Edward Partridge

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Edward Partridge (August 27, 1793–May 27, 1840) was an early member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes referred to as the Mormon Church). He was the first person to hold the prominent position of Bishop later called Presiding Bishop.

Edward Partridge was the son of William and Jemima Partridge. He was born at Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. His parents were of Scottish descent. Edward Partridge was apprenticed as a hatter, and made that his profession during his early years and provided a comfortable home for his family.

He married Lydia Clisbee in 1819. Although his childhood and growing-up years seemed to be uneventful, his mind turned to serious contemplation of religion in his youth—"he remembers that the Spirit of the Lord strove with him a number of times, insomuch that his heart was made tender and he went and wept; and that sometimes he went silently and poured the effusions of his soul to God in prayer" (Prophet Joseph Smith). By the time Edward was twenty, he had developed a disappointment with the world of religion—he ". . . saw no beauty, comeliness or loveliness in the character of the God that was preached up by the sects" (Joseph Smith). Like others who were drawn to the original teachings of Christ, but felt modern religion had been corrupted, Partridge "concluded that universal restoration was right according to the Bible." In 1828, in Painesville, Ohio, he became a convert to the Campbellite faith, both he and his wife being baptized at Mentor, by Sidney Rigdon. In the fall of 1830, missionaries from the newly organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Jr., and Ziba Peterson) arrived in Ohio and preached among the restorationist sects. Sidney Rigdon, the leading preacher of the Campbellites, was converted. Many members of his congregation followed him into the waters of baptism. Edward Partridge was baptized on the 11th of December by the Prophet Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York.

In February of 1831, when Edward Partridge was 38 years old, he returned to Ohio with his brethren. There, Joseph Smith received a revelation referring to him. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants, section 41:

And again, I have called my servant Edward Partridge, and give a commandment that he should be appointed by the voice of the Church, and ordained a Bishop unto the Church, to leave his merchandise and spend all his time in the labors of the Church; to see to all things as it shall be appointed unto him, in my laws in the day that I shall give them. And this because his heart is pure before me, for he is like unto Nathaniel of old, in whom there is no guile.

Later, Bishop Partridge, his counselors, and others were commanded to gather with their families to Missouri. Interestingly, when the family gathered to Independence, they rented a room from Lilburn W Boggs, who would later, as governor of the state, issue Missouri Executive Order 44, a document known as the "Extermination Order," to drive the Saints from Missouri.[1]

Through December, 1831, he was the only bishop of the Church. In July, 1833, Bishop Partridge was attacked by a mob comprised of hundreds of men and tarred and feathered. Partridge removed his family from Jackson County and resettled in Clay County Missouri. He applied for redress for his sufferings but was granted none by the state. He continued to serve the Church, serving a mission in the eastern states, while his family resided in Clay County. Returning from his mission, Elder Partridge stopped in Kirtland, Ohio, and was present for the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, with its miraculous spiritual outpourings.

In the fall of 1836, the Saints were forced to leave Clay County, and they established a settlement at Far West, Missouri. The mobs attacked again and again, and Edward Partridge saw much of the persecution and troubles heaped upon the Saints. With others he was driven thirty miles in frigid autumn weather and held without cause for a month:

"We were confined in a large open room, where the cold northern blast penetrated freely. Our fires were small and our allowance for wood and food was scanty; they gave us not even a blanket to lie upon; our beds were the cold floors. The vilest of the vile did guard us and treat us like dogs; yet we bore our oppressions without murmuring; but our souls were vexed night and day with their filthy conversation, for they constantly blasphemed God's holy name."

When Governor Boggs issued an extermination order for the destruction of the Saints, Elder Partridge's family escaped to sanctuary in Quincy, Illinois. He and his family gathered to the new city of Nauvoo, Illinois, where he was appointed to preside as Bishop of the Upper Ward, while Bishop Newel K. Whitney and Bishop Vinson Knight were assigned in like capacity to the Middle and Lower Wards, respectively. But Edward Partridge's health was broken. Added to the effects of the persecution he had suffered, was the unhealthy climate of Nauvoo, where malaria was common, and other diseases afflicted the new settlers.

Edward Partridge died in 1840 at Nauvoo, Illinois at the age of forty-seven. Joseph Smith commented that his death could be attributed to the stresses and persecutions heaped upon him and other Mormon settlers in western Missouri in the 1830s—"He lost his life in consequence of the Missouri persecutions, and he is one of that number whose blood will be required at their hands." (See also "Contributor," Vol. 6, p. 3.)