March 26, 1797|
Honeydon, Bedfordshire, England
|Died||December 19, 1863(aged 66)|
Joseph Fielding (March 26, 1797 – December 19, 1863) was an early leader of the Latter Day Saint movement. He served as the second president of the British Mission (1838–1840), coordinating the activities of missionaries in sections of the United Kingdom and parts of Europe. He was the brother of Mary Fielding, the second wife of Hyrum Smith, and an uncle of Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Fielding was born in Honeydon, Bedfordshire, England, to John Fielding and Rachel Ibbotson. The Fielding family were active in the growing Methodist movement in the area. In 1832, he emigrated to Canada with his sister, Mercy Rachel. The siblings established a farm in Charleton, nine miles northwest of Toronto. They were joined a short time later by his younger sister, Mary. Between 1834 and 1836, Fielding and his sisters participated in a religious study group in Toronto. Other members included John and Leonora Taylor, who later also became prominent in the LDS faith. The group discussed problems and concerns with their Methodist faith, and quickly became known as the "Dissenters."
Fielding was baptized into the Church of the Latter Day Saints on May 21, 1836 by Parley P. Pratt. He was ordained a teacher in the summer of 1836 and a priest in May 1837. He then moved his family to Kirtland, Ohio to join the general body of the church in May 1837.
Mission to England
Between 1837 and 1840, Fielding was called to leave his family and serve a mission to England. In June, he accompanied Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, and other missionaries on the first foreign mission for the church. Fielding was ordained both an elder and a high priest while in England. The early success of the mission was due largely to the willingness of Joseph's brother, Rev. James Fielding, and later his brother-in-law, Rev. Timothy Mathews, to make their pulpits available to the missionaries. By 1838, nearly one thousand members had been baptized, and organized into twenty branches throughout the country. To Fielding's sorrow, his family's support for LDS preaching and missionary activities did not continue, doing some damage to relationships within the extended family.
Between 1838 and 1840, Fielding was left in charge of the mission when Kimball and Hyde returned to America in the spring of 1838. He acted as Mission President for the church, with Willard Richards as his first counselor and recent British convert William Clayton as his second counselor. Fielding married a newly baptized church member, Hannah Greenwood, on June 11, 1838. The couple had six children.
Fielding was released as mission president when Brigham Young and other apostles arrived in England in 1840, but continued to serve as a missionary until 1841. He and his wife left for the United States in 1841 and settled in Nauvoo, Illinois.
In his journal, Wilford Woodruff recorded that Fielding received his LDS temple endowment in the same session as William Wines Phelps, Levi Richards, Lot Smith, and Cornelius P. Lott in the office over Joseph Smith's store on December 9, 1843. Fielding took an addition plural wife, Mary Ann Peake Greenhalgh in either 1843 or 1846.
Following the death of LDS leader Joseph Smith, Jr., and Fielding's brother-in-law Hyrum Smith, the church underwent a crisis over an appropriate successor for the Church president. Fielding and both of his widowed sisters chose to follow Brigham Young and move west with the greater part of the Saints. He supported his sisters, their children and stepchildren, traveling with them to Winter Quarters, Nebraska and, in 1848, to Utah. He settled near Mary's family in Millcreek, Utah. He died there on December 19, 1863.
- Corbett, Don C. "Mary Fielding Smith: Daughter of Britain." Salt Lake City, Utah 1966.
- Joseph Fielding's Writings Blog Version
- Biography of Joseph Fielding, The Joseph Smith Papers (accessed December 28, 2011)