Mercy R. Thompson
Mercy Rachel Fielding Thompson was born on June 15, 1807, in Honeydon, Bedfordshire, England. She was a daughter of John Fielding and Rachel Ibbotson. She immigrated to Upper Canada in 1832 with her brother Joseph, and their sister Mary Fielding Smith joined them later.
She married Robert B. Thompson in June 1837. Together they served a mission to Canada. Their only child, a daughter named Mary Jane, was three when he died in August 1841.
Widowed at such a young age, Mercy still had her life to lead and a small child to care for. In Mercy’s place and time, few occupations were open to women. After Robert’s death, she did what widows for centuries had done: she took in boarders. “With diligence and the blessing of the Lord,” she recounted, “our wants were supplied.”
In the summer of 1843, “an angel visited Joseph Smith. It was Robert Thompson, his former clerk. He “appeared to [Joseph] several times telling him that he did not wish me to live such a lonely life,” Mercy recounted. The angel proposed a shocking solution: Hyrum was to “have me seal’d to him for time,” Mercy recalled. In other words, Robert Thompson requested that Hyrum marry Mercy as a plural wife for this life, “for time.” Mercy and Robert, meanwhile, would remain sealed in the eternities.
The idea was hard for Mercy to consider. Although her sister was her closest friend, she couldn’t agree, even when Mary talked to her about the possibility. “This subject when first communicated to me,” Mercy recounted, “tried me to the very core all my former traditions and every natural feeling of my Heart rose in opposition.”
Hyrum also spoke to her. He had once opposed plural marriage himself. He told Mercy that when he first learned of Robert Thompson’s request, “the Holy Spirit rested upon him [Hyrum] from the Crown of his Head to the Soles of his Feet.”
Mercy’s marriage to Hyrum would be like the levirate marriages of the Old Testament in which the man was commanded to marry the wife of his deceased brother. She later said she believed the principle “because I could read it for myself in the bible and see that that it was practiced in those days, and the Lord approved of it and sanctioned it.”
Joseph finally convinced her. He had explained that Robert Thompson appeared to him more than once, the last time “with such power that it made him tremble.” Joseph was not inclined to act on the request at first. Only after he prayed to the Lord and learned that he was to “do as my servant hath required” did he tell Hyrum about the vision.
“Mercy called for the manuscript copy of the revelation written on foolscap paper and kept it in her home for four or five days, studying over the contents in her mind. Only after much prayer and pondering did she give her consent. On August 11, 1843, Joseph Smith married Hyrum and Mercy at Mary and Hyrum’s house on the corner of Water and Bain Streets in Nauvoo. On Joseph’s recommendation, Hyrum built an additional room to the house, and Mercy moved into it.”
She and Hyrum were married for just 10 months before he was martyred at Carthage on June 27, 1844. In 1846, Mercy, Mary, and their brother Joseph, set off for the Salt Lake Valley. They stayed in Winter Quarters until the following summer and arrived in Salt Lake City in September 1847,
After Mary’s death in 1852, she helped mother the children of Mary and Hyrum. She retained her name Mercy R. Thompson.
She died on September 15, 1893 in Salt Lake City.