Thursday, June 22, 2017

Parson Greenwood's Book

This week, a book arrived from England which I had purchased a few weeks ago.  The seller asked for 200 Pounds plus shipping.  This worked out to be $315.

The seller deals in used art books which he buys in very large quantities.  This book happened to be in the cache he purchased for resale.

Upon opening the book, the seller saw the name of Parson Greenwood.  This book was apparently part of his library in 1774.  Other names in the book perhaps belonged to later owners.

The seller, who makes his living selling books, realized that if he could find a descendant of Parson Greenwood (the man’s given name), the book might sell for a higher price than he might otherwise receive.

The book is a Bible commentary written by Matthew Henry and was published in 1707.

This is volume one of 6 books.  These commentaries are still in demand and have been in continuous publication for over 300 years.

The book seller asked his sister to see if she could find a descendant of Parson Greenwood.

The fact is, Parson Greenwood likely has thousands of living descendants today, but perhaps not more than a handful know he is their ancestor, as he lived between 1727 and 1810.  I knew.  He was the grandfather of my Grandmother Cannon's great-grandmother.

This picture of Parson Greenwood came from a book titled, Kirkgate Chapel, Bradford, and its Associations with Methodism.  There are several references to Parson Greenwood.  Look at page 90 for starters.

Just about 12 months ago, I finished a massive research project on my ancestor Joseph Fielding, who was born during the last decade of Parson Greenwood's life.  I titled it, "The World of Joseph Fielding."  I then uploaded that biography, which includes a description of Parson Greenwood and his ministry, to my family website.  The seller’s sister found that page.  Think of it, I finished the biography just a year ago.

Joseph Fielding’s sister was Mary Fielding Smith, the widow of Hyrum Smith.

Joseph Fielding was one of the first seven LDS missionaries sent to England in 1837 by Joseph Smith.  During Joseph Fielding’s mission, he married Hannah Greenwood, the granddaughter of Parson Greenwood.

Joseph and Hannah’s two oldest daughters, Rachel and Ellen, were born in England during Joseph’s mission.  After his release, the family joined the Saints in Nauvoo and crossed the plains to Utah in 1848.

Hannah carried with her a small Bible which had belonged to her grandfather.  I do not know where this book is today, but a drawing of the Bible was included in a Burton family history published in the 1960s. 

A copy of the flyleaf of this Bible was included in this family history.  First, notice the signature which was in the Bible.

It matches the signature in the book I just acquired.

The inscription in the Bible which follows the signature states that the book was borrowed:  “Parson Greenwood's Book 1766. Had of Richard Ogden (nigh Rochdale) for my life and if I am the longer liver tis mine for ever, if not, it is to be returned to him again, after my death.”  Presumably, Parson Greenwood outlived his friend Richard.

Parson Greenwood was a minister in the Anglican Church and was an associate of John and Charles Wesley.  The Wesley brothers intended to create a path for Christians which would bring the Spirit of God into their lives.  This path was called “means of grace,” a method which Anglican Church members could follow.  The steps included studying the scriptures, caring for the poor and sincere prayer.  Eventually, this path developed into a separate church, known as Methodism.  When John Wesley left the Anglican Church, Parson Greenwood followed.

I haven’t been able to obtain much information from the seller about the book.  He was happy to sell it to a descendant and I was happy to buy it, and that’s pretty much where we stand.  Interestingly, Parson Greenwood died in Yorkshire in 1810.  The receipt the seller emailed me after his wife mailed the book was printed in Yorkshire.

The book has two stamps of Parson Greenwood's name which I am certain were added later.

Hannah left an older brother, George, in England when she emigrated.  I wonder if George Greenwood might have inherited this book, and perhaps other books belonging to his grandfather.  Perhaps he kept his library organized by using these stamps.

Hannah’s daughter Rachel married William Walton Burton, a British convert who emigrated to the United States in 1854.

The story is actually more interesting than that.  Both of Rachel’s sisters eventually married William Burton.  The family had 30 children.

Rachel and William’s oldest son was Joseph Fielding Burton, who was a second cousin to Joseph Fielding Smith.

In 1886, Joseph married Mary Ann Elizabeth Driver, whose family celebrated her first birthday on the plains in 1866.

Joseph and Mary Ann’s fourth child, born in 1894, was Ida May Burton.

In 1915, Ida May married Collins Telle Cannon, one of the youngest of George Q. Cannon's sons.

Their only son, Collins Burton Cannon, was my father, born in 1918.

Grandmother Cannon was very proud of her heritage, and I have loved discovering it.  In 1978, I took my three children to visit her.  In other news, after losing an aged aunt,I just inherited the love seat on which they are sitting.

I’ve only had the book one day, but it's been thrilling to study it.  The book is well-used, but for a 300-year-old book, it’s in excellent condition.  The edges are worn from standing on a shelf.

I was fascinated to see the stitching.

The book itself is interesting, and I intend to read it.  In fact, the seller assured me that the book could be read.  The author stated, essentially, that he was born of goodly parents.

He believed in divine revelation.  I am seeking guidance to determine how I should best care for this priceless possession.


  1. How interesting! Thank you so much for sharing this, Julie! I hope you enjoy the book and that the other five volumes show up soon.

  2. I love this photo essay! So many fascinating details all made understandable with your pictures and explanations. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I love this!! I can't wait to see the book. What a treasure!

  4. What a wonderful treasure!! I love the pictures with your comments.

  5. What a blessing. The oldest thing I have found was 2 letters my great grandmother wrote in 1884 and 1885. I called Salt Lake History department and they were able to tell me the best way to preserve them.

  6. I love Ida May's smile. Uncommon from a photograph of that era.


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