who had lived for centuries in North Staffordshire, England.

A Book of Mormon was obtained and read and reread by all the member of the family. The wonderful truths contained were rehearsed and discussed. They learned to love the righteous characters spoken of in the book. Many of the family were given the great blessing of a sure knowledge that this was a true book and that the message these men carried was of God. They marveled and rejoices in their hearts because of these things. Many of the Rowley family were baptized in 1839.

James’ older brother Ralph showed such enthusiasm and faith, that he was called and set apart by George Q. Cannon to go and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Scotland. How proud James was of his brother Ralph. It was at this time that Ralph added the name of Nephi to his own, hoping to become like Nephi of the Book of Mormon. How James wished that he could go along with Ralph Nephi and be a Missionary too. But a child of nine years was hardly old enough to be set apart and officially called to preach the Gospel. He had a string testimony and a sure knowledge of the truths of the Gospel. He could teach his friends though, and I am sure he did this and likely suffered many hurts because of his staunch convictions, for the people who joined the “Mormon” Church at that time were treated as outcaste and many times were mistreated and abused.

James’ father died in 1843, leaving his mother with many dependent children to care for. Some of the older children had married. His brother Ralph Nephi had married a girl (Mary Ann Thompson) from Scotland, whom he had met while working in the mission field there.

The Rowley children had all worked in the potteries at a very early age. James had already learned many secrets of the trade. They now worked together to support themselves. There was a depression in England at this time, and living conditions were hard for everyone. Times were hard at the very best. James missed his father’s love and companionship and the comfort that he had given them in earning as good a living for them as anyone about them.

We can find no record of James from this time until he had a baby daughter, Zuriah Rowley, born to him in Fenton, Staffordshire, England on 15 August 1885. Zuriah’s mother’s name was Mary Sherlock. We have not been able to find out anything about Mary, except that she later married a man by the name of Bailey and raised several children by him. We do not know why James did not continue to live with Mary Sherlock. Many guesses might be made. Perhaps she did not join the Church, or perhaps she did not want to leave England when James migrated to Zion in 1856. All we know is that there was a separation. Mary never left England and James never returned there.

We believe that James crossed the plains in the William Hodgett’s wagon Train Company, but we can furnish no proof of this yet. We cannot determine the name of the ship or the time of its sailing, on which he crossed the ocean. We are not sure of the time of his arrival in Fillmore, Millard, Utah. George Rowley, a son of James Rowley and Mary Day could remember being told that his father pushed a hand cart from Salt Lake City to Fillmore, but he could not remember being told of anymore of these details.

We do not know anything of his marriage to Hannah Barrows. We do not know anything of Hannah Barrows, or of their life together. These are things we must know in order to write the next chapters of this history. Will you descendants of Hannah Barrows please contact me with any information that you might have about this time in their lives and of their life together! I know somewhere there is someone there is someone with many wonderful memories of these deserving and good people. Please help us honor them by recording these things for your descendants so they might know of them and love them.

Write to me or contact me at the reunion in Fillmore. My address is:

Mrs. Luella J. Downard
352 East 2nd South
Price, Utah


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