John Benbow was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at his home in Herefordshire, England, by Elder Wilford Woodruff on March 4, 1840. Of that meeting, Elder Woodruff recalled: "I found Mr. Benbow to be a wealthy farmer, cultivating 300 acres of land, occupying a good mansion, and having plenty of means. His wife, Jane, had no children. . . . He and his wife received me with glad hearts and thanksgiving . . . [and] rejoiced greatly at the glad tidings which I brought to them." (Quoted in Truth Will Prevail, the Rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles, 1837-1987, ed. V. Ben Bloxham et al.)
John Benbow introduced Elder Woodruff to the United Brethren, an off-shoot group of Wesleyan Methodists, who had been searching for light and truth. Woodruff preached his first sermon in southwest England at the Benbow home and converted the group en masse.
Benbow and his wife, Jane, were baptized into the Church on March 6, 1840, in a pond on his farm by Elder Woodruff. He was ordained an elder by June 1840.
Elder Woodruff frequently used the Benbow home as a base for his missionary labors in the Herefordshire area. Attached to the rear of the home on the east side is a long stone hall, visible to the right. When the Benbows lived there, one large room was legally registered for formal preaching. The pond was used for many other baptisms.
The pond and the path that leads to the pond are situated adjacent to Hill Farm which was once the farm of John Benbow. The pond and adjacent area within the gate and railings are now owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is a right of way for visitors to access the pond area.
Benbow funded printing of the Book of Mormon and Church hymnbook in England in 1840. Gathering with the Saints to America, John and Jane paid for the passage of at least 40 other Church members.
In Nauvoo, Illinois, Benbow was ordained a high priest by Hyrum Smith on February 2, 1842. In 1844, when the Prophet Joseph Smith was falsely arrested, John Benbow pledged all his holdings as bail. He also supported the Nauvoo Legion and the building of the Nauvoo House and the Nauvoo Temple.
His wife, Jane, died on November 27, 1846. He was appointed captain of fifty in Brigham Young’s pioneer company in 1848 and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 20, 1848. In September 1851, Benbow married Rosetta Wright.
- For six years, they sent a team, wagon and driver yearly to assist in transporting Church members from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City.
- In contrast to his spacious Herefordshire home, John and Rosetta lived in a small, windowless log home for 11 years in South Cottonwood. They lived frugally so they could assist the immigrating Saints.
Monument to John and Rosetta Benbow
A monument to John Benbow, and his wife, Rosetta Wright Benbow, was funded and erected by their descendants and dedicated at the Murray city cemetery on April 13, 1996.
Three General Authorities were present and spoke to family members attending the dedication. Attending were President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Ruth; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Patricia; and Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy.
The monument is located at the Benbow gravesite at the cemetery in Murray, an area that was in the Benbows' day called South Cottonwood, Utah. John Benbow died in South Cottonwood, May 12, 1874, and Rosetta died in Salt Lake City on March 17, 1894.
- ”There's a principle in the gospel which ever will be with us if we're going to be God's people, and that is the principle of consecration," President Faust told the assembled group. "John Benbow and his family were a perfect example of that. When the Church was impoverished, the Prophet Joseph in difficulty, the Prophet Joseph went to John Benbow for a loan in Nauvoo. And it's recorded by the Prophet Joseph that they got in the buggy and went out to call on John Benbow and repay the loan which the Prophet Joseph had borrowed from him. Now if ever we have an example of devotion to that principle of consecration, it has to be in the life of this man."
- He said the old writing on the Benbow gravestones had weathered away, and "there needs to be this suitable monument to memorialize John Benbow along with the other distinguished pioneers who are here."
- President Faust said he wished to speak to the descendants of John Benbow and his wives "not in terms of what has passed and their heroic deeds and great accomplishments but in terms of how that heritage is going to be memorialized in terms of the principles and the faith to which they were so devoted in the future. I would expect and hope they would have the same commitment devotion to the principle of consecration that John Benbow had. I invoke upon all of you a blessing and commend you for your faithfulness, for your devotion and for your good works," he said.
- Elder Holland said he is not a descendant of John Benbow but is descended from Thomas Benbow, his oldest brother, who died when his baby daughter Ellen was just 10 years old. "In that circumstance John and Jane Benbow . . . took [Ellen], who would be my grandmother, into their home and raised her. Jane was never able to have children, but they raised her as their own. So I say, in my own Benbow heritage, where would I be if it had not been, in that case for John and Jane Benbow?”
- He said John Benbow was from the hour of his baptism to today the closest person to aristocracy that has ever joined the Church in all of Great Britain. "No one has ever been as close to gentry as John Benbow. . . . I'm grateful that he would give and give and give, and gave everything for the Kingdom of God."
- Elder Morrison, Utah North Area president, said: "President Hinckley mentioned to us the other day something which struck a resonant chord in my heart because I suppose I had felt that way for a long time. It is the concept of believing blood, that there are some people and some families who are just naturally believers. They seem to have a gene of belief or faith as part of their spiritual DNA. And because they are the natural believers and have the blood of Israel in them, they do whatever is asked of them. . . . Nowhere else in the world, I think, is the blood of Israel purer and richer than in the British Isles. And John Benbow had that believing blood. When he heard the gospel message, not only did he embrace it but he embraced it with a fervor and a dedication which sustained him for the rest of his days. His life from that point on was irretrievably connected with the fortunes of the Latter-day Saints.”