Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
William Law William Law 

1809 - 1892


  • Born 1809 near Toronto, Canada
  • Baptized 1839
  • Second Counselor in First Presidency, 1841
  • Excommunicated 1844; never returned
  • Said to have been in the mob that murdered The Prophet
  • Died 1892 Shulsburg, Wisconsin

    William Law was born in 1809 and grew up near Toronto, Canada. Of his conversion, he wrote, "John Taylor and Almon W. Babbitt came as missionaries to Canada and preached where I lived, twenty-five miles south of Toronto." He was baptized in 1839 and shortly led a company of Canadian converts in wagons to Kirtland where he met the Prophet Joseph Smith. On January 19, 1841, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which the Lord named William Law to become a Counselor in the First Presidency. On September 4, 1842 Law and Hyrum Smith left as Missionary Companions for the Eastern States.

    William Law was a gifted individual blessed with great abilities. Even a superficial review of his writings reveals an educated and articulate wordsmith. In addition to his callings within the Church, he served on the City Council of Nauvoo and as registrar of the city's University.

    William Law moved in the inner circles of the Church and we know that he received his endowments in the Nauvoo Temple. He, however, was loathe to accept continuing revelation and never accepted Plural Marriage. After its annunciation he became increasingly bitter toward Joseph, whom he regarded as a fallen prophet.

    William Law was excommunicated on April 16, 1844 for apostasy. Quotations later ascribed to him place his apostasy as particularly vile and abhorrent. He subsequently sought to organize a church with himself as the President. Though he drew some followers, it soon collapsed and remains a minor footnote in Church history.

    Elder Willard Richards, who was an eye witness, specifically identifies this wretched apostate and his despicable brother, Wilson Law, as being in the mob that murdered the Prophet! If this is true, Law's eternal fate is surely sealed! In any event, he never returned to the Church.

    He did, however, live a long life and died in well-deserved obscurity still filled with hatred and bitterness on January 19, 1892 at Shullsburg, Wisconsin.


Bibliography:
    The History of the Church; Multiple citations. See index.
    LDS Biographical Encyclopedia; Vol. 1, p.53; Compiled and edited by Andrew Jensen
    Encyclopedia of Mormonism; Vol.4, Appendix 1
    The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Lyndon W. Cook, p.265
    Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation by Lawrence R. Flake, pp.243-245

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