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Thomas Winward

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Thomas Winward

[In searching for a history of the first person on our Winward line to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it becomes apparent that Thomas as well as his sons(John) William and Peter, need to be mentioned together. For this record I am using a history of Peter Winward by his granddaughter, Winnie Curtis Wright, a short memorandum written by (John)William Winward, as well as notes collected by Ada Winward Gibson. The history written by Winnie Wright was compiled from stories that were in the Peter Winward family.] Thomas Winward was born in 1805 in Westhoughton, Lancashire,England to William and Margaret Green Winward. He married Betty Silcock on 2 Mar 1829 in Westhoughton. Betty was the daughter of Peter and Ann Hodkinson Silcock. She was born 14 April 1809, also in Westhoughton. Betty and Thomas were the parents of six children, William, Peter, Ann, Thomas, Margaret, and Elizabeth. Little is known of the early years of Thomas, other than when he heard the gospel of Jesus Christ preached in England. A certified copy of the birth entry for his daughter, Elizabeth, states that Thomas was a cotton dresser. They were living at 19 Sedgwick Street, Preston, Lancaster, at this time - June 1839. (Two other children were also born here, Thomas in 1836 and Margaret in 1838.) In July 1837, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, and Willard Richards came to England to open a mission. In the ensuing nine months, twothousand persons were baptized. The next excursion was in 1840 when eight of the twelve apostles, led by Brigham Young, went to England to preach the restored gospel. By the time they embarked for America in April 1841, between seven and eight thousand persons had embraced Mormonism. Thomas Winward was among those who accepted the message of the Prophet and joined the Church in 1841. His wife Betty could not accept the teachings. (John) William's writings say that his father joined the Church in Preston, but we have no official record of baptism. When Thomas expressed a desire to join the Saints in America, Betty refused to go, but Thomas was not to be deterred. On the 5th day of February 1842, Thomas took his two sons, William (almost 12) and Peter (9), and together with 270 Saints left Liverpool on the ship "Hope,” leaving his wife Betty and four children behind. He hoped that the love she had for him and her two sons, would cause her to follow.  The boys were both very sick on the journey, and that memory never left them. The ship arrived at New Orleans the forepart of March. Peter remembers his father lifting him up to purchase some sweet cakes from a Negro woman. It was April when they reached Nauvoo. Thomas purchased a small lot in Nauvoo. During the time he wasn't working on the temple, he was building his home. He was putting up a pole frame construction for his home when he contracted "black canker"(diphtheria). (John) William also had been very ill with fever for weeks. One day, as the two boys were playing close by their father, who was sitting in a chair sick with fever, they discovered he had died. This was just six months after they had arrived in Nauvoo (14 October 1842). Thomas had never given up hope that his family would join him. An inventory of his estate showed his belongings to be very meager - clothing, some bedding, a few kitchen utensils, a cow and calf, some wheat, and a flute in a green case. Bishop Jonathan H. Hale and Brother Driggs (with whom Thomas and his boys had been living), took Thomas to his final resting place in the Nauvoo Cemetery. Bishop Hale then took the two boys into his home. Before Thomas died, he asked Brother Charles Shumway to promise that if anything should happen to him, that Brother Shumway would see that the boys were not sent back to England. This was a difficult promise to keep as the boys were so young and their mother had sent money for their return. When the authorities contacted Bishop Hale regarding the return of the boys to England, Brother Shumway told them of the promise he had made to Thomas. It was decided to let the boys choose for themselves. Remembering how seasick they both had been, and frightened to make the long trip back, both boys decided to stay in America.

Compiled by Barbara Winward Seager July 1997

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