William W. Taylor
William Whitaker Taylor served as one of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventy from 1880 to 1884. The first Seven Presidents of the Seventy was also designated as the First Council of the Seventy at that time. Later it would be called the Presidency of the Seventy.
Taylor was the son of Church president John Taylor and Harriet Whittaker. He was born on September 11, 1853, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in manufacturing and carpentry prior to his call to serve as a missionary in Europe. His companion, Elder Rulon S. Wells, recounted a dream he had on the voyage, which included Taylor:
- While on my way to my mission field, crossing the ocean on the Steamship Dakota, I went down into the salon of the ship one day, and lay upon one of the cushioned benches surrounding the eating tables, where I fell asleep. While asleep the Lord appeared to me in a dream and I saw Him standing before me; and by His side was William W. Taylor, one of the other missionaries, a son of President John Taylor, a boy like myself going upon his first mission. He stood by the side of the Savior, and the Savior extended His hand to me and grasping my hand, holding it tight, looked at me in the face and said: "Will you ever doubt again?" Brother Taylor, who stood beside Him said: "I believe that is enough for him." With that, the Lord let go of my hand and I awoke.
Taylor was 26 years old when he was called to serve as one of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventy. He was also appointed to the Council of Fifty.
In the 1883 election, Taylor was elected to the Utah Territorial Legislature and in 1884 was also elected assessor and collector of taxes. However, he died on August 1, 1884, just prior to his 31st birthday.
Taylor had six children with his first wife, Sarah Hoagland, whom he had married prior to his first mission. He had married a second wife, Selma Van Cott (daughter of John Van Cott), just prior to his death.
One historian opined: “This remarkable young man would undoubtedly be much better known in the Church had not the Lord taken him to a higher calling at such an early age.” Taylor’s father, John Taylor, said in his obituary, “I cannot think of anything which I wish he had done differently.”