Skip to main content

Reynolds, George, 1842-1909



  • Existence: 1842 - 1909

Biographical History

George Reynolds (1842-1909) was a polygamist and church leader in Utah, and is known mostly for being used as a test case for the constitutionality of the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862.

George Reynolds was born on January 1, 1842, in Marylebone, England. His parents were George and Julia Ann Tautz Reynolds. As a youth he became acquainted with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized at the age of fourteen. In 1865, Reynolds immigrated to Utah and settled in Salt Lake City. He there became Brigham Young's secretary and would continue to serve as the secretary to the First Presidency for the remainder of his life. He likewise served as a member of the municipal council of Salt Lake City from 1875 to 1879.

In 1874, George Reynolds was chosen by both civil leaders and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a test case for the constitutionality of the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862. Reynolds was convicted of bigamy the following year, and his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1879. He was imprisoned briefly in the Nebraska State penitentiary before being transferred to the Utah Territorial penitentiary where he served out the remainder of his sentence of two years. He thus became the first of many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be imprisoned for practicing polygamy.

Reynolds was actively involved in the Sunday School system and served on the Board of the Deseret Sunday School Union. Throughout his life Reynolds was a noted author of Mormon polemics and he frequently wrote for the Deseret News and the Juvenile Instructor. He is best remembered for his works on the Book of Mormon. In April 1890, Reynolds was sustained as a member of the First Council of the Seventies, a position he held until his death on August 9, 1909.

Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, v.1, 1901: p. 206-210 (born January 1, 1842 in Marylebone, England; parents were George and Julia Ann Tautz Reynolds; joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of fourteen; came to Utah in 1865; served as a secretary and municipal council of S.L.C.; acted as a test case for Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act; imprisoned in Nebraska and Utah; active in Sunday Schools; author of works on the Book of Mormon; Sustained a member of the First Council of the Seventies in April 1890) Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, v.3, 1920: p. 771 (died on August 9, 1909)

Found in 22 Collections and/or Records:

Deseret Museum museum register

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS SC 598
Scope and Contents

The collection includes a fragment of the printer register with handwritten notations, some by Joseph L. Barfoot, curator, and newspaper clippings about the Great Salt Lake and other miscellaneous subjects concerning Utah. Also is an undated loose page of butterfly illustrations from a German publication by Hubner, Exot, Schmett., Vol. 1, plate 6, sent to G. Reynolds, curator of the Museum of Natural History.

Dates: 1874-1877

Saidee G. Dunn notes

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 50

The collection contains a volume of handwritten lecture notes taken by Sadie Dunn Hains from lectures presented by George Reynolds probably at Brigham Young Academy. The subject was the Book of Mormon. Also included are handwritten copies of songs and recipes.

Dates: 1899-1901

General Church Board of Education certificate

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 260
Scope and Contents

Printed and handwritten certificate. The item is a license which authorizes Hyrum H. Anderson to teach religion classes for the Mormon Church in Provo, Utah. The item was signed by the president of the Mormon Church, Wilford Woodruff, and by George Reynolds and Karl G. Maeser.

Dates: 1892

George Reynolds certificates and documents, 1863-1907

Identifier: Vault MSS 10 Series 2
Scope and Contents

Contains receipts, certificates, and other documents related to Reynolds. Includes his sentence to prison for practicing polygamy, and a petition for his pardon submitted to President Rutherford B. Hayes. Dated 1863-1907.

Dates: 1863-1907

George Reynolds correspondence, 1872-1909

Identifier: Vault MSS 10 Series 1
Scope and Contents

Contains correspondence between various individuals, includings leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Topics revolved primarily around the doctrine of polygamy and Reynold's imprisonment for practicing polygamy. Dated 1872-1905.

Dates: 1872-1909

George Reynolds writings, approximately 1877-1920

Identifier: Vault MSS 10 Series 3
Scope and Contents

Contains writings by or related to Reynolds. Includes records related to the concordance to the Book of Mormon, a draft of a history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a biography of Reynolds by his daughter, Alice Louise Reynolds. Dated approximately 1877-1920.

Dates: approximately 1877-1920

History of George Reynolds

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS SC 2057
Scope and Contents

Photocopy of a handwritten manuscript. The item is a biogaphy on the life of George Reynolds (1842-1909) by his daughter Alice Louise Reynolds. George was a Mormon author who served on the board of directors of the Genealogical Society of Utah and as amember of the First Council of Seventies for the Mormon Church.

Dates: approximately 1920

George Reynolds autobiography

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 4179

The autobiography of George Reynolds, an early member of the LDS church from London, England, circa 1878.

Dates: circa 1878

George Reynolds letter

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 4000
Scope and Contents

Letter of George Reynolds, as Secretary of First Presidency, to Elder Alfred W. Millgate, Clerk of the High Council, Weber Stake, conveying approval for the ordination of John M. Brown as an Elder. Dated 10 February 1891, written on Church letterhead.

Dates: 1891 February 10

George Reynolds letter

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS SC 2350
Scope and Contents

Handwritten letter dated 5 Sept. 1877 and addressed to Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) who later became the fourth president of the Mormon Church. Reynolds writes a brief letter dealing with business transactions.

Dates: 1877 September 5

Additional filters:

Collection 19
Archival Object 3
Letters 13
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 5
Civil Procedure and Courts 5
Politics, Government, and Law 5
Polygamy -- Religious aspects -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 5
∨ more
Polygamy -- Utah 5
Church Government 4
Correspondence 4
Material Types 4
Politicians -- Utah -- Salt Lake City -- Correspondence 4
Certificates 3
Church and state -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 3
Home and Family 3
Mormons -- Correspondence 3
Mormons -- Utah -- Correspondence 3
Polygamy -- Religious aspects -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- History 3
Social Life and Customs 3
Biography 2
Colleges and Universities 2
Education 2
Mormon Church -- Apostles 2
Mormons -- Utah -- History 2
Prisons -- Utah -- History 2
Utah -- Economic conditions 2
Anthropology 1
Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences 1
Authors, American -- Utah -- Biography 1
Autobiographies 1
Book of Mormon 1
Book of Mormon -- Commentaries 1
Business, Industry, Labor, and Commerce 1
Businessmen -- Utah -- Correspondence 1
Church officers -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- Biography 1
Church officers -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- Correspondence 1
Education -- Utah -- Provo -- History 1
Great Salt Lake (Utah) -- Discovery and exploration 1
Historical museums 1
Histories 1
Marriage -- Religious aspects -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1
Microfilms 1
Missions and Missionaries 1
Mormon Church -- Europe -- History 1
Mormon Church -- Missions -- Europe 1
Mormon Church -- Presidents 1
Mormon Church -- Presidents -- Correspondence 1
Mormon Church -- Utah -- Provo -- History 1
Mormon women -- Correspondence 1
Mormons -- England -- Liverpool -- History -- 19th century 1
Mormons -- Europe -- Correspondence 1
Mormons -- Utah -- Provo -- History 1
Museum registration methods 1
Museums -- Utah 1
Notes 1
Polygamy -- Utah -- History 1
Prisoners -- Utah -- Biography -- Sources 1
Railroads 1
Railroads -- Utah -- History 1
Religion 1
Territorial Government 1
Theater -- Utah -- History -- Sources 1
Tithes -- Mormon Church 1
Weber (Utah) 1
∧ less